12. Equal Rights Amendments (ERA)

  • Created by: Alasdair
  • Created on: 04-06-17 23:16
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  • Equal Rights Amendments (ERA)
    • 'Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex'
    • Progress
      • Regarded by NOW as vital symbol of democracy
      • 1972, resolution introduced by Martha Griffith, calling for an Equal Rights Amendment passed by House of Representatives
      • President Nixon accepted measure
      • Looked as if it would mirror 19th Amendment and be ratified by states
        • 30 states quickly accepted
    • Opposition
      • 1972 version was edited so women were exempted from draft
      • Opposition remarkable, effective and unexpected development
      • Phyllis Schlafy
        • Republican from Illinois
        • Organised women to oppose measure as effectively as previous reformers had organised them in support of change
      • Schlafy's comments on feminism since 1980:
        • 'Non-criminal sexual harassment on the job us bit a problem for the virtuous women except in the rarest cases' (1981)
        • 'And the first commandment of feminism is: I am a woman; thou shalt not tolerate strange gods who assert woman have capabilities or often choose roles that are different from men's'
        • 'Men should stop treating feminists like ladies, and instead treat them like the men they want to be'
        • 'When will American men learn how to stand up to the nagging by intolerant, uncivil feminists whose sport is to humiliate men?'
      • Nixon's 'silent majority' asserted itself
        • Divisions among women had been on of biggest change, and here were Daughters of American Revolution re-emerging, led by articulate, trenchant and determined leader
        • Move towards conservatism, which led to Republican victory by Ronald Reagan in 1980, could prevent amendment being ratified
        • Republicans withdrew support in 1980, even though Eisenhower backed amendments earlier
        • New right, including religious conservatives, wanted to put clock back
        • Like whole issue of votes for women before 1919, issue drifted away from what was really being proposed into symbol of opposition to, or support for, all sorts if social change
        • Noticeable opinion polls showed less support for amendments by 1980s than when it was introduced in 1970s
        • Through 1980s ad 1990s, activists tried hard to revive amendments, but by 1992 had not been successful
        • Powerful woman had against all odds had effect on political developments, but unlike her predecessors to oppose rather than to promote change
    • Opposition to the ERA was on two levels
      • Rational arguments were:
        • Women might find themselves liable for military service
        • Lose protection rights
        • Most significantly for older women, alimony would be threatened
        • Said to be more a measure for younger single women, competing with men for jobs, rather than for older women or working-class women who needed special protection in workplace
      • On other level
        • Appeal was traditional values
        • Type of lifestyle common in suburban America, for need to be looked after by men and for 'mom and apple pie' values
        • There was also danger women would not gain custody so easily of children in divorce cases, undermining widespread sort of sacred duty, which could not be done by men


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