In a HUMAN EVENTS article three years ago, Stephen Baskerville praised anti-feminist icon Phyllis Schlafly who, he wrote, “stands almost alone today among eminent public figures in warning against the feminist-judicial machine.” In the foreword to one of Schlafly’s books, Ann Coulter offers her praise as well: “Writing the foreword to a book by Phyllis Schlafly is like being the warm-up band for the Rolling Stones.” She goes on to say that while “conservative women in my generation are often compared to Phyllis Schlafly, all of us combined could never match the titanic accomplishments of this remarkable woman. Schlafly is brilliant, beautiful, principled, articulate, tireless, and most importantly, fearless. She is always right. She has always been right. She will always be right.”
That’s some serious praise.
Unfortunately, Phyllis Schlafly — who’s best known for her 1970s fight against the Equal Rights Amendment — does not always evoke such adulation. Throughout her career, she’s been pilloried by the media — or simply ignored altogether. But last month, the Clare Boothe Luce Policy Institute, the organization that promotes strong, conservative leaders such as Michelle Malkin, Ann Coulter, and Christina Hoff Sommers, awarded Phyllis with a Lifetime Achievement Award. I’m not being presumptuous in using her first name — Phyllis is my aunt. She and my mother are my grandparents’ only children.
As a child, I never understood exactly what it was Phyllis did, but there’s no question that her work — along with my mother’s tutelage — was hugely instrumental in shaping my views about women. While the women in my generation (I was born in 1968) were taught to ignore their maternal instincts and embrace the marketplace with a verve that defies human nature, I was taught something else. The women in my family are, and have always been, ahead of their time. They have a bottomless supply of common sense and knew years ago what so many women are just now finding out: No woman can “have it all” simultaneously. Thus, it makes more sense for women to plan their careers — should they choose to have one—around marriage and motherhood, rather than the other way around. If I had not gleaned this message early on, there’s no question I would have ended up like most modern mothers: guilt-ridden, stressed out, and just plain overwhelmed.
I had another advantage. In one of her books, Phyllis makes a dedication to my grandmother and great-grandmother — who, she says, “taught me strength and survival in an uncertain world based on Christian faith, hard work, and perseverance.” By “survival in an uncertain world” Phyllis was referring to the Great Depression, which deeply affected Phyllis and my mother. My grandfather lost his job when they were young, and my grandmother had to go to work to put food on the table — literally. At one point the family had to move to California — temporarily, from St. Louis — to live with my mother’s uncle. They never owned a house, and my mother rode her bicycle everywhere or used the streetcar. Three generations lived under one roof in a three-bedroom apartment, with no air conditioning and one bathroom. The lessons Phyllis learned about hard work and perseverance were passed on to me as well — filtered through the same women.
And it’s a good thing, since perseverance is a prerequisite when it comes to fighting feminism. Elite feminists are a powerful bunch, capable of turning an otherwise strong man into a blithering idiot through sheer intimidation. If you don’t have thick skin, feminists will crush you. What they never expected was someone like Phyllis Schlafly — who cannot be worn down. At 85 and much to her children’s dismay, she still travels all over America and shows no sign of slowing down. That’s the kind of perseverance that’s necessary to fight the idea that women are victims of an unjust society.
And if you think feminism is dead, think again. Just last month, in Parade’s cover story about child care in America, author and feminist Leslie Bennetts (whose latest book warns women against staying home with their children) writes that universal child care is the panacea for women’s plight. If we could only turn our attention to Europe, says Bennetts, where “high-quality child care is a right of citizenship.” Indeed, feminists routinely point out that the United States lags behind most Western nations, where mothers are “entitled to 16 months of paid leave per child, and can take 480 days at 80% of their salary.”
Rights and entitlements. My grandmother would turn over in her grave.
Next on Obama Agenda
Fortunately, there are two great stumbling blocks to Ms. Bennetts’ push for “better and more quality child care.” The first is that most Americans simply aren’t on board with the idea. According to Public Agenda, 60% of parents of children five and under believe parents, not the government, are responsible for their children’s care — and a whopping 72% believe they are responsible for the costs incurred. Even a majority of low-income parents believe bearing such costs is “their responsibility and not society’s”! With numbers like this, child-care advocates — Obama included, for this is next on his agenda — will be banging their heads against a wall all the way to their deathbeds.
The second stumbling block is the paradox of the feminist argument: You can’t insist upon “high-quality” care — which in effect means paying child-care workers higher wages — and simultaneously make child care more affordable for parents. Making child care more affordable creates more demand for staff, and the higher the demand, the less money providers will make. That’s how supply and demand works. The only way to make child care more affordable, then, is to keep the demand at a minimum. Even Dr. Stanley Greenspan, the eminent child psychologist who has devoted his life to early childhood development, has said the only way to create good quality child care is to have fewer parents using it.
Despite the lack of support, feminists continue to try and force a square peg into a round hole. Rather than listen to the needs and desires of everyday women, they foist their agenda down our throats via their powerful perch: Hollywood, academia, and the media. It will take a very strong force to circumvent their power, but it can be done. As Phyllis said in her acceptance speech just last week, “I want to address my remarks today to the young people because we need you, we need you to restore the America we have known.” She added that young conservatives “can organize and take on all the powers that be and defeat them — and that is the lesson.”
Sign up to the Human Events newsletter