Phyllis Schlafly was a master of grassroots organization. Her stunning victory over the overwhelming money and power behind the pro-ERA forces is the very model of what grassroots activism should be. It should come as no surprise that the insidious feminists who concocted the International Women’s Year tried to counterfeit Phyllis’s grassroots support for their own purposes.
That is exactly what the state IWY conventions were supposed to do. In theory, three million government dollars would be spent to host women’s conferences in all fifty states where women would talk about what issues are important to them, vote on resolutions reflecting those issues, and nominate representatives to attend a national convention where another two million government dollars would be spent to do the same thing on a national scale. Of course, that is not at all what happened in reality.
The National Commission was weighted with forty-one commissioners who were in favor of ERA and one token ERA opponent. To ensure that conservative states could not break free from the pro-ERA agenda, the National commission handed down twenty-six pre-scripted resolutions for each of the state conventions to rubber-stamp. They had no real choice in developing positions on the issues and drafting resolutions themselves. For example, state convention participants could not vote to affirm the sanctity of life; they were only given the option of choosing how best to achieve the predetermined goal of abortion-on-demand.
Phyllis Schlafly’s home state’s convention is a textbook example of a complete farce in the name of phony grassroots activism. Conservative women – homemakers in particular – were systematically barred from having their voices heard at the state conferences. Violet Hamilton, one attendee at the Illinois conference, submitted a scathing report of the front lines of the proceedings. She said, “The Illinois International Women’s Year Conference… proved a farce to some 600 registrants who finally walked out in disgust Sunday afternoon.” She continued to warn that “fifty canned state outcomes will give the appearance of a national consensus.” Clearly, there were darker forces at work than simply an open forum for women to talk about the issues.
On the fortieth anniversary of the IWY National Convention, let’s remember not to be fooled into thinking that feminists have real grassroots support. Even today, most Americans know that the feminist agenda does not align with their values. Americans value the family and support its prominence within our society. Do not let a revisionist historian try to tell you that IWY had the support of the American people. Their dirty tricks and gavel-miserliness only prove that America was firmly on the side of Phyllis Schlafly and her fledgling pro-family movement.
We have pulled a few telling documents from the archives , including official reports, that show the “smoke-filled-room” decision making of the Illinois Convention and so many like it across the country.
Click here to view the pdf documents of: