By Jiesi Zhao
Phyllis Schlafly went into the belly of the beast, the University of California, Berkeley, six years ago this month to give a lecture on the failures of the modern-day feminist movement.
Mrs. Schlafly has long-been a champion of conservatism and a leading figure in the fight against the Equal Rights Amendment, an act proposed in 1923 that would have taken away women’s exemption from the military draft, made unconstitutional single-sex schooling and activities (including sororities, Girl Scouts, and mother-daughter school functions), eliminated veterans’ preference for employers, and removed insurance companies’ rights to charge women less than men, amongst other measures to achieve “equality.”
In a packed lecture hall of undergraduate students at UC-Berkeley, Mrs. Schlafly held her own during an event hosted by the conservative club on campus, which I served as chairwoman at the time. The crowd barraged her with questions from the expectedly liberal feminist point-of-view, although maintaining a semblance of respect for the speaker. Mrs. Schlafly never wavered in defending her strongly-held beliefs.
She may have even inspired some of the students in attendance to think about women’s rights from a different viewpoint—a perspective the students were never going to get from their professors.
Perhaps just as important as what happened when Mrs. Schlafly visited Berkeley is how this conservative leader got to be on campus in the first place.