tv Divisions in Modern Womens Movement CSPAN August 27, 2017 4:44pm-6:01pm EDT
>>ld know what that meant to as they got some do from the missouri quarter, he had service in the south. what did buffalo bills childhood made toing his youth him? program one entire sunday greeted this is american history tv. only on c-span3. >> up next on american history tv, a author talks about her book divided we stand which chronicles competing liberal and conservative factions in the women's movement from the 1970's to the present day.
this hour and 15 minute talk took place in new york city. the new york historical society and the reading room cohosted the event. >> it is my pleasure to introduce our speaker, an authority on the women's rights movement. she is the professor of history at the university of south carolina and the author of new women of the new south. she has served as an advisor or many museum exhibitions, documentaries, and feature film. she is the former president of the southern association or women historians.
her new book is "divided we stand, the battle over women's rights." ladies and gentlemen, marjorie spruill. marjorie spruill: this is an amazing venue. it is wonderful to be here. this is such a great tradition that this institution has, to get book lovers out here on these warm summer nights together and talk about books. i am pleased to be part of it
and have a chance to talk about my new book. it is about the role of women and women issues in american politics. it tells the story of the modern women's movement, which in the early 70's enjoyed tremendously this and the story of a conservative women's movement that organized in opposition and became more powerful. i have tried to load it with juicy anecdotes and colorful characters. there were people and things that happened that you just can't make up. i hope you will find it a good read. at some point it is unusual, it puts women at the center of the story. it is unusual in books about women's history because it deals with feminists and conservative women in the same volume.
it has been my goal to describe is fairly and accurately the ideas of the women on both sides. the idea is to shed light and not turn up. there has been plenty of that already. this is about something that is seriously disturbing, something we need to understand better, the transformation of american and the origin of this deeply polarized political culture in which we now live. i am convinced the great debate of the 1970's over women's rights and social roles played a crucial and unrecognized role in
that transformation. over the dozen or more years i've been working on this book, it has seemed more relevant to contemporary affairs. never more than during the 2006 election, when the polarization reached the point none of us imagined. it became lightning rods for cultural politics in 1977. it recalled international women's year or conferences. they were inspired by a worldwide movement promoted by the united nations which declared 1975 to be international women's year. gerald ward commissioned to staff members. they are in the audience.
they wrote their own inside story that you should read. he appointed a republican feminist as the presiding officer and it was a conference, an international one that took place in mexico city. delegates from many nations came together to produce a world plan of action. they urge participating nations to have conferences and involve women in drafting policy on women's issues. american feminist leaders who attended the mexico city conference lawrence were inspired. they believe involving women all over the country in the process
of formulating recommendations was going to help introduce them to the women's movement, to expand its reach, and to diverse up by the movement it self. in 1975, congress approved a bill that mandated and funded his meetings that would be held in 56 states and territories. people would come together, anybody who was a resident of the state could debate and elect delegates. they would go on to a women's conference that took place in november, 1977 in houston. it would guide future policy in this country. if it was woken of as a blueprint or future action that congress and the president were supposed to respond to. that final houston conference and those 56 meetings leading up to it proved to be polarizing events. as women's rights supporters put aside their differences and came together behind an expansive set of goals, conservative women opposed to those goals joined forces to oppose them with enduring consequences for the nation. these conferences are hugely important. they attracted a feeding frenzy at the time. they have largely been forgotten except by the people who participated. those feminist and conservative leaders regard them as watershed
to my delight and to that of my editor and publicist, she also made that point in her recent book, her autobiography. she told an interviewer for the new yorker that the conference may take the prize as the most important event that nobody knows about. on the other hand, conservative leader phyllis schlafly who died
this past year said that the it was a major strategic blunder. she called up that all of midway in a war between feminist and social conservatives that sealed the fate of the e.r.a. to me, both sides assigned the iw i tremendous historic significance. both sides claimed it as a victory. it caught my attention and this was significant that this was an important story that needed to be investigated and that became more and more convinced of this as i plunged into the sea of primary sources that were generated by this historic event. and i interview leading participants, including gloria
steinem, phyllis schlafly, jimmy and rosalyn carter. and jimmy carter's presidency, political fortunes and legacy, i believe were greatly affected by the iwi. now, i realize that in order to understand this event of 1977, i had to go back to the early 1970's and to the events that set up this historic contest that steinem celebrated as the first federally funded revolution and phyllis schlafly denounced as federal sponsorship of one side of a national debate. and in the process, i rediscovered an era in our recent past and my adult life so different from the culture of the day, the political culture of today, as to be almost forgotten. an era when the broader women's rights movement was enjoying
widespread support among republicans and democrats alike. and politicians who were speaking to rally conservative support focused on race or economics or foreign policy, but not on gender. i also needed to look at the period immediately following the iwi conferences, 1978-1980, to understand the radically different political climate that developed in those years when the two parties chose up sides in an increasingly volatile debate about women's rights and family values. these were years when a tectonic shift in american political culture, one that had been revealed and encouraged by these iwi conferences in 1977, became increasingly evident. so, the early parts of the book leading up to the 1977 conferences describe the widening division among american women in the 1970's.
