Die Mütter

“In marriage, husband and wife are one person and that person is the husband”

– Sir William Blackstone

 

    

Opposition to The Equal Rights Amendment

By Dan Whalen

Those who were opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment and those for the Amendment would exaggerate the theoretical effects that the Amendment would have within the country[1].  The Equal Rights Amendments exaggerations had a profound effect on those who could not make up their minds about supporting the Amendment.  Instilling fear into those undecided is a great tool, people can be weary of changes to laws and the effects those changes will have throughout the land.  It makes it a question when we look back of how it almost passed and not why it was defeated.   In reality the Amendment would have minimal effect on existing laws and most likely over time would go unnoticed like some other amendments.  For example many people do not know that the currant income tax is established by the 16th Amendment[2].  Did this defeat of the Amendment show how powerful propaganda can be?

Many historians overlook how those opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment justified their opposition to the Amendment.  A lot of the historians focus on how the supporters of the Amendment took the passage of the Amendment for granted as if work to pass it did not have to be done.  Few do take notice of the wording the opposition to the Amendment used, but they do not look at how the words used by the opposition does not support the argument made against the Amendment.

The question of the equality of people has been a question that has plagued man kind since the times of the great thinkers like Socrates and Plato.  In ancient Greece the term people generally referred only to free adult males[3], those who were not slaves. In Rome the people being treated with equality generally where free adult males who owned land[4].  This is a tradition that continued until the year 1776 a document was written in the newly formed United States stating that all men are created equal.  Of course at that time the term men meant white men, not women or slaves.  As time would progress the term men would be interpreted to mean all those of the human race.  However though when Thomas Jefferson wrote the words all men are created equal he did not say that they are all equal under the law.  However if we move forward eleven years to 1787, the Constitution, with its preamble, it says “We the People.”  These words would imply that everyone has equality in the United States.  This question of equality has been the thorn in the side of the United States ever since the United States became a country.  Long seen by many as the land of equality, it is not.  Consider that a war was fought to free slaves and they were never considered equal even after the war.  American expansion to the West would lead to a near extinction of the Native American, who many in the 19th century considered to be a second-class citizen.  Equality in the United States is something of a myth to some within the society.  What makes this a myth is there is great opposition to equality. Perhaps this is why the most vocal opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment comes from the most surprising of places, primarily women who would benefit from passage of the Amendment.  Some may also find it surprising that the rhetoric used by the leaders of the opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment is used to dispute anything, similar to what we see today to what is seen as expansion of government power into the private lives of the citizens, in how they misuse facts and language to destroy what they do not like or feel will infringe on freedom and liberty.

The quest for equal rights for women in the United States has a long and arduous history.  The equal rights movement grew out of the suffrage movement that had a great victory with the passage and ratification of the 19th Amendment in 1920.  With the 19th Amendment and the momentum behind it by time the suffragist Alice Paul would pen the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923.  It is important to note that during the ratification of the 19th Amendment and the writing of the Equal Rights Amendment a conservative President would be elected.  President Harding wanted what he called “a return to normality,” which meant almost anything.  As the positive momentum was fleeting the Nation Women’s Party held meetings to discuss how the proposed amendment would have an effect on women in the United States.  During this debate it was agreed by those in the Nation Women’s Party, but mostly those in the League of Women Voters, that the Equal Rights Amendment would have a negative effect that could strip away special benefits for women under the law[5].  Their overall view was women are not equal to men, but special[6].  With this delay, or failure to capture the positive momentum, would cost them dearly.  The prosperity of the 1920’s would make people forget about the plight of women.  Pockets flush with money and material goods at affordable prices, peoples priorities changed to less political matters.  There would be surprising opposition to the Amendment by the League of Women’s Voters[7].   Division between the women’s groups will become commonplace, but at this time in the 1920’s it was clear the Equal Rights Amendment would need more time to gain popular support amongst women.  It would give those in Congress and else where who oppose it reason to delay and bury it in everyday business.  The final nail in the coffin to the Equal Rights Amendment and the women’s movement in the post-war 1920’s was the Great Depression in 1929.  The Depression would limit or eliminate any chance for women to gain equal footing to man.  All the momentum they had gained was lost like so many other opportunities that could have been[8].

