The XX Factor

Of Course Phyllis Schlafly Had a Domestic Help

Kudos to the Los Angeles Times ’ Meghan Daum, who got Phyllis Schlafly ‘s niece and co-writer to admit that her aunt had domestic help while pursuing her high powered career. It’s a hypocrisy that powerful conservative women have been peddling for years: That it is possible to have two full-time working spouses in a marriage and raise kids simultaneously without hiring outside caretakers. Daum was interviewing Schlafly’s niece, Suzanne Venker, because Venker co-wrote the new book The Flipside of Feminism: What Conservative Women Know and Men Can’t Say with her archconservative aunt.

This Salon post calls attention to the relevant section of Daum’s interview :

I recently called Venker at her home in St. Louis because I had some questions, not least among them: How did Schlafly manage to raise all those kids and pursue such a prominent career? Granted, at 25 Schlafly married an older, well-established lawyer, and granted, she herself didn’t go to law school until she was in her 50s, but did she have help? If so, she never seemed to mention it.

Venker seemed to almost despair at the question: “I’m in a pickle because I haven’t been asked this directly before,” she said. “I’m going to say this the best way I can. She had domestic help…. She wouldn’t have called them nannies, but she had people in her home. That’s what she chose. Did she mention that fact enough to get her point across to young people about how she managed to do it? No, she did not.”

Salon also points out that Phyllis Schlafly has spent years shaming other women for putting their children in daycare, saying things like, “There’s no real substitute for the care of the real mother.” And of course she has also spent years opposing public policy that would help working mothers pay for childcare. Maybe that’s “what conservative women know” best-how to avoid practicing what they preach.

Photograph of Phyllis Schlafly by Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images.