These Feminists Need Their Stories Told On Screen

by Amen Oyiboke
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March is Women's History Month, and what better way to recognize the time than to celebrate some of the many women who've dedicated their lives to activism and support for their fellow ladies? From politicians to artists, each of the women on the below list have helped to transform the way society views women's issues on both a national and global level — and it's time for them to have their stories heard by the world. These hugely influential women deserve movies made about them, films that capture how they've changed the game when it comes to women's rights and female empowerment.

Whether it be their takes on socio-political stances, their work to dismantle economic systems that shut out women's voices, or their advocacy for reproductive rights, each of these women have changed society for the better. Of course, there's still so much work to be done; according to the White House, white women with full-time jobs still earn only about 77 percent of their male counterparts’ earnings. African-American women earn just 64 cents to men's dollar, and Latina women earn even less — 56 cents. Meanwhile, 62 million girls are denied education all over the world, and women currently hold just 5.8 percent of CEO positions at the top 500 companies, according to Catalyst. All of these statistics and so much more make the work the women on this list are doing even more important, and it reinforces why their stories need to be seen in pop culture.

Angela Davis

An icon of the Black Power Movement, Davis has been a major voice when it comes to speaking out against the injustices against Black people. A former political prisoner, she is passionate about prisoner rights and was a two-time Communist Party vice presidential candidate. In 1969, Davis received national attention after being removed from her teaching position at UCLA as a result of her social activism and membership in the U.S.'s Communist Party. In 1970, she was placed on the FBI's 10 Most Wanted List due to false charges, and was the subject of an intense police search that drove her underground and ignited one of the most controversial and famous trials in U.S. history. During her 16-month incarceration, an international campaign, "Free Angela Davis," was organized, which led to her acquittal in 1972.

Davis' life of fearlessness and determination to speak up when people were being shut out is so inspiring. There have been documentaries made about her work, but a scripted movie about her story deserves to be told for the whole world to see.

Yoko Ono

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Ono has used her voice to speak up about gender equality throughout her career, most notably in her 1972 essay, The Feminization of Society. Known for her peaceful protests with her late husband John Lennon, Ono has made her journey with feminism public knowledge. Everyone knows her from her marriage to Lennon, but we need to know who she is separately from that. Having a movie document her transition from quiet supporter to vocal advocate of women's rights would be so interesting.

Malala Yousafzai

Yousafzai's life changed forever at age 15, when she was shot by the Taliban in October 2012 due to her passionate campaigning for girls’ education rights. Her memoir, I Am Malala, documents her courageous journey as a young woman fighting for access to education in Pakistan. Ever since the life threatening event, Yousafzai has been traveling the world through her foundation, The Malala Fund, fighting for education rights for women and children. While there already is a documentary about Yousafzai made, He Named Me Malala, her story deserves even more attention, perhaps through a TV docuseries or narrative film, so that young women watching can know that no matter what age you are, fighting for what you believe in can change the entire world.

Nawal El Saadawi

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Egyptian writer, activist, physician and psychiatrist El Saadawi was a child victim of female genital cutting in Egypt and has made it her mission to campaign against the practice for the past 60 years. At 85, she is one of the most prominent influencers and feminists in the Arab world. Her fight against female genital mutilation, marriage rules in Islam, and Islamic fundamentalism is hugely commendable, but it's also gotten her in plenty of trouble (she was imprisoned in 1981 for "offenses against the state). El Saadawi has been famously quoted as saying, “They say, 'You are a savage and dangerous woman. I am speaking the truth. And the truth is savage and dangerous'." It's a powerful message, and to see her experiences shown on film would highlight both her activism and the brutal things young girls endure in different countries.

bell hooks

Hooks is an American author and feminist who writes about oppression due to race and womanhood. Since her childhood in Kentucky, she has worked to bring attention to and criticize the treatment of Black women in society. Her most notable work includes Ain't I A Woman?: Black Women and Feminism, a book she wrote when she was just 19, and The Feminist Theory. Hooks urges an end to the degradation and exploitation of Black women, arguing that it is an integral step in alleviating White supremacy.

Andrea Dworkin

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Dworkin was a feminist who caused a lot of controversy in the '70s and '80s when she became famous for her fierce opposition to pornography and the objectifying of women in the adult film industry. She argued that pornography was linked to rape and other forms of violence against women, and her views made her a target for criticism from other feminists and the general public. Still, she kept fighting for what she believed in.

Eventually publishing 10 books on feminism, Dworkin became a major public figure, and a horrific rape she experienced in the '90s caused a firestorm. Her story is a tough one to digest, but is one of tenancy due to the fact that she never stopped going, even after being dragged through the dirt in the media.

Alice Walker

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Walker is a critical voice for Black women in the feminist movement. Her passion for telling Black women that they are worthy is evident in all of her writings, including her most famous work, The Color Purple. Her work in making sure the rights of women of color are protected fueled the start of her her publishing company, Wild Tree Press, which is geared towards feminist publishing.

Walker is majorly important to the feminist movement, and she has made it her purpose to make sure Black women's voices are heard and included. There have been documentaries made about her work and activism, but, we have yet to see her life explored through a scripted movie. It would be amazing to see the birth of her talents at Spelman College, her participation in the March on Washington, and her civil rights activism through film.

Sheryl Sandberg

The COO of Facebook, Sandberg started the "Lean In" movement with her 2013 book encouraging women to excel in the workforce. She's been a strong force in the feminist movement, and through her prominent position at Facebook, her work with the Lean In Foundation, and Women for Women International Board, Sandberg has made it her mission to speak about the inequalities women face in the workplace. Her journey to COO at one of the biggest social media platforms in the world would be interesting to see on-screen for young feminists around the world.

Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

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Some know Adichie from her powerful speech "We Should All Be Feminists" that was sampled on Beyonce's "Flawless." Adichie's TED Talk catapulted the author and motivational speaker to the forefront of feminist culture, and her fervent advocacy has opened up conversations about African culture, gender roles, and women's rights around the world. Her prominent pieces include: Americanah, We Should All Be Feminists, Half of a Yellow Sun and Dear Ijeawele, Or a Feminist Manifesto in Fifteen Suggestions.

Born and raised in Nigeria, it would be fascinating to see Adichie's growth play out in a movie documenting her life, including the opposition to her feminism in the landscape of Nigeria.

By highlighting these women's stories, Hollywood would be helping empower the next generation of women leaders to aim higher and push further when it comes to women's rights.