Atta Girl

I just finished rewatching 9 to 5 after reading this blog post about it. Briefly, the movie is about three women played by Jane Fonda, Lily Tomlin, and Dolly Parton who have the boss from hell. They fantasize about killing him or getting revenge, but some of their fantasies accidentally come to fruition. So in that respect, it reminded me a little of Horrible Bosses, which I talked about here. Though unlike the men there, these co-workers join together to blackmail their boss to keep him quiet.

But in the days pre-internet and computer, the blackmail material was slow to come. They had to wait for the damning invoices to be located and printed and sent to them, so they kept him a prisoner in his house. Meanwhile, they implemented changes around the workplace. They start with something small, letting workers keep personal items on their desks, but Tomlin suggests they do something that really counts. They build a day care center in the building and implement a job sharing program. They give their workers flexible hours and equal pay for equal work. They help the employees with substance abuse. When Tomlin shows the chairman of the board around the office, she says that these programs have cut down on absenteeism and increased productivity.

Maybe I’m taking too much from it, but it just kind of struck me, when three women run the office, they make changes that women would appreciate. The changes allow the women (most of the employees in this office) to work better. Which, duh, increases the bottom line. There was no value (or not enough value) in doing things the old way–the corrupt boss’s way–strictly because that is the way it had always been done. But what struck me was that this movie was made in 1980. I was struck simultaneously by how far we’ve come since then and by how far we have yet to go.

At the end of the movie, the chairman of the board tells the corrupt boss that the equal pay thing has got to go. Equal pay for equal work was too ridiculous of an idea to the 1980 chairman. And it’s too ridiculous to some now.

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About emmawolf

I'm a freelance writer living in Baltimore with my husband, son, and two cats. I'm working on editing my first novel. I love reading, traveling, and the cello.
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4 Responses to Atta Girl

  1. canbebitter says:

    I’ve never seen 9 to 5, but I guess I’ll have to now! At least in the last 30 years we’ve mostly moved past such open discrimination, but there’s still the structural, ingrained, silent stuff we need to tackle.

    • emmawolf says:

      “we’ve mostly moved past such open discrimination, but there’s still the structural, ingrained, silent stuff we need to tackle”

      Yes. I wanted to talk about this, but I found it really hard to phrase. The sexual harassment that Parton faces in this movie is really blatant. Our laws address that. I think that’s great and the law also helped change attitudes, but I also think that now it’s so much harder to prove discrimination and harassment. People have gotten smart enough not to say “sleep with me and I won’t turn you into the cops” but the sentiment is still there.

  2. spiegelmama says:

    It’s so depressing, isn’t it? Ugh.

    • emmawolf says:

      Yes. 😦 but I’m going to try to be hopeful and focus on the positive attitude that the chairman had toward the changes and increase in productivity and the changes that have been made since then.

      But I’m still depressed.

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