The Equal Rights Amendment would get a breath of fresh air after the Second World War, when human rights would become ever more popular in the shadow of the inhuman acts of the Nazi Regime in Germany.  The war showed how the rights of people can be trampled on and how people can be reduced to be second-class citizens.  Eleanor Roosevelt would champion in the newly formed United Nations the Declaration of Human Rights.  This new way of thinking in the world breathed new life into the lifeless Equal Rights Amendment and the movement to have it adopted.  During the war the Amendment would be subject to debate for the first time in the United States Congress.  In the House Judiciary Committee there was a discussion about the wording of the Amendment.  The Committee would ask Alice Paul to redraft the Amendment shifting the responsibility to implement the enforcement of the Amendment to the government as opposed to private business[9].  This change in wording was to be an aid to those who will oppose the Amendment later on[10].  Opposing the Amendment would be labor unions, the ACLU, the Women’s Bureau in the Department of Labor, and liberal Democrats because they were afraid the Equal Rights Amendment would promote the rights of the individual at the expense of workers and mothers[11].  The Amendment failed to go beyond debate Congress, but that does not mean support for it was lost.  If anything it would gain support in what then would be considered the most of unlikely places.  There would not be any hearings on the Amendment between 1948 and 1971, mostly due to Democratic Representative Emanuel Celler of Brooklyn, New York[12] the chairman of the House Judiciary Committee[13].  Representative Celler would lose a re-election bid in 1972 when he lost in the Democratic Primary to a woman, Elisabeth Holtzman[14].  His defeat was mostly likely due to his opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment because, like during the suffrage movement, pro-Amendment groups decided to vote out those who opposed it[15].

Although there would not be any debates on the Amendment for two decades, which does not mean it was buried away from the light of day.  It would gain much needed strength during this time and gain new supporters.  After World War II the United States would go through one of the largest economic booms in the history of the United States.  This was partly because two industrial giants, Germany and Japan, were bombed literally back to the Stone Age by the United States[16].  This gave the United States virtually no competition for industrial goods.  This industrial boom in the 1950’s would create labor shortages at factories[17].  With this industrial boom a new industry would blossom, the service-retail industry.  People had newfound wealth and needed ways to spend it.  With all these new jobs companies were hiring more women for the workforce.  These women in the workforce would become an economic force, partly because they were creating wealth for themselves.  Now in the workforce women would demand equal rights, partly due to men being paid more for the same work women were doing.  Also the role of the woman was changing in the society; women were becoming more empowered in the society.  But as they became more empowered there was resistance to the Equal Rights Amendment.  The ACLU considered changing their stance on it, but did not, as support with in the organization for the Amendment grew[18].  The ACLU opposition is puzzling because the Amendment bolstered the rights and liberties of women and the ACLU was co-founded during World War I by a woman[19].  New support for the Equal Rights Amendment came from the United Auto Workers union at a convention in 1955 considered a resolution to protect the rights of women members[20].  Many delegates at the convention mentioned many women are the sole breadwinners in their family and have the right to better treatment in the workplace.

In the 1960’s, the Equal Rights Amendment would gain its most strength and spur the debate about the Amendment to a new level.  The 1960’s were a time of change in the United States with the Civil Rights movement and the Vietnam Conflict.  It is during this decade of change that those who once opposed the Equal Rights Amendment would support it and those who support it think otherwise.  To help the Amendment gain support of the people President Kennedy decided to have a Commission on the Status of Women, the first of its kind.  He would not be the only President to do this, Presidents Johnson and Nixon would also.  The Commission suggested that cases be tested in the Supreme Court that would expand the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment[21].  It would be President Nixon’s commission that would suggest the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to secure equal rights for women in the United States[22].  To add to the growing appeal of the Amendment a book published in 1963 titled The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan.  The book would portray the daily life of a housewife as boring, slavish, and it was a stinging critic of the expanding consumer society. Shortly after the publishing of the book, perhaps inspired by, a new political action group for women was formed in 1966, the National Organization for Women (NOW).  Now, unlike the suffrage movement, the women were getting their stories told and made public.

The 1970’s, became the decade of action for the Equal Rights Amendment and important for the women’s movement.  This decade is the watershed of the Amendment.  Battle lines would be drawn and the future political landscape for the United States would be craved out.  The big first step was when Senator Birch Bayh, a Democrat from Indiana, would announce hearing in the Senate on the proposed Equal Rights Amendment at a convention of the National Federation of Business and Professional Women’s Clubs[23].  Senator Bayh would be at odds with another Democratic Senator on this issue, Sam Ervin of North Carolina.  This is when the Supreme Court enters the fray with two important cases, both opinions rendered in the same year.  The first case decided was Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp. in January 1971[24].  The opinion of the Court was that employers may not deny employment to a person because of a person’s sex under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.  Perhaps more important to the women’s cause would be later that year of 1971, the Supreme Court overturned a clause in the Idaho Constitution that gave men a preferred status in probate judgments.  The clause in the case, Reed v. Reed, the Justices concluded was a violation of the 14th Amendment that guarantees equal protection under the law for all citizens of the United States[25].  Hailed by proponents of the Equal Rights Amendment as a step forward and an example of why the Amendment is necessary, a minority of opponents would use this case to declare that women already had equal rights under these two provisions used by the Court in deciding the cases.  The Amendment would pass both houses of Congress in 1972, which is when the real fight for the Amendment began.

