Hollywood report: Phyllis Schlafly and Mrs. America

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FX on Hulu recently premiered a new series called “Mrs. America.” The series is a hit piece on Phyllis Schlafly, set during the 1970’s in the midst of the struggle to adopt or reject the ERA (Equal Rights Amendment), and the important women on either side of the campaign.

We all know that Hollywood isn’t interested in history – unless it gives them a way to portray the right as the villain. So just how bad is “Mrs. America”?

Phyllis Schafly stands up to radical feminism

The ERA was sailing to ratification in the early seventies when Phyllis Schlafly and her fellow activists rose up to stop it. They argued that the ERA would take away privileges they already had, such as not being drafted in a war. They also argued that there were already federal sex discrimination laws so a constitutional amendment was not needed.

In a stunning blow against the trend of the times, Schafly succeeded in killing the ERA.

The ERA is being talked about again, with Congress passing a bill affirming it, and the state of Virginia ratifying it, bringing the total to 38, the needed number to then become the 27th  amendment to the constitution, that is, if it hadn’t expired.

Mrs. America

The arguments for and against the ERA should sound familiar as they are the same now as they were back in the 1970s.

The setting is based on true events and people but the creator did take the liberty to fictionalize some events and characters.

Before each episode begins there is a disclaimer of sorts:

This program is based on actual events that occurred during the political struggle and debate over the Equal Rights Amendment. Some characters in the program are fictional and some scenes and dialog are invented for creative and storyline purposes. 

That last sentence is important to remember as the series unfolds, pitting conservative homemakers against feminists. As you can imagine, the storyline is designed to denigrate the homemakers and to lionize the heroic founders of the feminist movement.

The Schlafly family was not consulted in the making of this series

In fact, Schlafly’s family was not consulted during the creation of this series. Dahvi Waller, the creator, said she wanted to craft her own version of Schlafly. According to the Daily Caller Anne Schlafly Cori, Schlafly’s daughter said:

The maker purposefully excluded Schlafly’s family from production. Dahvi Waller said she did not wish to hear any first-person accounts of Schlafly because “she wanted to craft her own story.

Waller portrays Schlafly as overbearing, overly ambitious, preening, willing to compromise with racists, and degraded by her husband. A fictional best friend is included in the story to provide a disapproving presence as Schlafly supposedly compromises to get what she wants.

Go here to hear an interview of Schlafly’s daughter Anne Schlafly Cori and a rebuttal of the portrayal of Schlafly in Mrs. America.

Cori described the mother that she knew:

My mother was first and foremost motivated by her deep faith in God, and that formed all of her opinions and actions. And she had a really loving marriage and a true intellectual partnership with her husband. And that was one of the reasons why she was so successful, because she had this incredible security at home. They portray my father in really the worst possible light. They portray him as an insensitive brute.

One has to question the decision to cast Cate Blanchett as Schlafly because she makes Schlafly look good when the screenwriters are trying to make her look bad. Assuming that writers wanted Schlafly to appear as a shallow one-dimensional person, they failed. Blanchett’s performance is compelling and sparks admiration anyway. In fact, her performance is so good that it is imperative that one study the real Schlafly before embracing  Waller’s and Blanchett’s portrayal.

The real Phyllis Schlafly

By the time the ERA became an issue in the 1970s, Schlafly was a seasoned veteran in politics. Schlafly received a master’s degree in political science from Radcliffe College, the female affiliate of the all-male Harvard University, and had run for Congress twice. She also helped Barry Goldwater win the Republican nomination in 1964 with her self-published book “A Choice Not an Echo.

Schlafly was an amazing debater, amiably wrecking her opponents with facts and a smile. Many examples of her grace and wit under fire are available on Youtube. Episode 4 of Mrs. America includes her debate with Betty Friedan, the author of the Feminine Mystique, in which Friedan became so angry she called Schlafly a witch and wished that she could burn her at the stake.

