E15 -

Mrs. America explores how one of the toughest battlegrounds in the culture wars of the 70s helped give rise to the Moral Majority and forever shifted the political landscape.

Hosts
Landry Ayres
Senior Producer
Guests

David Boaz is the executive vice president of the Cato Institute and has played a key role in the development of the Cato Institute and the libertarian movement. He is the author of The Libertarian Mind: A Manifesto for Freedom and the editor of The Libertarian Reader.

Boaz is a provocative commentator and a leading authority on domestic issues such as education choice, drug legalization, the growth of government, and the rise of libertarianism. Boaz is the former editor of New Guard magazine and was executive director of the Council for a Competitive Economy prior to joining Cato in 1981. The earlier edition of The Libertarian Mind, titled Libertarianism: A Primer, was described by the Los Angeles Times as “a well‐​researched manifesto of libertarian ideas.” His other books include The Politics of Freedom and the Cato Handbook for Policymakers.

His articles have been published in the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, National Review, and Slate, and he wrote the entry on libertarianism for Encyclopedia Britannica. He is a frequent guest on national television and radio shows, and has appeared on ABC’s Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher, CNN’s Crossfire, NPR’s Talk of the Nation and All Things Considered, The McLaughlin Group, Stossel, The Independents, Fox News Channel, BBC, Voice of America, Radio Free Europe, and other media.

Kat Murti is co‐​founder and executive director of Feminists for Liberty. She is also senior digital outreach manager for the Cato Institute and communications director/D.C. chapter leader for the Ladies of Liberty Alliance (LOLA). Murti also serves on the boards of Students for Sensible Drug Policy and the White Coat Waste Project and previously worked at the Mercatus Center at George Mason University. She grew up between North Texas and South India, got a political science degree at the University of California at Berkeley, and now lives and works in Washington, D.C. You can find her on Twitter at @KatMurti or get in touch at kat@ fem​i​nists​for​lib​er​ty​.com.

Paul Matzko
Tech & Innovation Editor

Paul Matzko is the Tech and Innovation Editor at Lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org. He received a PhD in History from Pennsylvania State University in 2016. He has a forthcoming book with Oxford University Press titled The Radio Right, which details the John F. Kennedy administration’s successful efforts to censor Right‐​wing radio broadcasters in the 1960s. He has published articles with Presidential Studies Quarterly and Fides et Historia.

Summary:

In Mrs. America, Cate Blanchett brilliantly plays conservative culture warrior Phyllis Schlafly, who built a coalition of housewives that ultimately kept the Equal Rights Amendment out of the US Constitution. In addition to Schlafly, the relationships between Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, Shirley Chisholm, Bella Abzug and Jill Ruckelshaus are the focus of Hulu’s new mini‐​series. The show does not leave you sympathetic to Phyllis Schlafly, but it certainly opens your eyes to the impact of her success.

Mentions:

Photo Credit: IMDB

Transcript

[music]

0:00:03 Natalie Dowzicky: Welcome to Pop & Locke. I’m Natalie Dowzicky.

0:00:05 Landry Ayres: And I’m Landry Ayres.

0:00:06 Natalie Dowzicky: Mrs. America is on our menu for today. And no, I don’t mean the beauty pageant. The latest hit on Hulu masterfully tells the story of the movement to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment, also known as the ERA, that occurred throughout the 1970s. The notorious, Phyllis Schlafly is one of the main characters and we see her clash with second‐​wave feminists like Betty Friedan and Gloria Steinem. Here to unwrap everything that happened during this pivotal time in history is libertarianism.org’s own tech and innovation editor, as well as the host of the Building Tomorrow podcast, Paul Matzko.

0:00:38 Paul Matzko: Thank you for having me.

0:00:39 Natalie Dowzicky: Executive Vice President of the Cato Institute, David Boaz.

0:00:43 David Boaz: Thanks for having me here.

0:00:45 Natalie Dowzicky: And last but not least, the Executive Director of Feminists for Liberty, Kat Murti.

0:00:49 Kat Murti: Thanks for having me. Glad to join.

0:00:52 Landry Ayres: I have a question that might seem simple at first, but could possibly raise some conflict. Who is the eponymous Mrs. America?

0:01:03 Paul Matzko: Ooh, that’s a great question, Landry. Yeah, so, obviously the one impulse is to say, “Well, it must be Cate Blanchett’s Phyllis Schlafly. Is that Mrs. America?” But she’s only half. I mean you have this parallelism being built into the structure of the show where there’s Phyllis Schlafly and her coterie of supporters on the one side, and then Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and others on the other, who also could be called Mrs. America. They’re equal protagonists in a sense, or equal… They get equal screen time. Or, is Mrs. America everyone involved totally? Is it a function of all women represented on the show as a stand‐​in for women across America.

0:01:52 Kat Murti: I hadn’t thought about this until you brought up this question. I very much thought Mrs. America was Phyllis Schlafly, which the story… She sort of frames the story, right? But your point is great. Mrs. America also represents the fact that the period we’re talking about, women’s social status very much came from being a missus, which is something we see throughout, and you kind of see… The way the show sets it up, it sets up Gloria Steinem, Editor of Ms. Magazine, not Mrs., as the foil, and it’s… And so, it’s actually really interesting to think of that as Phyllis Schlafly being the voice of this America where a woman’s social status comes from her marriage, and comes from those kinds of things against this new feminist America where a woman’s social status isn’t the primary determining factor of who she is and what she can do in her life.

0:02:46 Paul Matzko: Well, in the show, the show runner, or I guess the writer in this case, there very much is this throughline throughout all the kind of individual character arcs, which is tension over their relationships with their significant others, whether their boyfriend or husband, whether they’re gay or straight, that’s a constant through each of them. So, in a sense, each of the women in this story is having to decide for themselves whether… What it means to be a woman and be in a relationship in America. Mrs. America, Ms. America, what does that mean? So, that’s there as well. I think on your point Kat, which is well‐​made, is the importance of marriage in making claims on the politics of respectability in 1960s America.

0:03:38 Paul Matzko: I’ll say this, which is whenever you’re in archives for a conservative woman of the 1960s, and I’ve spent a little bit of time… I’ve seen some of Schlafly’s papers, women who write in to other conservative archives for some of the people I write about, they almost invariably, if they are married, they, they put the Mrs., they put those three letters in front of their name, whereas men are much less likely to put Mr. In their letters. And that’s because it’s a way, in the politics of the time, in that milieu, it’s a way of making a claim on the body politic, it’s a claim to a respectable status, whether or not… This is a descriptive comment, not a normative comment. I don’t think that’s the way it necessarily should be, but it’s the way it was in the ‘60s. It was a way of saying, “I have a stable life, a stable situation, I am a stable citizen of this republic. And so, I have a claim to public attention.”

0:04:37 Paul Matzko: And so, what that means is that that conveys power. So, respectability politics, it conveys power and gives people extra standing. And the irony of it is that it’s not just a “Stop ERA” power, a thing that they can avail themselves of Phyllis Schlafly’s side. It’s also a claim to power that was useful for the more overtly feminist side. Especially, you think back during the first wave of women’s… First‐​wave feminism, Women’s Suffrage earlier on in the century, when giving the vote for women was… If you look at the congressional debates and the debates in the papers at the time, it was all about, “We need respectable women to have votes that can clean up politics.” And so, that’s very much part of the… I think that’s baked into Mrs. America as well. Like, what do those letters represent as a claim on the body politic?

