Sweatshop Cinderella

Women Make Movies has some great new films available. This one, in particular, caught my eye as it seems like such an interesting amalgam of issues we are facing in a big way, though in a different context, today: immigration, labor and worker’s rights, sexism, notions of America. Check it out.

Has anyone read Bread Givers? What did you think?

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  • Comrade Kevin

    I have always been inspired by the life of Olive Thomas, who grew up in a clannish, working class Irish family. After her father died, she was forced to leave school and go to work to support the family. She got married for the first time at 16 to give her mother one less mouth to feed to a much older man.
    But she was very beautiful and very ambitious, so she attained a divorce at 18, then moved to New York City. After a short period of time working the counter at a department store, she eventually became a Ziegfeld Follies girl, a frequent model for illustrators, and then a movie star.

  • Blithely Zealotic

    The Bread Givers was assigned reading for 8th grade English. It was an amazing book that I remember to this day 10 years later. I remember the struggles of Bessie, the “old maid with graying braids” – who was considered less valuable the older she got without marrying.
    I remember Masha, the 2nd daughter who was “the pretty one” and always had men calling. Her father wouldn’t let her marry the man she loved because he “played piano on the sabbath – a shnorrer”.
    It was a very tragic book in some ways, but I do remember Anna’s struggle for her own room, to concentrate on her studies, and to work a thankless, exhausting job for little pay to put herself through school. How she was served less meat at a lunch counter because she was a woman (despite paying the same money). And all the while, her father called her “Blut und Eisen”, blood and iron.

  • emmajane

    I read Bread Givers for a Jewish American Literature class in college – I remember not being that impressed by it, and the overwhelming impression was of her cannily positioning herself to be successful with a wider audience that was eating up these immigrant narratives that reaffirmed the importance and the freedom of becoming ‘American’. It is an important book, and I think she was a pretty amazing person, and it is quite feminist in many ways, but I think it’s not uncomplicated and definitely sits within what was designed to be commercially successful at the time, in that context.