Congressional Interlude

The 1970’s were the decade in which the old guard of society moved to the background and the new generation moves forward.  It is the decade the opposition gathers strength to ebb the flow of growing momentum supporting the Amendment.  Up until actual passage of the Amendment in Congress, the opposition was in the Congress.  There were two people that stood out as hardened opponents to the Amendment.  One was Representative Emanuel Celler of New York.  As mentioned before he was the sole person that was blocking hearings on the Amendment in the Congressional committee he chaired.  It was a rare procedural loophole that helped the Amendment get voted on in the House of Representatives, circumventing Rep. Cellers committee[26].  Rep. Celler was the focus of a stinging letter from Ann Wallace of NOW for his use of language in opposing the Amendment, his use of language showed how he believed in a male dominated world[27].  One of the most striking things Rep. Celler would say is that “there is no equality except in a cemetery[28].”    A better example of his opposition to this Amendment would be when he said, “There is as much difference between a male and female as is between a chestnut and a chestnut horse.  Viva la difference[29].”  To Rep. Cellers’ despair the House would vote 346 to 15 in favor of the Amendment on August 10th 1970[30].  However in the considered liberal New York Times would find time to mock the vote saying “The House of Representatives . . . voted 346 to 15 for an amendment designed to give women equal rights, just in case they already don’t have them[31].”  Prime examples of the resistance to equal rights for women, as if women should be happy with what they have and not ask for more.

Senator Samuel J. Ervin Jr. of North Carolina would put Rep. Celler to shame with what he would say in opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment.  Part of his opposition was that he felt that the Constitution should not be changed.  He has been described as a man from the 18th Century, a relic[32], a fundamentalist, and a strict constitutionalist[33].  Sen. Ervin was a man who amassed great power and influence in the Senate[34], power and influence he was not afraid to throw around and exploit.  This was known by supporters of the Equal Rights Amendment who would add “…we know he has the old-fashion male bias about women[35].”  In contrast to the more progressive Sen. Bayh who was chairman of the Constitutional Rights Subcommittee who felt by bringing the Equal Rights Amendment to the Senate now was needed to “stimulate national concern and prick the national conscience” as a method for successfully passing the Amendment[36].  Sen. Ervin was just starting to practice law when Sen. Bayh was born, which highlights the difference in generations and their opinions on this issue.

In 1970 after the House passed the Amendment by an overwhelming majority Sen. Ervin would take on the responsibility to buck the trend and kill the Amendment in the Senate.  Sen. Ervin and a few other Southern Senators did is add what are known as riders to the Amendment that they knew other Senators would vote against normally to bury the Amendment and prevent a vote on it.  A rider is similar to a earmark in that it is a item added to a bill that alone may not get passed, but added to a more popular bill it will, or kill a bill by adding something unpopular to the bill.  One rider added to the Amendment by Senator James B. Allen (D) of Alabama was an item that would have taken away the Supreme Court’s jurisdiction over public schools[37].  In the debate over the rider and other riders added to the Amendment, Sen. Ervin commented that, “…most sex discrimination is a matter of private practice, not public law[38].”  In essence, what Sen. Ervin meant with his comment is that discrimination of any kind is perfectly acceptable and there should not be a law saying otherwise.   Sen. Ervin would even go as far as to introduce a bill to substitute the Equal Rights Amendment that would make laws passed by Congress and state legislatures apply to both men and women identically “ …no matter [how] irrational or unreasonable[39].” Sen. Ervin would stress the point with this bill that women should be exempt from the draft, which is a moot point because the draft was in the process of being phased out.  Also Sen. Ervin would point out he would be willing to permit passage of laws that are “…reasonably designed to promote the health, safety, privacy, education or economic welfare of women, or to enable them to perform their duties as homemakers or mothers[40].”  What Sen. Ervin tried to accomplish with this bill is up for debate, but it exhibits how he felt that women should not be treated the same as men.  More over his counter bill was an effort to derail the Equal Rights Amendment with a lesser token piece of legislation.  Again the language Sen. Ervin would use to suggest that he feels it is important for women to stay in the home and be of service to their husband.  The substitute bill Sen. Ervin proposed continued to promote the patriarchal custom within the American society. Not to mention the perceived fear that the Amendment would in some way overturn many laws, federal and state, that is concerned alimony and child support[41].  Nevertheless the Amendment would die in 1970 never leaving the floor of the Senate.  While the Amendment could not get out of Congress, other laws in the country promoting equality of the sexes where passed.  One such law was in New York City, passing a law to end discrimination on the grounds of sex in places of public gathering, such as bars[42].  Everyone within New York City was pleased with this law, except for perhaps Emanuel Celler who must have thought the city had become a cemetery.