0:05:33 Kat Murti: That’s absolutely true. And I think if you’re gonna talk about voting history, something else that’s interesting is a big part of the argument against women getting the vote was that, of course, a family would have the same vote, so if you give married… If you give women the vote, then they’re only ever going to vote the same as their husbands, so you’re just saying that their family unit gets two votes. Right?

0:05:54 Paul Matzko: Yeah, yeah, that was assumed. Yeah, yeah, yeah.

0:05:56 Kat Murti: Right, exactly, but this is actually…

0:05:57 Paul Matzko: Incorrectly. [chuckle]

0:05:57 Kat Murti: Fascinating, the way that you’re talking about it, because the entire concept behind Ms. Magazine, that title, was that prior to that point, women were a miss or a missus. And yes, that confirmed a sort of respectability and there was a lot of social and cultural aspects to that, but there’s also a lot of legal aspects that change with whether a woman was married or not. And so this very much was the source of who she was. And that’s why you see even the women who are on the feminist side, Gloria Steinem, she goes by Ms., she doesn’t wanna get married even though she’s very clearly in what is essentially a married relationship. But you see all of these other women like Shirley Chisholm says, “I’m Mrs. Shirley Chisholm.” You see all of them struggling with this relationship of what it means to be married and understanding that their marriage, their stable marriage in their life was helpful to them, but also because of this larger construct, holds them back in a way.

[music]

0:07:08 Natalie Dowzicky: I think a big part of understanding this show and seeing the real value in it is understanding the time period. So, I think we might wanna take a step back and just make sure our audience is a little bit… Is clear on what time period and what the role of the female was, especially in politics during this time. So, can anyone elaborate on maybe how many women were working full‐​time in this time period during the ‘70s? And also a big thing that came up throughout the show was, I remember Phyllis Schlafly was talking about how she’s never felt discriminated because of her sex, but do you think a typical woman, in this time period, had felt discriminated against because of their sex?

0:07:48 Paul Matzko: Yeah, there’s… If you look at the… I can just speak to the historical statistics. So by the ‘60s, women’s labor force participation is still below 50%. So a majority of working‐​age women are housewives in the 1960s, so the very early end of this show, but that the ratio surpasses 50%, surpasses the 50% mark, in late ‘60s. By 1970, a majority of women, of working age, are in the labor force, the formal labor force. And so we’re seeing this real moment of transition. And today, labor force participation between men and women is relatively similar, still subtly depressed. So we’re in this very transitional moment.

0:08:43 David Boaz: Right. So it’s not the case that women never worked back then, as you say, under 50%, but not too much under 50%. All my school teachers pretty much were women, nurses were women. There were women working in retail and so on. The change in women being in professional life, prominent women, is much more visible and significant. And I looked at some figures on politics, when Geraldine Ferraro died back in 2011… And I know all of y’all are too young to remember the ‘60s and the ‘70s, so, I’m telling you, it was indeed a huge revolution. It was a complete change that happened very quickly actually in the late ‘60s through the late ‘70s, I think. When I wrote about Geraldine Ferraro’s death, one of the things I noticed was, as of the time of this show, no woman had ever been elected to the United States Senate unless her husband had been a member of Congress.

0:09:53 David Boaz: In 1978, Nancy Landon Kassebaum became the first woman elected to the Senate who didn’t follow her husband into politics, but of course, her father had been a prominent politician. And it was not until 1980 that a woman from Florida, a Conservative woman called the “housewife from Maitland”, Paula Hawkins, became the first woman not to succeed a male relative in getting into the Senate. Now, there are 25 women in the US Senate, there’s about 23% of the House of Representatives, a woman is Speaker of the House, women are 33% of the Supreme Court, women are 57% of college students, all of that is different from the way it was up through the ‘60s. And so in that sense, they didn’t get the ERA, but I think the women in the show, the feminist women, made the revolution that they wanted to make, and I’m sure they did not feel, and still don’t feel that it’s been complete, but it has been an amazing social revolution. And Phyllis Schlafly I think knew that.

0:11:03 Landry Ayres: Well, that brings up an interesting point, David, and something that you had made a note of before our discussion started in your notes I had seen, is that you thought at the end of the series, in the final scenes after we learned ERA has failed to be ratified, the tone of the show seems to suggest that both Schlafly and the ERA supporters, both feel they have failed in some way, or lost. And do you think that they did in that way, or did someone come out a winner, or both?

0:11:41 David Boaz: I think that political activists always feel they’re losing, they always feel like they are the beleaguered minority. Conservatives often talk about being, the remnant, “We’re the last people believing in the Bible, in the Constitution, in a world that’s gone socialist and welfare statists.” But the left feels that way, too. And as a libertarian over the years I have, from time to time, attended Conservative strategy meetings, and Lefty‐​strategy meetings, and what you find in both of them is the perception that the other side is so incredibly well‐​organized, it’s like a war machine. “And here we are, we’re always arguing with each other, and we don’t have any of those things they have.” So, I think both sides probably did feel that they had lost. Now, the suggestion in the last scene really, is that Phyllis Schlafly didn’t get what she personally wanted from the Reagan Administration, like a cabinet position, which I don’t recall her really being talked about as a candidate for, but I did look back in some old newspapers and found that, yeah, there were references to maybe Phyllis Schlafly in the cabinet, but I don’t think she was a credible candidate for that. The feminists felt, “Ronald Reagan got elected, so we obviously lost.” So yeah, in a sense, they both felt that way.

0:13:09 David Boaz: I think the feminists actually had won a great deal more than they realized, and they were depressed about Reagan, but in fact, Reagan became the first president to name a woman to the Supreme Court. And here we are 40 years later, and although there are some elements of Reagan’s presidency, like lower tax rates, that are still the case, progress of women has continued ever since Reagan was elected and before that.

0:13:37 Paul Matzko: I’ll add to that, that we tend to overrate the significance of formal legislation when it comes to cultural change. It’s not that it doesn’t play a role, it does, but we have, I think as David’s describing, we have a cultural sea change taking place regardless of whether or not ERA passes. And the ERA itself was always more important as a symbol of change rather than as an instrument of change. In general the arguments for its transformative potential were exaggerated by both sides because it’s always politically convenient to exaggerate both the possibilities, the good things that could happen from legislation, and the potential threats. It’s just, that’s the nature of politics is to blow things out of proportion. But much of what was… The threat… They put this in the show where there’s this debate over whether or not because of ERA, women would have to be drafted. That wasn’t seriously on the table. It could have enacted legislation after the ERA mandating that women be drafted, but it would not have instantly happened because of the ERA.

0:14:49 Paul Matzko: Even today if the ERA passes, it probably doesn’t meaningfully move the needle except in some, probably in domestic abuse cases, it might move the needle in terms of the weight of jurisprudential reasoning when it comes to the various standards of evidence required, the hurdles that have to be overcome, but it’s not gonna be a fundamental sea change if ERA passed in the next couple of years. ‘Cause again, there’s a push to re‐​litigate the ERA. But that said, I mean symbols matter, symbols are important for generating political activism and generating social movement and action. And so both sides seize on this relatively needle‐​moving piece of legislation and blow it up into a existential crisis for the situation for women in America.

