Who is your favorite image of a woman at work?

I’m a bit of a sucker for old movies and despite Working Girl and 9 To 5 coming out when I was a kid, my favorite goes back further than that. Mine is from 1940 and in a movie titled His Girl Friday.

I only recently found out that this was a remake of a movie called The Front Page and that Hildie was gender bent, in 1940. If you’re not familiar with the film or the original version, let me explain it a little. Hildy was the best reporter in town, but she had quit her job and returns to demand a divorce from the editor and chief of the newspaper, Walter Burns. They had been separated for some time and she wanted to make it official so that she can get remarried. In the original, male Hildy is leaving for the same reason, but obviously doesn’t need the divorce. Burns talks her into doing one more story and from there anarchy ensues as the plot thickens. It’s a comedy and keeps things light and fun even though Burns is a really horrible person. In His Girl Friday, the personal relationship really makes it look like he’s in love with her and misses her somehow, but it’s a toxic relationship. In The Front Page, it’s just as toxic a work relationship. But it’s fun to watch.

The important thing about the image of Hildy as a female reporter in a movie that old is that she was never demeaned for her work. In every mention of her work abilities, she is lauded as one of the best in her field. When she walks in to the office, she doesn’t come in as that wife of the editor that everyone is happy to be rid of. She’s greeted well by everyone there. Even when she goes and sees the other reporters downtown, they respect her. She was never treated like she was a horrible person just because she was a successful woman in her field. She’s not treated like an anomaly either.

She was just a woman at work who could banter with the guys, hold her own and was recognized as one of them. I loved the idea of having her work life. Of course, her love life was a whole other matter….

Who was your favorite image of women at work from a movie, tv show, or book?


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