The late Phyllis Schlafly was (and remains) a heroine in my eyes. For as long as I can remember, she has been a model of feminine insolence and good cheer: fearless against the enemies of Christian faith and universal reason. Our side (that of the good, the true, and the beautiful) has needed female as well as male soldiering, especially along the front line. The two kinds are not interchangeable, however, as this lady understood. Men do not give birth in their trenches; women do in theirs; and only the two together are equal to the pain of mankind’s exile. We can win battles without them, but need women to win wars. We need daughters resolute, chaste and brave.
Perhaps Mrs Schlafly’s greatest public service was by her tireless work defeating the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, back in the ’seventies. This monstrous congressional enactment was stopped at thirty of the thirty-eight States it needed to be ratified (after it had reached a high of thirty-five). Her campaign, with acronym STOP (“Stop Taking Our Privileges”), was both nervy and brilliant. Generals, and general-lasses, need both qualities; one without the other makes a lost cause.
As Mrs Schlafly clarified, women have traditionally enjoyed many privileges in Western society including — in the day — dependent wife status for tax benefits, separate toilets, exemption from the draft, &c. The feminists of NOW (the fanatic “National Organization of Women”) were campaigning to have all privileges revoked.
From an early time, when it was unforeseeable to others, Mrs Schlafly correctly anticipated the implications of feminist success — that it must necessarily lead not only to the drug and rape culture, and the holocaust of abortions, but specifically to gay marriage, transgenderism, and beyond. (She was mocked for these predictions by the “sisterhood.”) In other areas of politics, including foreign policy, she was as clear-sighted.
Her gift was the masculine one, of cold logical reasoning, combined with the warm feminine one, of prowling, psychological inquiry. She could see how shifts in traditional premisses would twist people, and show just how they would be twisted — how both women and men would be tokenized and demeaned. Her defence of privilege as necessary privilege — her conception of “rights” as according with actual human station, as opposed to some board of abstract automata — took her to the heart of social understanding. It is no accident that the most penetrating anthropological thought has so often been provided by women (from Mary Magdalene forward) — standing, as it were, aside from the “control” functions, exercised by men. For women (the responsible ones, not those sunk in liberationist imbecilities) are not instinctively reductive. Even as observers, they are multi-taskers: seeing what men habitually omit. (They have compensating flaws, and male strength is necessary against the mothering tyranny of women. But we needn’t go into that at the moment.)
Much more should be recovered. As several of my female correspondents insist, it is a terrible insult to the dignity of women that (since 1920 in USA) they have been expected to vote in popular elections.
The influence of women on society — holding together what would otherwise fall apart — is not and cannot be exerted through such deviations. The Nineteenth Amendment (as parallel legislation in other war-ravaged countries) reduced women to the status of participants in a brutish and abominable men’s game, to which women are entirely unsuited (as evidence the number who become unhinged). Over the course of the last century, the consequences of that tragic error have become so obvious that they are taken for granted: the expansion of statecraft into aspects of intimate and domestic life that were never any of the state’s business; and by inevitable consequence, the undermining and incremental destruction of human families.
Yet as political observers, women have often been superb. They look over masculine affairs from a heightened, feminine perspective. By standing above the mechanical processes of politics, they are able to appeal to the masculine capacity for disinterested justice, in a unitive rather than disunitive way. And in doing this they uphold the priority of the homely and religious, over the moral vacuity of state institutions. Men are called to defend that realm in which women are dominant by nature. It is the man’s role to shelter. Take this solemn responsibility away, and it is no wonder that, as today, the great majority of men never pass emotionally, or intellectually, beyond a callow adolescence.
To redefine women as smaller men — to equate the roles and thereby make the mother “theoretically” interchangeable with the father — is to pervert all natural order. It can be done by legislation, only within certain boundaries. When these are crossed, Nature takes revenge; as she has been doing. Mrs Schlafly was eloquent on all this.
More fundamentally, her genius was to be obstinate as a woman, and insolent in the face of the demonic. This involved, in the politics of the post-War, intervention in that formerly male preserve which had been turned topsy-turvy — an unavoidable concession to the times. This mother of six, who for many years could only think and write about public questions in the time after her last and youngest had been put to bed (for she refused to demand the emasculation of her husband), accomplished miracles of persuasion. Until the day before yesterday, she was physically present in the struggle for the best obtainable political results — a voice of extraordinary resolution.
I have had the honour to know, since childhood, many strong, independent women. I think particularly of several who made their way, towering alone. Their example inspires me to the present day: I think of such women and remember, if not my courage, at least what courage is.
I wrote once an essay on “The Modern Spinster” — a class to which I added women who had (by war and accident) long outlived their husbands. Born, typically, before the turn of the last century; widowed perhaps in the Great War; some had survived into the 1980s. They were impressive figures of pedagogical authority. We had, even here in the once admirable Province of Ontario, women I would rank with empress-dowagers of China. They were irreplaceable pillars of a society that I have watched disintegrate, over the decades since. Not one of them was a feminist, or could be interpreted as one by any fanciful act of the imagination. Each was fully a Woman.
Two converging points: First, that their power can be neither appreciated nor understood, in a society that has so far degenerated that sex (not grammatical “gender”) is dissolved in an androgynous slurry. Second, that there can be no such thing as an independent woman, who would exchange her position for that of a little man. Who could anyway wish “equality” with any of these strangely unnatural, mole-like creatures we have today — whining, whingeing, whimpering from the “safe spaces” in the hollows of their heads?
It is true that Mrs Schlafly endorsed Donald Trump, earlier this year. I note the view expressed by the (still living) Father Zed: that against Hillary Clinton, he would vote for the corpse of Millard Fillmore. I’m with him there; it is only at the prospect of “the Donald” that I hesitate. However, I’m prepared to make a concession. In commemoration of my late heroine, Phyllis Schlafly, I will permit one (1) of my USA readers to vote for Mr Trump in the coming election. (You know who you are.)