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Since the beginning of the lockdown, we had time to read, to cook, to take care of ourselves, and – of course – to go through every streaming platform’s catalogues. If you run out of ideas on what to watch, here are five good reasons why you should start Mrs America!

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1.Mrs America narrates a pivotal American feminist moment
Mrs America takes place in the USA in the 70s when the country was torn between two antagonist female-led political groups: the feminists and the anti-feminists. The plot focuses on the historical character of Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative housewive who previously had studied law. While she would have liked to participate in debates on the nuclear threat, Phyllis ends up fighting against the feminist movement and creates the STOP ERA campaign. The ERA – a.k.a the Equal Right Amendment – is a constitutional amendment in favour of gender equality. It was first proposed to the Congress in 1923 before second-wave feminists decided to reintroduce it to the centre of political debates. Among them were Gloria Steinem, Shirley Chisholm and Betty Friedan, who are three American feminist figureheads represented in the TV show.

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2.Mrs America features an all-star cast
Mrs America is the first tv show where you can see Cate Blanchett holding a lead role. Always wearing a perfect bun and a frozen smile, she plays Phyllis Schlafly, an antiheroine who has a complex personality.
You’ll find next to her other talented actors and actresses. Among them are Rose Byrne playing Gloria Steinem, Uzo Abuda in Shirley Chisholm, Tracey Ullman as Betty Friedan, as well as Sarah Paulson and Margo Martingale.

3.Dahvi Waller is Mrs America’s creator
You may have never heard of Dahvi Waller, but you certainly know – and enjoy! – some of the shows she created. Indeed, Dahvi Waller is none other than the one behind Desperate Housewives and Mad Men!

4.Mrs America has an amazing original soundtrack
When you think of the seventies in the USA, you probably associate the period with the Vietnam War, the feminist movement, and the hippie movement. Yet, it was also a time when music held a considerable place. Therefore, watching Mrs America, you will be able to discover – or rediscover – key songs and artists from the decade, such as the Rolling Stones, Elton John, Eagles, The Kinks, … Beware, you will probably want to shazam them all!

5.Mrs America resonates with current events
Watching Mrs America is a way to take a backwards step when Shirley Chisholm became the first black woman to be elected in Congress, just a few years after the end of segregation in the USA. It is also an opportunity to follow second-wave feminist debates on equal pay and abortion rights. While Mrs America is a historical show, it also highly resonates with current events in America where anti-feminist backlashes regularly happen since President Trump’s election. Nowadays, wage inequalities still exist, and the right to abortion keeps being threatened in the USA. As for the ERA, it was not until the beginning of 2020 that Virginia finally ratified the text, hence becoming the last State approving the amendment. Better late than never!

Article by Léah Boukobza

Since the beginning of quarantine, you probably have had enough time to skim Netflix’s catalogue in its entirety between business meetings and yoga sessions you both do from your leaving-room. Then, you may have noticed this new German show – Unorthodox – among the ranking of the most-watched series on the platform. The show consists of only four episodes which recount Esty’s life, a young ultra-orthodox Jewish girl from New York who, one day, chooses to leave the community she grew in for Berlin. There, she hopes to live a fulfilling life free from religious duties.

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Inspired by Deborah Feldman’s autobiography entitled Unorthodox: The Scandalous Rejection of My Hasidic Roots (2012), Anna Winger and Alexa Karolinski decided to tell Esty’s life – a fictional character – through a very inspiring and moving show.

Esty is a nineteen-year-old young woman who grew up within the Satmar Hasidic community in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. She has never left New York, and strict religious precepts drive her life. Raised by her granny and her aunt, Esty enters into an arranged marriage with Yanki, a member of the same community. A year later, she decides to go to Berlin without leaving any trace. Once she has crossed the Atlantic Ocean, one can witness Esty’s metamorphosis who gradually learns how to reclaim her own body and who discovers new feelings of freedom, especially through music, a passion her community forbade her to practice.

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If some scenes can look a bit unlikely – this may be due to the program’s short format – Unorthodox still offers a heartening story about a brave and powerful woman. The Israeli actress Shira Haas wonderfully interprets the role of Esty in both English and Yiddish. She had already previously stood out by her talent and delicate performance in Shtisel, an Israeli television drama distributed by Netflix.

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Tonight, switch off your phone and assist to Esty’s rebirth through this poignant show … and be ready for a binge-watching session!

Article by Léah Boukobza

Camden Town, the well-known and busy northern London district, now houses the Vagina Museum. It opened its doors on November 2019. Its goal is to fight taboos and debunk myths that surround the female genitalia. 

Image: Léah Boukobza

If the Icelandic Phallological Museum exists since 1997, it was not until more than twenty years later that its female equivalent, the Vagina Museum, saw the light of day. Florence Schechter initiated the project by organizing several pop-up museums around the UK. Then, she decided to launch a crowdfunding campaign in March 2019 in order to create the first Vagina Museum in the world. Eventually, it was amidst Camden Market’s food and souvenir stalls that the sign ‘Vagina Museum’ was set up. A free, committed and educational museum was born.

Image: Léah Boukobza

As soon as you enter the museum, a poster lists the values attached to this space – Respect, Integrity, Empowerment, Inclusivity -, along with its missions. Among them are: the will to raise awareness of the gynaecological anatomy and health, erase the stigma around the body and gynaecological anatomy, and challenge heteronormative and cisnormative behaviour. 

Through its first exhibition, the Vagina Museum wants to deconstruct about fifteen myths surrounding female sex. Even though half of the population has one, the vagina remains taboo and poorly known. After visitors get the opportunity to take a Q&A test, the exhibition begins by covering all the basic anatomical knowledge. As you continue your exploration into the museum, many common and preconceived ideas are pedagogically demystified such as “You can’t get pregnant if it is your first time having sexual intercourse or if your partner pulls out before he ejaculates” / “Having a vagina means that you are a woman.” / “Periods are dirty, and using a tampon means that you’re no longer a virgin.” The Vagina Museum explains why ALL OF THE STATEMENTS ABOVE ARE OBVIOUSLY FALSE. 

Image: Léah Boukobza

The exhibition reminds visitors that having a poor understanding of their own anatomy can lead to direct negative impacts on health. The Vagina Museum leads with an approach that seeks to raise awareness on questions women have about their own genitalia. In a nutshell, love your vulva! 

Where? Unit 17&18 Stables Market Chalk Farm Road London, NW1 8AH

When? Mon-Sat: 10am – 6pm / Sun: 11am – 6pm

Article by Léah Boukobza