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13 Feminist Documentaries On Netflix That Everyone Should See

From Becoming to Knock Down The House, add these to your watchlist.

Michelle Obama 'Becoming' Feminist documentary (via Netflix press site)
Courtesy of Netflix
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Twenty-four hours after Donald Trump's historically mediocre inauguration in 2017, the global Women's March movement made U.S. history as the most attended protest in the country. Three years later, protests calling for justice and supporting Black Lives Matter popped up all over the country, bringing issues of privilege and intersectional feminism to the forefront of the women's movement. It's important that modern feminists be exposed to all different kinds of feminist thought and issues facing women worldwide, and to help in this endeavor, here are 13 feminist documentaries on Netflix everyone needs to watch.

There are a lot of feminist docs on Netflix, something that's made especially notable when taken alongside the relatively few female-driven fiction movies we’ve seen in our daily lives. Netflix's documentary selection ranges from biographical films to investigative filmmaking, and the feminist documentaries are no different. Whether you want to learn more about the history of feminism or modern injustices and current political events affecting women all over the world, there is a feminist documentary for you. Here are the 13 feminist documentaries on Netflix to embrace going forward.

1

Audrie & Daisy

Netflix

The Netflix documentary centers around two teenage girls from two different parts of the country who both pass out while intoxicated at high school parties and are sexually assaulted by boys they had considered to be friends. As they attempt to deal with the trauma they’ve just experienced, the girls end up facing a great deal of online harassment in the wake of their assaults. On the surface, online bullying may not seem like a feminist issue, but the mistreatment of women in real life and online is a very real threat, as Audrey & Daisy shows.

2

Hot Girls Wanted

Directed by Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus, Hot Girls Wanted is a 2015 documentary that explores the world of Florida’s amateur porn and sheds light on how it exploits young women at a very early age. If you want to be a champion for young women and girls in the internet age, Hot Girls Wanted is definitely a good place to start.

3

13th

Netflix

Ava DuVernay's Netflix documentary 13th focuses on racial inequality of the U.S. prison system and explores the idea that the prison industrial complex came directly from the 13th Amendment. It's not solely a feminist documentary, per se, but to be an American feminist means to understand the various historical oppressions of this country. This came out two years before DeVernay’s When They See Us miniseries, but it focuses on the same powerful message concerning race and the flawed justice system.

4

Feminists: What Were They Thinking?

This 2018 Netflix documentary created by Johanna Demetrakas chronicles the stories of various women who are featured in a 1977 book of photographs that capture them shedding cultural restrictions of their childhoods. The film also looks to the present day and stresses the need for the culture to continue shifting toward equality. In addition, the feminist documentary includes various interviews with Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, Laurie Anderson, and Judy Chicago who discuss a wide range of topics involving identity, abortion, race, and motherhood.

5

Mercury 13

Released in 2018, this Netflix documentary follows the riveting tale of a group of 13 women who trained to become astronauts as part of America’s very first spaceflight program in the early 1960s. The women underwent the same sort of physiological screening tests given to NASA astronauts, though it was never an official part of the NASA program. However, the commitment and determination of these women paved the way for other women who followed in their footsteps and dared to dream of blasting off toward the stars.

6

Period. End of Sentence.

Even in the year 2021, the topic of menstruation is considered by many to be a taboo subject. The Oscar-winning Netflix documentary Period. End of Sentence seeks to fight against this stigma by focusing on a group of Indian women who fought for better access to secure sanitary products and began manufacturing their own sanitary pads as a result. The film also highlights how important it is for men to be allies on this issue, and why the shame surrounding menstruation needs to be put to an end once and for all.

7

Surviving R. Kelly

This documentary series details the history of sexual abuse allegations against musician R. Kelly, all of which he has denied. In a series of personal interviews, survivors speak out to tell their story and stand united in speaking out against him. The six-part series also includes more than 50 interviews of experts and commentators, including civil rights activist Tarana Burke, well-known musicians John Legend and Sparkle, talk show host Wendy Williams, as well as R. Kelly's family members in an attempt to provide some much-needed insight into the singer’s controversial past.

8

Reversing Roe

Access to safe, legal abortions is a constant concern for many Americans – especially following the 2020 Supreme Court appointment of Amy Coney Barrett, who has described abortion as “always immoral” and expressed interest in questioning “whether people can get very late-term abortions” or “how many restrictions can be put on clinics.” Though Reversing Roe was released in 2018, the Netflix documentary’s deep-dive into abortion rights, and abortion’s legal history in the United States, feels current and ever-essential.

9

Becoming

Netflix

Michelle Obama’s documentary Becoming is here to provide a much-needed dose of humanity and kindness. The doc, which shares the same title as her best-selling memoir, provides a behind-the-scenes look at the former First Lady’s 34 city book tour and the connections she made and life lessons she learned along the way. It’s not quite the same as having the Obamas back in the White House, but it’s certainly better than nothing.

10

Knock Down The House

This down-to-earth doc from 2019 follows four women — Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Amy Vilela, Cori Bush, and Paula Jean Swearengin — as they run for office in their states’ Democratic primaries. Filmmaker Rachel Lears began working on the Netflix documentary the day after Donald Trump’s election. Of course, even just a few years ago, Ocasio-Cortez (aka AOC) wasn’t a household name, which is part of what makes revisiting her campaign’s earliest days feel so special. You'll want to pay extra attention during a sweet moment at the end, when the now-congresswoman recalls visiting the U.S. Capitol as a child with her dad, who taught her that the government (and all its monuments and trappings) belongs to the people.

11

City of Joy

Directed by Madeleine Gavin, this 2016 documentary chronicles the creation of City of Joy. Established in 2011 by Dr. Denis Mukwege, playwright Eve Ensler, and human rights activist Christine Schuler Deschryver, City of Joy is a place for women who have survived horrific violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It’s a harrowing tale that proves how powerful women can be when they work together for the greater good.

12

Homecoming: A Film By Beyoncé

Written, directed, and executive produced by Queen Bey herself, this 2019 concert film documents Beyoncé’s unforgettable performance at the 2018 Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival and provides intimate footage from several months prior to show all of the work and creativity that went into bringing the iconic singer’s vision to life. If this isn’t enough to make you an official member of the Beyhive, then nothing will.

13

A Secret Love

This Netflix documentary sheds light on a 70-year love story between Terry Donahue and Pat Henschel — a relationship that they’d kept secret from the world up until a few years ago. The two of them met in 1947 back when Donahue served as a catcher in the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League. (Fun fact: the AAGPBL later served as inspiration for the widely popular 1992 hit film A League of Their Own.) A Secret Love follows Donahue and Henschel’s journey to finally coming out to their families in 2009 and details their last few years together as a couple. You don’t have to be a sports fan to fall in love with this heartwarming story.