Activist / August 15 / Political Figure
Date Of Birth:
15 August 1924
Date Of Death:
5 September 2016
Place Of Birth:
St. Louis, Missouri
Best Known As:
The Republican woman who helped defeat the ERA in the 1970s
Phyllis Schlafly was a Roman Catholic political activist who spent half a century being a thorn in the side of American feminists. Her grassroots efforts in the 1970s were successful in stopping the adoption of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) a constitutional amendment that would legally recognize and protect the rights of women. Schlafly became nationally prominent in the 1950s for her mastery of media and her involvement in party politics at national conventions, first as a fervent anti-communist. By the 1970s she had turned her grassroots volunteers (many of them church-going women) into a force against abortion and feminism, linking the two as a political weapon against liberals and Democrats. With six children and a wealthy husband at home, Schlafly toured the nation giving lectures and selling her books on TV and radio as a pearl-wearing, pink-suited Republican supporter. She advised women to tend to their husbands and children at home, and warned that the ERA would force women into the workforce and children into government-run camps. Schlafly predicted that "equal rights" would mean shared bathrooms and women in the military. She believed that was bad and said so, with a polite smile. She had a graduate degree from Radcliffe (1945) and later earned a law degree (1978), but Schlafly's entire career was as a supporter for Republican political candidates, beginning in 1949. Schlafly is credited with -- or blamed for -- injecting "family values" into the national political debate and motivating Christian evangelicals to reshape the Republican party during the 1970s and '80s. She continued speaking and writing on the same themes up until she died at the age of 92.
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