Seeing ‘Maiden’ through younger eyes

Thu, 10/17/2019 - 4:00pm

Sisters Giovanna and Aly Robson, 15 and 13 respectively, recently watched the documentary “Maiden” when it was shown at the beach during a SounWaves event, and said they were immediately impacted by the film’s message.

Giovanna and Aly are both rowers, not sailors, and initially Aly said she had no interest in seeing the film, and Giovanna said she had never heard of the story. But they were impressed by the accomplishments of the all-woman sailing crew depicted in the film. They saw the prejudice and condescension towards the women in the film through the prism of their own young lives, which for the past two years has been shaped somewhat by both the #MeToo and #TimesUp movements. “Maiden” is a documentary that tells the story of the first all-woman crew to sail the Whitbread Round the World Race, which takes almost a year to complete. The protagonist of the film is skipper Tracy Edwards, who also narrates the film.

The two sisters discussed their own experiences as members of their school’s crew team. “There’s 30 boys and 15 girls, twice the number,” said Aly. “Our coaches are all guys,” said Giovanna. When asked if they had experienced any sexism, or had talked about the #MeToo movement among their peers, they both said yes. Aly said there were examples of sexism on social media, but she felt that “major sexism has been flushed out but the minor stuff is still out there.”

“I think it still exists,” said Giovanna, “but people are called out on it more.”

When they were asked by Block Island Yacht Club Commodore Jim Fiorato whether they were surprised by the fact that King Hussein of Jordan was the only sponsor to finally step up to support the women’s crew by buying them a boat, they both didn’t think it was ironic so much as a decent gesture.

“I thought it was kind of nice. He was like, ‘I believe in her,’” said Giovanna, referencing Maiden’s captain, Tracy Edwards, but they also said there wouldn’t be such a struggle to find a sponsor today “because women run companies that could sponsor them,” said Aly.

When asked if the attitude toward women by some men in the film — that women could not do or accomplish what men can — had changed, Giovanna said, “I think some progress has been made —“

“But not enough,” interjected Aly.

“We have gotten to the point where women can do anything men can do,” said Giovanna, but Aly added that she had seen a study that predicted at the current pace of change in attitudes, it would take “230 years to have complete and total gender equality.”

They both, but Aly especially, discuss the #MeToo movement among their peers, despite the fact that all their friends pretty much have the same point of view. They both expressed some trepidation that the movement would fade away, but Aly said there was a positive side to that. “I hope it fades away from being a movement to more of being what society is all about.”

“The standards that it (#MeToo) put out there are now being met,” said Giovanna. “The movement kind of worked but it shouldn’t disappear.”

“Maiden” will be shown on Friday, Oct. 18 at Harbor Church. Food will be served at 6:30 p.m. and the movie starts at 7 p.m.