Older Women Share Stories Of Sexism They Endured Growing Up To Encourage Women To Vote

Sometimes it’s hard to believe that, a century ago, American women weren’t even allowed to vote. Now looking ahead to the possibility of a female president, it’s important to take stock of how far we’ve come. In a new short film, older women talk about sexism they endured growing up, and the challenges they faced at home and in the workforce. And although the video makes clear that women have made huge strides in the last 100 years, it emphasizes that we still have a long way to go — and that it’s essential for women to exercise their hard-won rights and vote.

The film, titled “A Political Education,” was directed by Emma Holly Jones for Lenny. “I decided to make a film that amplified voices we don't hear often: those of women who have lived through the extraordinary changes that have occurred in the United States in the last several decades,” Holly Jones explained in a Lenny essay. “They are the ones who can provide a reality check on how far we've come but also just how far we still have to go.”

In the video, women ranging in age from 64 to 94 recall the limits placed on women when they were younger. “Women were homemakers, period,” says Marcia Nasatir, 90, who was the first female vice president at a motion picture company. Suzanne Altfeld, 78, remembers the very different expectations placed on women and men when she was growing up, recalling, “My three brothers all became doctors, and I was told I was to marry a Jewish doctor. That’s when I knew it was rigged.”

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Other participants recount the difficulties of being female in the workforce. “I never applied to be a supervisor,” Jackie Armstrong, 68, says. “I was always the cashier because that’s all I saw. I saw black women as cashiers in our department stores.” Allison Young, 73, remembers, “I had the same degree as all the men, but I ended up being a file clerk and a receptionist.”

The women in the video are outspoken in their support for Hillary Clinton as president. “This is going to be exciting — to know that we’ve finally arrived,” Aretha Acker says. Altfeld suggests that a woman becoming president would pave the way for more progress. “Along with the moment comes the energy to propel forward for more and more and more, she explains.

When asked if she’s going to vote in this year’s election, 85-year-old Ellen Linsey exclaims, “You’re damn right I’m gonna vote!” We should all say the same.

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