0:15:45 Paul Matzko: One other thing I’ll note, I think this is interesting, it’s that Phyllis Schlafly and Betty Friedan, they’re actually a great pair here because both of them come from middle class, Midwestern homes, they have kind of a similar life trajectory, they’re similar ages, and they both go to college, they both get… They’re both educated, they both were in the workforce, and then they both challenge glass ceilings in multiple ways. And then their lives diverged, but both of them were doing something that had become the norm that precedes the kind of societal changes that David had been describing in the ‘60s and ‘70s. ‘Cause before women break the glass ceiling in the professions, in law, in government, in college, accounting, and medicine, etcetera, before that happens, there’s a lag. There’s a lag between women taking the necessary pre‐​conditions to get there, going to medical school, going to law school, going to college in the first place, having some experience in the workforce.

0:17:00 Paul Matzko: And so you can see that in Schlafly herself, she goes to college during the 1940s, goes to Radcliffe because of its connections to Harvard. She gets a master’s degree in government. She goes to DC and works for a think tank, for the predecessor of the American Enterprise Institute. All things that were in their own way, kind of radical at the time, that set her up to try to get into Congress, etcetera. Same thing for Betty Friedan, breaking into journalism long before she wrote “The Feminine Mystique”. And so, in a sense, the sea change we saw in the ‘60s and ‘70s, the first waves start coming in 20 years, 30 years, earlier.

0:17:42 Kat Murti: So I think there’s something really interesting in the parallel you drew between Betty Friedan and Phyllis Schlafly. Because one of my frustrations with Phyllis Schlafly has always been that I see her as a hypocrite, because she’s fundamentally, she’s kind of a feminist, even as she rails against feminism. But before we get into that, I actually wanna go back to your earlier point about the value that they’re placing on legislation and how much… And you see that with the show. The show is about, nominally about the ERA, and that’s what’s happening, but the actual stories and the actual changes and all of that is cultural. And I think that that’s true of both sides. They sort of… They’re overvaluing the role of government or governance in culture change. I’m a libertarian feminist. I believe that culture matters. Obviously, a legal system matters as well ’cause it can shape that.

0:18:34 Kat Murti: But, you know, on both sides… We see this wonderful quote from Shirley Chisholm in there. She says… When she’s being asked why she supports the ERA and she says, “The truth is women have never been protected from working as waitresses at night, when the tips are large, but… Women have been protected from working as waitresses at night when the tips are large, but they have never been protected when they’re working as charwomen scrubbing floors all night. We don’t need anyone to protect us.” And you see this parallel even from Fred Schlafly, when he’s practicing with Phyllis for the debate and she talks about how she’s anti‐​ERA because housewives should be mothers and they shouldn’t have to be forced to support their family. And he says, “When your father lost his job, did the law protect your mother? Did the law keep her from having to work two jobs to support your family?” And that’s the thing, they’re using it as this meter of where change is and what’s happening. But fundamentally, they care about culture. And the changes we’ve seen on both sides come from the culture, not so much from a top‐​down legislation.

0:19:43 Paul Matzko: So you’re… I was gonna ask at some point, and I used to do this at Teach America in the 1960s, I’d ask the students… They’d read a little bit of Phyllis Schlafly with a “Stop ERA” speech. I’d have them read a debate from the 1920s over the first attempt, to pass the ERA, between two feminists who… Well, Suffragettes, they would have called themselves at the time. Between two Suffragettes; one for and one against the initial Equal Rights Amendment, and have them… You could see the parallels. And so then I ask them, “Is Phyllis Schlafly a feminist?” And a lively debate always ensues. So you would say, “Yes, she is… ” Maybe… Can you unpack that a little bit more? I’m interested. I actually tend to agree, but in a sense.

0:20:32 Kat Murti: Yeah, absolutely. This has always been my greatest frustration with Phyllis Schlafly, to be honest. I just get the sense of hypocrisy from her because she’s built this career upon this idea that women belong in the home. They shouldn’t have a career, they shouldn’t… And that has been this massive career which Phyllis sustain. I was born in the late ‘80s, and I’ve seen Phyllis Schlafly speaking at political events. And so, there’s definitely that aspect. There’s this great scene right before when the “Stop the ERA” women go to potentially become delegates at the Women’s Convention. And a couple of them run into Bella Abzug backstage. And there’s this great conversation where she says, “Let me tell you about Phyllis Schlafly, she’s a liar, she’s a fearmonger, and she’s a con artist, but worst of all, she’s a goddamn feminist, she might be one of the most liberated women in America,” which is true. Over and over and over you see her say this. Someone says, “I’m just a housewife,” and she says, “No one is just a housewife.” Right?

0:21:46 Kat Murti: Brenda Feigen Fasteau, when they had the couple’s debate, tells her, “You’re not really a housewife, you’re a full‐​time lobbyist,” which is true. She’s advocating for herself. She tells her husband, “You can’t stop me from going to law school.” She’s the only woman in the room going into those rooms where people wanna treat her like a secretary or things like that. And she’s still pushing her ideas, she’s still fighting back against them, right?

0:22:10 Kat Murti: And with this scene with Bella Abzug, these women… Alice Macray, I wanna talk about her later, but she’s there saying, “You don’t know anything about Phyllis. She taught everything we learned. We learned from her.” And Bella says, “What did you learn from her? Has she taught you how to lobby legislators? Has she taught you how to draft a press release or a speech? Has she you taught you how to answer reporters, get the television interview? How to create a budget, balance it?” And in every line, they’re, “Yes, yes, yes.” She says, “Congratulations, you’re working girls.” And it’s true. She essentially took that identity of being a housewife, and then transformed it into a full‐​time profession, and very much with these very feminist ideas, even if they’re sort of packaged in this anti‐​feminist thing. And you see that when those same women get the delegate seats and Phyllis Schlafly says that they should just not show up to protest it. And one of them says, “But the government’s paying us, so it’s kind of like we have a job.” And they started this whole movement to campaign against this idea that they should have to have jobs.

0:23:19 David Boaz: It seems to me if you’re gonna ask, “Is Phyllis Schlafly a feminist?” You have to have a definition of feminism. Is a feminist a person who supports the official feminist agenda? If it is, then Phyllis isn’t one. If a feminist is a woman who acts as if she’s as smart and capable as a man, then Phyllis is definitely a feminist. We have to remember, some of these scenes that we’re talking about may not have really happened. In my experience, checking on the accuracy of this, most of the things that can be fact‐​checked easily, they’re accurate. There really was this debate, there really was the feminist woman with a man who then discovered that she really preferred women, those kinds of things. But attitudes, backstage scenes and things, we’re not sure about. One thing that the scene of Phyllis being asked to take notes, I can absolutely believe that even though I don’t know if it actually happened.

0:24:27 David Boaz: I have a friend who was sort of a conservative libertarian feminist woman, went to college in the 1970s, and I remember her telling me that she didn’t know how to type. Well, I took a typing class when I was in high school because I wanna do writing in an intellectual, I cannot be a typist. She said, “It’s fine for you because nobody’s gonna think you’re a typist, but a woman who can type, they’re gonna ask them to type things. And I just wanna be able to say, ‘I don’t know how to type.’ ” She went on to be a lawyer. She went on to be a prosecutor, for better or worse. [chuckle] And I didn’t ask her if she ever learned to type. I assumed she had to type some things. That’s actually a social change that’s happened with computers. There used to be a lot of women in offices who were basically typists and stenographers. And then when computers and word processors happened, pretty much the lawyers start writing their own briefs. And so, they don’t need stenographers and secretaries anymore, though they may still need research assistants and all of that. But more women probably decided to become paralegals or lawyers in that circumstance.

