#SWAAYthenarrative

Who — Or What — Is Mrs. America All About?

4 Min Read
Culture

It's easy to be inspired when progress is being made. However, the true challenge of hope will always be to maintain it when momentum slows or, harder still, when the opposition is gaining more ground than we are. While these statements may seem obvious as we consider moments in our lives where the going got tough and the tough had to get going, it's sometimes a challenge to see these ideas represented in traditional entertainment where we can usually count on a happily ever after.

This certainly doesn't mean that the shows or movies we consume are all rainbows and butterflies — we all thrive on a little bit of drama and heartbreak — but when a show like Mrs. America comes along, where history has told us exactly how it's going to end, we still can't help but still be disappointed by the outcome. The trick is to allow for inspiration and disappointment to co-exist together.

For those of you who might not know, Mrs. America is a new mini-series on Hulu that premiered in April and is centered around the 1970s political movement to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. It features fictitious renditions of real, historical women such as Gloria Steinem, Betty Friedan, and Shirley Chisholm and uses their perspectives and voices to tell the story of a movement — but not an entirely successful one. Mrs. America is able to offer this diverse narrative that helps break down incredibly complex issues such as feminism, grassroots politics, and bipartisanship by including the perspective and voice of Phyllis Schlafly, a devout conservative and the woman who campaigned against the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. And in case you're a little fuzzy on your American history, she won.

The choice to not only include Shlafly's narrative but make it a prominent piece of the series, making her the primary voice of the premiere and the finale, was understandably controversial. However, as Dahvi Waller, the creator of the series, has stated in interviews, that's kind of the whole point. Without seeing the other side of the issue, without intellectually understanding what made Shlafly's movement so powerful and compelling to so many women, change in any capacity will continue to feel divisive and disjointed.

Waller sought to create a portrait of an ensemble rather than a biopic of any of these women and demonstrate how the community and the connections within it contributed to this powerful and, to some of us, heartbreaking time in history.

So let's listen to each other, even when we don't agree. Listening should no longer be seen as an act of contrition but as fundamental to the act of resistance.

Waller, who is a native Canadian, is best known for her contributions to Mad Men, which won her an Emmy in 2011. Now the comparisons between these shows with respect to their commentary on themes of gender and sexuality could run far and deep, but one thing appears to be clear: Waller is in the business of telling stories, even those that we might not find favorable. And similar to how those men of Madison Avenue feel synonymous with the office they work in, Waller structures Mrs. America to represent a movement of women — rather than a movement led by one.

These days, it can be challenging to find hope in anything. It's disheartening to watch progress slow, stop, or reverse altogether, and it's easy to get caught in wishful thinking about what it would be like if everything just went your way. However, shows like Mrs. America don't work to show you that all hope is lost — it's actually quite the opposite.

There is inspiration even within loss; there can be conflict in camaraderie, and there is value in understanding your enemy rather than just knowing them. Finally, regardless of political affiliation or historical accuracy, Waller uses this show to drive home an important message: that women's stories matter. What's more, they have power. The power of the movement towards the Equal Rights Amendment was not in its success but in its failure and in the galvanization of generations of women to grow stronger and smarter together.

So let's listen to each other, even when we don't agree. Listening should no longer be seen as an act of contrition but as fundamental to the act of resistance. What's more, as Waller has so cleverly shown us in Mrs. America, movements of any importance are not about the one, no matter their fame or historical notoriety. The stories of these women are stories of communities, connections, organization, civil discourse, and strength. It is in coming together to tell our stories that we can find power in the ferocity of our feminism and our femininity. And, as Waller has shown, it can be magical when we do.

3 Min Read
Lifestyle

Tempted To Dial Your Ex: 5 Ways To Know Whether Or Not You Should Contact An Old Flame

Thinking of ringing up your ex during these uncertain times? Maybe you want an excuse to contact your ex, or maybe you genuinely feel the need to connect with someone on an emotional level. As a matchmaker and relationship expert, I was surprised at the start of the coronavirus quarantine when friends were telling me that they were contacting their exes! But as social distancing has grown to be more than a short-term situation, we must avoid seeking short-term solutions—and resist the urge to dial an ex.

It stands to reason that you would contact an ex for support. After all, who knows you and your fears better than an ex? This all translates into someone who you think can provide comfort and support. As a matchmaker, I already know that people can spark and ignite relationships virtually that can lead to offline love, but lonely singles didn't necessarily believe this or understand this initially, which drives them straight back to a familiar ex. You only need to tune into Love Is Blind to test this theory or look to Dina Lohan and her virtual boyfriend.

At the start of lockdown, singles were already feeling lonely. There were studies that said as much as 3 out of 4 people were lonely, and that was before lockdown. Singles were worried that dating someone was going to be off limits for a very long time. Now when you factor in a widespread pandemic and the psychological impact that hits when you have to be in isolation and can't see anyone but your takeout delivery person, we end up understanding this urge to contact an ex.

So, what should you do if you are tempted to ring up an old flame? How do you know if it's the wrong thing or the right thing to do in a time like this? Check out a few of my points before deciding on picking up that phone to text, much less call an ex.

Before You Dial The Ex...

First, you need to phone a friend! It's the person that got you through this breakup to begin with. Let them remind you of the good, the bad and the ugly before taking this first step and risk getting sucked back in.

What was the reason for your breakup? As I mentioned before, you could get sucked back in… but that might not be a bad thing. It depends; when you phoned that friend to remind you, did she remind you of good or bad things during the breakup? It's possible that you both just had to take jobs in different cities, and the breakup wasn't due to a problem in the relationship. Have these problems resolved if there were issues?

You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you.

Depending on the reason for the breakup, set your boundaries for how much contact beforehand. If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

If you know you shouldn't be contacting this ex but feel lonely, set up a support system ahead of time. Set up activities or things to fall back on to resist the urge. Maybe you phone a different friend, join a virtual happy hour for singles, or binge watch Netflix. Anything else is acceptable, but don't phone that ex.

Write down your reasons for wanting to contact the ex. Ask yourself if this is worth the pain. Are you flea-bagging again, or is there a friendship to be had, which will provide you with genuine comfort? If it's the latter, it's okay to go there. If it's an excuse to go back together and make contact, don't.

Decide how far you are willing to take the relationship this time, without it being a rinse and repeat. If you broke up for reasons beyond your control, it's okay. If your ex was a serial cheater, phone a friend instead.

If there was abuse or toxic behaviors in the relationship, don't even go there. You can't afford to repeat this relationship again.

As life returns to a more normal state and you adjust to the new normal, we will slowly begin to notice more balance in our lives. You want to come from a good place of reflection and not let bad habits make the choice for you. Some do's and don'ts for this time would be:

  • Do: exercise ⁠— taking care of you is important during this time. It's self-care and maintaining a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: shower, brush your teeth, and get out of your sweats.
  • Don't: be a couch potato.
  • Don't: drink or eat excessively during this time. Again, remember to maintain a healthy lifestyle.
  • Do: think positive thoughts everyday and write down the 3 things you are grateful for. Look at the impact of John Krasinksi's SGN. It's uplifting and when you feel good, you won't want to slide backwards.
  • Don't: contact a toxic ex. It's a backward move in a moment of uncertainty that could have a long term impact. Why continue flea bagging yourself?