Why 'Good Girls Revolt' Is A Must-See For Today's Women, According To Star Erin Darke
While a lot has changed for women in the workplace since 1969, as Amazon's new series Good Girls Revolt will show, the fight for gender equality is still extremely relevant. The series revolves around the female researchers at the magazine News of the Week who weren't allowed to be reporters or write the articles — even when they did the brunt of the work. In Good Girls Revolt, Erin Darke stars as Cindy, a timid researcher who starts to question her place at work and home after Nora Ephron (portrayed by Grace Gummer) begins to work at News of the Week and shows her that women could be more than just background characters at the magazine and in life. In a phone interview, Darke spoke to Bustle about portraying this budding feminist character and how, while women have come so far since the late 1960s, there is still work to be done — which is why it's important for today's women to be aware of issues like those this series is inspired by.
Good Girls Revolt and its News of the Week magazine is a fictionalized retelling of the real-life events that occurred at Newsweek during this time period and the ensuing gender discrimination lawsuit filed by the female employees. Bustle reached out to Newsweek for comment on the original lawsuit and the show portraying it now, but has not yet heard back. The lawsuit resulted in a settlement in which Newsweek agreed to provide equal employment opportunities to women.
Whether or not you consider yourself a feminist, Good Girls Revolt will highlight how women with different viewpoints — like Darke's Cindy, Anna Camp's Jane, and Genevieve Angelson's Patti — can come together to work toward gender equality. "I think even today when we think of feminists in the late 1960s or early 1970s, the mental image that you get is one of the very radical feminist, burning her bra and even screaming it from rooftops," Darke says. "And one of the things that I loved so much about this show is that so much of the change that happened and the fight that happened was just from women — just real women who didn't wake up being feminists. They just slowly learned and realized that what was happening wasn't fair and then fought back about it. But they were just normal, human women who also struggled with these ideas."
Portraying a woman in the late 1960s who did struggle with these feminist ideas wasn't necessarily easy for Darke, "Especially because you fall so in love with these characters and these women and sometimes then you would have to shoot a scene where they don’t stand up for themselves," she says. There were even some scenes she asked the writers why her character couldn't speak up, but true to the era and the character, their response was that the women in Good Girls Revolt weren't there yet.
However, what angered her the most in terms of how women were treated while she was filming the show didn't necessarily come from anything in the script — it came from those moments off set when a man would still call her something like "sweetheart." Darke says, "I got the most infuriated by the moments when I would then leave set and be in real life and feel like I was living in it again." Men still use sexist terms, but Darke thinks — especially compared to how women have been treated in the past decades — that, "We are living in a wonderful time right now where a great deal of men equally think it is important for women to have equality."
As for what still has room for improvement since the days of Good Girls Revolt in regards to women's equality in the workplace, Darke cites the wage gap statistic of women being paid 78 cents on the dollar for doing the same job as a man. But, she also spoke about the less tangible issue of how women are perceived and how there needs to be "just a general attitude of respecting each other as equals," particularly at work. "There can still be sometimes a cultural tendency to judge women by their physical appearance rather than their capabilities or their intelligence. And I don’t think that workplaces will be able to be equal unless we work on that," Darke says.
While she understands that how a person looks is a factor in her own career since acting is a visual art form, she also worked in casting for years and saw firsthand how the entertainment industry doesn't know what to do with an "average female body type." She still had a great experience working in casting for three years, but she was not OK with "the amount that I would hear male executives talk about women being 'not hot enough' or 'not sexy enough,' it just made me want to bang my head against the wall sometimes," she says.
Because of her days in casting, Darke felt at times that she needed to change her own body type to get more jobs, something she doesn't want to accept as the way it has to be. She thinks even talking about how women's body types are portrayed in the media is important, and this idea that discussion can facilitate change relates back to Good Girls Revolt. If it wasn't for characters like Nora, Patti, or Cindy talking to other women in the News of the Week office about how they were being treated unfairly, these women may have just continued to accept their status and never filed a lawsuit against their employer. These discussions helped the characters realize "that they weren't the only ones feeling that way" and built a "sense of community," Darke says. "For me, when I think of the word 'feminism' a huge part of what I think about is this community of it."
Beyond women communicating with one another to form a support system, Darke believes there are other feminist lessons that viewers of Good Girls Revolt in 2016 can take away from this story based on real events from nearly five decades ago. "I hope what people take from it is both an appreciation for the women who fought before us and where we are now, but also a realization that the fight's not over. If that is as small a thing as saying to someone, 'Hey I don't like the way you're speaking to me right now' or as big a thing as people suing for sexual discrimination or sexual harassment," Darke says. "I just hope that we, as a younger generation of women, see how much people have done before us and realize that we can keep working towards that."
Images: Amazon Studios (3)