Decades ago, three brave women broke into the male-dominated and hyper exclusive field of war journalism in order to establish their names and place within history. These heroines overcame dangerous front lines, misogyny and their own fear to establish more then just a “woman’s angle.”
The documentary NO JOB FOR A WOMAN: THE WOMEN WHO FOUGHT TO REPORT WWII follows the paths of wire service reporter Ruth Cowan, magazine reporter Martha Gellhorn, and war photographer Dickey Chapelle. These women were allowed near the action but were ushered to the side by being, “banned from the frontlines, prevented from covering front page stories about generals and battlefield maneuvers, and assigned stories about nurses and female military personnel” that undermined their capabilities.
Now these women had more then just determination and ambition; they were straight up fearless and deserve gold medals. Ruth Cowan’s reporting was, ”hampered by a bureau chief who refused to talk to her. Meanwhile, photojournalist Dickey Chappelle wanted to get so close to the action that she could feel bullets whizzing by.”
Most disturbing in this documentary is the blatant sexism that existed surrounding war and women as professionals. Martha Gellhorn was a highly educated and successful writer…not to mention she was also affluent within society and married to Ernest Hemingway. However, Gellhorn was so determined to get to the frontlines that she left husband Ernest Hemingway, never to be reunited (I really can’t blame her for escaping). Despite privilege, she still faced opposition in war zones and had to talk her way into opportunities…only to be turned away and discouraged.
These women, “brought home a new kind of war story: one that was more intimate yet more revealing. They reached beyond the battlefield and deep into human lives to tell a new story of war.” The documentary is narrated by Emmy Award winner Julianna Margulies, and is supported by interviews with contemporary female war reporters. It is crucial for these stories to be told in order to pay tribute to women who were otherwise overlooked within their own era. The history, and future of WHO is recording stories depends on shedding truth on legends such as these.
The title NO JOB FOR A WOMAN: THE WOMEN WHO FOUGHT TO REPORT WWII also encourages all of us to stand united with these women and women today who have to fight physically, mentally or just within a patriarchal society to achieve their dreams and prove themselves as worthy. So tune into PBS tomorrow night at 8pm to bear witness to the strength of these women. You can find more information about the documentary here.