Wednesday, March 22, 2017

'Equal Means Equal' film shines light on women's issues


As it stands today, women are not guaranteed equal rights under the law.

“Equal Means Equal,” a documentary directed by Kamala Lopez, was screened at Ohio University Chillicothe March 21 to an audience of students, faculty, staff and local women’s rights activists who were exposed to the fact that women are not afforded equal rights protection under the constitution.

The 90-minute film highlights the push for an Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution, which began more than 45 years ago, and underlined numerous equal rights issues that women are facing in society today.

As it stands, only two more states are needed to pass the ERA and once Congress drops the deadline originally imposed, it can become law.  

The passage of the ERA would ensure, “equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.”

The film was brought to OUC by the efforts of the school’s cultural committee and student organization S.A.G.E. or students advocating for gender equality. Dr. Marguerite Hernandez, Assistant Professor of Sociology and cultural committee member, was instrumental in bringing the idea to life because of the important message it depicts.

“After watching the documentary and hearing Lopez speak about her work, I hope students are more knowledgeable about why Lopez and others are arguing for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment,” Hernandez said. “I also hope they gain a greater understanding that Lopez’s work is part of a larger social movement carried out by individuals from generations past. Many of the legal rights and protections that women enjoy today came as a result of social movement efforts to secure those rights despite great opposition from society. While these gains are significant, research demonstrates that inequality on the basis of sex and gender still exist in today’s society. Because of this, social movement actors, like Lopez, continue the work started by feminists in 1923 with the goal of guaranteeing all citizens the same legal rights and protections through the U.S. Constitution, no matter the sex of the citizen.”

Lopez, an actress who spent years traveling the country to document the issues facing women while working on the film, was a special guest for the screening and held a question and answer forum after the movie to discuss its importance and what actions could be taken in the future.

Questions during the question and answer forum included topics on feminism and the feminist movement, how to be more involved in activism, equality for all human beings and the future of the ERA.

It’s our responsibility…,” Lopez said in response to a student’s question. “It’s our responsibility to give them [the Supreme Court] the tools that they need so when the case arrives they can say, ‘no, you can’t do that,’ because women are human beings.”

When asked about feminism and the negative connotation surrounding it, Lopez commented,
“The definition of feminism is in no possible way controversial and in no possible way can be stigmatized.” She continued, “people aren’t looking up the word and its meaning. A feminist believes that all human beings are created equally and deserve equality, and that’s not controversial.”

Toward the end of the forum, Lopez summarized, “Equal rights are a basic human and civil right for all people.”

OUC professors plan to continue to conversation generated by the film.

“I am eager to discuss Lopez’s arguments with my students and to hear their thoughts on the subject matter,” said Hernandez, who teaches Sociology. “I also know that S.A.G.E. is committed to continuing the discussion sparked by this event with their fellow students, members of the community, and elected officials.” 

The “Equal Means Equal” documentary is available on iTunes for download and interested individuals can gain more information by visiting the website, www.equalmeansequal.com.  


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