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Contextual Information
I Am Malala (Memoir)Made in Dagenham (Film)Both texts are accounts of real events.
Context of ‘I Am Malala’
Memoir has been written after a life-changing event that became the catalyst for the purpose of an individual’s life – shaped the beliefs Malala lived her life by and her understanding of herself and the world around her.As it is a ghost written memoir, the journalist’s own values and beliefs do tend to shape thediscourse.Thereis often an inconsistency between the acceptance of Malala and her fatherZiauddinYousafzaiof their world and the judgement that lies between the lines.
History …‘I Am Malala’
Pakistanis a relatively youngnation formed in August1947 when the British decolonized theIndian subcontinent. At the same time that the Britishgranted Indiaindependence, they also divided it and createdtwo countries, Pakistan and India. Having stoked fears onthe partof Muslims that they would be oppressed in a freeIndia, asthey were outnumbered by Hindus, the Britishenacted apartition along religious lines. ManyMuslim-majority regionsformed “Pakistan,” and Hindu-majority areaswere named“India.” Pakistan became independent on Aug.14, 1947, and India on Aug. 15, 1947.Thus, from the start,the popularunderstanding was that Pakistan was created “for Muslims,” so that they would not be a minority in what wasa Hindu-majorityIndia. Following this partition,approximately 7million Muslims migrated from India to Pakistan;calledmohajirs, or migrants, they faced discrimination asoutsiders. Asa result, they eventually mobilized themselvesand becamea political force: theMuttahidaQuamiMovement (MQM). Malala also refers to themohajirsand theirpolitical clout: “The MQM is a very organised movement andthemohajircommunity sticks together.” (111)Inpart,the largescale of Partition migrations was a consequenceof religiousviolence; when the locations of the borderswere announcedby radio on Aug. 16, Hindus and Sikhsattacked Muslimsand vice versa. Approximately 2 millionpeople diedin the span of one year, while by official counts,5million Hindus and Sikhs left Pakistan for India, and 7million Muslimsleft India for Pakistan. In this, as in othermoments ofethnic conflict, women became targets of terriblesexualviolence, mutilation, abduction, and commodification.
Aspects ofMalala’ssociety
Secularism and Gender equality (or lack of)…MohammedAli Jinnah, founder of Pakistan, hadoriginally intendedfor Pakistan to be a Muslim country buta constitutionallysecular state in which allcommunities— Hindu, Christian,Parsi, Sikh, Muslim—lived peacefully,and womenand men had equal rights (21, 49). However,he passedaway shortly after independence, and sincethen, thePakistani government has hadan inconsistent relationship withinstitutions of secularism. In Chapter 20, Malalarefers tothis history when she describes her trip toJinnah’s tombin Karachi. She asserts how Jinnah haddreamed ofa secular and inclusive Pakistan when he hadfoundedthecountry.
Aspects ofMalala’ssociety
Secularism and Gender equality (or lack of)…Malala observes in her memoir that General Zia arguedthat theArmy’s government was “pursuing Islamicprinciples” andopened many religious schools across thecountry. Heushered in much repression, from setting up “prayer committeesin every district” and “prayer inspectors”to changinglaws so that a woman’s word in court countedfor “onlyhalf that of a man’s.” (21)From1979to1988, the United States covertly funded, trained,and armedmujahideenmilitants through Pakistan,creating whatbecame the Taliban to resist the Russianoccupation ofAfghanistan. Malala is keenly aware of andcriticizes bothZia’sIslamizationand the American involvementin ColdWar Taliban politics and support of Pakistan’smilitaryrulers.
Girls and MalePrivilege…
Malala’smemoirshows how poor families in Pakistan andmany otherparts of South Asiaendeavorto ensure that theboys getsome kind of education and often care less iftheir daughterremains illiterate, because she does notneed tobe educated to assume the expected role of wifeand mother.Inan early moment in her narrative, describingthe birthof her younger brother, Malala recalls, “Mymother hadbeen waiting for a son and could not hide herjoy whenhe was born. To me he seemed very thin andsmall, likea reed that could snap in the wind, but he wasthe appleof her eye, herladla. It seemed to me that hisevery wishwas her command.” (16) This moment whereMalalarecognizes the inequality between her and herbrother’s treatmentsignals how, from the moment they are born,male childrenare prized and privileged over female childrenin alarge majority of families in South Asia.
Girls and MalePrivilege…
These patriarchal ideas that the son is superior tothe daughterprevail in middle-class and wealthyfamilies aswell. It is not uncommon therefore to see, asMalala describes, the husband and son in the familygetting thechoice meats at dinnertime, or more food,more milkor eggs, which is expensive, while thedaughter-in-law ordaughter gets less or none (21-22). This kindof discriminationis both subtle and deeply unfair, as itinhabits theintimate relations of a family and indelibly willshape thesense of self-worth as well as physical health of thegirls andwomen in the family.Malalais able to cast acritical lenson this, because her father,ZiauddinYousafzai, whois educated, liberated, and fair-minded, rejects thisgender-based wayof treating girls as less, and she embraceshis perspective. Because of his education and support, sheis ableto challenge gender inequality within her culture.