i began by describing the rise of the women's rights movement to a peak period of influence in the first half of the decade. this was a remarkableperiod in which feminists were highly visible in both parties and working together through bipartisan national women's political caucus founded in 1971. and conservative women had yet to become organized an active. all three branches of the federal government acted in support of feminist goals. i know you find this hard to believe or to remember, but even richard nixon, no friend of feminism, in fact, bella abzug referred to him as america's number one chauvinist pig, still obliged to cater to them believing that was what women want. women voters wanted.
and during the 92nd, congress 1971-1972, more women's right sessions were passed than more women rights goals were passed in all previous legislative sessions combined. and that included one that we all talk about all the time which was title ix which banned sex discrimination in education. and people seem to remember it all the time particularly for its impact on sports but it banned every form of sex discrimination from k through university level. the most dramatic evidence of congressional support for women's rights came in 1972. by its approval, by overwhelming margins of the proposed equal rights movement, that had the support from the left and the right, from republicans and from democrats. the vote in the house was 350 yes and 15 no. in the senate, it was 84 for and
8 against. and then the states scramble to ratify. within a year, 30 of the 38 states that were needed for ratification had approved it. then the next year, 1973, the supreme court acted issuing the roe v. wade decision making abortion legal, and there was widespread support. in 1975, gallup poll showed that 3-4 americans believed abortion should be legal in some circumstance. meanwhile, conservative women were quietly simmering, as national politians seem to accept feminists as speaking for all american women. congressional approval of the era was the last straw that turned their anger to action.
phyllis schlafly, a season republican activists from the parties far right, quickly emerged as a leader of the conservatives and founded an organization called stop era, which meant stop taking our privileges. a few years later, phyllis schlafly had been pushed aside as the leader of the national federation of republican women by nelson rockefeller and other liberal and moderate republicans as result of her role in getting very goldwater nominated in 1964. i don't know how many of you know this but she was the author of the infamous booklet called "a choice not at go," that convinced a lot of republicans to support his candidacy. being pushed out of this leadership role putter and in an ideal position to leave what became a bipartisan movement against the era.
as phyllis schlafly took up the cause, she already had been a large group of followers, experienced actress with whom she communicated through what they called the foolish left the report. these activists could never have been so effective or done the job without a large body of foot soldiers. and most of them, christian conservative women, completely new to politics who saw themselves as defenders of traditional morality and empowered by the conviction that god was on our side. by mid decade, the conservatives had managed to stall the era, four states needed for ratification and for the first time its success seemed in jeopardy. and, encouraged by that success, phyllis schlafly created an organization, the eagle forum, which she offered as "an alternative to women's lib, and she plays not only to stop the
era but rollback other feminist gains. this is an organization that is still flourishing. still, in 1975, at this midpoint in this crucial decade, the feminist women continue to have strong support in congress and president gerald ford, whose wife betty was an ardent feminist, were solidly behind it. and conservative women were appalled and angry at the establishment of this feminist-dominated international women's year program which congress, as i mentioned, mandated with a $5 million appropriation. we turned back to this iwi program. a fight that hightened tensions between the two sides that had been brewing and was profoundly polarizing.
much of the conflict came before the final houston conference and took place at these preliminaries state meetings leading up to the national women's conference that took place over a steamy and controversy-filled summer of 1977. in chapter such as "armageddon state by state," " out of the kitchen and into the counterrevolution," i describe this astounding sometimes physically violent conflict that ensued as the women's movement turned out their troops and forced coalitions and armed themselves with the rules of parliamentary procedure and competed to control the state gatherings and to speak for american women. my central argument for these. in creating the iwi program, congress had done something very
unusual and with huge unintended consequences. this unique and rotation from congress propelled feminist and conservatives, already embattled over the proposed era and each claiming to represent the majority of american women, into a formalized, high-stakes competition for influence. feminists, particularly bella abzug, had convinced congress to create the iwi program and president gerald ford and later jimmy carter appointed feminist from the party to lead it. and so, this success of feminists in gaining this mandate for the conferences from congress and from two presidents fueled the fires of conservative resistance. the iwi conferences of 1977 had another crucial effect. before 1977, many feminists had thought to disassociate the era from controversial issues including abortion and gay rights.
