9 to 5: Spotlight on Sexism and Sexual Harassment in the Workplace

Image result for 9 to 5 movie

The movie 9 to 5 was released in 1980. It was written by Patricia Resnick and Colin Higgins; Higgins also directed the movie. The movie stars Dolly Parton, Jane Fonda, and Lily Tomlin.

9 to 5 is relevant to the discussion around the sexual discrimination, an sexual harassment faced by women in the workplace. The film also addresses the patriarchal nature of the workplace which more times than not leaves women in a disadvantaged position. Interestingly, even though 9 to 5 was screened almost 40 years ago, its subject matter is still so relevant in today’s world that even millennials who were not even born at the time the film came out can relate to the story played out in the movie.

9 to 5 connects to our discussions in class because in the movie three female colleagues Judy, Violet, and Doralee have to navigate the very treacherous terrain that their workplace is; they deal with unwanted sexual advances from their boss (who actually hits on all three of them!), sexism (denial of advancement opportunities because they are women and do not belong to the boys’ club), unequal pay for female employees, discrimination against employees that are mothers, and outright misogyny. The travails of the three ladies lend credence to Adrienne Rich’s assertions in “Heterosexuality & Lesbian Experience” that men employ all sorts of machinations to impose their sexuality on women, and even deny women their sexuality.

The overbearing boss our three ladies in 9 to 5 have to deal with manages to get incriminating information on one of them, and believing he can always make them do his bidding attempts to blackmail her into spending the night with him at his home. This seemed to be the final straw for the ladies who band together and decide to get revenge on their scheming boss. A parallel can be drawn between the decision to stand and fight, and Lorde’s assertion in “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” that tapping into the erotic gives women an intense bond, and interest in tasks they share with people they care about. It also buttresses Lorde’s point that a woman that is empowered by that inner energy is considered a dangerous woman by men.

In the movie, Judy, Violet, and Doralee manage to kidnap their boss, get information they use to blackmail him, and keep him hostage for several days in his own home.

Image result for 9 to 5 movie

They force him to sign documents approving the eradication and dismantling of all the sexist, misogynistic, and discriminatory practices, and policies in the workplace. Again, we see the manifestation of points raised by both Rich, and Lorde from the readings referenced above that when women decide to take the initiative to defy society’s expectations of them as weak, there can only be positive outcomes.

In my humble opinion, what is good for the goose is good for the gander. Employers should endeavor to pay everyone doing the same work equally regardless of gender. Men and woman are unique each in their own ways, and every employer should organize the workplace to accommodate the unique needs of each gender.

The movie ends happily with the three ladies moving on to greater things in their careers and personal lives respectively.

I suppose the theme of both Lorde and Rich’s arguments; and that of the film too is that a strong woman is an asset. Always. I could not agree more.

Here is a clip of Doralee giving the boss a piece of her mind when she finds out he has been spreading false lurid stories about her Watch

Media used

9 to 5 movie clip from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WPQRMeU4Co0

9 to 5 movie poster from http://eburn.nl/g/47559cb805

9 to 5 movie scene picture from http://imgarcade.com/1/9-to-5-movie-dabney-coleman/

Works referenced

Audre Lorde, “The Uses of the Erotic: The Erotic as Power,” “Power”

Adrienne Rich, “Heterosexuality & Lesbian Experience”





  1. I have never seen the movie “9 to 5” but from that I can comprehend is that women still go through the same issues today. Women still get hit on by men as their bosses. I have a female friend that works at a Dentist call center and the boss is a male and all he hires is females. He is constantly hitting on these women every day. It is still kind of difficult for women depending on the workplace to get equal pay as men. Gender should not determine who should get paid the most. Every person does have something great to bring to the table. This film was a good example of what we have gone over in class lately.


  2. I like how you picked a movie that brought the issue of sexual harassment to light. I feel like many people feel embarrassed to talk about this topic, and would rather avoid it all together. It is sad to think it was still in issue in 1980, and is now as well. I almost feel like we have seen no improvement. Whether we like it or not, men are seen more “powerful” and respected in the workplace. The unequal salaries we are still seeing in today’s society represent this idea. I agree with you that employers need to work on enforcing equal pay more. This issue is all too real and should be addressed within every company. We are doing the same work regardless of gender, and no one should ever be sexually harassed, paid unfairly, or mistreated in the workplace.


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