I know. I’m late to the party, but I recently watched the best movie I’ve seen in a long time, Hidden Figures. The film, a biographical drama based on the book by Margot Lee Shetterly, is the story of three brilliant African-American mathematicians, Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson who worked at NASA, each leaving her own indelible mark on history. Katherine Goble Johnson calculated trajectories for Project Mercury, Friendship 7, Apollo 11 and Space Shuttle missions. Dorothy Vaughan was NASA’s first African-American supervisor and Mary Jackson attended graduate school at night to become NASA’s first female engineer. These women sought to achieve equality by challenging unfair labor practices and discrimination at NASA in 1961. Their story, and others like it, sparked what historians call “the second wave of feminism,” marking the 1960s as a decade of profound cultural transition which forever altered the role of women in American society.
As one might expect, the film version contained some historical inaccuracies. The screenwriters conflated the facts for dramatic purposes and obviously condensed the timeline in order to squeeze it into a two hour feature length film, but they also captured the story’s essence and ultimate truth. Watching the lives these three great women unfold on screen reminded me that, in spite of the deplorable behavior which has become the status quo for contemporary feminist icons, dignity and feminism are NOT mutually exclusive. [RELATED POSTS: #NotMyMarch and A Day Without A Woman]
I am blessed to live in the United States of America where women possess the freedom to vote, to run for public office, to be educated, to hold jobs, to earn money, to own property, to bear arms, to speak our minds and to pursue happiness without threat of imprisonment, punishment or bodily harm. I am blessed thanks, in large part, to authentic feminists like Katherine Goble Johnson, Dorothy Vaughan and Mary Jackson. Sadly, the purveyors of today’s radical feminist manifesto dishonor the legacy of these heroines.
In Hidden Figures Featurette: Achieving the Impossible, actress Octavia Spencer (Dorothy Vaughan) says, “The beautiful thing about being able to see history in hindsight is how we can influence the future.” For the sake of our daughters, let’s hope she’s right
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