Tag Archives: Shirley Chisholm

Mrs. America Review

In theory, feminism is an easy concept to understand and an even easier cause to get involved in. But for any number of reasons, some women see feminism as the enemy.

The new series, Mrs. America premiered last month on Hulu. Set in the 1970’s, it follows the battle for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA). It seems that ratification is on the horizon. Writer/activist Betty Friedan (Tracey Ullman), Representatives Bella Abzug (Margo Martindale) and Shirley Chisholm (Uzo Aduba), and journalist Gloria Steinem (Rose Byrne) are four of the women who are the faces of the feminist movement. Their goal is to see the ERA enshrined as constitutional law. Standing in their way is Phyllis Schlafly (Cate Blanchett), a conservative activist and lawyer who will move political h*ll and high water to prevent the ERA from being ratified.

I’ve seen eight of the nine released episodes and I am hooked. The main thing that strikes me is that the issues that these women were fighting for fifty years ago are the same issues we are fighting for now. If nothing else, this series reminds me how far we have come and how far we need to go before American women are truly equal.

It also humanizes the characters, especially the ones that are based on real women. We see them as giants and icons, not as human beings who were as fallible as anyone walking down the street. That humanization also stretches to the women who were against the ERA.

From the liberal perspective, it would be easy to label them as right wing nut jobs who are siding with the patriarchy. But in this series, they are portrayed as women who are scared. From the time they were born, they were told that the ideal life is to marry, have children and maintain a home. When the second wave of feminism began to affect the culture in the 1960’s and 1970’s, it felt like the rug was pulled out from beneath their feet. I absolutely do not agree with their political or cultural perspective. However, I understand the feeling of not knowing what to do when you are told that everything you know and love is wrong.

I absolutely recommend it. I would also not be surprised if this series did very well come award season.

The final episode of Mrs. America premieres Wednesday on Hulu.

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Filed under Books, Feminism, History, Hulu

Throwback Thursday-Songcatcher (2000)

Sometimes in life, when we are denied opportunities via a conventional manner, we must create opportunities in an unconventional manner.

The late Shirley Chisholm summed it up best:

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

In the 2000 movie, Songcatcher, Professor Lily Penleric, PhD (Janet McTeer) is denied a promotion at the school where she teaches. Feeling like she has to get away for a while, Lily visits her sister, Eleanor Penleric (Jane Adams) who runs a rural school in Appalachia. There she makes a discovery that could take her career to a new level: ancient Irish-Scottish ballads that have been handed down from parent to child over the generations. Because the community is isolated, the songs have remained untouched and unknown by the outside world.

While Lily starts to collect the songs and use them as a mean to secure the previously turned down promotion, she starts to appreciate not just the land, but the people who call the area home. She also meets Tom Bledsoe (Aidan Quinn), a local war hero and musician who challenges Lily on her reasons for wanting to share the music with the world.

This movie is one of those movies that is underappreciated from my perspective. It’s not a huge spectacle of a movie with grand special effects, but that’s ok. Sometimes I just want to watch a movie with human characters telling a human story.

I recommend it.

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Filed under Movie Review, Movies, Music, Throwback Thursday

Thoughts On Last Night’s Golden Globes

Last night’s Golden Globes awards was certainly one for the history books. Instead of being the par for the course Hollywood awards ceremony, it had a different feel. Frankly, it’s about dam time.

With most in attendance wearing black and the #metoo and #timesup movements prominently featured, it was a moment of reckoning. Things are going to change. Not just in Hollywood, but in our world. It doesn’t matter if you sit at a desk all crunching numbers, if you work the front counter of a fast food joint or if you’re an A list actress. We deserve to be treated as equal human beings with the rights, privileges and opportunities as our male counterparts. We deserve everything a man gets and should be treated as nothing less than equal. And if we have to fight for it, so be it. As the late, great Shirley Chisholm once said:

“If they don’t give you a seat at the table, bring a folding chair.”

I’m going to end this post with Oprah Winfrey’s acceptance the Cecil B. de Mille award because, well she is Oprah and I wouldn’t mind voting for her come 2020.

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The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency Book Review

There is an old saying:

Well behaved women seldom make history.

When Hillary Clinton ran for President last year, it was history making. But Hillary was not the first woman to run for the highest office in the land.

In 2016, The Highest Glass Ceiling: Women’s Quest for the American Presidency hit book shelves. Written by Ellen Fitzpatrick, the book examines the lives and careers of three women who paved the way for Hillary Clinton’s nomination: Victoria Woodhull, Margaret Chase Smith and Shirley Chisholm.

Each woman’s personal and professional history is written about in great detail. All three women faced discrimination and prejudice in her quest for the Presidency. But despite the obstacles (and none of them actually makes it to the Oval Office), they still paved the way not just for Hillary Clinton, but for future generations of girls to step into the political arena.

Anyone who had read this blog regularly knows that I am a feminist. I truly believe in the ideals of the movement. But that doesn’t mean that every book on the movement’s past, present or possible future is the next Feminine Mystique. My problem with the book is that there are certain areas of the book (namely the entire chapter on Victoria Woodhull) that felt more like a boring college textbook than an inspiring non fiction work that gives its reader the nudge to make a difference in his or her world. I wanted to like it, because I would love to say the words “Madame President” at some point during my lifetime. But I didn’t.

Do I recommend it? I’m leaning toward no.

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Filed under Book Review, Books, Feminism, History