Back to News & Press

March 7, 2005

Filmmaker examines state of feminist revolution
Doc is a journey of self-discovery as Canadian looks back over the years
By Trish Crawford, Life Writer

If you missed the revolution, filmmaker Therese Shechter's I Was A Teenage Feminist is a refresher course in Feminism 101.

Raised in Scarborough* and now working in New York, Shechter hits the age of 40 and wonders what happened to all the feminist enthusiasm and ideals she had as a teenager in the '70s.

Single and without kids, Shechter has the gnawing feeling that she's been let down by the movement. The documentary, which includes home movies of Shechter as a budding feminist and archival materials from old health classes, follows her journey of self-discovery.

She talks to her mother, her friends, and well-known feminists such as Gloria Steinem and Letty Cottin Pogrebin, of the Emmy award-winning Free to Be ... You and Me. And, she also talks to regular people of all ages who don't have anything nice to say about feminism. Feminists are thought of as lesbians and man-haters, it appears. At one point, she gets a male friend to ask the questions of a group of men in New York's Times Square because they won't give her the time of day. She pretends to be his assistant.

Shechter admits she won't tell men she is dating that she is making a movie about feminism "if I want a second date."

Steinem and Pogrebin will have none of this. Collared at a conference on The Future of Feminism, Steinem says the term has been tainted by those who don't really understand what it is all about: equality for women in all aspects of their lives. That's their problem, she says, adding she is quite happy to still call herself a feminist in spite of the misunderstandings.

Pogrebin, 62, married and the mother of one child**, says she's been called a man-hater and a child-hater in spite of all the evidence to the contrary. She says it is time for the young women behind her to take on the tasks of fighting for rights. If they are disappointed with the state of feminism today, it's their own fault, she says.

That is the challenge handed to Shecter*** and the audience — be a feminist in your own way. Others can't do it for you.

I Was A Teenage Feminist airs 8 p.m. tomorrow, International Women's Day on W Network.

[Copyright Toronto Star 2005]

Therese's respectful corrections to the story:
* Actually I grew up in North York
** She's got three kids
*** The spelling is "Shechter," as it was in the first paragraph