Growing Up Female

Women talk about their socialization
Year Released
Film Length(s)
50 mins


Growing Up Female is the very first film of the modern women's movement. Produced in 1971, it caused controversy and exhilaration. It was widely used by consciousness-raising groups to generate interest and help explain feminism to a skeptical society. The film looks at female socialization through a personal look into the lives of six women, age 4 to 35, and the forces that shape them--teachers, counselors, advertising, music and the institution of marriage. It offers us a chance to see how much has changed--and how much remains the same. Purchased by more than 400 universities and libraries.

Featured review

A true and piercing look at American womanhood.
Gloria Steinem
Gloria Steinem


One of those painful experiences that's good for you. The film shows how females are brainwashed into passivity, mental sluggishness and self contempt. I wish every high school kid in America could see this film.
Susan Sontag
Susan Sontag
The first major documentary about the experience of being a woman in America. Asking women to bear witness to the quality of their lives and to their options for self-definition, the film derives much of its painful authenticity from its structure--a series of encounters with six females. The filmmakers have wisely allowed us to meet real women, not merely cases in point. Strong, sometimes harrowing in its picture of self-contempt, the film outlines new terrain.
Janet Sternberg
Film Library Quarterly
An articulate, frightening study of how in the process of growing up, girls are continually kept prisoners of oppressive social structures.
I was much moved by this film and its genuine picture of ordinary American women. In its unadorned truthfulness there is a sad and simple poetry, and a lesson about the lives of all of us.
Elizabeth Hardwick
New York Review of Books
From all the films I've seen, I mean films which attempt to deal with the question of women in contemporary society, Growing Up Female succeeds best: it tells more, it digs deeper, and it does so in the most interesting way
Jonas Mekas
Village Voice
Not only a superb documentary on the oppression of women, but an intensely moving work of art as well. No rhetoric or politics in the traditional sense; yet the film is thoroughly political in its simple, straight forward, understated presentation of the suffering women undergo as we are being culturally conditioned into feminine creatures.
Robin Morgan
editor Sisterhood is Powerful

Awards and Screenings

Recently restored by the Women’s Film Restoration Fund
PBS national broadcast special: first feminist programming on PBS
Whitney Museum of American Art
American Psychiatric Association
American Psychological Association

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