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Sep 05 2016
End Of An E.R.A. Opponent: Phyllis Schlafly Finally Dies @ 92 Comments (0)

It took forever, but one of the meanest women in public life has died at 92: Phyllis Schlafly's death has been confirmed.

From The New York Times:

Even liberals conceded her impact. “If political influence consists in transforming this huge and cantankerous country in one’s preferred direction,” the political scientist Alan Wolfe wrote in The New Republic in 2005, “Schlafly has to be regarded as one of the two or three most important Americans of the last half of the 20th century”—although he hastened to add that “every idea she ever had was scatterbrained, dangerous and hateful.”

For all her political heft, it was Phyllis Schlafly the person who often animated discussion. With her pearls, perfect posture and Daughters of the American Revolution pedigree, she basked in depictions of herself as the perfect wife and mother. She let it drop that she breast-fed all six of her babies and that she had taught all her children to read before they started school.

Feminists said it was her husband’s wealth—he was a lawyer from a rich Illinois family—that had liberated her to politick.

Compared to a religious heretic and branded “Aunt” Tom by the late, great feminist Betty Friedan, Schlafly had plenty of scorn to go around, not content to focus solely on being a women who was against women's rights—she was virulently opposed to all forms of gay rights, in particular (surprise!) marriage. When her son John, who worked for her, was outed as gay in 1992, she brushed it off and never backed down on her belief that marriage equality was meant to force Christians to approve of something of which they did not. Her son, by the way, backed her up, saying people who were against gay rights were not “bashing” gays.

On the anniversary of this momentous occasion, is what a real female leader does:

One of her last national blips came a few months ago, when she endorsed Donald Trump for president.

I'll agree with Tim Marchman's unnostalgic summary of Schlafly:

Schlafly was an evil fraud, but a canny one, whose sense of the currents of American politics anticipated and then supported those that would put Ronald Reagan and his supporters in power for a generation. She was against abortion, Communism, homosexuality, irreligiosity, and, when it came to it, equality of any sort; she was in favor of things being as they were; and if none of this made sense, that didn’t need to matter much to those who her supported her. That her career directly, personally tied bigotry of various sorts to those that animate today’s Trumpists (“the only hope to defeat the kingmakers,” she called the Republican nominee earlier this year) is an interesting curiosity, as is the way she provides a precedent for today’s violently disingenous trolling, but what matters most, when contemplating her finally-keeled-over corpse and how many people listened to her while she was alive, is just what a rotten piece of shit she was. In her old age, the woman who made piles of money declaring that there was no need for other women to have the right to do so themselves groaned about Latino ballplayers taking jobs from lesser U.S.-born players, declared marital rape a logical impossibility and backed every war crime you can think of. By the end, few enough even knew who she was; the world would have been better off had that end come a long time before.

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