during iwi, they chose a different course -- formally embracing abortion and also taking a new and dramatic step, which to add to the feminist agenda, the protection of lesbian and gay rights. that was a brand-new an extremely volatile political issue in this crucial year of 1977, thanks to anita bryant's save our children's campaign, which you may recall originated out of dade county in florida. -- major increases in feminist programs to meet their goals. and the fact that the iwi program had ties to the united nations a large conservatives to be deeply distrustful of that organization. as the iwi program proceeded through the year 1977, the campaign that had been organized by phyllis schlafly in 1972 to block era ratification grew into a full-blown political movement.
phyllis shapley and other leaders forming an iwi citizens review committee, brought together social conservatives, religious conservatives in an unprecedented display of unity among conservative catholics and protestants, orthodox jews and mormons. this was the cutting edge of the movement to recruit previously a-political evangelical and fundamentalist protestants into politics. it was the precursor to what would soon be known as the religious right, in which new right leaders would take the credit, or blame.
conservative coalitions protesting feminist leadership of these conferences varied from state to state but in some areas attracted far right groups including the john birch society and the american party. even more shocking ku klux klan leaders claim to have infiltrated iwi conferences. and in some states, including utah, oklahoma, mississippi, and alabama, conservatives gained total control of the conservatives. but it offered a challenge to feminists even in such states as massachusetts, california, hawaii, and the great state of new york where rumors that the conservatives were trying to take over the conference and turned out in large numbers led huge numbers of feminist to
change their plans and head for albany to participate in that event. one of the most important developments of these battles between feminists and conservatives for control of these meetings, mind you, and then be able to take voters to the national conference and dominate the national plan of action was that an alliance was forged for the first time between a anti-era and the pro-life movement which previously in their efforts to attract as wider range of supporters as possible had chosen to remain single issue movements. conservatives, when all the smoke cleared in the summer, they had succeeded in electing only 20% of the delegates to the houston conference. but they likened it to the victory of david over goliath. the next section and one that many readers have said was their favorite and i have to admit is mine also, focuses on this
houston conference, on this grand culminating, star-spangled national women's conference in houston in november of 1977, one of the most dramatic and inspirational moments in the history of the modern women's movement. sometimes referred to as the crest of the second wave. the conference, and a massive conservative counter conference that took place across the city of houston in the astro arena, put on display for all the world the massive divisions that had developed between feminists and socially conservative women and produced a consciousness-raising experience of massive proportions. outside the conference, as the delegates arrived, they saw protesters denouncing in signs the national women's conference as a tax ripoff for lesbian lobby,, communist, abortion and anti-christian. it was an event that few women in politics would have missed. women distinguished in many
other fields were eager to attend, conjures of it being an event of historic significance. it received extraordinary publicity. there were over 1500 applications for press credentials ranging from foreign press to small-town papers. a list journalist from left, right and center flocked to houston including tom brokaw, james kilpatrick, and joe kline. in the glare of national and international publicity, the delegates arrived with this cast of celebrities. the poet, maya angelou, billie jean king, scholar margaret mead, actress jean stapleton, who as some of you recall, played edith bunker, the most
beloved housewife in america in "all in the family." now, most is significantly, former first ladies lady bird johnson, betty ford, republican, joint rosalyn carter on the podium. as well as the first lady of the civil rights movement coretta scott king who declared a new harmony among women. in houston, the feminist succeeded in two of their cherished goals they hope to achieve through iwi. moving the movement beyond its white middle-class base and moving it past the ideological wrangling that had plagued the movement earlier in the decade as newer and younger and more
radical women joined a movement that had been kicked off by older, more moderate progressive women. coretta scott king surrounded by representatives of african-american, asian american and hispanic american women, declared "there is a new force, a new understanding, a new sisterhood against injustice that has been born here, and we will not be divided. and defeated again." and then spontaneously, most of the audience stood and join hands and as they swayed back and forth saying we shall overcome, many of them with tears streaming down their cheeks. betty freidan who had warned against feminist embrace of what she once called the lavender menace shocked audiences when she stood and before the cameras seconded the resolution to
include gay rights in the national plan of action. that then prompted conservative delegates to stand and turn their backs to the podium, dropping their heads as in prayer. this national plan of action that they adopted was an historically significant document that incorporated the moderate goals of the founding mothers of the, more radical and younger women who had come into the movement through the antiwar and civil rights movement. its proposal, which written 40 years ago, nonetheless seems strikingly prescient today, which included an end to the deportation of undocumented mothers of american-born children. and a national healthcare system, if you can believe it. and when near the end of the conference delegates adopted the plan calling for the ratification of the era, people went wild. there could be no more business
done for the day. they were hugging and singing and marching and bella abzug finally just said rapped the gavel and said, "good night, loves." solidarity among feminist was not at all the same thing as solidarity among american women. something which phyllis schlafly and other social conservatives made crystal clear to television audiences across the nation. as i said, across town, phyllis schlafly led a crowd of 10,000 to 15,000 protesters who had come from all over the nation on buses and planes and cars and vans to a massive rally which seems more like a religious revival that a political rally. denouncing "federally funded feminism," and condemning the participation of the first ladies in an event they said endorsed the perversion and the murder of babies in their mothers' wombs. and insisting they had someone
on their side far more powerful than the president and made it clear that the feminists did not speak for them. emboldened by success in having this tremendous turnout, they announced their determination to rollback feminist gains, to restore american morality and strength to what they called a pro-family movement. so the last chapters tell us what happened when these dueling groups of activists, the feminist on one hand, conservatives on the other, and all fired up by their iwi experience left houston, went home and ramped up their competition for political influence in the period between november of 1977 and november 1980 presidential election.
