With a police officer turning people away at the door of a McGraw Hall auditorium, conservative advocate and commentator Phyllis Schlafly spoke to more than 150 people yesterday evening about her opposition to the feminist movement.
Schlafly is a politically involved lawyer who has also published a number of books. Her first book, A Choice, Not an Echo, self-published in 1969, has sold over three million copies in total.
To begin her speech, sponsored by the College Republicans and the Cornell Review, Schlafly said that she has never suffered from discrimination.
“When I entered into politics … I had full support from the party. I didn’t have discrimination because I was a woman,” she said.
After explaining her opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, Schlafly gave a summary of her objections to feminism.
“The feminists talked about liberation … but what they meant was liberation from home, husband, family and children,” she said. “Feminism is based on the assumption … that God goofed on making us of two different genders. They are trying to abolish the differences between men and women. But there are real differences.”
Schlafly then discussed the various stances of feminism she disagrees with and her reasons.
“[One] fallacy about women is that women are oppressed and mistreated,” she said. “I think the American women is the most fortunate class of people on Earth.”
Rather, Schlafly believes that the feminist movement oppresses women who choose to be homemakers. She recommended that women become “sequential women,” tackling goals of career and family at different points in their lives.
“I would tell you that you can have it all. I’ve had it all. But you can’t have it all at the same time,” Schlafly said.
Continuing her list of grievances, she said that feminism is incompatible with both happiness and the free market. To support her conclusions on happiness, she described her observations of feminists who now regret their earlier decisions to have abortions and not raise families.
In regard to the free market, she expressed her opposition to affirmative action, laws to close the income gap between genders and the recent United Nations Treaty on Discrimination Against Women.
She described these as movements to “get rid of your husband [and] run to the government to fill the gap.”
Schlafly further explained her stance against affirmative action. “Feminism is not compatible with equality,” she said.
According to Schlafly, women are not held to the same standards as men combat and in military academies, contrary to principles of equality.
She then criticized feminists for not acknowledging the works of prominent conservative women, such as Elizabeth Dole and Margaret Thatcher.
“Liberation is no substitute for marriage and political correctness is no substitute for chivalry,” Schlafly said.
At the question and answer session following the speech, audience members on both sides of the political spectrum questioned Schlafly on her views.
“I think the words you say [as wedding vows] … are some of the most beautiful words in the English language,” she said, in response to a question regarding the institution of marriage.
During the session, she also described her views on gay marriages, abortion and immigration, among other subjects.
Although Schlafly received a standing ovation from much of the audience, some members had mixed reactions.
“I expected to hear a point of view I’m not familiar with and which isn’t presented to me very often,” said Laura Miner ’06. “Being liberal, it was sort of excruciating but interesting to hear another perspective.”
However, she felt Schlafly’s statement about feminists’ general attitudes portrayed them unfairly.
“My mom is a very happy feminist,” she said. “I thought that was extremely harsh.”
Other audience members also voiced their disagreement with Schlafly’s views.
“A woman who opposes women’s rights boggles the mind,” said student trustee Leslie Barkmayer ’03.
However, other students appreciated and agreed with Schlafly’s speech.
“She stated some very good points that made a lot of sense against feminism. I think it’s important [that she said] … successful women do not necessarily have to be feminists,” said Cara Santillo ’06, College Republican member.
“I think she was absolutely great, above and beyond what I expected,” said Ray Berrinato ’03, president of the Cornell Review.
Organizer Courtney Tawresey ’03, vice chairman, head of speakers for the College Republicans, said she was pleased with the turnout and the event, in general.
“I think any time you can bring a conservative [to campus], especially a conservative woman, it’s an opportunity you just can’t pass up,” she said.
Archived article by Shannon Brescher