0:25:40 Paul Matzko: Well, there’s this funny… It’s part of that cultural change, and the funny thing about culture is that culture is a system of agreed upon, broadly‐​shared symbols and signs, signifiers, is that it’s invisible to us. By its nature, culture tends to be invisible. And so, we just assume it is a thing that has been and always was and always will be. And so, as the culture’s changing, people stop realizing that a thing would have once been considered radical or even radically feminist. I thought of this as I was watching, and I’m not sure this was put in the show for this purpose, I doubt it was, when Sarah Paulson’s character is wandering through the convention high and encountering different evidences of feminism, one of the things she sees is a woman’s self‐​defense class.

0:26:32 Paul Matzko: They’re learning to defend themselves from sexual predators and muggers and the like, presumed to be male. It’s a reminder that once upon a time, that actually was a very radical thing, that women’s self‐​defense was a thing that only liberers would do because a virtuous woman had a man to protect her, who rely on male authorities in the home and in the public to protect her. The idea that you would go get dressed in sweats and learn how to do self‐​defense moves was once considered feminist or a radical act. But by the 1980s, it’s been routinized. It no longer carries that kind of signaling of radicalism. It’s just part of the culture. I don’t know, I grew up around lots of fundamentalist women, very conservative, very religious, very Schlafly‐​like, and self‐​defense was just an ordinary thing, it had lost any of that charge.

0:27:23 Paul Matzko: And so, it’s kind of a reminder that, as David and as Kat, and we’ve been talking about, how do we define feminism, it’s a moving target as well. So if you mean by it, “Is feminism what the National Organization for Women want?” That’s one thing. In fact, that’s a moving target itself, what first‐​gen Suffragettes versus second‐​wave feminists desire, that’s a moving target in one way. Is it what people… But another way in which people use feminists is just as a catch‐​all… On the right, people will often use feminism as a catch‐​all for things I find alienating about transformations in societal understandings of gender. And by that definition, it’s a constantly‐​moving target such that self‐​defense reads as feminist in the 70s, but reads as just ordinary non‐​radical a decade or two later.

0:28:15 Natalie Dowzicky: Well Paul, I also think that the term “radical” itself is a moving target. And I think the show even suggests that at one point. I think this has to be in the later episodes, maybe six or seven, where the feminists of the time period are having a conversation about whether or not they’re radical anymore. And I can’t remember the character’s name specifically, but they’re talking about, “Are we radical anymore because our ideas have reached the middle of America? Are we still radical?” And I think that’s almost… To me, in the show, it almost served as an inflection point or a reflection because it’s like, “If your ideas are no longer considered radical, does that mean you changed your hearts and minds?” And it was this whole idea that when she, the character, when she first started out, she went and choose to march, and her ideas were seen as radical. And then now, she’s looking back and she’s like, “Well, now that people agree with me, I don’t think my ideas are as radical anymore,” which I thought was super interesting. But I also… Coming back to this question of whether or not they are radical, I’m under the impression that all feminists in this time period were considered radical. Though watching this show, I didn’t view them as radical and are, if you put them into our context of our world. Does that make sense?

0:29:41 Paul Matzko: Right. Well, it feels almost quaint and it’s like you hear these debates that have… ‘Cause debates have been largely settled, and many of them have been agreed upon across political boundaries, across ideological boundaries. So some of the debates is like, “That doesn’t… ” It loses its charge. We have to engage in an active historical imagination because, again…

0:30:02 Natalie Dowzicky: Absolutely, yeah. [chuckle]

0:30:03 Paul Matzko: Even some of the stuff, like the debates over the role of lesbians in the National Organization for Women and in feminism more broadly, it’s like, “Come on, Betty! Just move on. We’ve all moved on. What’s wrong with you?” But we forget that they actually were asking a lot of someone who is as old as Betty Friedan was. And there was a generational struggle there that you can see the difference between Bella Abzug and Betty Friedan or older, Gloria Steinem and younger voices, there was a very sharp generational divide over gay rights within the ERA movement. But as an example of what we’re talking about, we do have to engage… We have to remember the past is a foreign country and things felt differently to the people at the time.

0:30:47 Kat Murti: I think that’s true, but I think there’s also an interesting aspect of that where some of the arguments and some of the tensions and things that you see happening are also still tensions you see. And part of that is around the discussion of race, or the non‐​discussion of race as it happens, which sort of… It affects… It impacts all aspects of this, because there is the whole aspect of the Eagle Forum being associated with a lot of white nationalist groups, either purposefully or not. But there’s also a much more subtle aspect of this that are still issues that you hear people talking about in the feminist movement today when they talk about white feminism.

0:31:29 Kat Murti: So you have, for instance, there’s a black writer at Ms. Magazine that is supposed to be the most radical, the most progressive, and when she tries to bring up issues like, “I am not the voice of all black women. We are different. We have very different experiences to very different things.” She immediately gets sort of topped over and be like, “Yeah, but we’re not like that. You don’t feel like that.” Or when she actually quits Ms. Magazine, and you can tell she feels uncomfortable even bringing up that point, so she doesn’t. She kind of lies, and saying that it was for the school, she wants to move to Oakland for the school and her… And Gloria Steinem’s black partner basically tells her afterwards like, “Oh, so that’s what she told you then,” because it’s very clear that it’s just that she feels that her voice as a black woman is spoken over in these circles.

0:32:23 Kat Murti: And you see the same thing happening in Phyllis Schlafly’s world, ’cause she may not be a racist herself, I don’t know the woman, but that’s sort of depicted that she’s comfortable being around racist, but she’s not herself a racist, at least actively so, right? And she has this close relationship with her housekeeper who’s a black woman. And yet you routinely see issues, like for instance, there’s this one scene where Phyllis’s daughter has not come home from school ’cause she’s missed the bus. Phyllis has an appointment, so she tells her housekeeper to get her kid and her housekeeper is like, “No, I’m sorry I can’t because I have to pick up my daughter,” and she basically tells her, “No, you do it,” right? And you still see people in the feminist movement talking about how a lot of like these feminist ideas of, “Okay, well, just hire a housekeeper, just hire a maid, etcetera,” still come from this idea that like, “Okay, well, we’ll free the wealthier white women from these constrictions,” but that’s based upon these poor women of color filling in those traditional roles. It’s not based upon everybody being equally freed. So I think there are some aspects like that. Well those are still radical discussions when they happen nowadays, even as, they were radical discussions that were happening at that point.

[music]

0:33:46 Natalie Dowzicky: This brings up a good point. I know that race certainly affected the feminist movement during this time period, and it’s in constant tension throughout the show. But I was wondering if anyone can speak to the accuracy? So I know there was a few points where the KKK was mentioned as tangentially accepted by Phyllis Schlafly’s group. Is there any validity to that or is it kind of just like thought to have happened that way?

