Feminism: Mrs. America, a realistic yet powerful miniseries

Stop ERA national Chairman Phyllis Schafly leads members opposed to the equal rights amendment in a song about the pro ERA forces plan for a national demonstration in the capitol city. The song stated "You better look out, I'm telling you why, they're planning their trip, your votes to buy, Bella's bunch is coming to town." (Photo by Bettmann Archive/Getty Images)

In case you haven’t heard about Mrs. America, it is FX’s latest miniseries about feminism, created by Dahvi Waller. It is based on the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. The show captures the continuous battle between liberals and conservatives, in the context of the feminists’ fight for gender equality. It creates a realistic image of an important event in feminism history. Mrs. America also discusses other relevant topics such as racism and homophobia.

The Plot Synopsis

The second wave of feminists is fighting for the passing of the Equal Rights Amendment, while another group of conservative women try to stop them. The show presents us real-life activists, such as Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman) and Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), who fight for women’s rights. However, the main figure is actually the anti-feminist writer and activist Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett). Each side tries to convince the public that their beliefs can ensure a stable social-political life in America.

The True Story of the Equal Rights Amendment

In 1972, the US Senate passes the Equal Rights Amendment and sends it to the states for ratification. Its aim was to provide legal equality of the sexes and prohibit gendre discrimination. Hawaii was the first state to ratify this amendment, followed by other 30 within a year. Even though the situation looked promising for the feminist supporters, a conservative backlash against them occurred during the mid-1970s. This resulted in a sudden decrease in the number of supporters of the ERA. Therefore, the amendment, unfortunately, didn’t achieve ratification by a requisite of 38 states. If you want to read more about this issue, click here.

An Antagonist We Empathise with

No one can deny that Phyllis Schlafly has made many outrageous claims while trying to defend her conservative beliefs. She often expressed resentment to the idea of women enrolling in the army and children being raised by their fathers. She also criticized the idea of legalizing abortions. Despite her actions, we as an audience can’t help but feel bad for her, as she suffers the consequences of her own misjudgments.

Phyllis is trapped inside an unhappy marriage. She constantly depends on her husband’s money and permission. Moreover, he resents her for wanting to develop her professional life. Even though she often states she is perfectly pleased with being an obedient housewife, something in her gaze gives away her regrets regarding her life choices.  Consequently, as morally wrong as her beliefs may be, Phyllis manages to make us feel bad for her in the end.

Stereotypes Regarding Feminism

The show captured some important stereotypes regarding feminism still present nowadays. One of the most outrageous claims is that feminists can’t control their emotions. Whenever people attacked and shamed them, fighting back would make them “hysteric” in the eyes of the conservatives. People also thought it funny to assume their sexual orientation and call them “lesbians”.

Fortunately, despite having to put up with people’s prejudice and stereotypes, these fierce women didn’t cease. They were united and persistent in fighting for their rights. If you want more information on feminism, check out another one of our articles here.


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