feminists were extremely hopeful about the evelyn tatian of the national plan, which would face -- about the implementation of the national plan. a downturn in the economy combined with carter's fiscal conservatism left little room for the programs they hope for. when bella abzug criticized the president publicly, he fired her unceremoniously as head of his advisory committee for women and made her into a feminist martyr. many feminist leaders endorsed teddy kennedy for nomination. and when carter lost, his aide said the feminist had gotten in ronald reagan "what they richly deserved." carter continue to reach out to women's rights advocates and at the same time to try to mend fences with social conservatives
but seems to alienate both in the process. when i interviewed him and asked him about them, he went off on a tirade about how upset he was that the feminist were so upset with him. his neck got red, he clenched his face and he was saying, "if i didn't agree with them on everything, they gave me credit for being with them on nothing." i said, "hold on. the social conservatives turned against you, too." he goes, yeah, "but that did not hurt my feelings." as for the other party, the houston republican feminists faced major problems. while women of the profamily movement had made major gains. pro-family women who apply their new political -- to great affect in these years worked hard for
the nomination of ronald reagan. they also worked with new-right leaders who courted them in an effort to register large numbers of new voters from the upcoming election. phyllis schlafly's success of politicizing and united religious conservatives had expanded the ranks of committed conservative activist who found fighting federally funding feminist attractive. this included many white governors, bitter over years of social changes that in their view were imposed or allowed by an intrusive federal government and were eager to take back their country. shrewd political strategists pointing out the promise of african-american, civil rights advocates as well as "abortionists and perverts," use the iwi as a means of appealing to white southerners -- trying to hang around carter's neck, the iwi.
never mind it had been started by republican administration. and they promoted the grand old party as the best means for conservatives to take back their country. indeed, a major point of the book is this. that in the late 1970's, gender issues began to replace racial issues as socially acceptable rallying points for social conservatives who believed in divinely inspired, innate differences in natural hierarchy. many profamily women were successful in gaining membership on the gop platform and lead the republican party to reverse the 40 year record of support for the equal rights amendment and to adopt a strong pro-life position. republican feminists were overcome, they were shocked, they were dismayed that former allies, including george h.w.
bush, who long supported the era, brought no help to them. bush even agreeing to accept the anti-feminist platform provisions -- as a price to becoming reagan's running mate. tanya mallek of new york condemns or parties decision to let the religious right dictate the issues in return for their votes calling it "a faustian bargain." so, what a difference a decade had made. where as of 1970, both parties supported the women's rights movement. in 1980, republicans chose to take sides with the older women's movement, the one that saw women's rights as in conflict with family values. a phrase that have become a permanent part of the political discourse of the nation.
