Is 'Good Girls Revolt' A True Story? The Amazon Series Draws From Real Life
Amazon is at the forefront of the future of television, and it's using its position to go back in time and look at the state of the magazine industry in the 1960s. Good Girls Revolt, a successful show from Amazon's Pilot Season program, follows the female employees of the fictional News Of The Week magazine where the men regularly get credit for the efforts of the female staff members. Instead of accepting the status quo, the women of News Of The Week band together and start demanding their fair share of the credit. It's a story that would be just as timely in 2016 as it would be in the 1960s, so why is that setting so important? The show only works in the 60s because that's when the true story behind Good Girls Revolt actually happened.
The show is adapted from Lynn Povich's non-fiction book The Good Girls Revolt: How the Women of Newsweek Sued their Bosses and Changed the Workplace. The book tells the true story of how Povich, along with 45 of her fellow Newsweek employees, formed "the first female class action lawsuit –– the first by women journalists –– and it inspired other women in the media to quickly follow suit." 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.
In an interview with The Daily Beast, Povich claimed that in the late 1960s, Newsweek was not the place to be for a woman who wanted to write. "The women who came to Newsweek knowing they wanted to be journalists — like Nora Ephron, Susan Brownmiller, Ellen Goodman, and Jane Bryant Quinn — saw that it wouldn't happen, and left fairly quickly to develop very successful careers elsewhere," Povich said. Despite more possibilities in journalism elsewhere, Povich and others decided it was best to stick around and change Newsweek for the better.
The divide between the men and women in the newsroom was drastic and impossible to ignore. Povich says that "the rest of [the female staff] saw that guys who graduated from the same schools without any professional experience got hired as reporters and writers over us, that's when we decided to do something ... The editors seemed to think that Newsweek writing was a special talent one was born with — but somehow only men were born with it." While the story of a group of people joining forces for what's right is inspirational, the process of holding Newsweek accountable for their actions was a complicated matter that affected a lot of people in various ways.
According to Povich's interview with The Daily Beast, Newsweek president at the time, Katharine Graham's reaction to the lawsuit was, "Which side am I supposed to be on?" Povich believes that "reflected the confusion of so many women at the time." Povich also told the outlet that while the lawsuit was a success for many women, that she regrets not having included non-white women in the process. "The black women [at Newsweek] were torn. Their primary allegiance was to the civil-rights movement, and years later they told me that they felt like an afterthought to our problems," Povich told The Daily Beast.
Although great progress has occurred in the past 50 years, that interview indicated that Povich is aware that there is still much more work to be done. "There still is a boys’ club at the top of many organizations. Men who respect and enjoy working with women promote them. Men who are more comfortable around men, don’t," she said. Povich's suggestion to solving this problem was for "young women ... to push themselves forward, take more risks, and, once in management positions, help change the corporate culture to make it more equal."
Hopefully the exposure of Good Girls Revolt will help shine a light on Povich's story, as well as the stories of the many women who continue to struggle in male-dominated workplaces almost 50 years later.
Image: Amazon Studios