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Movie Review:

“Never Going Back,” directed by Augustine Frizzell, 1 hour 26 minutes

“Puzzle,” Directed by Marc Turtletaub, 1 hour 43 minutes

This is the year of the women in movies as well as elections. My movie buddy and I caught two better-than-average films this weekend.

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Jessie and Angela are two wild teenaged waitresses in “Never Going Back.” Agnes is a straightlaced housewife in “Puzzle.” There are light moments, but neither movie is a comedy. Both of them ring true as comments on the lives of contemporary American women.

Jessie and Angela are parent- and school- free waifs just about to turn 17. They live with Jessie’s older brother. He is a stoner and aspiring drug dealer. He has even less sense than they do. He tries to borrow money from them while they save up to spend a weekend on the faraway beach in Galveston. The movie, takes place in Garland, Texas,  next to Dallas.

The viewer would probably respect the young women a lot more if they weren’t such zany outlaws, but he/she would probably care for them less. I worried about them all the way through the film.

I wasn’t worried about Agnes in the other movie, but I was pulling for her. As the film begins, she is taking care of men, her husband and two nearly grown sons. Before that, she took care of her father. “You’re the boss,” she cheerfully tells her husband at one point.

But Agnes has a secret. She’s taken up competitive jig saw puzzling with an exotic man in the big city. Agnes guides herself through big changes, but she is never entirely out of control. One admires her all the way through the film.

Both movies are well done. The music is particularly good, and the acting is outstanding.

For moviegoers who are interested in women as victims and women as rebels, these are two pretty good movies.

–Gene Lantz

I am on KNON radio’s “Workers Beat” program every Saturday at 9 AM Central Time. If you want to know what I really think, check out my personal web site

Hard is the fortune of all womankind

She’s always controlled

She’s always confined

Controlled by her parents until she’s a wife

A slave to her husband the rest of her life

–The Wagoner’s Lad (Joan Baez)

Why the Patriarchy Succeeded the Matriarchy

During Women’s History Month, it’s good to reflect on the oppression that we are dealing with and how to fight it.

For most of humankind’s existence, matriarchies were more common than patriarchies. Up to 5 or 6,000 years ago, humans were hunter-gatherers. They barely survived and had nothing that that they could keep. Whatever they obtained was consumed right away.

Humans lived in cooperative societies where everyone’s contribution was completely necessary for survival; consequently no one was undervalued. People traced their lineage through their mothers, the only parent of whom they could be certain.

Woman’s Downfall was Cows, Not Apples

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At the dawn of civilization, people began to accumulate wealth. Their wealth may have been cattle or agricultural products, but, for the first time, human beings had something that they could keep and pass on to their heirs. That was the downfall of women’s equality.

The men wanted to be sure of their heirs, so they ended women’s rights. Marriage was invented and adultery, for women, became a capital offense. Polygamy thrived and polyandry was rare.

Women were the first oppressed class

–Frederich Engels (Origin of the Family, Private Property, and the State)

It Wasn’t Just Women

The men with the wealth didn’t just oppress women. They oppressed everybody they could. They enslaved everyone they could conquer. Slavery became the dominant form of work for centuries. But people, including women, struggled for a better deal. As capitalism became the dominant form of economic production, starting only about 400 years ago, labor became more “free,” and really big gains began to come.

America Was “The Beautiful” for White Propertied Men

In 1776, when the United States began to form, white propertied men of a certain age were the only ones who could vote. Blacks were enslaved and Natives were murdered. Women couldn’t even own property. Millions would die before significant change came about, but change did come.

American democracy peaked toward the end of the 20th century, and has been generally headed the other way since then. Our electoral system is now awash in money. Previous restrictions on racist voter suppression are being put aside. The Equal Rights Amendment is a distant memory, except in Nevada, where it passed in 2017.

How to End Women’s Oppression

Women’s oppression has the same basis as oppression of others — it is the will of the holders of wealth. They have to be removed from power. Women, as one of the more oppressed groups, have a special role in this fight. It is heartening that the biggest demonstrations in American history, weekend of January 20-21, were led by women. It is significant that women called a general strike on International Women’s Day, even though there is no way to evaluate the participation.

I work on organizing people who support the right to retire. I especially prize our women activists because they tend to have the clerical abilities that organizers need, while men who have worked with their hands all their lives tend to have less ability to use modern technology.

I don’t believe that women, acting alone, will overcome the propertied oppressors. It will take virtually everyone. But I don’t think it could be done without women!

There was a union maid,

Who never was afraid

–Woody Guthrie

After 1 1/2 years of arguing with my ultraleft friends over why their votes matter, I now have to turn toward my reformist friends and convince them that voting isn’t everything.

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A little sidewalk march, protected under Article 1. Anybody can organize one!

If you’re not sure what an ultraleft and a reformist are, feel free to consult my on-line glossary of useful political terms. Just for the sake of this exposition, ultralefts tend to denounce voting and reformists tend to denounce everything else.

The official smart people of America are generally saying, now that Trump is the president-elect, “Well we voted and now we must support our new President and let democracy take its course.” We live in a democracy, but it’s a limited democracy and it’s far from perfect. Even after 250 years of steadily improving it, our democracy is still a long way from fairness or equal treatment. In the last few decades, it’s actually gotten worse than it was, and I have a notion that it’s about to get worser still.

Voting May be Critical, But It Isn’t Everything

Working people struggle against the employers in many arenas. Pretty much all of them, including the electoral arena, are rigged against us, but it is important that we learn to carry out our fight in every battleground. That includes strikes like the very important musicians strike going on right now in Fort Worth, Texas. It includes petitioning campaigns, lobbying efforts, fund raisers, small protests and major marches.

Are you too dignified to march?

Think it over carefully before you answer.

In the same time frame that Republicans take over all aspects of federal government, mid January, we’re going to have a chance to put some strength into the civil rights movement during traditional Martin Luther King Jr birthday celebrations.

On the day after the the inauguration of The Donald, I’m proud to announce that somebody has called for a “Million Women March” in DC and here and there around the country. They invite everyone who believes in women’s rights, and that should include all of us. Even though the march is scheduled for a Saturday, lots of people will take off work on Friday for travel — that might help some of my friends who think a general strike would work on January 20.

I haven’t seen anything yet on activities defending undocumented workers, but I suspect that such events will be called. We won’t be able, physically, to attend everything that somebody thinks up, but we can pick the best ones. I expect to see my ultraleft friends at most of them. Maybe my reformist friends will come this time, too.

Unless they’re too dignified.

–Gene Lantz

No beating around the bush; if you want to know what I really think, click here.