Gender Genesis

The Film
Salt of The Earth
Patriarchy is a major issue addressed by the movie Salt of the
Earth
. In this 1954 McCarthy-era film written by Michael
Wilson, a strike by Mexican American mine workers is recreated
by union members and actors, some of whom were blacklisted.
The film shows not only the problems of dangerous conditions
and benefits inferior to those give to whites, but also internal
conflicts within the family and community.

In the midst of problems in the all-male workforce which affects
all members of the families, a proposal to create a woman’s
auxiliary is tabled by the men. When a court order forces the
miners to stop the strike, the women propose striking for them.
Some of the men laughed, and some said they didn’t want to hide
behind women’s skirts. But when it is agreed to let the woman as
well as the men vote on what will be done, the vote is made in
favor of the women striking.

The women do not "scatter like quail" as predicted when the
bosses drive a vehicle into their picket line. They do not give up,
even though one woman is hurt. In fact, even throwing some of
the women into jail doesn’t stop the others from picketing. Some
of the men, left with wives in jail to spend time washing and
cleaning in their homes with inadequate plumbing, appreciate the
hard work done by the women and more compromises and
changes are made. The film shows how a real-life incident
challenged the historical patriarchal system, but left the family
structure altered but intact.