All rise for the honorable . . .

The Equal Rights Amendment would get a reprieve the following year when the House would have hearings on the Amendment.  It would make its way through committee and the full House with another strong vote of support[43].  However many would lead one to believe this was not an easy for the public to accept, or so it would seem. The Equal Rights Amendment was popular among many people in the United States[44].  To start the year of 1971 off the Supreme Court without the wisdom of past precedents took upon its self to decide a case in which a mother of seven alleged that the Martin Marietta Corp. refused to hire her because she had at the time pre-school-age children, they have been hiring men with pre-school-age children[45].  This was not the overwhelming victory the women’s movement was hoping for, nor did it strengthen the need for the Amendment.  Another case later in the year would have the more profound implications.  The case of Reed v. Reed from Idaho in which after the death of the son of a separated couple the probate court decided after both parents requested to be the administer of the estate, that the father should be.  The probate court based that decision on the clause that the male is preferred which was in the Idaho State Code[46].  The Court ruled that this provision in the Idaho State Code was a violation of the 14th Amendment, which states in Section 1: “No State shall make or enforce any law which shall abridge the privileges or immunities of citizens of the United States; nor shall any State deprive any person of life, liberty, or property, without due process of law; nor deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws[47].”

Both legal cases highlighted how the Amendment would cover all these legal challenges making such cases unnecessary and save the country a lot of time and money by preventing these future cases from going through the courts.  The Supreme Court did to a degree leave open the door that parenthood can be considered a basis in employment[48].  There were other cases in the Federal Court system that would set precedents that would eliminate some of the workplace discrimination against women.  In the case of Weeks v. Southern Bell the Ninth Circuit ruled it is up the employer to prove a woman could not perform a job she has applied for in a safe and productive manner[49].  In a similar ruling the Ninth Circuit ruled that in the case of Rosenfeld v. Southern Pacific a woman should be given the opportunity to prove she can do a position or job she has applied for[50].  These rulings were an interpretation of the Equal Protections Clause of the 14th Amendment, which was making state and federal laws designed to protect women from harmful jobs obsolete.

It is surprising that groups supporting and opposing the Amendment never mentioned these cases.  For the groups supporting the Amendment the cases would weaken their argument for the Amendment, and the cases showed that President Kennedy’s Commissions approach to achieving equal rights for women could bring success.  For the opposition to bring it should have been a natural reaction to support their agreement.  By not bringing it up the opposition focused on another argument to support their argument.

“And God looked down into the kitchen and there wasn’t any stew![51]

The most vocal of the opponents to the Equal Rights Amendment would have to be a woman named Phyllis Schlafly.   Her stance against the Equal Rights Amendment would propel her to fame in ultra-conservative circles.  It would be her radical views against the Equal Rights Amendment at times seemed illogical and borderline hysteria.  A lot of the themes she used then are alive today when conservatives oppose something.  It is uncanny how her message has withstood the test of time.  It is her message itself however that is the enigma when one look at her background.

She has 6 children and a law degree from Washington University.  She was a practicing lawyer.  She remained married until the death of her husband until he died in 1993[52].  With all this said one could say she would be for the Equal Rights Amendment based on her background and seeing the inequality in the legal system.  It is almost hypocritical for her to be against the Amendment because many felt the Amendment was for professional, white-collar women.

In 1972 Phyllis Schlafly would form the conservative political action group known as the Eagle Forum, partly to help her promote her pro-family agenda by speaking out against the Equal Rights Amendment[53].  Like many other conservative political action groups Schlafly chose something seen as patriotic as the symbol and name of her group[54].  Since the bald eagle is the national bird it is a symbol of America.  Part of her opposition to the proposed Equal Rights Amendment was a fear that the government was looking to control the daily lives of women and their families[55].   Schlafly said, “The federal government is breathing down the necks of industry and forcing reverse discrimination in the hiring if less qualified women instead of men[56].”  Clearly a statement like this is to warn people that the federal government is going to take over control of private business.  She affirms this with, “The ERA isn’t going to provide employment for women.  Only private industry can provide jobs.[57]”  Words chosen wisely to remind people whom the enemy in a country in the middle of the Cold War against the Soviet Union.  Summoning the fear of communism is a tool often used by those in conservative movements, like the John Birch Society, in the 1960’s.  It helps creates an us and them mentality in the country, dividing the country needlessly.

