Where It Began

by Vanessa Copeland

Some days, hell most days, being a woman is hard, especially under the current administration. Aside from the POTUS being recorded saying things like “grab ‘em by the pussy” he has fervently supported the attack on reproductive rights. Just a few of the things that have happened since he took office are instating the Global Gag Rule, nominating a conservative Supreme Court judge who opposes Roe v. Wade, revoking the 2014 Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces Order, signing a bill that gives states the power to withhold federal funds to institutions that provide abortion-related services, only offering to support Planned Parenthood if they stop abortion-related services, the list goes on and on. So, when I saw the advertisement for the Hulu series Mrs. America I knew I needed to watch it. 

This series follows the start of the women’s liberation movement in the early ’70s. As grim as things still seem sometimes, these women rose up in a time when a woman was not allowed to apply for a credit card of her own and marital rape was legal while abortion was illegal. Even more astonishing is the fact that the person who led the charge against the movement was also a woman. I am grateful for this series. Unless you’ve had a Women’s Studies class, chances are you’re never heard of, or know little about, Betty Friedan; often called the mother of feminism, or Phyllis Schlafly; often referred to as the queen of anti-feminism.  This series not only follows their battle, but highlights a number of women who have been completely overlooked by the history books. 

Mrs.AmericaCast

Betty Friedan, author of The Feminine Mystique and cofounder of NOW and the National Women’s Political Caucus, is one of the highlighted women in this series. NOW is known for lobbying for the enforcement of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act of 1963. They were also successful in getting Johnson to sign an Executive Order that extended affirmative action to women. 

This series also sheds light on Shirley Chisholm, the very first African American woman elected to Congress in 1968. In 1972, she became the first ever black Presidential candidate for a major party nomination, the first ever woman to run for the Democratic Party nomination and the first ever woman to appear in a US Presidential debate. While she ultimately ceded the race and forfeit her delegates to McGovern, she went on to serve seven terms as the representative for New York’s 12th congressional district.

One of the more famous women’s liberation supporters was Gloria Steinem who gained notoriety as a New York magazine columnist and co-founder of Ms. magazine. This series takes place after her famous article “After Black Power, Women’s Liberation” was published and catapulted her into national fame as one of the leaders of feminism. 

These are just a few of the women highlighted in this series. Women who have not received their fair recognition. Women who sacrificed everything to fight for women’s rights, for reproductive rights and without whom Roe v. Wade may have had an entirely different outcome. This is a definite must-see. 

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