Director, actress and activist Kamala Lopez stumps for women’s rights in her searing documentary “Equal Means Equal.” With a ruthless, surgical approach, Lopez breaks down legal gender inequality in the United States, what she terms the War on Women. Lopez primarily attacks the laws, acts and legislation put in place to prevent gender discrimination that have been gutted and loopholed to death, rendering them useless in protecting women.
In going after governmental issues such as equal pay, family leave, welfare and reproductive rights, she illustrates how the system fails women as it demands both their labor under capitalism and their social functions as mothers.
The firehose of information is almost too much to take in a single sitting, and the film barely gives you enough time to process the horrors of one issue before diving into the next. However, Lopez presents solutions in both the international Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (the U.S. is one of six countries out of 194 that has not signed this treaty), and the Equal Rights Amendment, which fell just three states shy of ratification in 1980.
That may come as a surprise to millennial feminists, and Lopez urges action on the new ERA movement, citing the web of social problems (poverty, rape, domestic violence, and sexual exploitation) that are connected to gender discrimination. “Equal Means Equal” is a lot to process, but offers an unflinching look at the fight for equal civil rights for all.
‘Equal Means Equal’
Running time: 1 hour 33 minutes
Playing: Laemmle Music Hall, Beverly Hills