It plays Cate Blanchett and Rose Byrne in a glossy TV report on a large budget about the feminist history of the 1970s, but one important player, Gloria Steinem, withers: it is ridiculous, undermined and just not very good, she said on Friday.
Steinem, arguably the most famous feminist in the world, has announced that she is not a fan of the new Hulu TV show Mrs America, which premiered in the US last month and will join BBC2 in the UK later this year.
The show features Byrne as Steinem and Blanchett as her right-wing nemesis, Phyllis Schlafly, who leads the fight against gender equality change.
Steinem was to perform at the Hay Festival for the first time this year. Now canceled, she is one of the first respondents for a newly compiled online version and will talk to writer Laura Bates about her new book “The Truth Will Free You, But It Will Annoy You First!”
Steinem was asked for advice on how to deal with women who are not feminists and who maintain sexism.
They existed, said Steinem. “But what is important is that while women can be a problem for other women, they do not have the power to be the big problem. Women may be opponents, but we do not have the power to be our worst opponents.
“For example, there is now a not very good series called Mrs America that gives the impression that … Schlafly, a very religious and right-wing woman who spoke out against the change in equality … gives the impression that she was the reason it was defeated.
“In fact, I don’t think she changed a vote. Nobody could ever discover that she had changed a vote. The insurance industry here opposed the change to equality because if they stopped separating their actuarial tables, it would they cost millions and millions of dollars. “
Schlafly was someone “brought in at the last minute” to give the impression that women were against equality if the truth was “the vast majority” that always supported this, Steinem said.
“The show makes women look like our own worst enemies, which prevents us from knowing who our worst enemies are. Not that we are not in conflict, yes, we are in conflict, but overall, we do not have the power to be our own worst enemy. “
Bates, founder of the Everyday Sexism Project, said the media had often debated token women to create a “cat fight as a means to undermine feminist arguments.”
Steinem agreed. “That’s the problem with this ridiculous TV show. I’m sure the actors are okay with it. It’s just the crux of the story that poses the problem.”
Mrs America was created by former Mad Men author and producer Dahvi Waller, who emphasized that it is not a biography of Schlafly or Steinem. It also plays Uzo Aduba as Shirley Chisholm, the first black woman to be elected to Congress; and Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan, the author of The Feminine Mystique.
Steinem, 86, spoke about the importance of working with feminists of all ages. “The age division is as ridiculous and destructive as the race, class, gender, or anything else. We learn from each other. We need each other. “
Bates said she still found girls in schools who felt like a lonely feminist voice. “There are girls everywhere who think that they are the only ones and are about to give up and feel completely defeated and insulted by their peers. They are called feminazis, they are made fun of, they are ridiculed. ”
What would be Steinem’s message to these girls?
“I would say to her … trust this voice in you and find a listener and a friendly voice somewhere. Maybe you won’t find it in your classroom, but maybe there is someone in your neighborhood, just someone you are drawn to. Talk to this person … Trust your own wisdom. “