In its execution, Irene Lusztig’s Yours in Sisterhood is a rather straightforward project. A bunch of woman across 32 US States stand in front of a camera and read a number of mostly unpublished letters written to Ms. Magazine in the 1970s. The real value of Lusztig’s work is found in the words and the women who recite them.
Ms. Magazine was America’s first mainstream feminist publication and attracted readers of various ethnic, religious, sexual orientation and political backgrounds. Despite being a voice for female empowerment the magazine, as Lusztig shows through the unreleased letters, mainly catered to a certain type of woman. Minorities, lesbians, transgender individuals, victims of abuse and women with disabilities were often left out of the magazine. Conversely, there were those who took offense to the magazine’s approach to religion and its anti-gun stance.
In a period when movements such as #MeToo and #TimesUp are reigniting the fight for equality and respect, it is easy to label Yours in Sisterhood as a timely work. However, what is most impactful about the film is the way it reminds viewers about how little has changed in nearly fifty years. While there has been some progress since the days of Ms. Magazine, take the legalization of same-sex marriage for example, many of the challenges outlined in those letters are still being fought today.
By incorporating various women of different ages and backgrounds to share their thoughts on the letters they have read, the film effectively highlights a plethora of social issues that impact women today. Everything from discrimination in the workplace to peer pressure to domestic violence to prison reform to male egos and rape to racism and much more are touched on. Yours in Sisterhood should be mandatory viewing for us all. It is a stark reminder of just how much work still needs to be done in the fight for equality.
Saturday, June 2, 11:45 AM, TIFF Bell Lightbox
This review was originally published as part of our Hot Docs 2018 coverage. Yours in Sisterhood will be screening at Inside Out next week.