Women were granted the right to vote in 1920 with the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which amplified their voices and led them one step closer to gender equality. It didn’t, however, entirely eradicate the pervasive sexism of the time; males continued to dictate the way of life even in 1931 Iowa – the setting for USA Network’s critically acclaimed drama, Damnation. Despite these sociopolitical hardships, countless women -- including our very own Amelia Davenport (Sarah Jones) -- took steps to confront America’s sexist policies, and pave the way for greater female representation.
In the midst of the farmer’s revolt, Amelia finds that the local paper suppresses the news by reporting on carnivals and the latest Hollywood fashion. Our heroine takes matters into her own hands by confronting the editor-in-chief. Here’s how she smashes the patriarchy in less than three minutes.
1. Amelia identifies the menacing source of the problem, and tackles it head on.
A farmer’s strike is no small undertaking, and it takes an entire community to make the rebellion successful. Amelia contributes to the cause in many ways, but is most vocal about the local newspaper’s coverage –- or lack thereof. Throughout the season, she has implored DL Sullivan (Joe Adler), a young journalist, to focus more attention on the strikes and the implications for the town’s inhabitants, but to little avail. Instead, he spends his time covering stories that are largely inconsequential. When asked why he refuses to write about the strike, Amelia learns that his editor-in-chief, Burt Babbage (Tom Butler), is suppressing the story. In true rebel fashion, she confronts the problem.
2. She stands her ground, even in the face of blatant sexism.
Amelia isn’t afraid of asserting herself. “Corruption, cowardice –- or idiocy?” she asks when confronting Babbage. The journalist responds with blatant sexism: “Hello, to you, little lady.” By referring to Amelia as little, Babbage attempts to diminish her presence and establish his authority. But as someone who describes herself as “nobody’s picture of girlish innocence or goodness,” Amelia decides not to back down.
3. Amelia makes it abundantly clear that she doesn’t need a man to speak on her behalf.
Babbage, clearly irked by Amelia’s sudden intrusion, asks if her husband knows about her current whereabouts –- attempting to reduce her to nothing more than a disruptive, unruly housewife. His condescension is met with her fiery determination and wit: “Why, do you need him to protect you from me?”
4. Our heroine delivers the final blow with great finesse.
Amelia has had enough. Babbage has no journalistic integrity and is clearly a misogynist. Amelia takes one look around his office, and realizes that her efforts will have little effect on this obstinate editor. She chooses her final words carefully, hoping to send a message that will resonate:
“I grew up around men like you. You have your nice suit and your expensive desk, and six months after you’re dead, no one will ever remember you lived. I look forward to forgetting you.”
Amelia is not one to be trifled with, and we can only wonder who else will dare cross her path. Tune in to Damnation for more.