Intersectional Feminist Analysis of Loving

I really appreciated the introduction of the authors of the article in regards to their social identities, as it helped frame their perspectives in viewing the film and writing this article. When considering intersectionality, it’s just as important to consider one’s own subject position and how that can influence our understanding of another’s position. For example, while I though I understood Mildred Loving’s position as a working class black woman and her motivations in contacting Bobby Kennedy, agreeing to interviews and photographs, and ultimately taking more risks than her husband was willing to take, I did not understand her Native American heritage as a part of her motivations. While watching the film, especially the scene in which Richard’s friend Ray makes a comment about him divorcing Mildred and choosing to be white, I also hadn’t considered Mildred’s situation independent of Richard. In the gender-stratified 1960s, Mildred would have little to no means to support herself and her children without Richard’s financial support and protection.

The couple’s status as working class also makes their interactions with the law interesting. While Richard’s white privilege affords him less time in jail than his black, pregnant wife, he still appears to feel powerless in the face of institutionalized authority. His character’s facial expressions in situations with the law, including both his interactions with racist county officers and the ACLU lawyers, give the audience the sense that Richard is still placed below these authority figures in the class hierarchy, even though he is also white. Mildred, however, is placed even further below her husband as a black woman, worsening the institutional discrimination working against her. It is this institutional imbalance of power between the couple that pushes Mildred to meet with lawyers, participate in interviews, and ultimately make their private lives very public. Mildred’s deeper mistrust of institutional authority as a black woman allows her to move past Richard’s fearful respect of the law and fight back by taking risks Richard wouldn’t even consider. Ultimately, it is her lowered position on the intersectional hierarchy of race, class, and gender that motivates her to change the law for herself and others in her position.

2 comments

  1. Claire,

    I also appreciated the introduction that each of the authors gave regarding their own identity, as it exhibited that they had considered the ways their lived experiences likely affected their viewing of the film and their understanding of the historical events that take place within the film. Further, reading the backstories of the authors of the text incited me to reflect on my place within society and the experiences I have had as a result of the latter, and how my place within society and lived experiences likely influenced the way I viewed the film/ my understanding of the events that occurred throughout the film. Reflecting on my own background and experiences also made it easier to connect to the film. For example, I have learned through conversations with my parents that the reason why my mom (a Hispanic woman) decided to work part-time and why my dad decided to work full time was in large part because both of my parents acknowledged that as a white man my dad would achieve greater success due to his race and gender. Thus, after reflecting on my own background, I realize that my parents can relate to Mildred seeing “her Native American heritage” as having “fewer negative legal consequences than her Black ancestry” to a certain extent, as all three individuals sought to “game the system” by acknowledging the biases against them.

  2. I also found it very interesting to assess how the couple’s respective race/ gender impacted their reaction to their treatment. I also found that my own personal bias impacted how I watched them movie. I kept waiting for Richard to give up and abandon Millie. I guess I assumed things about him as a white male that were not actually true. It is also interesting that Richard was treated poorly because of his association with Millie even though he was a white male. It illustrates the process of isolation that group members can face if they don’t match up with the ideals of their group.

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