Mrs. America: the story of the E.R.A and failed ratification


Mrs. America premiered on April 15th, and the talented cast of actors does a beautiful job of telling the story of pivotal women in the 1970s.

FX brings viewers a new drama miniseries to binge in one sitting that combines the perfect amount of history and entertainment. Mrs. America on Hulu tells the story of how one conservative woman gathered supporters from across the country to take down the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s. 

That conservative woman is Phylis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett,) the leader of the STOP E.RA movement that fought for women’s privileges that she believed the proposed amendment would endanger. Other historic figures of the Women’s Liberation Movement are featured like Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne) and Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman,) who led a powerful cause to keep their foot in Washington and fight for women’s issues. 

The Equal Rights Amendment was never passed, which is what makes this series so fascinating. It shows the struggles the Women’s Liberation Movement faced as they fought for a voice in the 1972 presidential election while many other national issues were occurring. So far three episodes are available, and two more will be available by the end of the month on April 22nd and 29th. There is still time to binge the series and travel back to the 1970s with an amazing cast of actors. Plus the theme song is Walter Murphy’s song a Fifth of Beethoven, which is the epitome of 1970s disco and very easy to dance to. 

Spoilers Ahead!

The character of Phylis Schlafly has to be the most interesting of all. The manner in which she argues against Women’s Rights and how she gathers supporters is incredible and hard to believe but it’s almost all historically true. She was the leader of white conservative housewives who believed that the E.R.A would cause their daughters to be drafted, make all public bathrooms unisex, and ban alimony or child support. They didn’t feel oppressed in their marriages and felt that they had a place, and it was mostly in the home. 

The amazing thing about the writing and actings is that Schlafly’s rhetoric can be at first convincing, and viewers step into their TV screens, feeling the perspective of women that felt threatened. They thought the E.R.A would force them to take the job of men. Troops were in Vietnam, and they didn’t want to be drafted. These women were also financially supported by their husbands and didn’t want to lose that privilege.

It is at first easy to empathize with these women who just didn’t want to be away from their kids, but other scenes prove to cast these women as racist and homophobic people, which displays the serious issues from the 1970s.  

Scenes also switch to the feminists fighting for this amendment to be passed in 38 of the 50 states. Viewers get a chance to look into how the famous women of this movement interacted. Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem sometimes disagree in some scenes, and it is intriguing to see how two iconic feminists may have acted, even if not all of the show is completely historically accurate. Steinem tried to gain more women delegates for future Democratic presidential nominee George McGovern, while Friedan still supported Shirley Chisholm. Chisholm aimed to stay in the 1972 Democratic primaries with little delegates, making many believe she should drop so McGovern could take the nomination.

Shirley Chisholm ( Uzo Aduba) is another female character viewers feel for. She is a black woman aiming to beat Nixon in 1972, and she is tired of being told by people to wait for her time. The fact is that she needs to drop out of the race and can’t make the Democratic party look divided. The Black Caucus endorses McGovern, and Steinem secretly makes a deal with McGovern’s campaign to help her get a floor vote on abortion during the convention. So many people would love to see a woman succeed in the White House, but Chisholm is forced to drop out in a heartbreaking scene. 

The distrusting world of politics is also displayed in Mrs. America. Congressmen across the nation promised pro-E.R.A women their vote, but switch sides at a whim. During episode 3 at the convention, McGovern’s delegates give up their seats so more women can vote yes on the legalization of abortion. Suddenly a rush of McGovern’s delegates come back demanding their seats back because they were told to not let the abortion vote continue. McGovern’s campaign broke their promise to Steinem who said in episode 2 she would be the spokeswoman for the Feminist Movement only if the abortion vote would not be put off. 

With two more episodes of Mrs. America coming, it is expected that  Nixon being re-elected and the Roe v. Wade decision will happen, proving to be a loss and a win for the Feminist Movement. The divide between politics still exists today, but with some different issues, which is why Mrs. America is so captivating. The events portrayed actually happened and continue to affect our nation, making the miniseries wildly addicting. 

The amendment that would guarantee equal rights to all citizens regardless of sex is not in the Constitution, sparking the question of how much would have changed in this country if it passed. The nation still hasn’t seen a female president. Minority groups and the LGTBQ community have made great leaps towards equality without it, so would it have made a difference? 

With a presidential election this year and a continued division within Congress, Mrs. America is a must-see. Not only does it teach people about pivotal women in history, but the show also reminds viewers of the issues of the 1970s and their effect on the nation’s history.