0:34:14 David Boaz: One of the things they talk about was whether Phyllis was a member of the John Birch Society, which was not a racist organization, it was a far‐​right organization, and her biographer said, “No, she wasn’t, they shouldn’t have done that,” but then it turns out there are some papers that suggests that she was a member, which is not all that surprising. It was a big organization back in those days, although not acceptable to mainstream conservative centered around Bill Buckley and Reagan and so on. I would guess, from what I can recall and what I’ve read, that Phyllis was not in any sense, and other mainstream conservatives were not racist in that sense, but… And KKK I think is probably going too far. But white segregationists, anti‐​civil rights people in the south. Look, if you’re gonna raise a conservative banner in the South around 1970, you’re gonna get people who have still segregationist views. It’s changing, there’s been a lot of change, but older married women there, I can see the idea of Lottie Beth Hobbs, the southern sort of partner of Phyllis, nodding and tacitly understanding that not everybody we work with is going to have the same views on these things that we do.

0:35:42 Paul Matzko: I’ll add that the line from the movie Phyllis at one point utters where she says, I’m paraphrasing here ’cause I didn’t write it down, but, “I’m not going to question why, what motivates someone to be opposed to the ERA,” in response to someone… It’s approximate to that KKK conversation. “We don’t wanna be formally affiliated with the KKK, but I’m not gonna question what’s in the heart of someone who’s opposed to the ERA.” That’s a real line. So someone found… That’s actually from her correspondents. And so there is a comfortable‐​ness with being a fellow traveler, but as far as her herself to some extent, as far as her herself, we forget that these are… Phyllis Schlafly is a child of the era of the second Ku Klux Klan in the 1920s, when the second Ku Klux Klan, its primary goal, I mean it was racist, it was anti‐​black, but primarily anti‐​Semitic and anti‐​Catholic. And so there was a long history of antagonism between the Ku Klux Klan as an organization and Catholicism. I mean she… And she grows up Catholic. She’s Catholic in Missouri, the Upper South, where the Klan activity was a real thing.

0:37:07 Paul Matzko: So there was no love lost between committed Catholics and the Ku Klux Klan. They did not get along, normally, so it would be, it’s ludicrous to accuse, for them to have accused her of being a member of the Klan of, “Hey, Phyllis, I see your white cheek showing.” But there was… I mean and we can condemn this, there was a willingness to overlook, kind of, there were members of the stop now organization who also were affiliated with White supremacist organizations, they were, some of them were wives of Klansmen, some were themselves involved in the Citizens Council, which were segregationists, a segregationist organization. And it’s one of those things where she just didn’t wanna appear too closely, ’cause she didn’t wanna know. So it’s a kind of a mixed situation.

0:38:03 David Boaz: But let me pick up on that. You used the term fellow traveler there and that’s a good term. They were willing to accept fellow travelers who they would not have wanted to endorse the views of, what the show never does though, is suggest that there might be some fellow traveling and some further left entanglements of some of the feminist. Phyllis’ possible association with reprehensibly far right organizations are mentioned several times, but Betty Friedan and Bella Abzug, who had both been in circumstances when they were young where they were at very least, around members of the Communist Party, people who were in fact Stalinists at the time, whether they actually ever joined the communist party, I don’t know, but those sorts of things are not mentioned, while the, of the unsavory connections of Schlafly are.

0:39:05 Kat Murti: I think you’re right there, but they also they don’t completely just if we stick on the race issue, they do make clear that these women across the board, even if they’re not actually wantingly being racist, do benefit from that somewhat, right? And that’s something that we see, that’s something we saw historically, as early on as in the first wave of feminism. You have women like Harriet Tubman and Sojourner Truth, repeatedly calling out this idea that, that feminists, that this feminism that of course they didn’t call feminism at the time, was predicated upon this idea that white women should do better than black people, right?

0:39:49 Kat Murti: So, at that period, this of course, well before the show, there was a fight where Suffragettes were angry, some of them, because black men were getting a vote before white women and contemporary, much more contemporaneously to the show. Although it was sort of petering out a little bit at the time, but not really. There’s a famous feminist slogan from the ‘60s that comes from a court case, but feminists would say that they’re “free white and 21, therefore they should have the same rights as a man”. Which of course predicates this idea of well, because we’re white women, we should have more rights than black people, which I think comes from this idea that there’s only so many rights to go around and this idea that it’s insulting to them that women should be held below these other people who are being held by society. And you kinda have this conversation throughout the show, sort of lightly about horizontal hostility or about groups attacking each other within this. And I think that’s still something that we see today.

0:41:00 Paul Matzko: That’s a great point, I’ll piggy back on the back of that, which is this issue of predicated… So when I talked about respectability politics earlier. It is always predicated on othering. You identify an out‐​group and you establish your respectability by saying, “Thank God. I’m not like one of these”. And so, as Kat pointed out, feminist women in the ‘60s could use the politics of racial privilege, and racial respectability by saying, “I’m white, therefore I have a stronger claim to equal rights”. Or, and there’s another version of this here too, which is going on in the story, which is the role of gay rights. So, respectability politics are being played on both sides of ERA divide. These internal disagreements over, does being straight give one a greater claim to immediacy at least. Should the concerns of gay‐​lesbian… Of gay members, of the pro ERA faction, should their concerns and their claims for equal rights be on the front burner or on the back burner, and that, again, is there. But Bella Abzug, Betty Friedan said, “Well no, no. We wanna be seen as respectable, we want to get our claims heard and taken seriously.

0:42:18 Paul Matzko: Gay Rights needs to go on the back burner”. Again, it’s all respectability politics is about making a claim on the body politic in a way that’s kind of fundamentally discriminatory. Whether that’s because you’re not a Missus or because you’re not straight or because you’re not white and the show does just an excellent job. I think the scenes you pointed to Kat are just excellent. The one with Schlafly’s housekeeper, and just showing that in the economy of Phyllis Schlafly. She’s totally unaware of this. She rates the interest of her white children over the interests of the black children of her housekeeper, or in the scene you describe with the employee at Ms. Leaving. And I think those things are an excellent capsulation of that internal tension.

0:43:05 Natalie Dowzicky: Well, Paul it’s even interesting that you bring this up. So, with everything that’s going on, again, we’re recording this on June 3rd. So there’s been a lot of protests across the US, because of the death of George Floyd. And something that you were just speaking to actually reminded me of something I saw on social media recently that someone had shared and it was a quote, it said, “Equal rights for others does not mean fewer rights for you, it’s not pie”. So it’s this whole idea that it’s not making up a whole, and that if you take a percentage of your rights away that gives percentage of rights to someone else that’s not how it works. And I think even though this is very relevant in the time period of the show, but it’s still prevalent today. And I think that’s also, I’ve said this before, but that’s what makes some of these pop culture and other media forms really resonate with audiences, is that it has relevance to your life today. And then as sad as that is, it’s still able… It helps us relate to the show and even understand it from a level. Even if you weren’t alive during that time period.

