Film Review North Country (2005), Justice for Women Mining Workers


 The film North Country (2005) was adapted from the story of women miners around 1975 in Minnesota, United States. This story is known as the Jenson vs. Eveleth Mines . As a minority group among mining workers who are predominantly male and dislike their presence, these women experience various types of gender discrimination and violence, including intense sexual violence on an almost daily basis. The film North Country (2005) describes their difficult experiences, but also does not forget to share their strengths to fight gender discrimination and the culture of violence in the workplace. Mining women also have the right to justice and equality. Previously, trigger warningfor female friends who are survivors of violence, yes.

North Country Film Brief (2005)

This film is arguably one of the films that contains types of violence against women in the workplace, including intense sexual violence— adapted from a true story that occurred in 1975. Starting from verbal sexual harassment that men mentioned, ' just kidding, not serious'—to physical sexual harassment (in one scene, a male worker brazenly and brazenly strokes a female worker's chest under the pretext of pretending to be looking for cigarettes). Everyday, female mining workers have to face the male gaze of male workers, until they are surprised to find sex toysmale genitalia in their lunchbox. That's crazy. It is inconceivable how hard the mental pressure that women miners have to deal with in such hell-like working conditions every day.

Not to mention, the company's clearly unfriendly regulations for women—which lead to gender discrimination simply because the women miners are a minority group. Before being accepted for a job, they must be examined by a doctor first (up to the groin)—to make sure they are not pregnant and will be considered a trouble for the company. Under harsh working conditions, they were not allowed to go to the toilet and had to hold their urine until they developed a urinary tract infection. The company also does not provide portable toilets in the mining field, until a female worker raises her voice in the labor union. Once the portable toilets were provided, the women also couldn't feel safe using them. One time, the portable toilet was shaken badly by many male workers when one of the female workers named Sherley was peeing inside—the toilet collapsed, water spilled out & Sherley “drowned” in it all. The incident was very painful and traumatic for Sherley.

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In fact, the women who choose to work there, just want to find a job with a better income to survive. Most of them are single mothers— like Josey, or single women who have to support their families like Sherley. However, conservative and gender-biased male workers consider 'mining workers not a job for women'. Not a few are also afraid of being 'rivaled' and 'taking' their jobs. The mining company also provides job options for women as 'forced', due to regulatory Supreme Court (Supreme Court) . Not surprisingly, they do not stand with female workers who are considered only a burden of obligation to state regulations.

One of the most prominent features of North Country (2005) is the creative plot of the film, packaged in many flashbacks that are told gradually & slowly — specifically telling the journey of the female main character, Josey. North Country (2005) opens with a scene where he is questioned intensely in the courtroom, who then backs away slowly recounting what happened at the mine. The plot, which is packaged 'back and forth' appropriately, helps the audience to understand little by little the violence that has occurred to women miners, including Josey.

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Closer to the Character Josey in North Country (2005)

The character of Josey Aimes in North Country (2005) really reflects the reality of how it is not easy to be a woman in a patriarchal society that makes women ' the second sex' . Since his teens, Josey has experienced gender-based violence—sexual violence, he was raped by his own teacher. As an adult, Josey experienced domestic violence, which convinced him to separate from his husband and try to be independent on his own to support his two young children. It was this decision that eventually brought Josey to work in the mines: not an easy job, but it certainly could help him earn much more than washing hair at a salon.

Josey Aimes: You act like I'm stealing. I work damn hard every day, same as you.

Hank Aimes: Oh, now you're the same as me.

Josey Aimes: Oh no, there's a few differences.

—Dialogue in the film North Country (2005)

Despite having experienced various forms of violence against women—at work, at school, and in her own household—Josey is a female character with high resilience. She was the first woman to take the initiative to fight against the culture of violence against women in the workplace, and even sued the company through legal action after realizing that the company did not stand by the women workers at all and played down the cases of violence that had been so severe for them so far.

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It is not easy for Josey to 'fight' the capitalist companies alone. After learning about the protests he made to his superiors, his male co-workers began to intimidate him. Although the violence experienced by the female mining workers was so intense and horrifying, initially none of the female workers wanted to join the fight with Josey, who was thought to be 'looking for trouble'. Male workers scribbled obscenities in excrement in the women's bathroom. Josey was even physically abused (strangled until he was breathless in the Powder Room by Bobby) and threatened.

Josey Aimes: I need a lawyer.

Bill White: Look, Josey, the illusion is that all your problems are solved in a courtroom.

Josey Aimes: I know, but I'm right.

Bill White: I'm sure you are, but right has nothing to do with the real world. Look at Anita Hill. Because she's you. It's called the “nuts and sluts defense.” You're either nuts and you imagined it, or a slut and you asked for it. Either way, it's not pleasant. Take my advice. Find another job. Start over.

Josey Aimes: I don't have any start-over left.

Bill White: Look, you're a beautiful girl…

Josey Aimes: Yeah, I'm a beautiful girl. I'm done looking to be taken care of. I wanna take care of myself. Take care of my kids.

—Dialogue in the film North Country (2005)

It's also odd to know that Josey's past, who was the victim of the rape of his own teacher—was 'carried around' in this case by his opponent (the mining company, to revictimize Josey, even before the court), regardless of the repercussions it would have. The problem is, the rape resulted in a pregnancy that Josey maintained—Sammy, her son was still a teenager and had never known who the father was, because it wasn't easy for Josey to share the truth. This film implicitly also disturbs our stigma towards children born of rape: why do we feel entitled to look down on them? We need to stand with Josey, as well as the women who decide to keep their pregnancies and babies after being raped: the babies have nothing to do with the rapes that took place. It's not the baby's or the mother's fault. No human being can choose to be born from which or what kind of family.

"I didn't want you, Sammy. Something bad had happened to me, and I just wanted it to be over. That you were in there. That day, what that man did to me…it made me into something different. I was a girl who was raped, and you were this…thing…that just kept reminding me of it.

I don't want any more secrets between us.

You were mine. You were my baby. And we were gonna be in it together. Just the two of us. You had nothing to do with that ugliness, you hear me? Nothing. And there's nothing in this world I wouldn't do to be your mom.”

—Josey Aimes in North Country (2005)

Being a miner is hard—but that doesn't mean it's a man's job, it doesn't mean that women can't and shouldn't be mining workers. In this case, the issue of social class is also important not to be ignored – working class women also need to earn a living and want to pursue a more decent life, just like men. Clearly assigning gender and gender to certain jobs as 'this is men's work' and 'this is women's work' has been shown to perpetuate gender-based discrimination in society, marginalizing minority groups who are considered 'unusual'.

Josey shares with us the same passion about women's resilience. It is not easy to face gender discrimination and violence against women—especially those perpetuated by institutions as big as capitalist companies and workplaces, but choosing silence is also not a solution. Women must 'fight up' and speak out for the realization of justice and equality for all in the workplace.

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