Schlafly’s other attack against the Equal Rights Amendment was that the Amendment was an attack if on the American housewife.  A time-honored tradition passed down from the patriarchal tradition of the older civilizations in which the husband was the sole breadwinner and was the sole member of the family that was in the workforce.  Schlafly did not see the reason for the status quo to change, change was allowing women the freedom to enter the workforce and support their family equally with their husband.  Today two-income families are commonplace, but to Phyllis Schlafly it was an affront to civilized society.  Schlafly felt that the women’s liberation movement was a manifestation forced upon women from the media[58].  In essence Schlafly is saying that what the media projects to be a real women is false, that a real woman is a housewife.  Schlafly would support that by saying women are most privileged people in American society[59].  Schlafly based this opinion on the genetic difference that women can have babies, relying on the husband to support the family, and that if the husband leaves that by law he has to pay child support[60].  This could be, in theory, true and if asked any lawyer who argues in family and child support courts knows the laws are slanted towards women even though they are suppose to look at both parties equally and decide in the best interest of the child.  This is a point Schlafly points out when she said in a speech “Another bad effect of the Equal Rights Amendment is that it will abolish a woman’s right to child support and alimony . . .the man is always required to support his wife and child he caused to be brought into this world[61].”   Called “privileges” by Schlafly, it can be called extortion by some, it was suggested that Schlafly had a 19th century view which she failed to noticed that in the 19th century common law women were the property of the man[62].  This is in contrast to those women who felt that being a housewife is tantamount to slavery.

The household slavery issue as many in the pro-ERA movement would call it had its birth in the 1940’s with its apex, the publishing of The Feminine Mystique by Betty Friedan in 1963.  Many would argue no person would want the job of a housewife because the job lacks the standardized legal protections other jobs have[63].  Pointed out also is that the housewife does not receive a wage[64], which for the labor she performs is equal to slavery.  As time progressed many women would mock the work the idea that the role of housewife to be liberating and fulfilling of their needs[65].  It is important to point out that many new inventions would add time to the day for housewife such as the dishwasher, laundry machine, and the dryer giving the housewife periods of unproductive time in the home.  Women of the day would have to find new hobbies to kill the time during their day at the home.

These inventions meant little to some who thought being a housewife was the greatest job to ever have.  Not having to go out in the workforce and making a living left a few women feeling like they were special, if not privileged.  They would not the privilege of being a housewife to be treaded upon by others who look down upon this lifestyle.  Following the in the steps of Phyllis Schlafly other groups opposing the Equal Rights Amendment would spring up all over the country.  These groups would go by names such as the Pussycat League, Protect Our Women, League of Housewives[66], and Happiness of Womanhood.  Happiness of Womanhood was the most vocal of these groups and perhaps the oldest.  The group would rely heavily on their message which was that they were more than happy to be housewives and nothing else.  Happiness of Womanhood considered themselves at war with pro-equal rights and women’s liberation groups.  One of the many leaders of Happiness of Womanhood was concerned because she thought that the “…woman liberationists have tried to have the word ‘housewife’ taken out of the dictionary[67].”   Another would add with the comment “I don’t want my 8-year-old niece using restrooms with adult men[68].”  Despite of the silliness of their beliefs of what they thought the effects of what Equal Rights Amendment would be, they all agreed that the Amendment was an attack on the American family.  What the groups failed to point out is that there are constitutional rights to privacy that guarantee separate restrooms for both sexes[69].  Highlighted by the signs they used at protests against the Amendment like “Communists have done it Again[70].”  All the members of Happiness of Womanhood wanted to do was have their men “make the living and we’ll make life worth living[71].”  That is a ideal that most people in ever changing times cannot live by.  However many of their statements highlight the absurdity of their thoughts on what the Equal Rights Amendment would do and how extreme they had to make their message.  It is safe to say in a civilized society young girls would not be able to go into the same restroom with adult males.  With that said the society does not find it odd for a man or woman to bring their young children into a restroom of the opposite sex so that they can change them or keep and eye on them.  They do show that dispensing misinformation and a blatant disregard to the common sense of the average person can get headlines in the press.

