Phyllis Schafly, long time organizer and hater of woman, gay people and anyone that supported an agenda that smelled even slightly of favoring humanity, died Monday at 92. As the Guardian puts on the tag-line:
“Lawyer, writer and campaigner was credited with almost single-handedly stopping the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s.”
That is no understatement. Armed with money from her many political endeavors from an exclusive estate in Fairview Heights, Illinois, (she liked to claim Alton as her hometown but Fairview Heights, the bluff community far above Alton was her actual area of residence) Schafly waged a blistering campaign of mis-information, outright lies and misogyny that would surprise even most men today.
There is no better way to capture the essence of the insanity and strangeness of Phyllis Schlafly that to read some of her quotes, the best of which were collected by Raw Story.
Also, we include for the purusal of the young folks who haven’t had the pleasure of experiencing Schlafly live, the next best thing; You Tube. Here she speaks at the “Cleveland City Club” in 1982. Throughout the 70’s the Equal Rights Amendment had gained steam and was quite a controversial topic at the time. The issue and any hope of passing the ERA died with the election of ultra-conservative Republican Ronald Reagan for his first term, in 1979. In this video Schlafly starts out with her opposition to women serving in the military, the concept of “equal pay for equal work” She also then goes into her classic tirade against the concept of feminism entirely, saying that the concept of having women working outside the home as mother and wife destroys society. Note that she was booed upon the end of her speech and heckled during her speech.
Of course today these arguments seem frivolous. Most reasonable people under the age of 70 and even the most unreasonable still think its silly to suppose that women are not discriminated against in the workforce or anywhere else.
Ironically, Schlafly coined the term “gender free society” to describe feminists who at that time were advocating for equality for women. She used many scare tactics to put fear in the minds of people about what might happen should the Equal Rights Amendment be passed, one of her favorites was to claim that women and men will have to share bathrooms.
Another noteworthy video is the old public radio television show from the 70’s, Firing Line, hosted by the laughably self important William F. Buckley who feigned an upper class accent and founded the neo-conservative/libertarian National Review.
Those of us who remember Phyllis Schlafly remember how the majority of the press never asked her the obvious question, if you feel that women should stay home and not live an independent life, then why aren’t you home now? Schlafly, like most neo-conservatives was also a hard-core racist who in her last year came out of her witche’s den to endorse Donald Trump.
It must be noted that Schlafly had excellent communication skills. Practiced and stubborn she was ready for the heckling and the critics and spoke clearly and without hesitation. Most likely her stalwart determination in her ideas, no matter how ridiculous they seemed; damning women to a life of secondary citizenship and domestic servitude, while she pranced all over, living in the spotlight and eventually commanding good speaking fees from the right to endow them with her presence. The lesson learned from her career: sometimes how you present the message is more important to the listener than the message itself. She used the markers of successful tyrants; use half-truths and appeal to fear.