"Windows on Women" is a documentary that seems designed to fulfil someone's affirmative action program rather than contribute substantively to the body of work on the feminist revolution. Composed of clips from other films on a variety of issues, "Windows" comes off more like a medley of Feminism's Greatest Hits, and is as unsatisfying as such quickie retrospectives can be. It airs tonight at 10 p.m. on Maryland Public Television stations and WHMM (Channel 32).
The program is billed as PBS' commemoration of the U.N. Decade for Women, which ended this year with an international conference in Nairobi, Kenya. Strangely, there is no footage from this conference, and only passing references to it. One statistic from the conference: Women number half the world's population but do two-thirds of the work, for which they get 10 percent of the income and own less than 1 percent of the property. Arresting numbers worth more than a cursory mention.
Host Ruby Dee tells us her complicated subject can't be dealt with in one short program, and then proves it. The film hurtles from one signpost issue to another -- abortion, birth control, divorce, impoverished old women, plastic surgery, beauty, loneliness, love -- like a car speeding past highway billboards.
Some of the most provocative footage is from documentaries about women in the Third World. A Moslem girl recites religiously "Men have authority over women." A Namibian woman politician says women soldiers "are good shooters. When you tell her 'There he is, I want his head off,' you really get it."
There is a pregnant Jane Fonda, a businesslike Jeane Kirkpatrick, a fiery Winnie Mandela. There are union members, actresses playing suffragettes, and upper-class women discussing sex. But ultimately this hour is not comprehensive, as it announces itself to be, but patchwork.