Reproductive Rights TV Shows The Trump Era Gender Pop Culture

How ‘Mrs America’ explains feminism through an anti-feminist perspective

Ah, the second wave of feminism! The historical movement that brought with it the Equal Rights Amendment Bill (or the ERA)!

The show Mrs. America portrays the complexities, inhibitions and feminist set-ups of the entire 1970s movement to fruition. I have been a fan of Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm, and Betty Friedan since the day I could pronounce and spell feminism, and I’m happy to say that the show does them justice.

Mrs America presents the journey of many second-wave feminists. However, unlike most other shows, Mrs America focuses mainly on Phyllis Schlafly and the hypocrisy of the Right Wing party. The idea is executed brilliantly, with the focus being on different women throughout the nine episodes aired. It is an honest and jaw-droppingly beautiful portrayal of the women who fought for and against ERA.

The cast is breathtakingly original with Uzo Aduba, Cate Blanchett, and Rose Byrne stealing my heart. I can’t sell the other women short because everybody had a particular role to play and they played it so well. It was like a mesh of cogs running smoothly, enabling the show to be as powerful as possible.

The image shows three women in the background of women protesting for women's rights.
[Image description: The image shows three women in the background of women protesting for women’s rights.] Via Mrs. America
The show allows us to get to know Phyllis Schlafly, the Conservative Head who rallied against ERA, and, yes she is that character who is not only homophobic and sexist but also blindly believes that marital rape isn’t rape.

The show starts directly from Phyllis’s perspective, a nuclear policy expert turned housewife, mother to six children, and off the top of the bat, very bourgeoisie. Her ideologies against the rise of feminism are argued upon with valid arguments (according to her). Her argument delved into how the ERA would reduce the position of the traditional housewife in the particular household setting and would disrupt the sociologically and morally deemed ‘correct’ family way of life. This makes her create and gather a whole entourage of women who back her against the ERA by literally protesting against the movement. And, lo and behold, this causes the ERA to not be passed in Congress.

You will hate and simultaneously be filled with pathos for Cate Blanchett for the stunning portrayal of this disgusting yet complex character.

There is this one scene (spoiler alert!) where Phyllis’s husband forces her to consent to sex, and you see the pain through Blanchett’s eyes which honestly gives her character such depth. Understanding personality development because of years of normalization of patriarchy is what all of us as feminists strive to achieve. This again is a sexist mentality but facilitated by years of normalizing rape-culture.

The image is of four men surrounding one woman in a powder blue suit.
[Image description: The image is of four men surrounding one woman in a powder blue suit.] Via Mrs. America
My heart, however, goes out to Alice, a fictional character who is actually constituted as an amalgamation of various women from the Conservative wing. Played by Sarah Paulson, Alice is an integral part of the STOP ERA movement along with Phyllis. Her point of view for joining the movement was not sexist; she wanted the housewives to not be the butt of the jokes of all the feminists at that point (because frankly, not all feminists upheld the concept of choice at that moment). Alice’s transformation and change of character as she mixes with the second-wave feminists is poignant.

Mrs America, with its diverse cast and multifaceted outlooks on Chisholm (the first woman and Black candidate to run for the Democratic Party’s Presidential Nomination) and Steinem’s life, gave me another reason to reread all the feminist publications during the second wave feminist movement.

Tracy Ullman’s stunning portrayal of Betty Friedan moved my heart. Betty wasn’t shown to be a perfect feminist, she was a complex character with idiosyncrasies and quirks and thus, through the show, was completely humanized. The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan is still the feminist treatise that shapes young girls, boys, transgender men and women, and the non-binary teenagers into feminists.

The image is of Sarah Paulson in Mrs. America as Alice
[Image description: The image is of Sarah Paulson in Mrs. America as Alice] Via Mrs. America
Again, the show dramatizes the lives of these women to great detail, but perfectly focuses on the hypocrisy of the Right-winged mentality and also throws light on the growth of the American left.

With a fantastic cast, stunning direction, and wonderful costumes absolutely staying true to the 70s with the flared pants and large hippie glasses, Mrs. America is an influential show that everybody needs to watch. You get to not just be entertained but learn about the movement. With the intricacy of politics running within the feminist movement, with disagreements between the women, and the backdoor politics of having to appease certain political elements, you get the good and the bad from a movement that shaped history for years to come.

A deeply feminist show that perfectly manipulates the economy, misogyny, and the growth and shift of politics in the USA, Mrs. America might be one of the best shows I have watched last year.

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USA The Trump Era Life

Dear Mexico, will you Seesaw with me? Love, America

When someone asks you to go on a seesaw you know they’re either six-years-old, incredibly inebriated or just super fun. What you don’t expect is to be taken to three monster pink seesaws straddling the huge gate separating New Mexico from Mexico. 

Ronald Rael and Virginia San Fratello, professors of architecture and design respectively, created and unveiled a pink seesaw that sits across the border of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico and America at Sunland Park, New Mexico in July.