the platforms of america's two major national parties in 1980 revealed just how polarized the nation had become over gender issues. i'd like to say just a couple of things about what happened from that point forward. bloomsbury asked me to bring the story in one up from 1980 to the present. i was doing in the midst of last summer. and, again, the contemporary relevance of this story was clearly there. i can't go into all of that, but i recommend to you that 30 page epilogue. but let me say a couple of highlights. in 1980, that election revealed a couple of trance that proved to be enduring and that have shaped our politics ever since. one, women voted in greater
numbers than men for the first time. and two, a gender gap favoring democrats became visible. analysts contributed this gender gap to the women's movement, which had taught women to see their own values in political terms. feminists led by -- were quick to publicize this gender gap in a last ditch effort to save the era and and has their political clout. and early in the 1980's they declare carter's defeat a lesson for the democrats, each published books predicting the gap would lead to major advances in feminist goals and warned the politicians ignored it at their peril. republicans were put on the defensive. you may remember, reagan -- and atwater. he worried that this could be seeing a sex based political
realignment and he advised republicans to be, and you will love this, be very careful and the public expressions and -- to not alienate women. he also suggested that, as has many political sciences ever since, that the gender gap could be read as a decreased -- and the result of the men's preference for real man-to-man like reagan. gop strategists also took comfort in the idea that this was more of a marriage gap than a gender gap, perhaps even a racial gap. pointing out that most white married women tended to vote for republicans. gop republicans underscored the importance of women's votes but for the most part since 1980 they have tried to win women's votes not by changing policy positions, but through symbolic appointments and gestures and
embracing policies that appeal to their profamily base. as disaffected democrats, particularly white southerners signed on with the gop. the republican party became more universally conservative and the democratic party more uniformly liberal. democrats continue to support women's rights along with civil rights for african americans and hispanics and to increasingly supportive of what became known as the lgbt community. republicans became more racially and ethnically homogenous as well is more socially conservative and double down on its defense of the traditional family. and attacks on feminism, or put different way, defense of family values, proved to be politically useful, especially in the south. anti-feminism offered a new and successful southern strategy
that helped with republicans to turn the south red. feminists have continued to insist that democrats honor their commitment to women's rights. support for women's rights for legal abortion long ago became a requirement for the party's nomination to the presidency. the two democratic president since 1980, bill clinton, and barack obama, clearly identified with feminist movements. both appointed record numbers of women and minorities to their cabinets and put women's rights supporters like ruth bader ginsburg on this up in court. and obama clearly wanted hillary clinton to succeed him, calling her the most qualified person to ever run for president. both sides of the battle over women's rights and family values gained when their party was in power and experienced losses when they were not. what is the clear his example of that was the so-called mexico
city policy where the gag rule that prohibits foreign aid to any agency with any connection to abortion. implement it by reagan, maintained by bush and lifted by clinton and reinstated by george w. bush and lifted by obama and reinstated by trump as you recall surrounded in a famous photograph by strictly a group of men. on the other hand, the women of the profamily movement, like shafley, have kept the republican seat to the fire. pundits who often expressed wonder that given the increasingly large gender gap that still the gop did not track to the left on women's issues. these pundits seemed not to notice that the gop base includes not only angry white men, but angry white women as well.
in the 1970's, those were the women who had demanded that politicians stop -- feminism and in the modern era. they are not about to back down. phyllis shafley, working with a well-oiled eagle forum, continue to be a force in american politics, a conservative icon, regarded as a virtual oracle by many conservatives and her endorsements courted. by the 2016 election, like many on the gop's right, she was bitter the party a salesman had refused to nominate the most conservative candidate in every election since reagan. she and others on the right were determined this past year that they and not the gop establishment would pick the nominee.
and when she endorsed trump early in 2016, after meeting with him and obtaining a promise to honor the platform request of the religious right, she then played a major role in selecting him over cruz as the gop nominee. phyllis schlafly was a major factor, i am claiming here, in his getting the nomination. and then, as we know, kellyanne conway, helped trump pull victory from the jaws of defeat, late in the campaign. and then, white married women, especially noncollege women, made his victory possible. in closing, let me say this, by 1980, the polarization of feminism conservatives had led to two enduring social movements that still compete over policy regarding women and family. for the rest of the 20th century, and into the 21st, the passion debates on gender related issues proved to be transformative.
as the personal became political, and the political became personal, and issues laden with religious or moral significance remained in the forefront of national debates, politicians increasingly found that moderation was devalued, consensus impossible, and compromise no longer tolerated. with democratic and republican politicians lined up on either side of these volatile gender related issues, they tended to demonize their opponents and to define issues strict with in partisan terms, a situation that, as we know, contributed to political gridlock. so, as pundits and politicians and scholars struggle to understand women in politics today, to understand them as voters and candidates, they would do well to pay more attention to the developers of the 1970's when the polarization
of feminist and antifeminists also polarized american political culture, giving rise to the politics of today. it is my hope that this book will contribute to the national conversation by shedding light on the origins of this prolonged period of polarization that continues to keep our political leaders from dealing with the many pressing issues facing our nation and world today. thank you. [applause] i thank you. >> thank you for that enlightening presentation. i'm sure there are some questions from the audience. anybody was a question, you can come here to the microphone and