Girls and MalePrivilege…
This is a poignant moment, underscoring how at theheart ofMalala’sstory is a vulnerable girl child wanting only togo toschool to learn things about her own life and theworld. Itis also a powerful moment in which Malala isshowing usa complex vision of Pakistani culture: one thatallows debateand dissent on what actually IS Pakistani andIslamicculture.The Taliban’s view of culture, and of women’s role assilent property, is thus being challenged by Malala, civilsociety, andnow the government. Toward the end of hermemoir, Malalanotes how many girls’ schools and collegesin Pakistanicities had been attacked and bombed sinceshe leftfor England. It is very clear that even when segregatedin all-girlsschools and colleges, where thousands ofPakistani parentsare sending their girls to get an education thatthey hopemight lead them to a better life, femaleeducation isnot acceptable to the Taliban.
Context of ‘Made in Dagenham’
The decade of the 1960s was a period of significant social change. It was known as 'the Swinging Sixties'. There was growth in British fashion, cinema and popular music. Two well-known pop music groups at the time were The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. People started to become better off and many bought cars and other consumergoods…symbolised by the Ford factory.It was also a time when social laws were liberalised, for example in relation to divorce and to abortion in England, Wales and Scotland. The position of women in the workplace also improved. It was quite common at the time for employers to ask women to leave their jobs when they got married, but Parliament passed new laws giving women the right to equal pay and made it illegal for employers to discriminate against women because of theirgender…things were changing.The 1960s was also a time of technological progress. Britain and France developed the world's only supersonic commercial airliner, Concorde. New styles of architecture, including high-rise buildings and the use of concrete and steel, became common.The number of people migrating from the West Indies, India and Pakistan and what is now Bangladesh fell in the late 1960s because the government passed new laws to restrict immigration to Britain. Immigrants were required to have a strong connection to Britain through birth or ancestry. Even so, during the early 1970s, Britain admitted 28,000 people of Indian origin who had been forced to leave Uganda.Males were in many ways insecure with the changing values – their position of power was changing.Fashion reflected a shift in women’s view of themselves and what they wanted for themselves (sexual liberation)
Context of ‘Made in Dagenham’
The strike, led by Rose Boland, Eileen Pullen, VeraSime, Gwen Davis, and Sheila Douglass, began on 7 June 1968, when women sewing machinists at Ford Motor Company Limited's Dagenham plant in London walked out, followed later by the machinists at Ford'sHalewoodBody & Assembly plant. The women made car seat covers and as stock ran out the strike eventually resulted in a halt to all car production. (Like ‘Malala’ a strong female voice)The Dagenham sewing machinists walked out when, as part of aregradingexercise, they were informed that their jobs were graded in Category B (less skilled production jobs), instead of Category C (more skilled production jobs), and that they would be paid 15% less than the full B rate received by men. At the time it was common practice for companies to pay women less than men, irrespective of the skills involved. Resisting inequality.Following the intervention of Barbara Castle, the Secretary of State for Employment and Productivity in Harold Wilson's government, the strike ended three weeks after it began, as a result of a deal that immediately increased their rate of pay to 8% below that of men, rising to the full category B rate the following year. A court of inquiry (under the Industrial Courts Act 1919) was also set up to consider theirregrading, although this failed to find in theirfavour. The women were onlyregradedinto Category C following a further six-week strike in 1984. (Women as leaders – similar to ‘Malala’)
Late 60s…a time of change and transition…
Well past post-war times and acceptance of women in work forceIt's1968 and 187 female machinists at the huge Ford Dagenham car plant in east London vote for a 24-hour stoppage in a dispute over grading.Employee conditions still not addressed. Employedto sew seat covers in a dilapidated building where the roof leaks, the women decide upon action when they are regraded as unskilled while male colleagues doing similar work are classified as semi-skilled.People challenged inequality and worker conditions – strength through unity (unions), power of the people was realised.Central to the story is the character of Rita O'Grady (Sally Hawkins), a newly radicalised union member who, alongside workmates Sandra, Eileen, Brenda and Connie, embodies the optimism of the late 1960s. She's fearless in the face of both management and the trade union leadership's determination to prevent further action and becomes the strike's unofficial leader. Encouraged by Albert, the plant's union rep, Rita wins her workmates to an all-out strike for equal pay. Symbolic of men and women working together (Just like ‘Malala’)
The power of people and one person…
Afilm which focuses on working class people leading a strike is still a rarity on cinema screens and it's a pleasure to watch Made in Dagenham portraying how being part of a collective struggle transforms the women. The speed with which they move is impressive and their newfound confidence brims over into their personal lives, as illustrated by the changing relationship between Rita and her husband, Eddie.But it is not all plain sailing. As the women struggle to survive on strike pay and maintain the support of male workers, Ford uses various tactics to divide the workforce and discipline the union. Personal tragedy and individual ambition also threaten to undermine their unity.There is no change without conflictAll change will include resistance and rejection from those who have the most to lose…in this case, the business (profits) and the men (wives and jobs)…those in power are unwilling to give up