These professors figured they would use their skills to bring “joy, excitement and togetherness” to those on either side of the border between New Mexico and Mexico. On Instagram, Rael wrote, “The wall became a literal fulcrum for U.S.-Mexico relations and children and adults were connected in meaningful ways on both sides with the recognition that the actions that take place on one side have a direct consequence on the other side.”

I watched the videos of kids and adults bouncing up and down either side of the monolithic gate and was surprised at how effective the installation was. The symbolism of the seesaw is so simple, subtle and hard-hitting. Rather than, let’s say, two fax machines, which could just have easily symbolized cause and effect, the seesaw encompasses our childhood and the importance of co-dependence at the same time.  

The seesaw is a throwback to our youth and it reminds us of friendship rather than fear-mongering and the inhumane treatment of immigrants. Mexico was once again just another kid in the playground that America played with, got in fights with but ultimately co-existed with. Reductive maybe, but the images taken of the adults and children swinging on it on either side reminds us of mutual compassion that we just haven’t seen in the news for months. 

The Refugee and Immigrant Center for Education and Legal Services (RAICES) has expressed similar admiration for the installation and the symbolism of connection it brings forth.

“Art is such a powerful vehicle for change…We are all connected. We are all one.”

However, Rael and Fratello showed sinister undertones with this choice. The seesaw represents more than a brotherhood or sisterhood. It recognizes the unfortunate power America has over many of the immigrants running from Mexico, other Latin American or South American countries, all of whom need lawyers or representation. To operate a seesaw, both players need to do their own work. If Mexico needs something, they need America to take the other seat. If not, Mexico will just stay where they are. Real-life consequences affect people much more deeply than the relative ease of pushing off the ground. 

Prior to the Trump Administration, immigrants could find work and obtain a temporary permit to live in the U.S. while they waited for their court case. Now, migrants are sent back to Mexico while court proceedings drag on and are allowed back only for their hearings.

Since the implementation of this administration, 23,000 migrants have returned to Mexico or other countries.

Even if a family manages to cross the border and receive a hearing, only 1.3 percent of petitioners have been recorded receiving representation. People are trying to represent themselves in another language while hearing aids are handed out to provide clumsy translations…What America does to help Mexico will probably make or break these immigrants futures. With resources overwhelmed, it seems less and less can be done for these families in crisis.

The seesaw installation is heartwarming but thought-provoking. Though a physical wall facilitates an “out of sight out of mind” philosophy, this art installation contributes to personifying immigrant’s struggles. Watching American families use the seesaws to enjoy themselves with those who are barred from entering the U.S. is quite simply a powerful image.

Let’s applaud the designers of this art installation. It doesn’t pull any punches in reminding us of the reliance one state has over the other. It paints a picture of togetherness that, contrary to what doomsday media outlets might have us believe, we have hopefully not forgotten.

Family The Trump Era Gender & Identity Life Stories Life

How the era of 45 ended my relationship with my best friend

As an immigrant Latinx growing up in big town Appalachian Maryland, my pool of potential friends was limited and not diverse.

I grew up being that third grader that called my teachers racist for not checking my black friend’s head for lice after they had checked everyone else, told the school principal about my 7th grade English teacher for making fun of Hinduism in class, and would walk out of class to avoid a fight with the super privileged kids laughing about waterboarding in high school.

Nevertheless, several of my best friends were some of these white and privileged people. This town, being Appalachia, is super humble, but being Maryland, still has its very wealthy families. My best friend’s family, in particular, was well off enough to send her to a 50K+ school for undergrad and have her come out debt free.

However, she and I connected very easily in our empathy and want to better the world whether it be through science or human rights. I always felt comfortable voicing my anger towards the school system and other racist interactions I had to deal with on the daily. Throughout our college years, she would supply me with the “lingo” for things I already knew and dealt with my whole life, such as “cultural appropriation” “white savior complex,” but didn’t previously have language for. In my mind she simply “got it” and it wasn’t until we were both adults out in the world and away from the small bubble of school that I realized that she got it, but only intellectually.

She still joked about how her parents reacted when she told them about her new boyfriend, “so what’s the catch?”… the catch being that he’s brown. She didn’t get it emotionally.

This was all also happening during the time of the current 45th President’s administration and man, I was tired. I was tired of people around me disappointing me with anti-blackness, anti-LGBT+ness, with complacency and apathy. I was tired of working 60 hours a week and barely getting by. My mental health was taking a toll. I was no longer feeling much else but anger. I was constantly on guard and constantly crying. This led my mom to basically force me to move to Europe.

I decided to spend a summer in Madrid to see whether or not I would be happier in Europe. I plunged into dealing with my mental health. I found a therapist, a gym, made new friends, went for day drinks, and danced. A small amount of savings, all of the sacrifices my mother was making for me, and how affordable Spain is allowed me to do all of this. Even after explaining to my friend all of these reasons as to why I would be taking that job in the fall and moving back to Spain, she still treated me like I was being selfish and impulsive: “Why don’t you look for a job in our town?”

