Something to Think About

"I found it is the small everyday deeds of ordinary folk that keep the darkness at bay. Small acts of kindness and love."
- J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

Whatever happened to the ERA?

When I was in 6th grade, I remember we had a discussion in Social Studies about the Equal Rights Amendment. Yes.  Back in the mid-70s. [1976 to be precise.]  The amendment had passed through Congress and it was up to the individual states to ratify it so it could be considered part of the Constitution.

This has never happened

Back to the 70s.  I recall sitting in Social Studies class listening to our teacher go on and on about how it was ridiculous to consider women equal to men.  Seriously.  He was adamant about it!  The excuse of the day was to point out that if it were passed, then women would be eligible for the draft as men were.  My teacher went further than this by stating outright that men were superior to women in every way. [Yes.  He was a real piece of work.]  Thing is... there were plenty of people who would agree with this statement at the time - though perhaps they wouldn't have said it.  Many of us disagreed with him, of course, but no one dared tell him so.  It would have served no purpose anyway as his mind was made up.

I was brought up in a family where it was made clear to me that I was not limited by my gender.  It was not expected that my career would be that of a wife and mother.  [Note:  I'm not saying that there is anything wrong with staying home with your young children.  I was lucky enough to be able to do so when my children were young.  I do understand that not everyone is in a position where they can do that.] My four sisters and I never were told - nor was it implied - that we could not do whatever we wanted to do when we grew up and that was what we did.  My teacher's attitude was something that seemed so foreign to me though it certainly was not the last time I'd encountered that sort of ignorance.

I believe it is fair to say that attitudes have changed quite a bit since the 70s but why is the ERA still not part of our Constitution?

It appears that 21 states have some version of the ERA in their constitutions and that 16 of those states ratified the federal ERA.  [There is a color-coded map at the top of this post and more detailed information here.] What is the problem with the rest?  Is there some issue I'm not aware of or do people really believe that women should not be granted equal rights to men under the law? Isn't it about time to change that?

Image by SVera1NY at en.wikipedia [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


  1. I would like to think it never was officially ratified because over time it became viewed as an issue of common sense to the point that it didn't NEED to be spelled out in such a fashion, but we both know better than that.

    It should, however, put the struggle for equality into a bit of perspective for other groups: nothing happens as quickly as it should and NO group gets all the rights they're entitled to (and the rights they demand) in one single maneuver. It'd be nice, but it just doesn't work that way.

  2. Agreed. It takes time for attitudes to change.

  3. Phyllis Schlafly happened to the ERA. She then spawned the Eagle Forum and the founder of Conservapedia:

    Please note, you may not export your wingnuts to us :P

  4. Yeah. I remember her. *shudders*

    Maybe we can ship them to Canada, then. Bonus: It'd be cheaper, as well!