When I watch a documentary, I tend to figure out, within the first few minutes, whether or not the movie was written with just men in mind, or could be relatable to women, too. There are some people who say that doesn't matter, but I believe it does. When I watch documentaries, I'm looking for stories that could move just about anyone and explore perspectives that are rarely represented. Lucky for me, there are a slew of documentaries that I believe all women should see in their lifetimes.
Many of these flicks you can stream online, and it would be a good idea to get started if you want to finish with some time to spare. I highly recommend watching these movies with friends and family, so you can ask yourselves why these films are important for women of all ages and challenge your existing framework of beliefs on topics like abortion, poverty, sex work, and basic human rights.
When I made this list, I wanted to make sure that each film challenged patriarchy and misogyny as a whole, and after watching them, I'm sure you'll agree these flicks are pretty empowering, too. Without further ado, here are the docs all women should make sure to watch:
1. 'Pussy Riot: A Punk Prayer'
Feminist art collective Pussy Riot challenges Moscow's social construct.
2. 'Miss Representation'
The women we see in media and politics face real challenges, and this documentary tells all.
3. 'She's Beautiful When She's Angry'
Want to see who started the women's movement in the '60s? Look no further.
4. 'Makers: Women Who Make America"
There are 150+ years of women shaping the country we know, and here are a few of them who made it what it is.
5. 'The Punk Singer'
Learn about the woman who pioneered and lead the riot grrrl movement.
6. 'Who's Counting? Marilyn Waring On Sex, Lies And Global Economics'
Marilyn Waring schools her counterparts on the feminist approach to finances.
7. '!Women Art Revolution'
This film explores the rise of women critics, artists, and historians during the civil rights movement.
8. 'Ukraine Is Not A Brothel'
A trailer that starts with the claim that "99 percent of Ukranian women don't know what feminism is" is worth watching.
9. 'The Life And Times of Rosie The Riveter'
Exploring where Rosie comes from and the political push for women to work during WWII.
10. 'Until The Violence Stops'
This one is all bout Eve Ensler's The Vagina Monologues and how it grew to be a grassroots movement.
11. 'Rise Above: A Tribe 8 Documentary'
Following the legends that made up the queer punk band, Tribe 8.
12. 'The Naked Feminist'
The porn industry is reimagined in this film that shows what sex positivity can look like.
13. 'What Happened, Miss Simone?'
The legendary singer, pianist and activist shares her journey by way of sound.
14. 'One Minute To Nine'
The story of Wendy Maldonado's history of abuse, revenge, and how that landed her jail time.
Dissecting America's prisons and what that means for the women behind bars.
16. 'A Litany For Survival: The Life And Work Of Audre Lorde'
She's the jack of all trades you always hear about but never really see personified. The Black, lesbian, activist, mother, poet, and teacher sends patriarchy packing in this epic doc.
17. 'The Arbor'
The story of a young woman named Andrea Dunbar growing up in the housing projects of England.
18. 'Blind Spot: Hitler's Secretary'
Hitler's private secretary comes forward about what it was like to work for the ruler after over 60 years of secrecy.
19. 'Searching For Angela Shelton'
A woman hits the road to find women with her exact same name. Her findings reveal eerie similarities.
20. 'Beyond Belief'
Two pregnant women find similar ground sharing the loss of their loved ones during the 9/11 attack and propel efforts to help other widowed women.
21. 'I Am A Girl'
The powerful doc that explores the persecution girls face in their day to day.
22. 'Audrie & Daisy'
Two teens share their sexual assault stories and discuss a new era of bullying.
23. 'Dark Girls'
This doc explores the prejudices dark-skinned women face and colorism as a social construct.
24. 'It's A Girl'
The movie highlights countries where women are considered disposable for being girls.
25. 'The Invisible War'
A documentary about rape culture and how it thrives in the U.S. military.
26. 'Hot Girls Wanted'
Five young women tell their stories about being inducted into the amateur porn industry.
27. 'Half The Sky'
Women reveal their journeys living in a world littered with systemic oppression.
28. 'Girl Rising'
Nine girls fight for their basic right to an education.
29. 'After Tiller'
This documentary spotlights the doctors who perform third trimester abortions in the U.S.
30. 'No Woman, No Cry'
When proper health care isn't provided during pregnancy, it can be fatal. This documentary sheds light on those statistics.
31. 'The Life And Crimes Of Doris Payne'
One of the world's most notorious jewel thieves has no qualms about her 60-year burglary streak.
Women share their stories of sex work and how to get out.
There's no doubt that by the time you finish binging these docs, you'll leave more inspired, driven, and empowered than ever before.