‘Such slobs’: ‘Mrs. America’s’ Phyllis Schlafly on feminists, more from our archives


Second Wave feminism is finally getting the prestige-TV treatment with “Mrs. America,” a star-studded, nine-part limited series following the battle over the Equal Rights Amendment.

On one side is an “Avengers”-style team of feminists, led by Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne), Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale), Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman) and Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba), who are pushing to enact the measure, which would guarantee legal quality between the sexes. But they face pushback from conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett) and an army of bread-baking homemakers who fear that cultural change is coming too quickly and the ERA will lead to things like women being drafted into the military.

The first three episodes of the series premiered Wednesday on FX on Hulu and cover a number of events early in the fight, when ratification of the ERA seemed likely and feminists such as Steinem were at the height of their political influence.


For those eager to learn more, below is a selection of articles from The Times about the figures and events portrayed in the first three episodes.

FX on Hulu limited series ‘Mrs. America’ brings the fight over the Equal Rights Amendment to life with Cate Blanchett as conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly.

April 15, 2020

Phyllis Schlafly

“They always come and hiss at me. They’re such slobs. And you can’t see their mouths move so you don’t know where it’s coming from. They do it all the time. But I’m just a happy, even-tempered person and I don’t let an obnoxious crowd ruin my day.” —Schlafly to Sally Quinn, Los Angeles Times (Dec. 10, 1974)

The woman Newsweek once called “the first lady of anti-feminism” was far from the unassuming housewife lionized in her political rhetoric: Before Schlafly turned her sights on defeating the ERA, she twice ran for Congress in her home state of Illinois and published the bestseller “A Choice Not an Echo,” credited with helping Barry Goldwater land the Republican nomination for president in 1964.

‘Don’t call me Ms. ... it means misery’: Phyllis Schlafly, anti-feminist and conservative activist, dies at 92 (2016)


‘Equal rights’ for women: wrong then, wrong now (2007)

At 2004 convention, Schlafly makes her point on gay marriage — unabashedly (2004)

After 50 years of battling left-wing evils, Phyllis Schlafly has a new campaign: literacy (1996)

Gloria Steinem

Co-founder of the pioneering feminist magazine Ms. and prominent women’s rights activist throughout her career, the glamorous Steinem was perhaps the most familiar face of the fight to pass the ERA — and, as a result, a lightning rod for criticism from both within and without the movement.

Gloria Steinem revs up memories and travels in ‘My Life On the Road’ memoir (2015)

‘I’m old, but the movement is young’: A few words with Gloria Steinem (2011)

Ms. magazine galvanized the women’s movement. Can it attract readers who see it as a relic? (2003)

When Gloria Steinem admits to being insecure about her looks and choosing the wrong guy, critics pounce (1992)

FX on Hulu series “Mrs. America,” about the fight for — and against — the Equal Rights Amendment — is compelling, ambitious TV drama.

April 15, 2020

Shirley Chisholm

“I know I have two strikes against me. I’m black and I’m a woman... I’m not going to kiss babies or depend on the Madison Avenue boys with their cameras or the political bosses. I am going to rallies, churches, playgrounds and homes. I’m going directly to the people.” —Chisholm on her planned presidential campaign, Los Angeles Times (Oct. 25, 1971)

In 1972, Chisholm — the first black woman ever elected to Congress — marked a number of other firsts, becoming the first black candidate for president of the United States and the first woman to seek the Democratic Party’s nomination when she declared her campaign, losing out to the eventual nominee, South Dakota Sen. George McGovern.

Shirley Chisholm, 80; ran for President, served 13 years in Congress (2005)

Chisholm: Voting trends favor women (1988)

Feminism critiqued in UCI speech: ‘woman’s vote’ not yet reality, Chisholm says (1985)

Betty Friedan

Friedan already had a history as a feminist and radical labor journalist before she published her landmark book “The Feminine Mystique” in 1963 — but that bestselling text, inspired by Friedan’s survey of her Smith College classmates on the occasion of their 15th reunion, is widely seen as the catalyst for Second Wave feminism.

Betty Friedan, catalyst of feminist revolution, dies at 85 (2006)

Portrait of the feminist as an old woman: Betty Friedan has survived fame, bitter feuds and heart surgery. Now, in a new book, she celebrates life, aging and family (1993)

Beyond ‘The Feminine Mystique’: A new era in women’s rights (1992)

A feminist in the late ‘80s: Betty Friedan helped launch the modern Women’s Movement. 24 years later, she finds the movement still needs her (1987)

Bella Abzug

Abzug, elected to Congress in 1970 with the slogan “This woman’s place is in the House — the House of Representatives,” was known for her selection of hats and salty speech, but her resume also included a WWII-era stint in a shipbuilding factory, a law degree from Columbia University and a powerful advocate in the women’s, civil and labor rights movements.

Bella’s prickly embrace (2007)

Former N.Y. Rep. Bella Abzug dies at 77 (1998)

Forum ‘85: Women ask ‘what if...?’ (1985)

The hat is back: Bella Abzug will run for congress (1986)