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After a Generation of Extremism, Phyllis Schlafly Still a Leading General in the War on Women

At 87, Schlafly is still on the warpath, gracing any podium that will have her with a font of barbed quips, bad facts and bitter resentment.

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Obama, she said, wants to make it easy for women to have children without the benefit of marriage for a simple reason. "President Obama is simply trying to promote more dependency on government hand-outs because he knows that is his constituency," she explained. "In the 2008 election, when he was elected president, he got 70 percent of the votes of unmarried women -- and he wants to increase that number."

Bringing the themes of race and sex together, Schlafly offered a joke. "The news came over the wire service: World will end at noon tomorrow," she said, smiling. "And it was reported differently by different papers. The New York Times gave it just an ordinary headline: World Will End at Noon Tomorrow: See Details on Page 21... The USA Today gave it a big, colorful front page: World Will End at Noon Tomorrow: See Our Survey on What People Think About This. But the Washington Post gave it a big, block headline: World Will End at Noon Tomorrow: Women and Minorities Hardest Hit."

"Equal Pay Is a Communist Idea"

Before she was an anti-feminist, Phyllis Schlafly was an anti-communist, a big purveyor of the red scare. So it should come as no surprise, one imagines, that she should find a way to wed the two, as she did in her critique of Obama's signature on the Lily Ledbetter Equal Pay Act, the better to feed the Tea Party trope of Obama as a Marxist. 

"Equal pay is a communist idea," Schlafly said. "We do not want equal pay." She went on to explain that the law already mandates equal pay for equal work, and that if a woman finds that she is getting short-shrifted on account of her gender, she can take her complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, and it will remedy the situation. Of course, for Lily Ledbetter, she found out about the years of paycheck discrimination she suffered too late to make a claim, and the act named after her was meant to remedy that.

She then took her dissembling skills to their height. "Obama has repeatedly used this line that the feminists like to use: that women are only paid 77 cents to every dollar paid to a man. That is a complete lie from the very beginning. When they talk about all women, they're including people like me, who haven't had a paid job since I got married many, many years ago." Actually, no -- the 77-cents-to-the-dollar figure applies only to women who work full-time for pay. (See page 11 of this  report [PDF] by the U.S. Census Bureau.) So, who's the big liar?

One reason women don't earn as much as men, Schlafly said, is that "men are willing to take all kinds of dangerous jobs that women are unwilling to take because women like nice inside jobs with carpeted offices." (So do CEOs, but last time I looked, most of them were men.)

The real problem with feminists, Schlafly said, is that "they just don't believe that women can be successful." 

"And that's why they hate Sarah Palin," she continued. "Whether you like her or not, she is a big success. She's got a bunch of kids, she's got a cool husband, she's had a very successful political career -- but on top of all that, she's pretty. They just can't stand it!"

But wait, there's more. "The feminists don't have any role models of happiness," she asserted. A young woman in the audience challenged her on this point during the question-and-answer session, citing her beautiful, feminist mother who is "also a devoted mother and wife." But Schlafly, who is hard of hearing, missed the point, and reiterated her claim that there is no Republican war on women. "Republicans love women," she declared, without offering any proof.

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