Mrs. America Season 1 Episode 6 Review: Jill

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The Republican Party has split down the middle on Mrs. America Season 1 Episode 6.

Phyllis Schlafly attempted to secure the presidential nomination for Ronald Reagan, a more conservative candidate than President Gerald Ford.

But Jill Ruckelshaus, arguably the face of the progressive Republican movement, was determined to stop Phyllis and her band of "Reaganites." 

Equal Pay - Mrs. America Season 1 Episode 6

Ultimately, "Jill," portrayed how Jill and Phyllis came to their respective beliefs. The two women were both Republicans but differed when it came to social justice.

Phyllis: Your husband supports you leaving your children on a Saturday afternoon?
Jill: Yes, he wants me to have my own life, my own career.
Phyllis: Well, there's nothing stopping you from doing just that.

Phyllis was conservative for various reasons.

She believed that women were fully equal and could pursue any career path they choose. She thought second-wave feminism only vilified homemakers and the traditional family.

But Phyllis believed that because of her experiences. She lived a sheltered life, even if she did grow up in a struggling family.

Phyllis never experienced gender inequality, at least directly. Her husband let her pursue whatever she desired, as long as she took care of their kids.

But Phyllis was okay with that, considering that all of her friends were homemakers.

Phyllis never had to work for a living, and she never had to make ends meet. Phyllis had all the freedom in the world, and at the same time, her husband supported her.

So, of course, Phyllis never saw the need for change, and she was scared of it. She was afraid of the Equal Rights Amendment and second-wave feminism disrupting her perfectly happy life.

Phyllis was a firm believer in the traditional family because it was the only thing she knew. Her life was comfortable, and she had no interest in learning about other women's struggles.

Head of the National Commission - Mrs. America Season 1 Episode 6

Phyllis assumed that other women who struggled were just women who made terrible life choices and complained about them. They were still equal to men. 

So when Phyllis saw that President Gerald Ford made a conscious effort to include feminist and progressive policies in the Republican Party, her conservatism was threatened.

Jill Ruckelshaus's life was quite similar to Phyllis', with one stark contrast -- while Phyllis was unaware, Jill saw how men treated women in the workforce.

She was able to experience that because of her career in politics.

Jill knew that even though she lived a comfortable life, many women around her did not. And regardless, Jill knew something was wrong with the way men treated women. 

A Pro-ERA President - Mrs. America Season 1 Episode 6

Like Phyllis, Jill came from a place of privilege, but Jill was an active member of the workforce, but Jill's male peers did not take her seriously. They paid attention to her body rather than her mind.

Do you know what I had to do to get my commission funded? I had to let more than a dozen congressmen put a hand on my arm, my hip, my backside. More than a dozen demanded to see my pretty smile before they agreed to sign on. I had to say, "you'd be our hero," and "you have so much clout," more times than I can remember. And that is nothing compared to what those secretaries on the Hill are dealing with on a daily basis.

She was not even allowed to attend the Republican National Convention. Technically, she was, but for her husband to secure the nomination as Gerald Ford's running mate, she had to keep her mouth shut, so her husband suggested that she stay home.

Her male Republican colleagues saw her as too opinionated. Women were not supposed to have opinions. They only held positions in political offices to meet a quota.

They did not matter.

Bill and Jill - Mrs. America Season 1 Episode 6

And when Jill discovered what Congressman Wayne Hays was doing, well, that was horrifying.

Jill was lucky that she had a career and a husband that supported her independence. Other women were not as fortunate. Men in positions of power forced young women into terrible situations. Congressman Hays was an example of that.

Wayne: Is it me, or the gal is never happy?
Shirley: Not when the gals are only making 56% of what the men make.
Wayne: So you won't be happy until you make a hundred percent of what men make?
Shirley, Bella, and Jill: Yes!

He hired women to perform sexual favors for him but wrote them down as secretaries on their payroll.

Hays's sex scandal was one of many reasons why Jill was a strong advocate for feminism and the Equal Rights Amendment. 

Slow Down the Car - Mrs. America Season 1 Episode 6

Even though she had a comfortable life, Jill knew there were countless other women out there who did not -- women who endured sexual abuse and discrimination in the workplace because they needed the money.

The system would never change unless women stood together in solidarity for all women, everywhere.

The reason for the vast differences between Phyllis and Jill was not apparent until they met face-to-face.

Before their pivotal conversation on Mrs. America Season 1 Episode 6, it was unclear why Phyllis and second-wave feminists were firm in their beliefs.

Of course, we were aware of the differences between Phyllis and second-wave feminists, but as for underlying reasons, it was unclear.

Nice to Meet You - Mrs. America Season 1 Episode 6

On the surface, Phyllis felt women like Jill threatened homemakers, while feminists were consistently vocal on why they believed they needed the Equal Rights Amendment.

Billy likes to say that we educate men and women through college to be precisely equal, but then the men go off to do interesting things.

But until now, we did not know why, subconsciously, Phyllis was attracted to conservatism, and why women like Jill Ruckelshaus were influential feminists.

Now that we know, the last three episodes of Mrs. America are going to be interesting. Because while Jill is aware of her reasons for being a feminist, Phyllis is not aware of why she is a conservative.

She just is. Even if she does not recognize it, it is because conservatism is all she knows.

So what did you think of "Jill," Fanatics?

Do you think you understand Phyllis better?

Do you sympathize with Phyllis or Jill?

With only three episodes left, what are your hopes and expectations for the series?

Jill Review

Editor Rating: 4.0 / 5.0
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Rating: 4.0 / 5.0 (1 Vote)

Sarah Novack is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow her on Twitter.

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Mrs. America Season 1 Episode 6 Quotes

Wayne: State meetings open to the public? Sounds like a fiasco.
Jill: I have never been associated with a fiasco. Massacres, yes; fiascos, no.

Wayne: Is it me, or the gal is never happy?
Shirley: Not when the gals are only making 56% of what the men make.
Wayne: So you won't be happy until you make a hundred percent of what men make?
Shirley, Bella, and Jill: Yes!