This documentary follows the three founders of The Old Women’s Project in San Diego, Cynthia Rich, Mannie Garza and Janice Keaffaber, as they use a multitude of strategies to combat the patronizing, the contempt and the invisibility that old women meet every day of their lives, even within progressive movements.
The three women, now in their 60s and 70s, had been political activists together for more than a decade before they decided to focus their activism on challenging ageism. “The word ‘old’,” they say, “is a statement of fact, not a matter of shame. We claim it, because as long as it is humiliating to be called old, it will be humiliating to be old.”
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About The Old Women’s Project
Wearing brilliant t-shirts that declare “Old Women Are Your Future,” Keaffaber, Rich and Garza create engaging and dramatic protests–sometimes comic, sometimes deeply serious–that bring hundreds of women of all ages out into the streets of conservative San Diego. Their women-only actions have included:
- a shopping-bag march through downtown declaring “Women Don’t Buy This War” that protested the Iraq war as a women’s issue, and in particular an old women’s issue before the war began
- an International Women’s Day action at City Hall that mobilized women representing diverse ethnicities and ages to show why housing is a women’s issue, and launched the low-cost housing movement in San Diego
- “Bush Brides” street theater to protest Bush’s “Healthy Marriage Initiative.”
Members of The Old Women’s Project bring their voices and their giant, multi-ethnic old woman puppet POWER (Pissed Old Woman Engaged in Revolution) to other social justice protests in the city. “We connect our issues with everyone else’s issues, and that’s what makes us unique,” says Garza. In their support of the Living Wage Ordinance they carried signs declaring “No Decent Wage = Homeless Old Age.” Says Rich, “Old women are affected by all issues of social justice, not only those that relate to our age, like Medicare and Social Security. Those are very important issues, but that is not all of who we are,” say Rich. The Old Women’s project lobby, speak at State and local meetings in support of causes as diverse as:
- Justice for Janitors
- The ongoing fight for low-cost housing
- The fight against Governor Schwarzenneger’s proposed cuts in services to the disabled.
Always, the Old Women’s Project finds ways to make clear how old women are impacted in these struggles. In their support of the Living Wage Ordinance, which recently passed the City council, they carried signs declaring “No Decent Wage=Homeless Old Age.” They shake up ageist stereotypes. Speaking recently in support of decent wages for home health care workers, Rich pointed out that old women are not only the recipients of such care but in many cases the providers of these services.
For more information about The Old Women’s Project, please visit their website at www.oldwomensproject.org/
I am a 46 year old woman going to college. I saw your film clip “Look Us in The Eye.” I am proud of what you are doing. As I get older I am realizing what you are fighting for. I live in Kentucky and I just wanted to say GREAT JOB!
Look Us in the Eye: The Old Women’s Project opened my eyes to a rarely discussed form of discrimination–ageism. But, instead of dwelling on ageism as a cultural disease and making suggestions for reform, it profiles the activism of an organization that leads by example. It helped me to recognize the power of old women and the desperate need for true intergenerational activism.
Tony Lo Presti, Policy Advocate, Environmental Health Coalition, San Diego, CA
A great addition to the course on Women and Aging that I have taught since 1990.
Terri Premo, Ph.D., Professor, Academic Director, McMicken College of Arts & Sciences, University of Cincinnati
Abod has done it again!! Extraordinary!! Moving, passionate and courageous, Look us in the Eye, will challenge your ageism and point the path toward a liberatory politics of solidarity with old women.
M. Jacqui Alexander, Professor, Women and Gender Studies University of Toronto
Look Us in the Eye has left me with a lot to think about, inspirational, thought provoking and makes me want to take action.
Mika Cade, student
Incredibly powerful film! It encourages us to examine our stereotypes and prejudices. It uses humor and powerful images to convey the strength and brilliance of old women. Girls and women everywhere must see this film.
Lourdes Torres, Associate Professor, De Paul University
Your film is a remarkable exploration of the issues of age! It touches on all the important areas without being didactic, and while maintaining a wonderful sense of humour. I look forward to seeing this many times.
David MacGregor, Professor and Chair, Department of Sociology, King’s University College at The University of Western Ontario
This type of exploration of ageism as it relates to feminism is vital; not only for old women, but also for all people, and even perhaps most for young women such as myself-because it is a positive first step in helping to prevent ageism before the personal experience of ageing occurs. It’s a beautiful film.
Meghan Boone, Student, Trinity College
If I could, I would rate this film as a 10! What a wonderful testimony to voices that have been missing from the social justice discourse. This is an inspiration for old and young activists everywhere.
Emelyn A. dela Pena, Director of Univ. of California, San Diego Women’s Center
What a spectacular film. I will use this in my Women’s Studies and American Studies classes and encourage my colleagues in sociology, political science, History and Psychology. I am also sharing it with all the old women in my life. What a gift.
Amy Farrell Associate Professor, Chair, American Studies, Women’s Studies, Dickenson College, Carlisle, PA
Every girl, every young woman, every woman should see this film and they should bring along the boys and men they know too!
Krista Lyons-Gould, Publisher Seal Press
Profane and profound.
Lois Rita Helmbold Chair, Women’s Studies Dept. Univ. of Las Vegas.
This was fabulous-moved me to tears and I plan on buying the expensive copy for my university. I wish my grandmother were still alive so she could see this, but I can’t wait to show it to my mom, another powerful old woman activist. Thank you.
Karen Misencik, Association Director, Women’s Studies,
George Mason University
INTERVIEWS & ARTICLES
- Countering Ageist Ideology by Myrna Hant
- Q & A with Curve Magazine
- Review by Carol Harada, Frameline
- Off Our Backs Review
- LOUDMouth Magazine Review (pdf format)
- San Francisco Women’s Film Festival
Best Role Model Video for Women 2008
- Milan Lesbian and Gay Festival
Special Jury Award 2007
- San Diego Women’s Festival
Home Grown Heroines, Audience Award, Best Documentary 2007
- Occidental College, Los Angeles in Center for Gender Equity
- The National Communication Association Conference
- CineMujer Film Festival San Antonio, TX
- The Film Center at Cinemacafe, Santa Fe, New Mexico
- La Femme Fine Arts Theater, Beverly Hills CA
- Gero-Ed Film Festival 53rd Council on Social Work Education Annual Meeting
- International Women’s Festival, Miami
- American Society on Aging & the National Council on Aging, Washington, DC
- Iowa City International Film Festival
- Ladyfest, Las Vegas
- National Women’s Studies Association
- ONE National Gay & Lesbian Archives, Los Angeles, CA
- University Screenings and Presentations:
- California State University Long Beach
- DePaul University
- Gallaudet University
- UC Fullerton
- Haverford College
Lesbian and Gay Film Festivals
New York, Chicago, San Francisco, Washington, DC,
Out on Film, Atlanta, GA Landmark Midtown Art Cinema
Urban Media Makers, Atlanta, GA
‘HOMONALE’ A 3-day queer-film-festival, Wiesbaden, Germany
15th Mix Brasil Film and Video Festival, São Paulo, Brazil
Brussels, Paris, Spain, Switzerland, and London Lesbian and Gay Film Festivals