powered by AFI
Returning to the United States after living several years in London working for a fashion publication, journalist Sheila Hammond takes up an assignment for a national magazine to cover the effect of the Women's Liberation Movement on middle America. On the flight to her hometown of Denver, Sheila meets old boyfriend Eliot Travis, an airline pilot, and the two rekindle their interest in each other. At the airport, Sheila is greeted by her mother Mabel, who, growing incensed when a man makes a lewd remark about Sheila's looks, responds by shouting lascivious remarks at the man and chasing him through the baggage claim department. By way of explanation, Mabel later confides in her startled daughter that she has joined the Senior Women's Liberation group. At home, Sheila is further taken aback to learn that her younger sister Karen is the militant leader of another "Women's Lib" group and has decided to spare herself the restrictions of traditional courtship, marriage and parenthood by having the muscular football coach, Jerry Kamanski, impregnate her. After moving in with Eliot, Sheila continues research on her article by attending a feminist workshop led by Karen, urging women to come to terms with the things that make them unhappy at home. There Sheila meets Yvonne Kellerman, the spoiled wife of Lou, the manager of a lingerie factory, who, she admits, treats her only as a sex object; Hilary McBride, a formerly successful dress designer who is now an exhausted full-time mother of four and wife of selfish advertising executive Gary; Sadie, a spirited seamstress in Lou's factory and Gloria Seager, a very successful call girl. One of the workshops features a talk by family psychologist Dr. Joyce Brothers, who validates the women's feelings of exploitation by the men in their lives. Soon Sheila finds herself stirred into political empathy when she discovers that instead of keeping his promise to share in half of the housework, Eliot has hired a maid to do his portion of the cleaning. The women's organizations come together to arrange a mass demonstration during which Yvonne burns her bra outside of Lou's factory while Mabel and the members of SWL threaten to disrobe to protest a speech given by a man from Playboy magazine, but are too timid when the man ridicules them. Over time there are several changes among the women's lives: Yvonne succeeds in having Lou learn to treat her with more consideration; Hilary takes the opportunity to resume her career, but Gary, who has lost his job, refuses her financial support and leaves for New York to take a new position; and Sheila, her article now complete, realizes that despite her love for Eliot, they will never share an equal partnership, so leaves him and settles on the East Coast. Nine months later, Sheila is delighted to learn that Karen has given birth to a spirited baby girl.