Final thoughts

After four episodes and a lot of research, it has become abundantly clear:

  • That Schlafly viewed the ERA as an assault on the family and felt it her duty to fight against it. She was championing women, women who chose to invest themselves in their families. She was happily married and believed that being a mother was an “honorable vocation.” She believed that women had the best of both worlds, home, and career and that women had the freedom to choose their destiny. She believed that the majority of women did not want to be treated like men. She presciently believed that the ERA would be used to push for a  gender-free society. She believed that feminists denigrated and looked down on homemakers (they still do). She believed that the ERA was dangerous and would strip women of their privileges and subject them to the draft.
  • That the writer portrays Steinem and the other feminists as considering abortion to be the most important part of feminism, under the guise of the ERA which did not include abortion. As Steinem would explain it, abortion is the right for a woman to control her own body, the right to “terminate” an unwanted pregnancy. In episode four, this “right” was so important, Steinem tried to get the Democrats to include abortion in their platform at the 1972 Democrat National Convention which ultimately failed. The women who wanted the ERA to pass claimed that they believed in equal rights for men and women, but they really wanted unequal rights. What they really wanted the “right” to do was kill their own babies, a “right” no man possesses.

This series hinges on the push to ratify the ERA, which did ultimately fail thanks to Phyllis Schlafly and her grassroots movement. Together they took the feminists by surprise and ultimately defeated the ERA after thirty states had already ratified it and Republicans and Democrats had endorsed it along with Presidents Nixon, Ford, and Carter. Her accomplishment, with the aid of many homemakers like herself, was and is impressive.

In a time of renewed interest in the ERA, knowing what took place in the original push to ratify it is instructive as enough states have now ratified it. Mrs. America may be heavily biased toward feminism, but it is a fascinating glimpse into the politics of the 1970s, stirring more study of the events and people that shaped our world and politics, today.

Watch this Eagle Forum video to learn more about Schlafly:

Here is the real Phyllis Schlafly on the defeat of the ERA:

Warning: there are sexual situations in this series that will be offensive. Watch the trailer for Mrs. America:

9 Responses

  1. You need to shut your big mouth and retire, so we wont hear from you again. You cannot not be a true Christian and talk like this. I am not judging you, Only God can do that. As an American I am affended.

  2. I liked her… She was a very brave woman and stood up for the women in our country..
    So Sad that this is happening to our country …Again..

  3. Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it.
    Today, we must consider this about that. Clever political activists always promote their agenda under the guise of mutual acceptance. They purposely label their propositions to represent widely accepted norms, while their hidden intent is the exact opposite. ERA was never about equal rights but, as the article claims, “the “right” to do was kill their own babies, a “right” no man possesses.”

    Political labels are used like Headlines – to grab attention, knowing people remember Headlines and generally accept them without taking time to read the related story in full or research its sources.

    Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me! We must be vigilant in removing the shield these political labels create and reveal the real intent behind them.

  4. The evil never give up, they just try another direction. When they lose, they just get meaner and meaner and nastier, look what is going on today! I remember Betty Friedan getting all hot and bothered because she could not convince others and really lost it. That is what happens now because the left has lost any civility and just cannot be fair when they try to destroy and harm and then lose.

  5. Thanks for posting. I have new things to learn. My first learn about “Feminism” was through “Church Militant” and “The Remnants”, many Catholics of Vatican II and their desires are getting more evil each day. They wanted to be Priests, and some displayed themselves as Christ was crucified on the Cross. Now, they include their new idol called Pachamama in the Church to be worshipped. Looklike hell keeps expanding.
    About a while, I forgot all about this Feminism. Until I watched Pres. Trump’s Inauguration then led me to accidentally watched a little bit saw Madonna maybe the leader of women’s march said she wanted to blow up the WH, I said to myself I missed calculation for choosing to come to this earth in this century. Now, I witness it, and I have concluded that This Feminism took back to too many thousand years ago, there’s a wicked woman named “Jezebel” in the O.T during Prophet Elijah. She’s a wife of ‘Ahab’, king of Israel. And today Jezebel is HRC et al.
    GOD wants us His Children or Remnants to see the wicked Jezebel and the wicked spirit of feminism around the world that have destroyed our society, and our way of life. They seemed to be coming straight from Hell.

    Lord have Mercy 🙏

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