CLEVELAND, OHIO — As delegates at the Republican National Convention approved a platform banning women from combat, restricting a woman’s right to an abortion in cases of rape or incest, and without any mention of equal pay or paid family leave, Phyllis Schlafly looked on with a huge smile.
The notorious 91-year-old anti-feminist and RNC delegate sat in her wheelchair in the back of Missouri’s delegation, craning to get a look at Donald Trump as he entered the arena for the first time on Wednesday night. During the 1970s, Schlafly led the opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment, which would have amended the Constitution to ban discrimination based on gender. Schlafly, who has participated in every convention since 1952, told ThinkProgress that Trump is the candidate to best represent the needs of women from the White House. In fact, she said, there’s no need for a woman in the Oval Office at all.
“Our greatest presidents have all been men,” she said, “and they’ve been very good for our country.”
The GOP platform this year looks strikingly similar to its official platform during the years when Schlafly fought to keep women in the kitchen. It places severe restrictions on a woman’s right to control her own body, calling for the courts to strike down a woman’s right to an abortion. It also discusses what the GOP sees as benefits of a “traditional family,” claiming that the 40 percent of children who now are born outside of marriage are five times more likely to live in poverty than children raised by both a mother and father.
Our greatest presidents have all been men
Meanwhile, Hillary Clinton — the first woman to earn the nomination of a major party’s ticket — has said she would prioritize women and families in the White House. She has vowed to give all U.S. workers 12 weeks of paid family leave and has laid out a plan to close the wage gap between men and women.
But Schalfly, whose group Eagle Forum successfully defeated the ERA, said Clinton’s plans are an insult to women and that it is “ridiculous” to think she would help women get ahead.
“Women don’t need anything special,” she said. “Women need a free country just like men.”
Currently, U.S. employers are not required to offer workers any amount of paid leave, and only 12 percent of private sector workers have access to paid family or medical leave through their employer, according to the Department of Labor. Millions of workers are forced to return to work and forego caregiving responsibilities for their children or aging parents because of the risk that they would lose their jobs.
Schlafly, agreeing with her party’s platform, said that a national policy on paid leave is “not what we want at all.”
“We’ve got very generous family leave right now,” she said. “I do think the support of the children is the responsibility of the husband, not the employer.”
When ThinkProgress pointed out that fewer than half of all children now live in “traditional families” with two married heterosexual parents, Schlafly replied: “Well I don’t think it’s the employer’s job to pay for the child.”
Of all the pro-women policies Clinton is endorsing, however, Schlafly took the most issue with the Democratic Party’s support for women in combat. The GOP platform calls for reinstating the ban, which was lifted in December by Defense Secretary Ashton Carter. Clinton supported that decision and has said women should be allowed to make their own decisions about whether or not they engage in combat.
“The worst thing she’s doing is calling for the drafting of women,” Schlafly said. “It’s terrible because once you go in the army, you go where you’re told, and women are not suitable for combat and can’t do combat as well as men. It’s endangering the survival of our country to pretend that women can engage in military combat like men.”
Schlafly endorsed Trump during the GOP primaries, claiming he is everything that grassroots Republicans want.