Saturday, October 02, 2004

Driving Phyllis Schlafly

The latest from escort to the stars, the Warrior Princess.

Last week I spent a good portion of my week hanging out with Mrs. Phyllis Schlafly. I was in charge of coordinating three local events which she participated in (one of feminism, two on judicial activism), and making sure she was happy while she was here. That left me a lot of time to pick her brain, and to try to get some of her talent to rub off on me. Which resulted in the following insights:

Top 10 Things I Learned from Hanging Out with Phyllis Schlafly.

1. Phyllis Schlafly is a very important person.

This is a fact of which I hadn't the faintest idea before I invited Phyllis to come speak. She was recommended by a friend as a good person to come and speak on whether feminism has been good for women based upon her book "Feminist Fantasies." It was only after she had agreed to come and I started getting the "you got who to come" looks of shock from people that I decided to look her up on the internet. My sheer dumb rhino sized luck never ceases to amaze me.

2. Coordinating speaking events for very important people is really really time consuming.

For every one minute of her 60 minute debate I spent 1-2 hours calling, emailing, reserving, coordinating, etc. etc. etc. to get the whole thing all set up. Hosting a very important person takes a very organized, responsible, detailed oriented individual. If you plan to host an event and you don't possess these qualities, you better learn to be anal retentive real fast.

3. When making a first impression with a very important person, being able to find your way back to your car in the airport parking ramp is a good idea.

Don't ask.

4. When it is most necessary for you to be healthy and well rested, you will come down with a horrible illness leaving you sniffling, coughing, brain dead, and falling asleep at every free moment.

I don't know what was better about this, moderating a debate in front of 100 people with the raspy nasal voice, trying to find a polite way to blow my nose away from the microphone without drawing attention to myself, or trying to summarize questions on a day I don't know if I could spell my own name.

5. When you've got it, you've got it.

In our 30 minute power walk while trying to find the parking ramp, Phyllis informed me she had only just looked at her schedule and realized her talk in just over an hour was on feminism, and not on her newest book on judicial activism. That admission made me raise my eyebrows a little, but it didn't phase her in the least. She made a phone call, scribbled a few notes, and that was her only prep. It was amazing to watch her work. The history and knowledge she brought to the debate was unparalleled. Before my very eyes I watched as she demolished conventional feminist myths about motherhood, challenged radical assumptions about gender roles, and deconstructed the Equal Rights Amendment. She won the debate hands down.

6. Even the best can't be right all the time

Mrs. Schlafly ended her speech by arguing that the proportionality requirement of Title IX should be abolished because women aren't as interested in sports as men, they are playing just for the money, and they aren't going to continue to play after they graduate. While I agree that the proportionality requirement is ludicrous, her reasoning was really weak. If women didn't care about sports and were just playing for scholarships the Ivy's and D-3 schools wouldn't be able to field a single women's sports team. And I know a lot of women basketball players like me who did everything they could to find a place they could play after high school, money or no money. While her arguments may have been true twenty years ago, the evolution of women in athletics have made those arguments obsolete. I brought it up to her later at dinner that night, but she found my arguments on the issue as unconvincing as I found hers. Probably partially because I have the bias that I was paid to play, and that the critique was coming from a whipper snapper nearly 60 years her junior. She and I agreed to keep in touch so maybe I'll yet convince her she needs to reframe her argument on Title IX, but I'm not holding my breath.

7. Yahoo maps is controlled by fire breathing torture gnomes

Even though I was pretty sure I knew how to get to the location of Phyllis' Wednesday noon talk, after my not so brilliant moments trying to find the parking garage the day before, I wanted to be safe and get a map. Instead, I ended up driving over the river twice, driving over 35W twice, and passing the same gas station at least 4 times. Kind of like St. Paul trying to maneuver his way back to the freeway from Casa de Strom after Bush's RNC acceptance speech.

8. Liberals love to ask questions that are not questions to hear themselves talk

At one of Phyllis' talks on Judicial Activism, the first question came from this guy who started by explaining to Phyllis the difference between constitutionalism and democracy and how they worked together in European nations. From there he went to the bird migration patterns of geese in Bermuda, a detailed explanation of the existence of crop circles, and was beginning on his dissertation of the Nigerian dung beetle when somebody behind him chimed in "What's your question? This is her talk not yours." At this point he remembered he didn't have one, and sat down.

9. Life at 83 doesn't have to be boring

My comrades and I were all shocked when we learned that Phyllis Schlafly is 83 years old. 83 and still galavanting all over the country making liberals mad. Assuming I make it to my early 80's, if I'm half as spry as her I'll know life's been good to me.

10. The baton is waiting to be passed

We have already begun to lose a number of our conservative icons. The direction of the conservative movement is going to depend on those of us starting to step up now. We need articulate social conservatives ready to step into the limelight. And social conservatives need to be conscious of the possibility their voices will be squelched in an increasingly fiscally focused Republican party. Regardless of who gets the Republican nomination in '08, the Republican platform is going to be a serious battle come
nomination time.

All in all, I can't complain. They were great events, and they went off without a hitch. I got to get a couple of books signed, eat steak at a fancy restaurant, and learn from one of the 100 most important women of the 20th century (title courtesy of Ladies Home Journal). Not bad. Not bad at all.

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