With her famous mother back in the news again thanks to a new Hulu series, Anne Schlafly Cori is doing her best to help the public separate fact from fiction.
Cori is the daughter of Phyllis Schlafly, the conservative leader who led a movement of women in the 1970s to defeat the Equal Rights Amendment after it appeared headed for easy ratification. The proposed amendment to the Constitution would have guaranteed “equality of rights” under the law on “account of sex.”
The new nine-part Hulu series, Mrs. America, follows the cultural battle between Schlafly and the feminists of that era, including Gloria Steinem and Betty Friedan. Cate Blanchett plays Schlafly.
Although Schlafly was a person of faith, the series largely ignores this element of her life.
“The truth is that her philosophy came from her deep faith, and everything she believed was because of her Catholic faith,” Cori told Christian Headlines. “... Her faith was central in informing every decision she made. The series scrubs her faith out of it.”
Schlafly brought together people of different faiths – evangelicals and Catholics, for example – to form the Stop ERA Movement and the Eagle Forum, an organization that still exists. Cori is its chairman.
“It was quite a revolution and what started the pro-family movement,” Cori said. “These people had not been in politics before and had really stayed within their home and their church.”
The movement surprised the feminists, who had expected easy ratification of the ERA after it sailed through the House and Senate. Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter supported it. Even the Republican Party platforms of 1972 and 1976 – Schlafly’s party – backed the ERA.
“[The feminists] actually had good reason to think it was going to be a slam dunk,” Cori said. “... And of course Hollywood and the media were all in favor of it. It never occurred to the proponents that it wouldn't be ratified within the first two years.”
The opponents of the ERA, Cori said, needed “someone to figure out what the results of the ERA would be.” That person was Schlafly.
“Equality of rights sounds like such a great idea. It's not until you follow through and understand what the results would be that you realize that [when] you create a sex-neutral society, [it] harms women,” Cori said.
Schlafly argued that the ratification of the ERA would lead to women being drafted and fighting in wars. She also asserted that the ERA would allow courts to require taxpayer-funded abortion.
“She always thought there was a huge connection between ERA and abortion,” Cori said. “And that is one thing the movie got right.”
Needing 38 states to ratify it by March 1979, the ERA got only 34.
Cori isn’t a fan of the series. The filmmakers got her mother’s “hair, her makeup, her wardrobe, her intelligence, correct,” she says. Unfortunately, Cori says, the series is portrayed “from a feminist mindset.”
“Within a feminist mindset, any woman who doesn't agree with this feminist ideology – there must be something wrong with her,” Cori said. “So they really present her as a victim and a dupe of the male patriarchy – first by her husband and then by various men in the Republican Party, and nothing could be further from the truth.”
Photo courtesy: ©FX/Hulu
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.