I met the great Mrs. Schlafly only once, when we were speakers together on a Hillsdale College cruise some years ago, and found her perfectly delightful, and still full of brim though she was over 80. I don’t think she got the full honors deserved from conservatives, let alone from the mainstream media and feminists, who have mostly airbrushed her out of the class picture of politically important women. Her matronly mid-western demeanor meant she didn’t fit the Fox News profile we’ve come to know today. Still, she is almost single-handedly responsible for derailing the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, which at the time was supported in the Republican Platform and by, among others, Gov. Ronald Reagan.
People laughed and jeered when Schlafly suggested that untethered feminism and the limitless pursuit of equality would lead to women serving in combat and unisex bathrooms. Who’s laughing now? Nowadays if you even make a joke about these totems of progressive equality you’re accused of bigotry.
We have Donald T. Critchlow to thank for a good, full-scale biography of Schlafly, Phyllis Schlafly and Grassroots Conservatism: A Woman’s Crusade, published by Princeton University Press. Worth having for your biography shelf. Critchlow reminds us that well before the ERA crusade, Schlafly had been a very important activist on behalf of Goldwater in 1964. Pat Buchanan has more on that part of the Schlafly story here.