professor spruill will take the questions. don't be shy. >> could you comment about the impact that both the civil rights movement and the antiwar movement had in terms of sort of generating activity on either side of gender, you are talking about in the 1970's? prof. spruill: yes. as i was mentioning, the modern women's rights movement as i talk about in the book comes about as a result of many factors, but it begins in the early 1960's with the kennedy commission on women that studied the issues and made recommendations and got the government involved for the
first time in really addressing these situations, the problems. pretty soon there were these commissions in every state. but these, as i said, were largely moderate, pragmatic, middle-class and older women who were then joined by a new group that came of younger women, many of them more radical women, that were inspired or let's just say had some grievances as a result of the civil rights movement and the new left, the antiwar movement, failing to take their issues seriously enough. many of them were african-american women, as well as white women, and in both cases inspired by the example of many african-american women who stalwarts ofere
the civil rights movement. so, that was very important. also, the feminist movement took many of its tactics and emulated many of the strategies that the civil rights movement had made. they clearly recognize that they were building on the successes of the civil rights movement. as we mentioned, there were o.w., who believed that n. the national organization for women, needed to be formed so that the women's movement would have an advocacy group similar to the naacp that could press outside the government for change. so in that way, these two movements, one becoming a mass movement ahead of the other, inspired and influenced the other, and by the time the women's movement is getting underway in the late 1960's and early 1970's, women like bella abzug, who had been very supportive and involved in the civil rights movement, even going down to mississippi to risk her life to defend willie
mcgee, a black man accused of raping a white woman, who is eventually executed. a very courageous act. abzug believed that is an important for the federal government to do for the women's movement do what they did for the civil rights movement. there is a strong connection between the two movements and also i might add, the rap on the women's movement is that it was always from the beginning a middle-class, white movement but it was always much more diverse than that. during international women's year conferences, the leaders were making a very strong effort to diversify it even more. that act of congress specifically spelled out that the delegates to houston who would participate in formulating
the national plan had to represent the racial makeup of their state. and there was a huge amount of effort to make the delegations as diverse ethnically and religiously and in terms of economic situation, and women of color, including many heroes of the civil rights movement, wer very prominentlye engaged in that movement. in a way, it seemed as if in houston that the goal was to merge the women's rights movement and the civil rights movement into a massive human rights movement that included defense of the right of gays and lesbians as well. in a way, you might say that all of these movements came together to form the modern democratic party, in a way, because the modern democratic party has stood for working for the rights
of all of these groups. ok, so, that really made a lot of people mad. and a lot of what i saw in the movement against the women's rights movement, it seemed as though a whole lot of the same people who had resisted the civil rights movement were engaged. and a lot of the tactics that they used were similar. sam irvin, the senator from north carolina, who had used all of his political skills to resist the civil rights movement for so many years, he put every bit of that into trying to fight .r.a. becoming a major ally with phyllis schlafly. as i mentioned in here, in each one of these states, some more than others, there's the white nationalist groups became very involved. many of the women were leading
the effort against iwi were women who had been part of the movement to stop the civil rights movement. most notably, an organization that few people have ever heard of called women for constitutional government that started in mississippi during the james meredith crisis and then spread to become a national organization. it's striking to me that the numbers of the women who were part of this movement to fight the iw i that were part of that movement. i think that there were lots of ways these things were interconnected, and there were some rather moving statements that came out of the iwi by these groups of white and black women working together, who in the end concluded that fighting against racism and gender prejudice were really fighting something that was the same thing. thank you for your question.
>> thank you for a wonderful lecture. my question deals with roe v. wade. laflyte the gains that sch made despite the fact they had , conservative presidents, they have yet to overturn it. they had the supreme court rejects those things. do you see them ever overturning roe v. wade? is that going to be a major problem for them? prof. spruill: he is saying that for years they have been trying, the pro-life movement has been trying to overturn roe v. wade. that.o far haven't done do i see that as a possibility that it might happen? and absolutely, i think it is definitely -- one of the key things that was up in the air in the last political election was the issue of the supreme court and many people who were
passionately concerned about the supreme court. that was the issue that was uppermost in their minds. so from 1980 on, from the point at which phyllis schlafly believes they had killed the e.r.a., she turned her attention to trying to get the supreme court in the hands of conservatives. and they started working to get people in the pipeline who would be able to be appointed. and the 1980 gop platform that dropped the 40 year record of support for the era also put the gop firmly on record as being a pro-life party or as they called it the party of life. , they endorsed the idea of a human life amendment and they called for a litmus test for all
federal appointed judges all must have pro-life positions. of course, reagan probably nominated sandra day o'connor, which infuriated phyllis schlafly because she was not officially there. but they had been working ever since to get to that point. and now trump has promised that if he gets another appointment that it will be someone who would take a pro-life position. so, absolutely, that could happen. >> wouldn't there be a tremendous cost of that overthrowing something that , existed for 45 years, as with -- as we saw with the health care issue? prof. spruill: i think absolutely there would be a tremendous -- you saw the january 21 marches in the streets. if that happened, i think you would see about twice as many people show up.
