posted 2011-02-23 13:00:17

Feminism That Goes Beyond Bra-Burning - Passionate Politics: The Life and Work of Charlotte Bunch

Charlotte bunch (center) with Organizers from Triangle Project, South Africa. (Photo: Courtesy of Triangle Project)
Charlotte bunch (center) with Organizers from Triangle Project, South Africa. (Photo: Courtesy of Triangle Project)
Caitlin Ramiro

Staff Writer

Women today still find themselves degraded, downplayed and oppressed in various forms. In their new film, Passionate Politics: The Life and Work of Charlotte Bunch, Hunter Professor Tami Gold and Hunter alumni and current graduate student, David Pavlosky, illuminate the issue of discrimination against women. The film premiered at Barnard College’s Athena Film Festival, a three-day festival at the prestigious women’s college, which highlights the feats and battles of women everywhere. Passionate Politics focuses on Charlotte Bunch, a social activist who has drawn national attention.

An inductee of the National Women’s Hall of Fame and former recipient of the Eleanor Roosevelt Award for Human Rights, Bunch ventured into social injustice on a global scale, and actively fought for equality for all people. As an openly lesbian radical, Bunch understood, first-hand, the ills of discrimination. Nonetheless, her personal experiences with sexism only increased the vigor of her cause.

A few days before the premiere of her film, Professor Gold confidently displayed a smile.  “We had to get the film politically and personally right,” said Professor Gold. “When you’re an activist, there will not be a lot of films made about you, so it had to be good. We couldn’t get by just telling a story.”

In addition, Professor Gold considered the film “daunting.” “I needed to immerse myself suddenly into global feminism,” she said.

The idea of telling the stories of older lesbian activists originated from Professor Gold’s deceased friend, Joyce Warshow. Warshow began developing her idea into a film in 2005 and worked on the film until her passing in 2009. As a last request, Warshow asked Professor Gold to continue her vision and she did. Professor Gold confessed, “I felt like the film was an enormous obligation to someone I love very much.”

Passionate Politics probes into the political world of feminism. Co-producer David Pavlosky admitted, “As an American, I was not aware of the women’s movement. Feminism goes beyond the bra-burning and issue of abortion. Women are fighting for their human rights.”

The film deals with raw topics like domestic violence, homophobic hate crimes, and rape. “Before this film,” Pavlosky noted, “I thought I understood women’s rights. I assumed that they were being treated equal until I started learning about the struggles of women on a global level.”

The film showed mangled women abandoned by their societies. In numerous countries, governments continue to deny women of basic rights and though some have taken initiatives to remedy their social dilemmas, too many countries have failed to implement civil rights laws. In one scene, Bunch visits a village, where a proud lesbian woman was stoned due to her detested sexual orientation. In addition, rape in certain areas of the world is responded to ambivalently, as if violence were not an issue at all. Bunch sheds light on these matters and makes a case for the necessity of social reform on a global level.

For the quasi-feminists, full-blown radicals, or curious college students like myself, Hunter College will showcase Passionate Politics at its Eleanor House — a historical landmark where Eleanor Roosevelt once developed her own ideas of feminism. It’s fitting, as Passionate Politics holds the ability to transform the most chauvinist male into a feminist: one who moves beyond concerns over abortion and birth control, and fights for the human civil rights denied to women.