Phyllis Schlafly, a conservative political activist and a devout Catholic, who was involved in mobilizing women against the Equal Rights Amendment, passed away at the age of 92 at her home in St. Louis, Missouri.
She was a vocal anti-feminist, who famously told Newsweek in 1979 that feminism "has caused a lot of women to have low self-esteem, to convince themselves [that they] are repressed."
Her political activism helped steer the Republican Party to broadly adopt many of the conservative stances on religion and family.
A conservative interest group, Eagle Forum, started by Schlafly in 1972, opposes abortion and lobbies to defund the Planned Parenthood.
She liked to call herself a "housewife," despite an active public life, and her prominent role in shaping the conservative political movements since the 1960s through the 1990s. She has authored 26 books, including books such as Turbo Reader and First Reader that teach phonics to children, and commentaries on changing the family system in America.
Her best-selling book A Choice Not An Echo, which sold over three million copies, illustrated the conservative manifesto, and critiqued New York Governor Nelson Rockefeller who sought a presidential nomination in 1964. The book supported Senator Barry Goldwater who was a proponent of conservative politics but was also defeated in his presidential bid the same year. The conservative ideology then found its way to America's political forefront through President Ronald Reagan in the 1980s.
Schlafly's fight against the Equal Rights Act was what brought her into the public space. She maintained that women were not publicly ill-treated, and that the amendment will take away several protections from women which included night shifts and heavy lifting jobs. Apart from withdrawal of special provisions for women in jobs, Schlafly pointed out that ERA would hurt the interests of women by removing social protections such as right to alimony and custody of children.
The ERA, according to her, would have had many other repercussions on women such as mandatory conscription, co-ed bathrooms, and elimination of distinction in assigning women to unsafe workplaces.
An opinion piece on the Wall Street Journal said that the amendment would have opened doors to "endless litigation and was unnecessary in a Constitution that already provided equal rights for all."
She and her late husband Fred founded the Cardinal Mindszenty Foundation to spread the awareness about the negative aspects of communism. Schlafly also became a member of the John Birch Society, but later opted out because she said that the real communist threats to America were not indigenous but from abroad.
Schlafly was known to be a devoted mother, even though she had a nanny to take care of her children. She was rarely outside of home overnight, and took her infant kids along with her to public events. Schlafly was named Mother of the Year by her home state Illinois in 1992.
She is survived by her six children Liza, Roger, Anne, John, Andrew, and Bruce, and 16 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.