0:44:04 Kat Murti: I think looking at equality as a pie or not a pie. Is a really good, really good analogy, but it also brings up this issue that we see all the time. The problem is that for a lot of people, when they think equality, the reason that they see other people getting rights is them having rights taken away is ’cause they’re mixing up equality from privilege. In the more, in obviously a very different aspect of this, but for instance you’ll see folks get really angry about things like Star Wars having a female heroine, right? And so people see this as like, this is completely unfair. There’s no movies with men in them anymore, and of course, fundamentally the vast majority, of movies still have, still have a man as a lead. But when you look around and what it used to be, it was always you when you always got the first right, and now all of a sudden you have to compete on an even playing field, or at least a more even playing field. It does feel like an attack on you, right. And so that’s kind of the difference between, do you care about actually having rights for everybody, or is your conception of rights that you have a leg up over everyone else that largely, is being enforced by the state.

0:45:19 Paul Matzko: But this is though one of the perversities of the political process by its nature is that, in general, that is absolutely true. The equal rights is not a pie, a finite pie. And if you get some, someone else doesn’t get some is not zero sum game. But in the political process, there’s only so much political capital and so much political will. And so politics is by its nature, a zero‐​sum game, but that’s kind of the essential… That’s why we should keep as much of our lives, as much of society out from under politics, because it converts things, that don’t have to be a zero‐​sum game into a zero‐​sum game. And so that’s just a little cautionary note, as we think through this, is that, yeah we’re sympathetic to the pro‐​ERA gay voices on that side of the faction today. And yet, it was not incorrect, that those claims made it less likely for the ERA to pass. And that’s because the logic of the political process converted it into either white feminists get what they want, straight feminists get what they want or gay and black feminists get what they want and that’s a flaw of politics.

[music]

0:46:38 Natalie Dowzicky: Shifting gears a little bit here. So I had always had the impression before I saw this show that Phyllis Schlafly was evil. I don’t know if that’s just because of my education about her, I’m not sure, I’m sure it was one‐​sided. But do you think they painted her in too much of a glowing light in this stance, in this show? Or do you think it was pretty spot on? ‘Cause from my perspective it seems like she was, she was certainly given more airtime, but it seemed like they were almost saying that she was the best part of this time period.

0:47:18 Landry Ayres: I agree, I was very curious about that because it certainly is set up like she is, like a protagonist and we’re supposed to see her as flawed, but that her triumph at the end is… Or her loss is something we’re supposed to sympathize with, which is something I was not expecting from an FX TV show that was about Phyllis Schlafly, based on how, what I had learned about her. So I’m really curious, I, jumping off that question, do you think that was the goal of the show, and if not, what do you think the goal of the show was?

0:47:58 Kat Murti: I don’t think that was the goal of the show. Just based upon the last two minutes of the show.

0:48:03 Kat Murti: Where they are talking about the ERA, and then they’re making this weird political point about how we need to reinvigorate the fight for the ERA. That said, I was shocked, because going into watching the show, I was not expecting to like it because it did seem like it was about Phyllis Schlafly, and I have… Hate is a strong word, so I don’t actually mean it to the full extent, but I have hated Phyllis Schlafly since I was 15 and I started reading her stuff, and reading the back and forth debates between her and Betty Friedan and stuff like that. Largely because as I mentioned before, I’ve always seen her as a hypocrite. She is someone who fights, she’s someone who fights against this idea of women having careers, of women being outside the home, as her career right. If she just wanted to be a house wife, she could have been a house wife, no one was taking that away from her. But she created this profession of fighting against professional women, right. And I actually felt watching the show, I appreciated that it humanized Phyllis Schlafly, and I felt like it showed a lot of the stuff going on in her own life, and how, it made me like her a lot more, to be honest, it made her a lot more of a human character.

0:49:20 Kat Murti: But, upon hearing what you two have just said, I’m now wondering if folks who maybe haven’t done any research, or studied on any of the characters in the show for whom this is brand new information. If maybe they would have perceived it quite differently and even seen her in a much more positive light than they would have otherwise.

0:49:39 Landry Ayres: I think I just like Cate Blanchett and that is why I like the show so much. It’s like Phyllis Schlafly, sure I learned more and there’s more nuance than what I was expecting for but at the end of the day, I was like… But Cate Blanchett, she’s just a masterful performer.

0:49:56 David Boaz: Well, and that’s where it seems to me, you know, you ask is that what they were trying to do? What were they trying to do? Well, the first thing they were trying to do is make a television show that will be interesting. And one of the things actors will often tell you and I think I heard Cate Blanchett say this is, “You don’t wanna play a character that you can’t have any empathy for.” So you want to find what is the motivation of my character, what is she trying to achieve? So I found the show, clearly Phyllis Schlafly is not the heroine, she is the protagonist ’cause there’s like five feminists who are her rivals. But I thought the show was less biased against Phyllis Schlafly than I expected, and maybe many other people were hoping it would be really biased, and were disappointed in that. My memory of Phyllis Schlafly from the Conservative movement is that, you know, she was a fairly standard Reagan Buckley Goldwater, Reagan Buckley Conservative, but she got into, really into the social issues, she was a free marketer in the sense that Reagan and Buckley were.

0:51:15 David Boaz: But her original interest was building up national defense and nuclear weapons, and then she got into the ERA, which then did get her into also the anti‐​gay marriage and so on eventually. So on all the issues where I have sympathy for Conservatives that wasn’t really what she was interested in, but I still see her as the same kind of Conservative as the Reagan Buckley crowd. And therefore, I don’t think those… I don’t hate those people. I think they’re wrong about a lot of things. But the left was also wrong about a lot of things. Bella Abzug for instance, was, when she came to Congress she was like the most pushy, belligerent left‐​wing member of Congress. And so, it’s interesting in the show to see that among the feminists she’s the practical politician. She’s the one who says, “This is how much we can get.” Now she thought Shirley Chisholm was standing in the way of George McGovern winning the election, so she wasn’t necessarily a perceptive politician.

0:52:24 David Boaz: But she did understand sort of how you work the back rooms, and the trade‐​offs, and we can go this far, but we can’t go this far. And so it changed my opinion of Bella Abzug who I just remembered in my mind as a crazy left‐​winger, and now it turns out well, actually a pretty sharp politician too.

0:52:46 Kat Murti: It’s interesting to me as well, that you talk about, that you talk about, how Phyllis Schlafly, your perception of her as her contemporary or closer to her contemporary. She was alive during my period but always as a very much old woman or older woman. But it’s interesting to me because as I re‐​watched the shows past weekend, and the thing that I noticed the most was that despite the fact that I’ve always disliked Phyllis Schlafly and really disliked her ideas, just watching her day‐​to‐​day life and as a woman who’s sort of involved in these political circles, sort of involved in sometimes Conservative political circles as a Libertarian, I kind of flip between the left and the right, depending on the issue.

0:53:35 Kat Murti: I actually thought that of all of the characters, her actual life was most similar to mine. I find her, the character that I was most easy… Or that was most easy for me to relate to just as a woman living my life, which I thought was really interesting to me and really humanized her character.

0:53:54 Landry Ayres: Well, I had this… I wanna outrage Natalie for a second.

0:53:56 Natalie Dowzicky: Okay, I’m ready.

0:53:57 Landry Ayres: ‘Cause I told her before the show, that Phyllis Schlafly reminded me of her. [chuckle] And, but this is not the…

0:54:04 Natalie Dowzicky: Which is great ’cause I just said she was evil.

