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“They def­i­nitely under­es­ti­mated me. They did not believe that I could win.”

A com­manding con­ser­v­ative voice for the anti-fem­inist movement, Phyllis Schlafly, who died on Sep­tember 5th at the age of 92 was, “one of the most polar­izing figures in American public life,” according to the New York Times. Yet, she deserves to be remem­bered both by con­ser­v­a­tives who already applaud her legacy, as well as by lib­erals who nor­mally cel­e­brate the achievement of remarkable women.

In the 1970’s, she almost sin­gle­handedly defeated the Equal Rights Amendment, a pro­posed change to the Con­sti­tution. Fem­i­nists favored it while Schlafly rallied con­ser­v­ative oppo­sition, arguing that despite the ERA’s pleasing tone, it would prevent the gov­ernment from dis­tin­guishing between men and women in its laws, with impli­ca­tions for every­thing from public restrooms, mil­itary service, and child support.

The ERA was well on its way to rat­i­fi­cation, having passed both houses of Con­gress and approaching passage in three- fourths of the states, when Schlafly began her activism, by 1982, it had failed.

She managed all this while raising six children— “I spent 25 years as a full-time home­maker and 25 years allows for a lot of time for hobbies, and pol­itics was my hobby,” Schlafly told Makers, a PBS doc­u­mentary series on important American women.

She wrote 27 books, including 1964’s, “A Choice, Not an Echo,” her first and most influ­ential, which sold three million copies. “I wrote it on a little type writer and we sold them right out of my garage,” Schlafly told Makers. Her final book, The Con­ser­v­ative Cause for Trump (co-authored by Ed Martin and Brett M. Decker), was pub­lished the day after her death. She was a pro-family, anti-fem­inist, self-made woman. Her success in pol­itics can be attested to her gritty men­tality and her com­mitment to action. She also had a sense of humor. She often began her speeches by thanking her husband, Fred, for allowing her to speak.

In 1972, Schlafly founded the Eagle Forum — an advocacy orga­ni­zation that enables “con­ser­v­ative and pro-family men and women to par­tic­ipate in the process of self-gov­ernment and public policy,” according its website.

She also visited Hillsdale College several times. In a 2012 interview with The Col­legian, she offered advice to stu­dents: “Work mar­riage into your life plan,” she said. “Mar­riage is a won­derful way to live.”

Schlafly’s efforts may seem a con­tra­diction to the very prin­ciples of gender tra­di­tion­alism. Writing her own books, trav­eling to give speeches, and orga­nizing protests are any­thing but tra­di­tional for a mother of six children, but perhaps her success is the greatest example of what those ideals allowed her to do. She would bristle at being called a fem­inist, but she def­i­nitely showed us how much women can achieve. The next time somebody frets about how much moth­erhood holds back women, tell them that Schlafly was on the cam­paign trail, changing the course of American pol­itics when her oldest child was 18 months old.

“I am very proud of my family — my six children,” she told Makers. “But if you’re talking about pol­itics, teaching the con­ser­v­ative movement…that it is pos­sible to win. I think that was a real accom­plishment, and that would be the one I’m most proud of.”

Phyllis Schlafly may be gone, but her example will con­tinue to chal­lenge the way we think — and for that, America must thank her for a fear­lessly led life.

Torres is a senior studying rhetoric and public address.