Travel Log 11: “Holding up Half the Sky” Reaction Paper. By Zelia Pantani. Antibes, France

I have a lot of favorite TV shows, one of which is the beloved 10 season long “One Tree Hill”.  I must have watched this series twice through within a period of six months—which is borderline pathetic—but there were so many relatable topics. The show began with the characters in high school, dealing with those daily struggles of fitting in with your community, maintaining healthy relationships, family problems and finding yourself, carrying out until the cast is well into their adult lives and new challenges. Out of this show my favorite character, Brooke Davis, always played the emotionally weak-yet-strong cheerleader who struggled to keep a good relationship with her controlling mother. In real life, Brooke Davis is played by Sophia Bush who is an actor, singer and amongst all: a feminist activist. She advocates on behalf of the women that can’t, won’t and that don’t so that we are all entitled to an equal lifestyle in a professional or private setting. One of my favorite attributes about her style, is the show people being a feministic doesn’t mean you suddenly hate men or stop shaving your armpits to defy society, it means you fight for the rights that are stripped of women—in any condition.

In my opinion the documentary “Holding up Half the Sky” aims to bring to attention the appalling conditions that some women are subjected to on a daily basis by the men in their communities. Even bigger than calling to attention the conditions that these women are exposed to, the main objective of this documentary is to highlight that something that affects one member of a society in turn affects the entire society, race and community. When the research began the authors found that millions of girls were missing in China, without a single question raised, but as time went on China wasn’t the only place these incidents were happening. There are so many unknown cases never brought to attention, no matter how severe because that is simply how the culture has evolved and operates. The most troubling factor about that though is women make up HALF of the community, culture and world; without women the human race is physically unable to survive. The purpose of “Holding up Half the Sky” is to to address the problem stated within the documentary itself: “Women’s rights are the unfished business of the 21st century”.

Over the course of this entire film, it became harder to watch, as the stories never seemed to cease. However, there was one story that I found myself feeling enraged rather than heartbroken (like the rest). A girl, in her early teens, had been raped by her “uncle”, who also happened to be a pastor. When she told her parents, they wanted to press charges—to which she was embarrassed. This is what immediately struck me; that she would be embarrassed to incarcerate her perpetrator for fear of what the others in the town could say regarding her character. In that moment I realized a few things: how dependent we are upon the support from our communities, the sub-ordinance that women are subjected to by men, the lack of human rights in certain communities and most importantly that this sentiment can be felt by those affected by this act whether in poverty stricken nations or successfully established nations.

As the scene played out, through her embarrassment, the family pressed charges and arrested the pastor. At that moment viewers could visually see the smile on her face and the feeling of relief that had passed over her. Despite feeling alone and embarrassed, taking action to convict this man and make him pay for his crimes, allowed her to realize some degree of her worth as a person and in the community that she had that support. My favorite quote from the film was Meg Ryan’s statement “…they heal as a community and feel pain as a community… it’s how they get through it”. This quote is crucial to the name of the documentary itself and the problem with these women’s rights. You can not heal as half a community or feel pain as a half a community; you can’t leave women behind since they are just as important as the men are.

Throughout the film I saw an underlying concept of the key to education. Half of the women were uneducated, and among the ones that were they went to great lengths in order to obtain this education. One young woman rode her bike 17 miles every day, just in order to learn. One little girl, was told day in and day out that she was essentially useless as a family member by both of her parents. Not until she began educating herself could they see her worth and tell her she was loved within the family. This put into perspective for me, imagining a life where I wasn’t able to get an education due to lack of resources, but my worth was based upon my level of education—talk about reaching for the stars! In my long term future, I’d like to work with companies to provide technological solutions to their various problems in terms of implementing and updating systems. Perhaps a solution could be found to implement a source for these girls to obtain an education through the use of an information system. Or at the very least, provide some central source of technology that girls, young women, and women are all able to use in order to help give them a fighting chance in the realm of learning.


One thought on “Travel Log 11: “Holding up Half the Sky” Reaction Paper. By Zelia Pantani. Antibes, France

  1. Hey Z,

    I totally agree with you that the video was very appalling, but i also found it educating. I am sure that you might have been shocked as well to the fact that so many women were missing in China. This really showed the lack of intervention as a global community. Just like you I found the film hard to watch because this just showed how real these situations are in our community.


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