[laughter]

0:54:05 Landry Ayres: And it… And not Phyllis Schlafly of the show, because she’s in her 40s when the show starts. It’s the actual bio of Phyllis Schlafly. She is someone who went to college on scholarship, worked her way through college, went to DC during the heady days of 1945, worked at a think‐​tank when she was 21, 20, 21, she ran… A campaign manager at 22 for a congressional candidate. So I don’t know. Someone who immediately finished college, went to a think‐​tank, and showed herself to be very proficient at administration and running things. It sounds like Natalie to me.

[laughter]

0:54:50 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah. I hear you. I hear you. Ha‐​ha‐​ha.

[chuckle]

0:54:52 Landry Ayres: Yeah. But all I’ll say is this. Props to Dahvi Waller who’s the writer of the show, who avoided a pitfall that’s so common in Hollywood, which is that they don’t really have a great literary sense all too often, which is that there is a temptation to create not literature, but pulp. And the pulp is simple morality tales. There’s the… It’s like the old western. You have the good white hat cowboy versus the bad black hat cowboy, or Native Americans or Indians. Simple morality tales with clear good, clear bad. That is the temptation of Hollywood. So the easiest thing she could have done would have been to write the story, which is focused on the pro‐​ERA side and Phyllis Schlafly only shows up as a stock evil character, an antagonist who you never actually examine the interior life of. And what she does is she humanizes her, which is good. Because first of all, that’s just how life works. That’s what history is. People are human, even bad people are human. They have interior lives, character arcs. [chuckle] We all have character arcs. And also, it turns out that in real life, no one is 100% correct or thinks of everything. So think of when you like a superhero movie, you like the ones where you have a robust villain who is at least partially, maybe not right, but you understand them. You like Thanos, not because you think he should have killed half of all living creatures in the universe…

[chuckle]

0:56:27 Natalie Dowzicky: Oh, my gosh.

0:56:28 Landry Ayres: But his point was to try to save the environment because there’s too many people consuming too many resources. And so, there was lots of think pieces after that saying, “Oh, well, I don’t agree with him. He went too far, but he’s not as ludicrously, cartoonishly villainous as other stock Marvel villains.” And so, Dahvi Waller avoided the easy road here and wrote a story that actually humanizes Phyllis Schlafly even though I think it’s very clear she disagrees with her in the story. And that’s props… That’s good writing. That’s writing film as literature, and she did that here.

0:57:06 Kat Murti: The film’s literature idea was really interesting to me. We didn’t really talk a lot about Alice Macray, who’s Phyllis Schlafly’s best friend in the show and is actually a composite character. She doesn’t exist. And…

0:57:19 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah, she…

0:57:20 Kat Murti: She doesn’t exist. And so, when I started watching the show, I was like, “Okay, yeah, so she’s sort of an easy plot device. She kind of acts a little bit… She brings up ideas, she is that thing to vocalize a lot of what might have been going on inside of Phyllis Schlafly’s head to get her to do these things.” And then I was like, “Okay, maybe she’s playing more the role of the conscience.” But as I finished the series, I realized she’s actually the… She’s representative of the average American woman of the time. So you start out with she’s the one telling Phyllis Schlafly she’s frightened, that her life is under attack, that she can’t be a house wife, etcetera. And then over time, she shifts. And the big pivotal moment for her character is when she goes to this women’s convention and all of a sudden she’s exposed to all of these ideas, as Paul mentioned, that she had never seen before, and it changes her life and it gets her to think about things differently towards the end where she breaks off from Phyllis Schlafly.

0:58:24 Kat Murti: And she even tells Phyllis Schlafly, she’s got a job now, which is a completely different character from the one at the beginning who started this whole movement not wanting a job. But now she’s saying she feels empowered not having to ask her husband for pin money. And Phyllis Schlafly, there’s this great moment where Phyllis is sort of hurt, and she says, “You used to feel empowered by me, not the feminist movement.” And Alice, who’s again, this composite character, says, “I wasn’t empowered. I was scared.” And so that’s… That was just the most literary aspect of the show for me, and it was so powerful and so cool.

0:59:09 Natalie Dowzicky: I agree with that. I think especially throwing it in, which makes me think this goes back to Landry’s point earlier about what the purpose of the show was or what they were trying to convey, that scene went very well into the end where you see Phyllis Schlafly in her kitchen, being that homemaker role, and then it quickly transitions to a explanatory a few scenes where they show the states recently that have ratified the ERA, Virginia being the most recent one. And I think that was… Those probably last 10 minutes are what basically made me see like, “Okay, they weren’t actually trying to over‐​glow Phyllis Schlafly. They do… Still had a point here towards the end.” And I think that’s really interesting that you think she represents… Alice represents the mainstream woman or the typical woman of that time period, because I think that actually fits pretty perfectly.

[music]

1:00:12 Landry Ayres: And now for the time in the show where we share the media we’ve been consuming in our downtime other than our topic, this is Locked In. David, Paul, Kat, what have you been enjoying?

1:00:25 David Boaz: I’ve been so busy working and reading the newspapers and everything that is being written these days about contemporary affairs. I don’t feel like I’ve consumed that much pop culture, but I’ll name you a couple of things. I very much enjoyed reading another book about conservative history, “The Radio Right” by Paul Matzko.

1:00:46 Paul Matzko: Hey! [chuckle]

1:00:48 David Boaz: That’s a good book, I urge you to read it. I also watched the TV show, Belgravia, about which all you really have to say is if you like Downton Abbey, then you should watch Belgravia. It’s set 100 years earlier. It’s not particularly related to our topic here, although one interesting aspect is it does reflect the rising commercial class in England bumping up against the established aristocracy, and the conflicts that that creates. One more thing, I re‐​watched a movie from the 1940s called I Know Where I’m Going, and it’s about a young woman who’s always knowing where she’s going. And indeed, she’s about Phyllis Schlafly’s age because she was about to get married during World War II. And eventually, the conflict for her is which man to marry. There’s no discussion of a career, although she’s working at that point, but eventually, she has to decide which man to marry. But still, if there was anyone about whom it could have been said, “I know where I’m going,” I guess it would have been Phyllis Schlafly, as well as people like Bella Abzug.

1:02:04 Paul Matzko: I’ll second Belgravia, I enjoyed that as well. Another show I actually only saw because I subscribed to Hulu so I could watch Mrs. America was The Great, about Catherine the Great, and it is almost… It’s like 90% fictionalized. They’re very free. So don’t go to it for an accurate portrayal of Catherine the Great, who in reality was actually less reform‐​minded than Peter. For those who watched the show, Peter, who she deposes and has murdered, possibly. Spoiler alert. But Catherine the Great, just excellent acting. Nicholas Holt is Peter, and every line out of his mouth just slays. It’s just very well done.

1:02:48 Paul Matzko: And I suppose I should, since David mentioned it, I’ll be that guy and I’ll promote my own book. And it’s actually fitting to Schlafly. So my book, “The Radio Rights” with Oxford University Press, hardcover comes out June 16th, the Kindle version’s out now. But there is one of the very important themes in the setup of the book is the role of housewife populism, to use Michelle Nickerson, she’s a historian, Michelle Nickerson’s term, is that the right, modern conservatism, often when we talk about it, it’s the conservatism of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan and William F. Buckley and Russell T. Kirk, etcetera, all these men, intellectuals, politicians. But the reality is the grassroots new right is a woman’s movement. This is as much a women’s movement as what we call the women’s movement. And you see that in the show, in Mrs. America, where it’s like, “Which one is the women’s movement?” Well, they both are. Which one’s looking out for the interest of women? That’s another question. But which one is propelled by women? Both. And the same thing’s true of the new right.

