Cute kid in the video, right? Based on what Phyllis Schlafly has to say about feminism and marriage, she might just be
her Schlafly’s worst nightmare – a happy little girl who knows that she has a wide open future and that she needn’t be defined by her marital status.
Hotflash recentlly posted several videos showing Schlafly, the Queen Mum of Missouri conservatism, in action (here, here and here). They present a frail-seeming, fact-challenged woman, absurdly flailing at the the Affordable Care Act. A Huffington Post interview on the topic of Schlafly’s new book, The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know – And Men Can’t Say, cowritten with Suzanne Venker, serves to reinforce one’s sense that this woman is seriously out of touch with reality.
In the interview, Schlafly describes a right wing fantasyland where flippant feminists set about destroying the American Way of Life just because they “love divorce”:
… They wanted to be independent of men and liberated from the duties of marriage and motherhood. So, their first legislative goal was the adoption of easy-to-get divorce
She and her co-author, like many social conservatives, view divorce as something that superficial women, seduced by empty feminist platitudes, embrace simply because they can. Consequently, Schlafly and her ilk have devoted themselves to making sure that they can’t. Here in Missouri, for example, Schlafly think-alike, Cynthia Davis, introduced legislation to eliminate no-fault divorce, and in her role as Chair of the House Interim Committee on Poverty issued a trumped-up report that reduced a complex, many-faceted issue to the scourge of unmarried motherhood. There seems to be no social pathology that these folks can’t explain by reference to women’s sexual behavior and marital status.
Social conservatives who want to meddle in people’s marriage choices often claim that they do so because prohibiting divorce is in the best interest of children. Proponents of this view usually trot out various studies that purport to demonstrate the dire future outcomes for children of divorce and Schlafly doesn’t disappoint, citing Judith Wallerstein’s highly publicized, but questionable research.
It is interesting and typical of the conservative modus operandi that Schlafly does not point out any of the many criticisms of Wallerstein’s methodology and conclusions, nor the many studies that reach different conclusions. If she were a fair disputant, she would certainly also discuss findings that show that children who remain in intact, high-conflict families have an equal or even higher rate of negative outcomes when compared to children from divorced families. As an analysis of such studies from the Cato Institute’s Cato Unbound series concludes, “the evidence that preventing divorce would benefit children is weak at best.”
Based on the interview, I’m betting that Shclafly’s book offers little more than the latest iteration of the perennial rightwing Kinder, Küche und Kirche propaganda – bolstered by the usual misrepresentation and twisted logic that we expect from the less thoughtful social conservatives. Schlafly can, on one hand, lambast the family court system, which often oversees custody disputes, as an example of government overreach, “an arm of government that exercises virtually unlimited power to dictate the private lives and income of millions of Americans.” On the other hand, she openly asserts the right of government to legislate morality when it comes to limiting divorce. The question for us, of course, is do we want the Schlaflys of the world to be our moral arbiters? Do we want our children, children like the little girl above, bound by her view of female destiny?
Note: Steve Benen takes on possible GOP presidential contender Mike Huckabee on the marriage issue. The money quote:
… if right-wing activists have thrown a months-long tantrum over Michelle Obama encouraging kids to eat healthier foods, how will these same activists perceive a presidential candidate who wants to press parents to get married, whether they want to or not?
I’m guessing that if they notice at all, they’ll praise him to the skies.