Don’t get us wrong: Phyllis Schlafly is still making the rounds claiming that marital rape is a myth and calling feminism “the most dangerous, destructive force in our society today.” But there’s another woman to watch out for: Public Eye recently profiled Janice Shaw Crouse, head of the Beverly LaHaye Institute, a think tank created by Concerned Women for America (CWA), and former speechwriter for President George W. Bush.
The profile details her denigration of Dr. George Tiller’s “barbaric slaughter” in a column she wrote two months before his death and her scorn for feminist leader Betty Friedan. But unlike other independent conservative women such as Ann Coulter or Michelle Malkin, Crouse associates with established right-wing organizations to both publicize and strategize an anti-feminist agenda.
Crouse’s power, by contrast, comes from her association with movement organizations in a conservative White Christian world – whether as a staff person with the [Institute for Religion and Democracy] in the 1990s, or at the Beverly LaHaye Institute today. In that, she is similar to other female Christian Right spokespeople, including her boss Wendy Wright, the president of CWA, and her daughter Charmaine Yoest, President of Americans United for Life, whose voices are heard because of the organizations which back them.
As an organizational player, Crouse is focused not just on wordsmithing but on strategizing and devising tactics to enhance her group’s power, and diminish that of liberals and the Left, much like a leading spokeswoman of earlier years, Phyllis Schlafly. Unlike Schlafly, Crouse is not a player within the Republican Party and certainly hasn’t achieved her prominence. Yet working through the sphere of a women’s organization, she pushes the boundaries of power for a conservative Christian woman thinker.
The article notes her belief that feminism is “an unnecessary crutch for an ambitious woman who is capable of succeeding on her own individual merits,” but also mentions that she has several issues in common with the feminist movement, such as elimination of domestic violence and sex trafficking. She rails against most of the feminist movement’s goals, however.
Unsurprisingly, Crouse opposes comprehensive sex education. On a PBS news program, when asked about a Bush-created requirement that international organizations pledge their opposition to prostitution and sex trafficking and the effect it might have on the use of condoms in the fight against AIDS, she replied:
Crouse: Well, it definitely does get in the way of condom distribution. But the thing that I think is really important for the American public to understand is that condoms are not a solution to the problem….I’m against condoms as a solution to the problem of sexually transmitted diseases. I’m against condoms as a solution to the AIDS epidemic. I hear so many people blithely say, okay, let’s distribute condoms and we’ll cut down on the disease. We’ll make it much safer for a girl to be a prostitute. And she can choose this as an appropriate career option.
Brancaccio [PBS]: You really see people, officials, promoting prostitution as some sort of legitimate career path?
Crouse: There’s no question. And there are people who passionately believe that it’s a matter of women’s rights, and this is a way to make a living, particularly for people in very poor countries where there are not a lot of options for women.
The whole article is worth a read. Particularly interesting are the parts about Crouse’s history of increasing the political activism of conservative, religious women, her views on President Obama, and her work to prevent ratification of the UN’s Convention on the Elimination of all Forms of Discrimination against Women (CEDAW). Janice Shaw Crouse is a modern woman very much in the mold of Phyllis Schlafly, and has already been detrimental to feminist goals.