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MPR’s Bob Potter interviews Phyllis Schlafly, author and movement conservative, on her views of women’s rights and her opposition of the Equal Rights Amendment. Phyllis Schlafly states women should not be equal to men.

Excerpt -

Schlafly: “Under our present system women enjoy a wonderful status that's better than equality. Women would be sacrificing many things they now have, and it would be taking a step down to go for equality. Boys and girls are naturally different.”

Potter: “Would you like to see a woman elected president?

Schlafly: “Oh yes, I consider myself quite a feminist in that I am for women holding better jobs, having a say in government, I've been active in politics myself. it's advantageous for the country to have women in Congress and the legislature. I hope we'll have more women lawyers, college deans, doctors, etc. They shouldn't be hired in jobs just because they're women but because they deserve them.


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SPEAKER 1: How do you view the relationship of women and men? Is it equal?

SPEAKER 2: Women should not be equal to men. I think under our present system in the United States, women enjoy a very wonderful status. I think it's better than equality. I think women would be sacrificing many of the good things they now have and it would be taking a step downward to go for equality.

SPEAKER 1: It's been charged from time to time that right from a child's very beginning, he is stereotyped as to sex roles. Do you feel that that's necessarily a bad thing if you indeed think it happens?

SPEAKER 2: To a certain extent, it does happen. But no, I don't think it's a bad thing. I noticed with my own children. Without any encouragement on my part, girls just think more about things that girls are interested in. Now, this is not just anything that's taught to them. They just seem to have this naturally. I don't think it's wrong. I just think boys and girls are different.

SPEAKER 1: There was an airline which to the little kids that got on the airplane, they gave the boys something to indicate that they might want to become a pilot someday and the girl something to indicate they might want to become a stewardess. And some people objected to that saying that the little girls shouldn't be excluded from being the pilot. Subtle things like that, do you have any objection to those kinds of practices?

SPEAKER 2: No, those things don't really bother me. I think with all the big things there are to get upset about in the country and the things that really need change, that's pretty petty.

SPEAKER 1: Would you ever like to see a woman elected president?

SPEAKER 2: Oh, yes. I consider myself quite a feminist in that I am very much for women holding better jobs, having a say so in government. I've been very active in politics myself. I think it would be very advantageous for the country to have women in Congress, women in the legislature.

And I cheer when every time we have a competent, successful woman in any of these endeavors. I hope we'll have more women lawyers, college deans, doctors, and all the rest. I don't think they should be hired in these positions just because they're women, but I think it should be because they deserve them.

SPEAKER 1: Do you think that as a woman who's growing up, a girl is growing up she should be encouraged to explore the possibilities of going into law or medicine or any number of the other fields there are for people to work in as well as marriage and home life?

SPEAKER 2: If a woman is intellectually inclined, yes, I do. And personally, I've enjoyed all these intellectual pursuits very much. But the most satisfying rewarding career for most women is the career of being a wife and mother.

And the wonderful thing about the status of women in the United States is that she can really do both. The hours spent in running a home have been reduced to so few hours a day that a woman can really have the best of two worlds. She can do all these wonderful things. As I have authored five books and run different organizations, but my husband and my six children know that they come first and they are what mean the most to me.

I really think that in our educational system, not enough attention is paid to encouraging women to make a success of a career of being a wife and mother. The educational system, I think, has been most efficient in preparing a woman adequately for what she really wants as her number one career.

SPEAKER 1: How does she know that what she really wants if she doesn't have, through the educational system, the encouragement to thoroughly examine all these various things and not have expectations made of her?

SPEAKER 2: Well, how does a boy really know he wants to be a lawyer? Till he actually gets into law school. I think you've got plenty of opportunity to examine these different careers before you actually enroll in the advanced work. I think the woman's got the same opportunity as a man in that.

SPEAKER 1: Do you have any girls yourself?

SPEAKER 2: Yes, I have four boys and two girls.

SPEAKER 1: The girls have the example of their mother as being mother and housewife and involved in a lot of other activities and writing books and giving speeches going around the country and so on. What do you tell them about that?

SPEAKER 2: Well, my girl or one of the girls is rather small. But one of them who's in high school is very intellectually inclined. And I kind of hope that she will pursue-- in fact, I very much hope that she will pursue some kind of an intellectual career. But always the career that is number one is to be a wife and mother, at least, that is what most women want.

And as I say, in our country, the woman can do both. The real liberation of women was accomplished by these wonderful inventions. Like when Thomas Edison gave US electricity, he literally gave three or four domestic servants to every middle class home. And the traditional woman's work is reduced to such a short time that a girl has got an opportunity to do so many things.


Digitization made possible by the State of Minnesota Legacy Amendment’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund, approved by voters in 2008.

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