Helllooo my feminists! Or do you not identify with that term? I’ve been watching Mrs. America on FX, and it has emerged as one of the better things I’ve seen through this entire quarantine. It’s about the fight for the Equal Rights Amendment in the seventies, specifically centering on Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), the conservative homemaker AND author AND lawyer who (spoiler alert) successfully campaigned to stop the amendment from being passed. Yeah, it didn’t pass. The United States Constitution still does not guarantee equal rights to its citizens regardless of gender. Keep that in mind, and never forget.


I don’t know how or when feminism became a dirty word. When I was in university, it was just assumed that everyone, male and female, was pro equal rights. I mean, why not? It was only later, around the turn of the century, that I started meeting women, particularly of the generation after mine, who would earnestly tell me that they were NOT feminists, not because they didn’t believe in equality of the sexes, but because they thought that battle had been fought and won, and besides, they like men too much. Feminists were often thought to be hairy  man-hating harpies, angry women who didn’t get asked out enough, loveless losers with an axe to grind, pretty much the way they were seen by Phyllis Schlafly and her coterie of happy housewives.


Of course that’s not the case. Self-proclaimed feminists include women like Gloria Steinem, Michelle Obama, Gayle King, Diane Von Ferstenberg, Angelina Jolie, and Malala, to name but a few. Many are physically beautiful, sex-positive and supportive of men. But there are also women like Sarah Jessica Parker, Carrie Underwood, Kelly Clarkson, Demi Moore, and, surprisingly, Susan Sarandon, who have gone out of their way to reject the term “feminist”, because they think it’s “too strong”, or “too dated”, or “too defensive”, or, in the words of Spice Girl Gerry Halliwell “too bra-burning lesbianism”.




John is watching Mrs. America too, and I know that Ian and his wife Anita are enjoying it. I’ve recommended it to my sons and their girlfriends, but their eyes glaze over, mostly because it takes place in a time before they were born, dealing with matters they don’t think are relevant, and also because it sounds like a Mom thing. They’ve never heard of Betty Friedan, or Bella Abzug, or Shirley Chisolm, the most desirable playing cards in the feminist deck, played by the most amazing actors wearing the coolest clothes with the grooviest soundtrack. Fine then. Don’t watch. Don’t learn. Don’t be shocked, horrified and amused by human behaviour in a male dominated society that, in the end, hasn’t changed nearly enough as you might think. I’ll be over here, burning my bra and hooking up with women, you know, like a feminist.


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