These groups however fell under the umbrella of a group called STOP-ERA.  STOP-ERA was headed by the aforementioned Phyllis Schlafly[72], which would make one think she was looking to promote herself and garner popular to perhaps profit from it.  Under her direction these groups would not comment on any number of the legal cases that would have a impact on women’s rights working their way through the Federal court system.  It could be argued that by doing so it would it would show how a minimal impact the Equal Rights Amendment would have on the society at large[73].  If they did speak of these cases it would not only weaken their argument, it would bring these cases into the light of day.  The opposition took advantage that most people do not know what is happening in the Federal court system or in the Supreme Court.  This is not information the average citizen generally pays attention to.  Schlafly being a lawyer would know this thus by not speaking about the cases not only downplays them, but it suppresses them in essence.  Reason would suggest this is why Schlafly wanted all the anti-Amendment groups under the umbrella of one master group.  By doing this Schlafly could use the STOP-ERA to spread the message against the Amendment to the more conservative parts of the country, primarily the South and Mid-West[74].  The message to these states was that if the Equal Rights Amendment passed was that if the Amendment passed white homemakers would lose their homes and families[75].   This of course is illogical and lacks any factual foundation as an argument against the Amendment.  By saying husbands would abandon their families and the woman would be left to fend for her and any children is a very powerful propaganda message.

Perspective and Impact

When one looks back at the opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment it will be seen how the people of the opposition would shape the battles of public debate for generations to come.  To say that the Equal Rights Amendment is defeated is at best foolish when one considers that the 27th Amendment was first proposed on September 25th, 1789 and ratified on May 7th, 1992[76].  Considering that the Equal Rights Amendment only needs three more states to ratify it shows that it is not defeated.  Having 35 states having ratified it shows it is far from defeat.  What it does show is that those who oppose it had control of the dialogue in the debate over the Amendment.  Before the 24-hour news cycle and the propagandizing of many right-wing news agencies, opponents to the Amendment would use any means to get their message out in the news.  It could explain why they would make what can be considered by some to be ridiculous comments about how the Amendment if passed would have some major impact on the society.  The opposition would argue that the Amendment would in some way change the role of women[77], but they never explain how the role of women would change.  The bulk of their argument was that in some way their roles has housewives would be forever changed, but technology and consumerism had more of a profound impact on the changing role of the housewife.    As women entered the workforce with college degrees in the 1970’s, they would make roughly the same as a man with an eighth-grade education[78].  How women opposed to the Amendment were more concerned about being housewives and unconcerned with the working women is shocking to say none the less.  But it highlights how selfish the society has come.  It is similar to the debate the United States had when President Obama proposed healthcare reform.  Those with insurance did not care about those who did not.  People opposed to the Equal Rights Amendment would oppose it because they felt in was the government over stepping its bounds.  One woman opposed to the Amendment said, “I’m totally concerned about the government intervening in our lives.  I just feel that we’re being surrounded by rules and regulations; you almost feel that you are being strangled[79].”  The sentiment that the government is entering the private lives of the citizens is something heard form the supporters of the Tea Party movement in the United States.  That is were the similarity ends, but it is a symptom of a society consumed with the self and not the betterment of the others.

This is also the problem human rights groups have with their battle for everyone to have human rights.  Those who have certain rights may not want others to have those same rights that they have and not everyone wants those rights.  Think of a housewife who has no income of her own, but relies on her husband for support.  Today one looks back and sees that housewife as a leech, unwilling to contribute.   Times were different then and it was possible for a man to support his family with his income alone.  What the housewives then failed to see was the society was changing and that one income would eventually need to be supplemented with another.  Those opposed to the Amendment were afraid of the change society was bringing their way.  Think of Sen. Ervin, a man born in a time when the man was the breadwinner.  It was within the culture he grew up in, to think otherwise did not make sense to him.  That old culture gave the wife the sense that her right was to be supported by her husband[80].  In these times however that old notion seems a bit cliché; keeping the old habits of patriarchy and authoritarianism as they are[81].

 

Appendix:

Original wording to the Equal Rights Amendment

Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction.

 

Version Proposed from 1943 to 1972

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.

 

Version of the Equal Rights Amendment Passed in 1972

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.
Section 3.  This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.

 

Bibliography:

Primary Sources:

“Amendment on Equal Rights Now Approved by 6 States.” New York Times, March 26, 1972.

“American Civil Liberties Union Records, The Roger Baldwin Years, 1917-1950: Finding Aid,” n.d. http://diglib.princeton.edu/ead/getEad?id=ark:/88435/rj430454b.