Politics and conflicting values…
Whatstands out in the film though is the underlying class solidarity displayed by key individuals. This is most evident in the camaraderie between Rita and Albert. Delighted to have found a valuable new group of activists, Albert resists pressure from trade union officials to get the rank and file back under control. When one Communist Party official tells him that Marx spoke of men making history, with men being the operative word, he replies, "Yes, but he also said you can judge the social progress within a society by the position of women...or was that a different Marx...Groucho perhaps?“ Socialism Vs CapitalismThe sexism present throughout society is explored through the characters of Lisa, the middle class wife of a senior manager at Ford, and Barbara Castle, secretary of state for employment and productivity in Harold Wilson's Labour government. Lisa, a history graduate, dreams of being involved in "making history like all the people I read about at college", rather than being an isolated trophy wife in an immaculate house. Castle rails against the condescending male advisers who caution against meeting the strikers in case it gives credence to the cause for equal pay. Yet she tells the strikers they'll need to wait to achieve equal pay and sets out to curb the growing number of strikes taking place in Britain. For all their difficulties, the machinists in contrast show the advantages of fighting sexism collectively within a unionised workplace.Women are still represented as ‘objects’ of men – as trophy wives or something valued for beauty (model/photography scene)
Both texts…contain multiple perspectives
Award winning Sunday Times Foreign Correspondent, Christina Lamb, lived in and reported from Pakistan and Afghanistan. Interviewed theYousafzaifamily for a year in Birmingham.Educated in a Westernised environmentWarning not toreduceMalalatoa stereotype ofthirdworld perception as just a woman or a victim.Malalaalso insists, “Idon’t wantto be thought of as the ‘girl who was shot bythe Taliban’ but the ‘girl who fought for education. ’ ” (152-153)Ifwe want to understand Malala, as she herself wishes,as anactive, resistant, and political actor in her Pakistaniand Muslimcommunity, then we have to attend to the historyof Pakistanand secularism, which profoundly shapes her asapoliticalsubject.Our tendency as a Westernised reader is to glorify and idealise, accepting the Journalists shaping of the story…perhaps this is whyMalalaaccepted the collaboration to enable her voice to be heard in a way that was acceptable to those of another culture…
Both texts…contain multiple perspectives
Made in Dagenhamhas no single author.Interviewswith the original Ford machinists became a Radio 4 programThe Reunion, which then became the film (and then a musical).Purposeof film as entertainment and audience expectation of a happy ending, shapes this text.There is the Director’s influence, the actor’s influence and a script-writer’s interpretation from the original media resources and interviews.
The film itself…
Flawed, real characters -The women are scared, and shy, and sometimes selfish and mean. When Rita attempts to tell her son’s teacher off for his use of corporal punishment, she is instead bullied and intimidated into silence, and then takes her aggression out on another woman, Lisa (RosamundPike) who was dealing the exact same issue. These women are not perfect, not fearless, but they are great characters because they are flawed, and have to overcome their flaws to achieve their goals.Ritais a wonderful protagonist, finding her voice as the film continues until by the end she is able to stand up in a crowded room and demand the respect that she and her fellow strikers deserve. Secretary of State Barbara Castle (plated superbly by Miranda Richardson) is a domineering and fearless woman, willing to take down anybody who gets in her way without any fear. When she berates two of the men in her office she seems to relish her power: “Credence? I will give credence to their cause. My god! Their cause already has credence. It is equal pay. Equal pay is common justice, and if you two weren’t such a pair of egotistical, chauvinistic, bigoted dunderheads, you would realise that.”And while many of the male characters are painted as the villains, none of them seem evil, just selfish or misguided. Throughout much of the beginning of the film, the female workers and their concerns are largely ignored by both the company management and the union. The union head who represents them mocks them during a negotiation, saying “I’d rather you didn’t speak for the girls, Mr Hopkins…None of us here knows what’s in their heads.” Yes, some of the men are serious jerks, but none of them seem evil, just trapped in a wildly misogynistic culture that encourages them to behave that way. And not all of the men are like that.Two of the men in particular are rich, complex characters whose presence add a lot to the film. The first is Albert, the only union representative who is actually on the side of the women. He goes behind the backs of his superiors to advise and support the striking women, risking his job. His explanation for his support of the strike is one of the film’s most touching moments, when heexplains the story about his mother.





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