absolutely. it is absolutely something that a whole generation of people have grown up with believing that that issue was resolved. there has been a tremendous increase in support for the pro-life movement, in part as the years go by, since people remember the huge number of babies, fetuses in trash cans and women bleeding to death from back alley abortions, as those instances have faded from memory and as it has been put in a position in which there is less emphasis on punishing women but seeing women who seek to get abortions as victims who should be supported. and as the stigma of unwed
motherhood has faded, in an effort to keep people from getting abortions. there has been a shift in thinking. that one of the major victories of the pro-family movement has been to increase the amount of support for ending abortion, but at the same time, every national poll indicates that majority of americans continue to believe that abortion should be legal in some form and that it's a , largely a matter to be decided between a woman and her doctor. yes, i absolutely think there would be -- there are cynics who say that the republicans do not really want to get rid of roe v. wade because then contributions would dry up and voters would be less active.
i think the activists more at their word that this is something that matters to them, they really care about, but it definitely would be a huge upheaval, and it is almost hard to imagine how strong a reaction that would bring. >> i also want to thank you for a really interesting, pretty riveting lecture. this is not my question, but i've always considered race the kind of dog whistle issue in this country, and to hear a gender take on it is really provocative and interesting, so thank you for that. my question has to do with the time that you undoubtedly spent living the iwi conference. and, you know, putting your revisionist history hat on, which i'm sure you hate to do, but i'm going to ask you because this is a public forum, what do think, is there anything you
think they could have done differently to really sort of forestall the rise of the eagle forum? they have not taken all these could issues into their platform, or emphasize economic issues? what you think could've been done differently? prof. spruill: that is an excellent question. and there have been times when people reacted to all of this by saying, wait a minute, you're blaming all this on the women. you are blaming this on the feminists. did they really make a straight -- people blame everything on us. this is the reaction i have gotten. that is not at all my intent. i definitely believe that there was a strong counter reaction to the fact that the feminists came together with this broad
platform in which they put their stamp of approval on these and created a wide target. there were people, and you will remember this, that thought that all of this may be was not such a great idea. one of the things i discovered and put in the book was that the republican feminists who were heading the national mission on -- the national commission on the observance of iwi during the ford years, when bella abzug first proposed they have the state meetings open to all to debate these issues were not quite so sure that this was a good idea. i think sensing that if you open these meetings up to anybody that anything could happen. and being very aware by that time of how determined and capable phyllis schlafly was she -- was, and she very quickly
i don't know, because the thing is, i mentioned at the beginning, both sides claimed victory. the national women's conference get a great deal for the women's rights movement. gloria steinem said it was the most important thing that nobody knows about. what she is talking about is that it is those huge numbers of people around the country to the women's movement, to real feminists rather than media created stereotypes. and in towns all over the country, women who felt like they were the only ones that had a, feminist perspective or who were or felt they were the only one in town, suddenly made allies and build networks and they were encouraged and they were psychologically supported. and they got to work. the one study of the shows that there was not, hardly a soul that was a delegate in houston that did not lobby actively to try to get the national plan of action done, give interviews to the local media, give speeches. they were really fired up. and you might notice if you were to look at that national plan of action that the goals that they endorsed at that time are still ones that the women's movement
is working on achieving today, and a whole lot of them have been achieved. there have been a lot of progress. you also have to remember always that when a big backlash forms, what that means is you have really accomplished something. and so, and i would also say, the civil rights movement created, inspired a really big backlash. should they not have done it? should they have not tried? i don't believe that. i don't think you do come later. >> thank you for that answer. -- i don't think you do, either. >> thank you for that answer. i like that. >> anyone else? >> over to the microphone. >> i can't hear. >> you have to come to the microphone. we can't hear you. thank you. >> thank you. thank you so much for being here. ok, so, i recently saw a film
called "equal means equal," a documentary. have you seen it? one of the most disturbing films about women i have ever seen and i've seen an awful lot of documentaries in my life. so, i'm wondering. one of the things i learned is that the equal rights amendment has never been passed. so, what do you believe, if anything, needs to happen for that amendment to be revived and passed? when you see this film "equal means equal," you would be very, very interested in seeing this film. i would recommend highly -- you could probably watch it online. prof. spruill: is it a film about what would have happened -- ? >> no. it is a documentary about women and how not far we've come.
prof. spruill: first of all, a personally think we have come a very long way. and i do not think that the feminist movement lost. and i do not think the feminist movement not being able to get passed meant that we lost. it was so much a symbol of the women's rights movement that usually numbers of people have taken its failure to mean that we lost, and we didn't. i think the two main accomplishments of the conservative women's movement since the 1980's have been to greatly restrict access to abortion, and the other one to make feminism a dirty word. and the way they did that was to take the utterances of the most
extreme, left, people with points of view that are very unpopular and paint the entire movement as if, as if there were no such thing as a moderate feminist. it was like they refuse to recognize that it even existed. and to try to discredit that movement. and it's amazing how effective they were in doing that for many years. but, as you know, in recent years, all of a sudden feminism has become cool and popular again. and there are people who have different ideas about what it means. everyone from laura bush to sarah palin to emma watson to beyonce are all embracing the term. but it any rate, even that victory has not been a lasting one. ok, but the equal rights
amendment, there is a lot of speculation about why -- the impact of it not becoming added to the constitution. now, scalia, before he died , would give speeches at law schools in which he said that the principal of women's equality is not in the constitution. but large numbers of other people, whether they were for women's white or against, would say that they are, and that they were in there through the 14th amendment.
