'Mrs. America' Makes the Case for Messy HistoryBreaking News
tags: feminism, 1970s, womens history, Equal Rights Amendment, television, Phyllis Schlafly
The thrill of Dahvi Waller's "Mrs. America," the new nine-part miniseries on Hulu chronicling the battle that flared in the 1970s over the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment, is that it resists the lure of easy history.
In portraying second-wave feminist leaders with the political and philosophical sophistication that women from this era tend to be denied, the show masterfully illuminates some of the fights that shaped the movement -- and that shape Democratic Party politics half a century later.
Take, for instance, the third episode, which is set during the chaotic 1972 Democratic National Convention and focuses on Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba), who that year became the first black candidate to seek a major party's presidential nomination.
In one scene, "Battling Bella" Abzug (Margo Martindale), emphasizing party unity, argues that Chisholm ought to exit the race and release her delegates to George McGovern, who in the general election went on to suffer a catastrophic loss to then-President Richard Nixon.
"To get a woman into the Cabinet, get the ERA ratified quickly, maternity benefits, day care: We can't afford to alienate our male allies," Abzug says. "I am trying to protect our interests -- put pressure in the places that make real results, not symbolic. I am not gonna let your ego get in the way."
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