Bella S. Abzug. “Power to the Majority — Women.” New York Times, August 26, 1971.

Charlton, Linda. “Badillo, Rangel, Delaney And Podell Renominated.” New York Times, June 21, 1972.

———. “The Feminine Protest.” New York Times, August 28, 1970.

———. “Women March Down Fifth in Equality Drive.” New York Times, August 27, 1970.

Chittick, Elizabeth L. “The Question of Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment PRO…” Congressional Digest 56, no. 6 (June 1977): 174.

Commission on Civil Rights, Washington. “The Equal Rights Amendment: Guaranteeing Equal Rights for Women Under the Constitution. Clearinghouse Publication 68.” (June 1, 1981).

“Digital History,” n.d. http://www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/database/article_display.cfm?HHID=384.

Down on the Farm, a Wife’s Life Isn’t the Drudgery It Used to Be.” New York Times, May 28, 1973.

Edwards, Don. “Equal Rights, Unlimited.” New York Times, November 25, 1971.

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[1] Jane Mansbridge, Why we lost the ERA (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1986), 2.

[2] “The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 11-27,” n.d., http://www.archives.gov/exhibits/charters/constitution_amendments_11-27.html.

[3] Jon Stewart and The Writers of The Daily Show, America (The Book): A Citizen’s Guide to Democracy Inaction, First edition first printing. (Grand Central Publishing, 2004), 3.

[4] Ibid, 3

[5] “Women Will Oppose Equal Rights Plan,” New York Times, May 1, 1924, 11.

[6] Dorothy McBride, Women’s rights in the U.S.A. : policy debates and gender roles, 2nd ed. (New York: Garland Pub., 1997), 30.

[7] “Women Pitch Rival Camps.,” New York Times, June 9, 1924, 2.

[8] David Bouchier, The feminist challenge : the movement for women’s liberation in Britain and the USA, 1st ed. (New York: Schocken Books, 1984), 19.

[9] McBride, Women’s rights in the U.S.A. : policy debates and gender roles, 30.

[10] See Appendix for the wording to the Amendment and revisions

[11] McBride, Women’s rights in the U.S.A.: policy debates and gender roles, 38.

[12] Judith Hole, Rebirth of feminism, 1st ed. (New York: Quadrangle Books, 1973).

[13] Robert Sherrill, “That Equal-Rights Amendment What, Exactly, Does It Mean?,” New York Times, September 20, 1970.

[14] Linda Charlton, “Badillo, Rangel, Delaney And Podell Renominated,” New York Times, June 21, 1972.

[15] Laurie Johnston, “Women Observe Their Franchise,” New York Times, August 27, 1971, 30; Eileen Shanahan, “Rights Strategy Voted by Women,” New York Times, April 8, 1973.

[16] Michael Moore, Capitalism: A Love Story (Starz / Anchor Bay, 2010).

[17] Bouchier, The Feminist Challenge : The Movement for Women’s Liberation in Britain and the USA, 19.

[18] Alan Reitman to Board of Directors and National Committee, American Civil Liberties Union, 20 April 1955, “Women and Social Movements in the United States,” n.d., http://0-asp6new.alexanderstreet.com.www.consuls.org/was2/was2.object.details.aspx?dorpid=1002968587.

[19] “American Civil Liberties Union Records, The Roger Baldwin Years, 1917-1950: Finding Aid,” n.d., http://diglib.princeton.edu/ead/getEad?id=ark:/88435/rj430454b.

[20] Nancy MacLean, The American Women’s Movement, 1945-2000 : a Brief History with Documents (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009).

[21] Robert Sherrill, “That Equal-Rights Amendment What, Exactly, Does It Mean?.”

[22] Eileen Shanahan, “Woman Unionist Scores Equality Plan,” New York Times, September 10, 1970.

[23] “May Hearings set on Women’s Rights,” New York Times, February 27, 1970, 39.

[24] Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp., 400 US 542 (Supreme Court 1971).

[26] Eileen Shanahan, “Equal Rights Plan for Women Voted by House, 350-15,” New York Times, August 11, 1970.

[27] “Letters to the Editor of The Times,” New York Times, August 28, 1970, 26.

[28] Robert Sherrill, “That Equal-Rights Amendment What, Exactly, Does It Mean?,” 242.

[29] “Quote in the news,” Boston Globe, August 11, 1970.

[30] Eileen Shanahan , “Equal Rights Plan for Women Voted by House, 350-15,” 1.

[31]  Robert Sherrill, “That Equal-Rights Amendment What, Exactly, Does It Mean?,” 241.

