Life Story: Phyllis Schlafly2021-02-12T08:52:57-05:00

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Life Story: Phyllis Schlafly (1924-2016)

Anti-feminist and Anti-ERA Leader

The story of a conservative activist who organized a powerful anti-ERA movement.

Activist Phyllis Schlafly wearing a “Stop ERA” badge, demonstrating with other women against the Equal Rights Amendment in front of the White House

Activist Phyllis Schlafly wearing a “Stop ERA” badge, demonstrating with other women against the Equal Rights Amendment in front of the White House, Washington, D.C. 1977. Warren K. Leffler / Library of Congress, Prints & Photographs Division, Washington D.C.

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Suggested Activities

  • Pair Phyllis’s life story with that of Bella Abzug. Each woman’s career culminated in leading a major political event in Houston in 1977. Invite students to look at the story of the ERA and the National Women’s Conference from two perspectives.
  • Read Phyllis’s life story in conjunction with Gloria Steinem’s testimony in favor of the ERA. Ask students to think about how these two perspectives on the ERA speak to one another. How do they think Gloria and Phyllis felt about one another?
  • Phyllis and Betty Friedan had similar upbringings. Both women were born in the 1920s, attended women’s colleges, and raised families in the suburbs. They also shared their ideas through writing. Invite students to pair these life stories and explore the range of perspectives in women’s history of this era.
  • Phyllis often argued that life in America would be too similar to life in the USSR if the ERA were passed. She was not the first person to compare the roles of women in those two countries. Connect her life story to the kitchen debate to learn more about how women’s roles were linked to the Cold War.

Themes

AMERICAN IDENTITY AND CITIZENSHIP; POWER AND POLITICS; ACTIVISM AND SOCIAL CHANGE; DOMESTICITY AND FAMILY

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