In Hollywood, she is one of the most committed figures in the feminist cause. Winning two Oscars, Cate Blanchett has used his reputation for many years to fight, on the front line, the inequalities that persist in the industry. In 2018, then president of the Jury of the 71st Festival de Cannes, the Australian actress, surrounded by 82 female artists, delivered a historic speech on the steps of the Palace which pointed to the many disparities in the profession.
Two years later, she is the star of the new series, Mrs. America, broadcast on Canal + Séries in France. The program, consisting of nine episodes, looks back on the feminists’ struggle in favor ofEqual Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed amendment to the Constitution of the United States, which aims to guarantee equal rights between the sexes. In front of the camera, Cate Blanchett changes sides and plays Phyllis Schlafly, a controversial activist and enemy of the feminist cause.
Go back in time
1972. For almost ten years, American society has evolved in favor of women. Citizens owe this change to the second wave of feminism, which began with the publication of Betty Friedan’s essay, The Mystified Woman, in 1963. Small battles have already been won, such as the extension of affirmative action to women or the law on equality in education. While many are fighting for the ratification of the ERA, a writer and former researcher for the American Enterprise Institute steps up.
Her name is Phyllis Schlafly and she decides, at 48, to create the STOP ERA counter-movement. The wife of a wealthy lawyer, John Fred Schlafly, the activist with ultra-conservative values, took a dim view of this amendment. The reason ? In an interview with famous journalist Barbra Walters in 1972, she explains: “This will take away the privileges that women currently have, such as the right to stay at home.“Phyllis Schlafly did not support the idea that women could flourish elsewhere than in their family home.
Discover the interview conducted by Barbara Walters, on Today Show, in 1972, below:
Therefore, the opponent is successfully heard. Many important events were organized during that year. Among the crowd, Phyllis Schlafly brandishes her placards and sports a pin on which is written “STOP ERA“. The activist will later seek support from certain religious and political organizations. Her efforts will end up paying: feminists in favor of ERA will pay the price for their image, described as”agressive“, while Phyllis Schlafly manages, thanks to her alliances, to influence the decisions of different states. Only five ratify the amendment. A failure for the fight of feminists. On the strength of its victory, the STOP ERA movement will disintegrate. As for Phyllis Schlafly, she will preserve her status as an important figure in the history of conservative America.
Check out the trailer for the “Mrs. America” series: