Mrs. America

Hulu/FX
by
ABR Arts 22 June 2020

Mrs. America

Hulu/FX
by
ABR Arts 22 June 2020

There’s a surprising moment in the 2018 documentary film Ask Dr. Ruth when Dr Ruth Westheimer rejects the idea of being labelled a feminist. Both her daughter and granddaughter are attempting to convince her that she well and truly fits the bill, but Dr Ruth – a ninety-year-old Holocaust survivor, patron saint of sex therapists, noted LGBT+ ally, and lifelong advocate for women’s reproductive rights – laughs it off, presumably because the word ‘feminism’ means something different to her than to the other generations of women in her family. It’s also a word that’s historically prone to being twisted, bastardised, and sensationalised by those against it, weaponised and aggrandised by those passionately for it. From a generational standpoint, Westheimer can’t see herself as a feminist hero. But true heroes often don’t realise that’s what they are in their story, in much the same way that villains rarely understand they’re the villain in theirs. It’s not until the forty-minute mark of the first episode of FX and Hulu’s Mrs. America that we realise that Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett) is the villain of hers. It’s the first of many subversions in this exceptional mini-series about a key chapter in the evolution of feminism in twentieth-century America.

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