I couldn’t believe it. She had watched me and listened to me in my misery in this town when we were growing up and she wanted me to move back? On top of that she knew that my mom was in a miserable living situation, in order to save enough funds because this move was important for her to make too. However, I never got support from my friend in my move, and she would bring up all the “work” there was to do politically and in social justice. She would praise how amazing all the people who were doing “the work” were. These are all conversations I have had with all my friends, but with her there was always this tone of “look at what they’re doing and you’re running away from.” I already felt guilt about leaving and not staying to do more, but I was actually no longer mentally strong enough to be helpful and I had to remind myself of this for months. I didn’t need her telling me this, too.

The last time I saw her in person in January she raved about a podcast that compared Hermione staying with Harry and helping him defeat Voldemort to the people that are being directly affected by this new administration rising up and doing the work. I was appalled. I wanted to scream but she’s always been one of those friends that when you point out something they do that is hurtful, you end up being the one that apologizes and reassures them that they’re a good person. So I stayed quiet.

I started to find myself being more distant, I didn’t contact her as often, but I still loved her and missed her. Months passed and I started to tell myself that our friendship was too important to ignore. Then, she came to Europe for a trip- a trip that we had planned to do together for several years; but the worst part was she didn’t even bother mentioning it to me- I found out through her Instagram story. I was heartbroken. In the past, this was something that we could have worked through. But not anymore. This was too hurtful. I’m grateful I was in a great place of healing, and that’s what made it bearable. Eventually, I realized it was for the better, and looking back, I started feeling relieved, even. I wouldn’t have to feel guilty about not being Hermione anymore.

The Environment The Trump Era Humor Life

Climate change is not a hoax – and you’re no scientist

Outside your office window, snow begins to gently fall.

You hear the familiar sharp, clipping steps making their way through the office toward your desk, but it’s okay at first because you tell yourself the water cooler is right next to your cubicle – he’s probably just thirsty. But the footsteps don’t slow down and stop, and you don’t hear a paper cup being pulled out of the dispenser. He keeps coming. Oh, he’s thirsty alright, thirsty for an argument.

Cue the sweat-beaded forehead, the elevated pulse.

Dear. God. How many times can one fend off his twisted politics?? I don’t want to talk about it, sir! I can’t be nice about this anymore but I also need to keep my job! Global warming is real, middle-aged, white, male Tea Partier, but I understand that your ‘data’ says otherwise.

The reality of this is all too tangible for me. And since these jags are literally everywhere, I’m guessing that most of us have at least one that we actually have to deal with in our real lives. They’re not just some phenomenon we can turn the channel to avoid.

Maybe it’s your neighbor with the Trump sign in his yard.

Maybe it’s the regular at your restaurant who basically holds you hostage once a week to talk about the ills of the LIEberal media.

Maybe it’s the choda boy at the back of your poli sci class (because, of course, he already knows so much – oh my gawd, kid, I did not drop serious coin on this lecture to have you run the class. Get back on Reddit and let the professor do the teaching, thnx).

They usually share a specific set of common beliefs (they call them values), but today we’re here to talk about how none of them think global warming is real.

dude, dude it’s so f*cking hot

Their evidence for this is generally that Obama is a liar and also the liberal media (by the way, is the ‘liberal media’ just anything that’s not on Fox News? IS THAT WHAT THAT MEANS?) is trying to pull one over on us all.

They will invariably tell you that our climatological records only go back about a hundred years or so – it’s just not enough of a sample size for there to be an accurate picture of how our climate is changing.

Lord help you if it starts snowing in January – see? snowflakes! irrefutable proof that our capitalist-industrial complex is not responsible for changing the environment.

oh thank gawd, a flurry. we are all saved.


Look, guy, I know I’m just a ‘young lady,’ but I can science and math, too! I’m pretty confident that you do not possess an advanced degree in, well, actually anything?

No, there’s not a hoax. No grand-scale conspiracy designed to – wait, can we just stop for a minute and ask why it’s so important for them to believe that global warming isn’t real? I mean, I have to believe we are not entirely fucked, but we’ve got some serious problems to deal with. Why is it a problem for so many people to accept its reality? They get really heated (yes, pun intended) whenever it comes up. They go out of their way just to make sure and address it with you whenever it could possibly be relevant.

There is lots of actual evidence pointing to climate change. There is lots of evidence showing that it is probably (at least mostly) our fault. On the flip side of this conversation – there’s zero evidence of it being a hoax. I would at least need to be convinced that there happens to be sufficient motive for a gazillion academics to make it up.

Money? Fame? What?

I’m going to go out on a limb here with an armchair diagnosis and say these folks who want to deny climate change really just don’t want to be bothered enough to change their lives (not even a little bit, not even at all). And maybe they don’t want to be afraid. I mean, I’d be scared too if I knew firsthand that there are highly qualified folks holding private panels (no, they don’t have an agenda) talking about how we are definitely all fucked.

I’m not saying I have a solution.

It might help if we stopped consuming fossil fuels so ravenously. It might help if we put pressure on corporations to improve their environmental practices. It might help if we tried to undo some of the ills of factory farming. Any of those things might help. Maybe they won’t, who knows?

But all I can tell is that anyone who needs to so vehemently deny the existence only has one thing to gain: a justification for their continued complacency.

And for some people, that’s all they’re looking for.