1:03:55 Paul Matzko: All these people who are listening to the right‐​wing broadcasters I write about, they are disproportionately middle‐​aged, suburban missus, and they use that respectability politics to do all kinds of crazy stuff I describe in my book, like the boycotts and card parties. And they’re so annoying that JFK and his private correspondents, internal correspondents complains about these basically uppity women who are giving him a hard time and threatening his re‐​election ’64, which leads him to launch the greatest campaign of government censorship of the last half century, targeting right‐​wing radio. So go check out that book. There’s more Schlafly‐​like women populating it, and it’s an enjoyable time.

1:04:41 Kat Murti: Yeah, I have a great recommendation. It’s another TV show. And I wasn’t sure if I would like it at first, just based upon the age group that it seemed to be aimed at, but Never Have I Ever. It’s a Netflix show. It’s created by Mindy Kaling. And it’s about this young girl in California, starting high school. She’s an Indian‐​American girl, and her father passed away recently. And so, it’s just her, her mother, who’s of course an immigrant from India, and her cousin who grew up in India and has now come to stay with them so that she can attend college in the United States. And so, I will say that as a young Indian‐​American girl who grew up between India and the US, seeing that this show… And who, while I was growing up, never saw any Indians on TV except for Apu from the Simpsons, seeing that this show was rated number one on Netflix was just… It was amazing. I can’t explain how great I felt that people would watch this. And it’s interesting, and it’s sort of very similar to Mrs. America in a weird way, and that it sort of really focuses on these women and their role in society. And it is, it’s a young girl into high school.

1:06:10 Kat Murti: And particularly for me, as someone who sort of grew up in the United States, also with a lot of time of my life spent in India, and at that age group where I’m between the daughter’s age and the mother’s age pretty equally, it was really interesting for me to look at this immigrant story, and this story of being young and struggling with your identity as a first‐​generation American. And I really recommend it. I will tell you that it gets a couple extra bonus points for me because usually when people think about Indians outside of India, you mainly just see Northern Indian cultures reflected. And the first moment I noticed was when her mother makes a comment to her in Brahmin, which is actually my first language.

1:07:01 Kat Murti: And that just really clicked for me. And of course it makes sense, Mindy Kaling is Brahmin herself. Of course, that’s her stage name. Her real name is Mindy Chokalingam, which is an incredibly Brahmin name. She changed it. Her first time doing stand‐​up, when the stand‐​up comedian ahead of her made his entire set about making fun of her name, she decided to never go by it again. But it’s really interesting to see, you can see Mindy’s reflections on her life kind of come through, and also to think about the American immigrant story and what it means to be American.

1:07:38 Natalie Dowzicky: That sounds like a great show. I’ll have to add that to my list. I’ve been… So other than watching X‐​files for a previous recording, [laughter] I have been going back on some old movies that are on Netflix, mainly just some comedies, some Will Ferrell movies. My significant other is currently deployed overseas, so I’ve been using this great… I guess it’s a Chrome extension called Scener, where we can actually watch movies together, and it syncs our computer screens, so it syncs our Netflix together so that we’re watching the movie simultaneously.

1:08:14 Natalie Dowzicky: And it’s really great ’cause you can also video chat and there’s a little chat box there too, that you can like talk about the movie and stuff. So, so far we watched The Other Guys, which I forgot was absolutely hysterical. Great Will Ferrell and Wahlberg performance. And then I also have been going back, me and my housemates have been going back and watching some good rom‐​coms. So we did Life As We Know It this week. We tried to do the Titanic, but apparently… One of my favorite movies, I might add, though I have not found a way to bring it on to Pop & Locke yet.

[laughter]

1:08:51 Natalie Dowzicky: You have to purchase Titanic. So we didn’t wanna purchase it. But, yeah, so I’ve just been kinda going back through some old movies. I haven’t started in a new TV show yet, but seems like Never Have I Ever might be the next on the list.

1:09:02 Landry Ayres: If… Natalie, if you like buddy cop, two guys acting silly…

1:09:07 Natalie Dowzicky: Yeah. [laughter]

1:09:07 Landry Ayres: If you like The Other Guys, you know what is the err example of that genre is The Nice Guys with Russell Crowe and Ryan Gosling. Hilarious.

1:09:16 Natalie Dowzicky: I don’t know if I’ve seen that one.

1:09:18 Landry Ayres: Oh, yeah, it didn’t do all that well in theaters. It kind of was an underrated gem. It’s utterly hilarious. So try that one out.

1:09:26 Natalie Dowzicky: Okay. [laughter]

1:09:27 Paul Matzko: With my free time, I have… Well, following the recent protests, following the death of George Floyd and everything, I’ve been trying to beef up on some literature that people have been suggesting, and re‐​invest some time in reading about those kind of issues. So, I’ve been reading “Stamped from the Beginning” by Ibram X. Kendi, which is very, very good. It’s a longer read, but it’s well worth it. He also came out with a book called “How To Be An Antiracist”, I believe earlier this year, but I haven’t cracked that one open yet. I’m also reading “The Color of Law” by Richard Rothstein, which is very, very interesting, and I think our Libertarian audience will really, really enjoy it. For fiction, “The Underground Railroad” by Colson Whitehead is just phenomenal, a winner, I believe, of the National Book Award, and sort of a fictionalized telling of a magical realist where the Underground Railroad manifests as an actual rail system where people ride cars and ride it to different cities and meet with other people there.

1:10:38 Paul Matzko: But it is highly researched and based in that time period. So while there are elements of magical realism, it is extremely accurate and based on reality in other senses. So I highly, highly recommend it. Another book by Colson Whitehead that is… I think one, was it the poster recently at the National Book Award, is “The Nickel Boys”, about a state‐​run school and a set of, basically murders that happened there and abuse that was covered up. So, heavy reads, but well worth it. For a little more light fare, I have been watching these YouTube videos by this presenter based in the UK named Tom Scott, and he has a series called “Things You Might Not Know”, and he’s also hosted QI on the BBC for, or presented on it for a while, and he’s trained as a linguist, but it… Like videos about odd physics phenomena and crazy places in the world, and why language functions in certain ways, and like really basic stuff that you wouldn’t normally think about, and it’s in really bite‐​sized segments and videos.

1:12:01 Paul Matzko: And he’s a funny guy, and he breaks down complex topics in an entertaining way. So I highly recommend Tom Scott if you’re looking for a fun intellectual thing that you can digest rather quickly as well. And I also watched Kiki’s Delivery Service over the weekend, which is just a delight.

[music]

1:12:25 Natalie Dowzicky: Thanks for listening. As the mini‐​series showed, Phyllis Schlafly built her career advocating for traditional women’s roles and mobilizing conservative opposition to the Women’s Liberation Movement. The historical importance of this story is often lost like many other pivotal times in our history. If you agree, be sure to let us know on Twitter @PopnLockePod. That’s Pop, the letter N, Locke with an E, Pod. Make sure to subscribe to us on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you listen. We look forward to unraveling your favorite show or movie next time. Pop & Locke is produced by Landry Ayres as a project of lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org. To learn more, visit us on the web at www​.lib​er​tar​i​an​ism​.org.