SHE-LOGY: Social Issues by Rachel Weisz
Here’s a challenge within a challenge, for the movie buffs: A She-logy of 3 movie heroines portrayed by a single actress, and how they are connected.
Rachel Weisz, I recently realized, played 3 compelling female characters in movies, partially based on real-life stories, that touch on certain topics that affected me. I remembered that after I watched these movies, I ended up so moved by the issue that I would find myself Googling for more information.
TESSA QUAYLE is a human rights activist who tagged along her husband, a British diplomat, to Kenya. There, she was murdered, and the movie follows her husband as he uncovers the truth behind her death.
Tessa was working on a report to expose the pharmaceutical corporation that is running unethical tests for dypraxa (a tuberculosis drug) in poor African communities, despite the known harmful side effects.
The movie, an adaptation of John le Carré’s novel, touches on corporate corruption, particularly involving pharmaceutical companies and clinical trials on human test subjects in Africa that violate human rights.
After watching the movie, I found out that the movie was vaguely based on a real-life case in Kano, Nigeria and led me to this Pfizer case.
KATHRYN BOLKOVAC is a Nebraska cop who was hired to work for a global security company as UN International Police in Bosnia after the war.
While working in Bosnia, she was assigned to head the department of gender affairs after advocating for a local woman who was victim of domestic abuse. Her new role led her to uncover the organized sex trafficking and forced prostitution taking advantage of the women in the war-torn country, and the involvement of fellow international security personnels, which eventually led to the discovery of a large-scale corruption motivated by lucrative security and defense contracts with independent security companies.
In this movie, two issues, that easily rile me up, intersect: violence against women and corruption. I couldn’t help myself, I had to find out more about it. I learned that there is a real whistleblower Kathryn Bolkovac whose similar experiences working for a security firm DynCorp in Bosnia inspired the film. The movie also introduced me to another remarkable woman who supported Kathryn – Madeleine Rees, who is currently Secretary General of the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom and who has spoken against human rights abuses in Bosnia by peacekeepers and others working for UN.
HYPATIA is a philosopher and teacher in Alexandria in 391 A.D., who is devoted to her love for learning and science.
While the movie backdrops the heroine with the politics and the social conflicts between Pagans and Christians, I was more intrigued by the character herself.
I found out that Hypatia is the earliest historical female figure for women involved in science, especially astronomy, mathematics, and philosophy. She was an educator and head of a school, who taught men that later on became prominent figures. She was also said to be an inventor. Her death was said to mark the downfall of Alexandrian intellectual life.
I was saddened by the fact that I never got to learn about her in school, while I was learning about the great Socrates who in fact wrote about this notable woman.
"There was a woman at Alexandria named Hypatia, daughter of the philosopher Theon, who made such attainments in literature and science, as to far surpass all the philosophers of her own time." -Ecclesiastical History, Socrates
All the 3 heroines portray women who are determined and courageous in protecting what they love, even when it leads to threats to their lives. Tessa is faithful to finding out the truth and fighting for what is morally right. Kathryn is determined to protect other women even if it means standing up against large organizations. Hypatia is loyal to her beliefs and her scholarly love for knowledge up to the very end of her shortened life.
SHE-LOGY is a blog project open to everyone who is interested to celebrate women this whole month of March. If you’re reading this, I extend that invitation to you to contribute post/s about the women you’d like to honor. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. Thank you for reading this.