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So Long, President Allen! Don’t Let the Door Hit You in the ERA!

azeislers Icon Posted by Andi Zeisler

June 15th, 2006

Honestly, I was never gung-ho about Commander-in-Chief. But last night’s season finale, with it’s feminism-is-for-everybody plot points, made me decide that we need to appreciate the brief flashes of feminist rhetoric that hit the networks, even when they’re dressed up in the most obvious trappings.

In a nutshell, the finale’s plot involved the death of an Illinois congressman—who happened to be a vocal opponent of the ERA—and President Allen’s subsequent plan to reprioritize the amendment’s ratification. Plans are hatched. Threats are delivered. Fools are not suffered gladly. The President convinces a Florida congresswomen and ERA opponent to change her stance with a rousing little speech about Title IX. (She flops back to her original view when Allen’s traitorous speechwriter convinces her that supporting the ERA is political suicide in Florida.) Elsewhere, the President’s daughter gives a by-the-book “I support equal rights, but I’m no feminist” answer to explain why she thinks the ERA is irrelevant, only to be smacked down by the righteous hand of her grandmother, who tells the snotty teen to pick up a dictionary and look up “feminist.” The episode—and the series—ends with the ERA one state closer to ratification, and everyone feeling pretty darn good about it.

CIC, in its brief existence, has offered a particularly frustrating kind of wish-fulfillment for many of its viewers. (A smart, thoughtful, hardworking president with a sense of urgency, who is occasionally hamstrung by the political game yet always follows her principles? Most of us would settle for even one of those qualities in a president at this point.) But it’s also offered a set of voter study questions: In this case, the question of what happens if and when we do have a female president. Will we expect her to, like Allen, revisit the ERA and make it a priority—if only a symbolic one? Will we worry, like the advisers and speechwriters last night, that a female president shouldn’t concentrate “too much” on the needs of women because it’ll draw unwanted attention to her own, well, femaleness? Will she feel the need to have so many Botox treatments that, like Geena Davis, she can barely open her mouth to speak? Will she carry a pink purse emblazoned with a presidential seal? (Oh, never mind—the New York Times already answered that one.)

Will you miss the show? Or did you already forget about it?

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