One thing was clear at Phyllis Schlafly’s speech Monday night: She is no feminist.
Throughout her speech, titled “Feminism vs. Conservatism,” Schlafly, a renowned conservative activist and attorney, talked about her lifelong opposition to feminism and her prominent fight against the Equal Rights Amendment.
“I have a view of feminism that I’m sure you will not get at the women’s studies department,” Schlafly said jokingly.
“You can define feminism any way you want, but I use it the way leading spokesmen and writers like Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem and Robin Morgan do, as anti-marriage, anti-full time homemaker, anti-motherhood and anti-man.”
Fifteen minutes into her lecture, when discussing her numerous attendances to Republican National Conventions, a group of about 15 audience members stood up for several seconds and silently walked out. As they stood, Schlafly responded with sarcasm.
“Oh, so you’re standing up for the RNC?” she said. “That’s great!”
Schlafly then continued her attack.
“Feminism does not liberate women from anything,” she said. “It teaches them how to nurse old wounds and feel sorry for themselves by identifying grievances and disadvantages. Feminism is a sour-grape ideology that is not compatible with happiness.”
Schlafly also said she believes women have a wonderful place in society and argued that they are not mistreated.
“If women are oppressed, how come they live eight years longer than men?” she asked. “Or why are 98 percent of work-related deaths men? And why were 94 percent of women on the Titanic saved?”
With regard to the Equal Rights Amendment, Schlafly said it was a fraud that would prevent discrimination against sex, not women.
“Men are not in the Constitution, so why do we need women in it?” she asked. “There are no sex-discriminatory words in the Constitution, and it does not need any.”
Schlafly also recalled a famous debate she had with Friedan, who suggested they “burn her at the stake.”
The key word for feminism in the 1960s and 1970s was liberation, she said.
Schlafly added that feminists currently suffer from an identity crisis.
“They are angry whiners. They have no role models,” she said. “You never hear them talking about successful women like Margaret Thatcher or Condoleezza Rice. And it’s so funny how threatened they feel by Sarah Palin. Regardless what you think of her, Palin is a successful woman. She has been re-elected, she ran on a big ticket, has a good husband and has raised a family.”
Sophomore Andrew Votipka said Schlafly’s perspective is often misinterpreted.
“I enjoyed the lecture. She has an interesting take on the feminist movement,” he said. “I agree with most of what she says, but most people misunderstand her.”
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