Hollywood on Schlafly: If You Can’t Outsmart Her, Sexualize and Dominate Her
By Colleen Holmes Holcomb, Esq., Contributing Writer
Liberal cultural elites have had it in for Phyllis Schlafly since she defeated the Equal Rights Amendment in 1979. Now, producers of the FX/Hulu series MRS. AMERICA have hypocritically done to Schlafly through this series exactly what the women’s liberation and “me too” movements complain that “the patriarchy” does to women it cannot control: rape and defile them.
The so-called Equal Rights Amendment (“ERA”) was a perfect Hollywood cause – allowing supporters to appear “pro-woman,” but knowing the amendment posed no threat to the elite power structure. ERA was and still is touted as an effort to “put women in the Constitution” and to ensure women’s equality. Hollywood elites jumped onboard supporting ratification, and once the amendment passed Congress in 1972, thirty-two states passed ratification bills in rapid succession.
Enter Phyllis Schlafly, a Harvard-educated anti-Communist crusader, who chose to get married and raise her six children instead of pursuing a paid career. Schlafly became a cultural villain when she inconveniently read the ERA and its proponents’ writings.
Using supporters’ own words and scholarship, Schlafly exposed the stark nakedness of the feminist emperor that is ERA. She proved that the amendment has never held any benefit for women that was not already deeply entrenched in American law, and that it would not put women in the Constitution, as it makes reference only to “sex,” (a word on whose definition there is no consensus these days). But, Schlafly discerned that ERA would have a negative impact on women by subjecting them to military draft and removing important protections that would disproportionately harm lower and middle class women.
Schlafly trained a team of volunteers, many of them homemakers who had never done public speaking or worked outside the home, to debate ERA supporters on college campuses and local television stations, and to lobby their state houses.
Schlafly not only exposed the truth about ERA, she exposed a reality most distasteful to feminists and cultural elites: that many women actually loved their husbands, enjoyed their marriages, considered it an honor, not a burden, to raise children, and that far more women were concerned about being forced out of the home into the workforce, or having their daughters drafted, than were interested in demanding abortion rights and other feminist priorities embedded in ERA. Even worse, Schlafly empowered and equipped these women, whom feminists scorned and judged as inferior, to beat feminists at their own game.
Cultural elites are still fuming that Phyllis Schlafly was able to do more with a typewriter, a bullhorn and an army of “housewives” than they were able to do with all of their intelligence, political power and the support of cast members from every Norman Lear sitcom on the primetime lineup.
While Schlafly and her team, armed with facts and statistics, motivated by principle and deeply-held religious beliefs, wrote thank you notes and delivered baked goods to supportive legislators, ERA supporters, chose a different approach. They indulged dramatic guerilla tactics like chaining themselves to legislative buildings. They wrote ERA-opposing legislators’ names in chicken blood on the marble floors of legislative buildings, while angrily demanding passage.
Once Schlafly and her team came on the scene, the ERA ratification train that was on a smooth and certain course to ratification came to a screeching halt. When the statutory deadline for ratification passed in 1979, not only had no more states ratified ERA, but five states had rescinded their previous ratification. ERA was dead.
In recent years, and the wake of the “me too” movement, instead of catalyzing outrage over decades of mistreatment and unifying women to fight actual victimization by crusading against sex trafficking or assisting women abroad who face all manner of political, economic and physical oppression, the American “women’s movement” has channeled all of its intellectual and star power into little more than a seance by demanding ratification of the long-dead ERA and re-opening wounds from ERA’s defeat, and Hollywood is looking for revenge.
Unable to defeat Schlafly in life, cultural elites in Hollywood are now attacking her posthumously. A recent episode of the Netflix series “The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” initially accurately honors Schlafly for having the courage to run for Congress as a young mother in 1952. But, the episode then quickly moves to falsely accuse Schlafly of being an anti-semite. In truth, Schlafly was never accused of being anti-semitic. In fact, she was known to be, and was even criticized by some, for being highly ecumenical and a strong supporter of Israel.
The most recent example of Hollywood’s effort to avenge ERA is MRS. AMERICA. This series perpetrates the ultimate act of Hollywood imposing its will on Schlafly, by casting her in a role she would never consider playing and urged all women to reject: the role of a victim. MRS. AMERICA portrays Schlafly as the consummate victim, victimized by her own conservative ideology, by God, as she desperate inquires of her priest why God “put this fire in her” to fight a political battle as if it were wrong to do so. They show her belittled by the chauvinist men in the conservative movement, and oppressed, scolded, even raped by her own husband.
The characterization is intentionally false. Schlafly biographer, Don Critchlow who, in addition to interviewing Schlafly, her family and associates had full access to her archives, financial records, correspondence, and family letters, called MRS. AMERICA’s depiction of Schlafly’s marriage, “So inaccurate, it’s absolutely shocking.”
Producers never bothered to ask family members or any of the hundreds of living persons who actually knew Schlafly the truth about her experiences, her true character and her marriage. And, instead of risking pushback by depicting any of Schlafly’s supporters who are still alive, producers went the cowardly route, choosing to create fictional characters bearing the names of only deceased ERA opponents.
Had producers bothered to ask, women might learn that Schlafly was respected and treasured in her marriage, and in the conservative movement; but the cultural elites couldn’t risk letting that word get out. If they had asked her daughter, their caricature of Schlafly and her husband sharing a bedroom but maintaining separate twin beds would be shattered in favor of the reality that the couple shared a bed and that Schlafly drew great strength, fulfillment and liberation from her marriage.
Regardless of your stance on ERA or your opinion about Schlafly, any intellectually honest viewer should be outraged by MRS. AMERICA. Love her or hate her, Schlafly was a formidable woman who empowered, inspired and gave a voice to the forgotten women of her generation. Schlafly defeated the most powerful political movement of the 1970s and raised up one of the nation’s most powerful political movements to date. She paved the way for countless strong pro-family female voices on the public stage. Depicting her as a subjugated pawn and victim is yet another act of anti-woman aggression from Hollywood.
*Editor’s Note by Dr. Ted Baehr: I knew Phyllis Schlafly for over 20 years. She was one of my favorite people, and we met several times a year. She was always friendly and gracious and brilliant.
MRS. AMERICA is a dramatic mess, to address the production. The direction is bad. There is no jeopardy. The characters were flat and stereotypical. The conflict was static too often.
MRS. AMERICA is bad TV and drama. not to mention it replaced plot development with sarcasm. The filmmakers have no clue about Christians or real life outside their bubble.
By the way, I was a card carrying member of the communist National Lawyers Guild in 1970 and 1972 (Jesus rescued me in 1975), and attending NYU Law – the most left wing law school and one of the top three law schools in the USA. I knew Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, etc. and went to their lectures and meetings at NYU. They had much more depth and gravitas than the flat characters in the program MRS. AMERICA.