[32] John Herbers, “Senator Ervin Thinks The Constitution Should Be Taken Like Mountain Whisky– Undiluted and Untaxed,” New York Times, November 15, 1970.

[33] James M. Naughton, “Constitutional Ervin,” New York Times, May 13, 1973, 85.

[34] Ibid., 13.

[35] John Herbers, “Senator Ervin Thinks The Constitution Should Be Taken Like Mountain Whisky– Undiluted and Untaxed.”

[36] “Women Fill Hearing on Rights Equality,” New York Times, May 6, 1970, 38.

[37] “Riders Threaten Equal Rights Bid,” New York Times, October 9, 1970, 11.

[38] Ibid

[39] “Substitute Bill Is Planned On Equal Rights for Women,” New York Times, August 18, 1970, 71.

[40] Ibid

[41] Eileen Shanahan, “Equal Rights Plan for Women Voted by House, 350-15,” 23.

[42] Grace Lichtenstein, “McSorley’s Admits Women Under a New City Law,” New York Times, August 11, 1970.

[43] Eileen Shanahan, “Equal Rights Amendment Passed by House, 354-23,” New York Times, October 13, 1971.

[44] Mansbridge, Why we lost the ERA, 1.

[45] Phillips v. Martin Marietta Corp., vol. 400.

[46] Burger, Reed v. Reed (BURGER, C.J., Opinion of the Court), 404 U.S. 71 (U.S. Supreme Court 1971).

[47] “The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 11-27.”

[48] Fred P. Graham, “HIGH COURT BARS SEX BIAS IN HIRING IN TEST OF ’64 ACT,” New York Times, January 26, 1971, 21.

[49]  Eileen Shanahan, “Women’s Job Rights Gain In Federal Court Rulings,” New York Times, July 13, 1971, 37.

[50] Ibid, 37

[51] Lewis Black, The End Of The Universe (Stand Up! Records, 2002).

[52] “Phyllis Schlafly Bio,” n.d., http://www.eagleforum.org/misc/bio.html.

[53] Ibid.

[54] Other groups, like the Tea Party, feel choosing a name for their group from the history of the United States some how makes them more patriotic than other Americans.  This is seen in those groups that oppose communism.

[55] Caroline Kortge, “Schlafly Says Women’s Movement is Dying in an Anti-Feminist Surge,” Eagle & Beacon, 3 August 1977. “Women and Social Movements in the United States,” n.d., http://0-asp6new.alexanderstreet.com.www.consuls.org/was2/was2.object.details.aspx?dorpid=1001257057.asp6new.alexanderstreet.com.www.consuls.org/was2/was2.object.details.aspx?dorpid=1001257057.

[56] Ibid

[57] Ibid

[59] MacLean, The American Women’s Movement, 1945-2000 : a Brief History with Documents, p. 114

[60] Ibid, p. 116

[61] Ibid, p. 116

[62] Jane O’Reilly, “The Bogus Fear of ERA.,” Nation 227, no. 2 (July 8, 1978): 46.

[63] MacLean, The American Women’s Movement, 1945-2000 : a Brief History With Documents, 51.

[64] Ibid, 51

[65] MacLean, The American Women’s Movement, 1945-2000 : a Brief History with Documents, 94.

[66] David Bouchier, Feminist Challenge (Schocken, 1984), 160.

[67] By United Press International, “They’re Housewives and Proud of It,” New York Times, April 3, 1972, 44.

[68] , “Women Lobby Against ‘Rights’,” New York Times, April 15, 1973, 82.

[69] O’Reilly, “The Bogus Fear of ERA.,” 46.

[70] “Nation: Women on the March,” Time, September 7, 1970, http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,902696-1,00.html.

[71] By United Press International, “They’re Housewives and Proud of It,” 44.

[72] “Phyllis Schlafly Bio.”

[73] Mansbridge, Why we lost the ERA, 143.

[74] Bouchier, Feminist Challenge, 162.

[75] Ibid, 162

[76] “The Constitution of the United States: Amendments 11-27.”

[77] Mansbridge, Why we lost the ERA, 20.

[78] Bella S. Abzug, “Power to the Majority — Women,” New York Times, August 26, 1971, 37.

[79]  Sarah Slavin, The Equal Rights Amendment: The Politics and Process of Ratification of the 27th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (Haworth Press, 1982), 46.

[80] O’Reilly, “The Bogus Fear of ERA.,” The Nation, 46.

[81] Michael Ignatieff, Human Rights as Politics and Idolatry: (Princeton University Press, 2003), 73.

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