the trouble was that in till the 1970's, none of the courts interpreted that way. and so, as a result, people were believing that in the 1970's there should be a twofold strategy. one is to get an era which alles paul envisioned as a blanket amendment that in one fell swoop would cause all of the discrimination to go away. and then the were other such as ruth bader ginsburg who in the 1970's was leading a program sponsored by the aclu for women's equity project in which you would take up issues case by case by case, all with the goal of getting women's rights to equal protection recognized and that 14th amend provisions apply -- 14th amendment provisions apply to them, too. that was done. the irony was that in the fight over the equal rights amendment, there were people who said you do not need an equal rights amendment because the courts are already ruling over and over again in your favor. a friend of mine, a yale constitutional law professor, has written an article i would
recommend called "the de facto .a.," in which she says we the an e.r.a. because even e.r.a. opponents conceded the principle of women's equality and said you do not need e.r.a. because you have got equality anyway. the other side of that, of course is that, and we are seeing some reasons for this today, that once power changes in you have different people who are making legislative decisions, controlling congress and the white house, that without the e.r.a., those gains are at risk. >> conservatives are very much
against big government. they talk about government bloat and the government being too much regulation and interfering in our lives, but in the case of legalized abortion, they seem to be in our bedrooms. i can't seem to get my head wrapped around that. too muche hand, it is big government, but on the other hand they want to interfere with our private lives. i would like you to comment on that. isf. spruill: all i can say that i understand your point that each side wants the government to do something different. i have to say that that points out one of the biggest challenges to us ever getting past the polarization of our
country, and that is that there are some issues about which people feel so strongly in the are of their being, that loaded with moral and religious significance, that they cannot compromise on. issue seemsticular to be perhaps even more than the gay-rights issue one about which there is an impasse. i don't know where that would go. during the 1990's, clinton rare,ed safe, legal, and ,ut to people who are pro-life the fact that they happen at all, each one is a murder, and a sense, and it is not supposed to happen.
i just don't how we are going to ever get past that. i think there are many issues about which people fight and aret compromise which they to be able to and that we often find ways to listen to each other -- we ought to find ways to listen to each other. that one, for the reasons you say, is a tough one. i don't know where we are going with that. >> anybody else? i want to thank you, professor spruill. [applause] prof. spruill: thank you for your patience and your questions. [captioning performed by the national captioning institute, which is responsible for its caption content and accuracy. visit ncicap.org] [captions copyright national cable satellite corp. 2017] announcer: follow us on twitter spanhistory for the latest information on our schedule and
to keep up with any history news. announcer: this weekend, herbert hoover scholar george nash talks about the defining relationship between the 31st president and .is oval office predecessor calvin coolidge here is a preview -- oval office predecessor calvin coolidge. here is a preview. >> coolidge finally gave hoover an extraordinarily effusive public endorsement in a telegram that a vote sensational newspaper headlines. hoover, he declared, had showed his fitness to be president. hoover said coolidge was "able, experienced, trustworthy, and safe." hoover was grateful. republican leaders were jubilant and relieved. in a landslide, coolidge hailed the result as an endorsement of his own administration and announced he could now retire from office in
contentment. term, however, still had four months to run. no doubt with these sensitivities in mind, hoover aoposed that he take semiofficial goodwill to wear of latin america after the election. in 1928 agreed, and so and 1929, hoover not only stayed out of washington, better still he stayed out of the country. 1929, fulfilling an ambition that had touched his soul for a decade or longer, herbert hoover became president of the united states. he had done so without ever having held and elected public office. for an hour and a half during the ceremonies, he and calvin coolidge stood, sat, and walked
side-by-side without saying a word to each other. it is best in his inaugural address, hoover politely paid tribute to his predecessor. when the ceremonies at the capital were over, the two men say goodbye, and the ex-president took a train home to new england. entireer: watch the program sunday at 8:00 p.m. and midnight eastern on "the presidency" on american history tv, only on c-span3. announcer: each week, american artifacts takes you to museums and historic places to learn about american history. next, we tour the presidential vehicles collection at the henry ford museum in dearborn, michigan. transportation curator matt anderson shows of cars used by presidents truman, eisenhower, carter, and reagan, and