New PBS Documentary on Women Who Make America

Last year I discovered a project from PBS and AOL called “Makers: Women Who Make America.” It was first introduced as a website with an extensive collection of videos interviewing groundbreaking and influential women. Tomorrow, PBS will air a documentary by the same name as a culmination of the project. 

As a woman seeking truth, particularly truth for women, I am compelled to respond.

The stated purpose of the documentary is to “tell the story of the women’s movement through the firsthand accounts of the leaders, opponents, and trailblazers who created a new America in the last half-century.”   

I believe another central, though unstated, purpose is to create a new definition of what it means to be a woman. 

I don’t deny that many of the women featured on Makers have made extraordinary achievements, overcome extreme obstacles, and contributed much good to our country and the world. But when I watch the trailer, I see core biblical truths about women, men, marriage, and family cast aside and mocked.

For example, the opening scene shows a 1950s husband asking his wife about the last time she baked a cake. Granted, cake baking isn’t your typical kitchen-table chat in the 21st century, but I think the comments that follow reveal what it’s really making light of:

“I was brought up in the Betty Crocker Era. You had to get married, and you had to have a child.”

“That’s what it was about. To meet the guy. To get married. To have babies. To be the president of the PTA. Blech!”

The “Betty Crocker Era” isn’t just about a woman in a dress and pearls answering her husband’s question about baking a cake. These comments reveal that it’s associated with a time when women focused on being married and having children—they even longed for it. And this is what seems to be at the heart of the documentary—to show how the feminist movement redefined a woman and her roles.

The point is not to look at this as a “working woman vs. homemaker” or “career mom vs. stay-at-home mom” battle. It is so much more than that. This is a collection of women and their stories that is being used to advance the idea of women without home, marriage, and family as their priority. It’s a redefinition that includes equality with men but does not seem to assign worth to differentiated roles or characteristics between the genders.     

Scripture does not contain this definition. Whether you’re young or old, married or single, wife or mom, have a job or stay at home—God has created women distinctively (Gen. 1:27), with core characteristics and purposes. Characteristics like humility, love, modesty, and intentional strength (1 Pet. 3:1–5) and a purpose that includes an orientation toward the home, family, marriage, and children (Tit. 2:3–5). The way we live those out will most certainly look different. Those differences are necessary and a striking picture of how God uses all things to work together in His will and for His glory. But this documentary seeks to belittle or deny differences between men and women—to cause the viewer to believe that equality cannot include different roles and positions. This is reflected in a statement toward the end of the trailer:

“We need to live in a world where men do half, women let them do half, and being a parent is not a full-time job for a woman and a part-time job for a man.”

So, to follow this logic, perhaps I should tell my husband when he comes home from work that he’s just a part-time dad because our roles and activities during the day are not exactly the same.

We cannot define our womanhood in these terms! We cannot be so self-seeking and self-promoting that we usurp the beauty of the complementary roles and characteristics that God has created and defined for men and women.

So if you watch this documentary, compare it with the truth of God’s Word so that you can learn about some amazing women, and yet, be able to identify the proposed beliefs and ideas that go against who God has created women to be. 

And, keep in mind, the target audience isn’t just you. It’s also your daughters. In the final scene of another video on the main website, a little girl riding a school bus is watching the Makers videos on her iPhone. Is that where our children will learn the definition of womanhood? Or will we be the teachers, mentors, and examples of the unique and purposed women God created us to be?

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo Fulk

Heidi Jo desires to know and live God’s Word, then teach and challenge other women to do the same. Heidi and her husband, Dan, live in Michigan with their four children and she leads women's ministries at her church.