Earlier this week, Phyllis Schafly died, aged 92. She was a conservative icon, and as such there was much outpouring of joy on Twitter and other apparatchiks in the leftist media.
Although I was aware of who she was, I didn’t know the extent to which she was a force for preserving traditionalist views for over half a century. Her most notable achievements came in the gender relations arena, particularly her battles to stop feminists from passing the ERA in the 1970s.
For this, she became the mortal enemy of the feminist, and therefore the eternal friend of civilization itself. Indeed, of feminism, she believed that it was “doomed to failure because it is based on an attempt to repeal and restructure human nature.”
The aspect of human nature which the feminist is interested in is the fact that men and women are different, and thus have different roles to play in families and societies as a whole. Feminism rejects the obvious biological fact that men and women are different and ascribes any differences to ‘social constructs.’ It seeks to reshape the world in its image, to the point that it’s logical extension would lead one to posit that a 5’0” 105 pound woman is equally as capable of saving people from a 10 story burning building as a 6’2” 195 man.
Schalfly stood steadfast against such absurdity for decades, and thus is deserving of respect. There is a bit of a paradox, at least on the surface. In spending her adult life championing traditional views, and exalting the traditional housewife, she was a tireless worker outside the home. She gave speeches all over country, wrote and/or edited dozens of books, learned a law degree, wrote regular columns, and appeared on radio for years.
She also had 6 children, breastfed all of them, and taught them all basic reading and writing before they entered school. In short, she ‘had it all,’ which is what feminists claim their ideology offers women.
Yet the results of 50 years of feminism don’t really bear that out. Women are less happy now than they were during the 1970’s, while men have roughly maintained their level of happiness. Women are marrying later, and the fertility rate in the US is the lowest on record.
A far cry from Schlafly, who actually attained what feminism claimed to offer. Yet, Schlafly is universally met with scorn by feminists.
What squares the apparent paradox is the fact that Schlafly, in embarking on professional pursuits, had no burden, beyond a moral one to uphold traditional views. She had married a wealthy lawyer, so she didn’t need the money from her speaking fees or book sales. She could fully concentrate on her roles as a wife and a mother, while taking the spare opportunities she had to engage in activism, which she called a ‘hobby.’
She would work on her early books after 10pm, when her kids went to bed. She didn’t go to law school until she was in her 50s, at which time her children were all at least in their teens and thus didn’t necessarily need the constant supervision toddlers would have.
She ‘had it all’ precisely because she eschewed the feminist model. She married well, had children, raised them while slowly building up her professional ambitions when she could. Then, in her 50s, after her children had grown, she embarked on her largest and most expansive efforts.
The feminist model preaches to women to do the opposite – establish a career first, then look for a husband after age 30, then have kids, then juggle them with the expanding career. It doesn’t work, for multiple reasons. Nature, not society, has given women a relatively short window to have children. Waiting until after 30 severely limits that window, and increases the likelihood of complications. Furthermore, having a child right when professional ambitions are escalating is a recipe for disaster. Both the child and the job need one’s full attention, and by definition only one can win it.
It is little wonder that the modern woman, influenced by 40 years of feminism is so unhappy. Perhaps she would be better off to take a little inspiration from Phyllis Schlafly, and much, much less from Betty Friedan.