The movement is a sort of mosaic.
May 23, 2015 8:42 PM   Subscribe

 
Mormon women battled the ERA to prove to their church, their co-religionists, and themselves that they embodied Mormonism’s most fundamental beliefs. As Mormon theology heightened its emphasis on women’s subordinate status and domestic place, the ERA fight provided women with an opportunity to resist some of those limitations by becoming public political actors for the church.

This is one of those situations where you just want to grab someone and shake them while shouting DON'T YOU GET IT?!! at them over and over.
posted by phunniemee at 8:51 PM on May 23, 2015 [18 favorites]


It will be interesting see future scholarship on the Mormon church's role in trying to write marriage inequality into the California state constitution.
posted by LastOfHisKind at 8:52 PM on May 23, 2015 [10 favorites]


Like Tabby Biddle, I'm also from Generation X - and I knew that the ERA had fallen short of its passing back when it happened in the 1980's. It's one of the many reasons that I say that my teenage angst was absolutely justified.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:55 PM on May 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


It's not too late. I follow Equal Rights Amendment on Facebook. It's pretty active and well worth following.
posted by Miko at 8:59 PM on May 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Wait, I'm seriously confused. Seriously, frighteningly confused. The first link says this:

To my surprise, I learned (and it wasn't that long ago) that I was wrong. The U.S. Constitution does not guarantee equal rights for women.

Since 1923, activists have been trying to pass the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which states, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."

And goes on to state that the current dismal state of womens' rights is because of the lack of this specific language for women in the Constitution.

But the 14th amendment says this:
All persons born or naturalized in the United States, and subject to the jurisdiction thereof, are citizens of the United States and of the State wherein they reside. 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.

This should be all that's needed. I'm pretty sure the horrific state of womens' rights is because women still aren't seen as persons, and just saying "Yes women have rights too" is just dignifying something terrible with a response. You can't say "Well yeah things are terrible because women aren't specifically granted rights". Things are terrible because we were granted rights that are being shat all over.
posted by bleep at 9:28 PM on May 23, 2015 [18 favorites]


I remember my mother and aunts wearing pro-ERA tshirts near the end of the push for state ratification. I think by then they knew it wasn't going to pass but even as a little kid I picked up on how much they cared.
posted by Dip Flash at 9:29 PM on May 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


I'm so distressed now.
posted by bleep at 9:31 PM on May 23, 2015


Sometimes I think, "Being a woman isn't so bad!"
And then there's this, and I just kind of mindlessly stare at the ground for a while.
posted by ourt at 9:35 PM on May 23, 2015 [8 favorites]


Wow, colour me astonished to learn this isn't in the US Constitution or one of the amendments already. In my defence, I'm Canadian. Thanks for posting this, I learned something today.

In Canada, Section 15 of the Charter of Rights and Freedoms covers this and seems to address the concerns about interference with affirmative action programs by explicitly stating it doesn't affect those. But before I get too happy about my own country having approved something similar, it has only been in effect here since 1985. So I suspect this is more to do with us being a young country that got around to having these kinds of documents much later.
posted by FishBike at 9:35 PM on May 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


Bleep,

I believe that the ERA is needed in spite of the 14th Amendment for the same reasons that the 19th Amendment was needed in spite of the 14th Amendment. While things are terrible because rights given are being shat over, the ERA would still help codify and clarify women's equality under law. (Also, gender/sex discrimination claims are still not held to the strict scrutiny standard that the 14th Amendment requires for certain suspect classifications.)
posted by pipian at 9:49 PM on May 23, 2015 [25 favorites]


> This should be all that's needed.

You'd think.

And yet.

What I remember from my kidhood, when the ERA was in full media-hogging debate, is that all the arguments against it were about how it might force men and women to share bathrooms, and be paid equally for equal work, and how awful and untenable those situations would be! Cats and dogs living together! Civilization would end!

If people wonder why some people, like me, grew up thinking that an awful lot of other people didn't really think that people like me were... people, well, this is a big part of it. I don't feel alienated out of some imagined sense of otherness, but because I grew up in a world where I was consistently told by the powers that be that I was other.
posted by rtha at 9:52 PM on May 23, 2015 [20 favorites]


We need an "everyone is equal, doesn't matter their sex, gender, race, religion, (consenting adult) relationship, language, personal dress code, hair style, tattoos, food choices, or taste in music: everyone is equal" amendment. Because apparently it needs to be spelled out.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:34 PM on May 23, 2015 [12 favorites]


And then some teeth behind it. If it takes laws to be civilized, then so be it. The goal is worth it.
posted by five fresh fish at 10:35 PM on May 23, 2015 [4 favorites]


I'm fine with something that defines that all humans are persons, as depressing as that is, but as soon as women need to be explicitly called out then you're saying any group that isn't called out isn't protected. It's moving in the wrong direction. It's weakening what we already have and putting cracks in it instead of strengthening it. Strengthening it would be standing behind it and using it to get rid of every piece of shit law that hurts women.
posted by bleep at 11:53 PM on May 23, 2015


Bleep, there already have been constitutional rulings that spelled out equality based on race.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:55 PM on May 23, 2015 [3 favorites]


The ERA is totally needed. You think Fannie Flagg was wearing those sweatshirts on Match Game just for fun?

Also, given the sheer number of laws about women's bodies that legislatures have been passing in recent years, that's the shit that hurts women. In the eyes of the law now in most states, they evidently need to not worry their pretty little heads about things.
posted by fifteen schnitzengruben is my limit at 12:06 AM on May 24, 2015 [10 favorites]


My favorite professor in college had a sign on her office door.

"Stone walls do not a prison make, nor iron bars a jail;
But 'til the ERA has won, we're only out on bail."

Just as true today as it was then.
posted by infinitewindow at 12:11 AM on May 24, 2015 [28 favorites]


Bleep, there already have been constitutional rulings that spelled out equality based on race.

But for amendments, only voting explicitly.

I favor the ERA; I think the lead HuffPo link had dumb framing.
posted by klangklangston at 12:21 AM on May 24, 2015


I think the lead HuffPo link had dumb framing.

That's their forte.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 3:53 AM on May 24, 2015


Anyone who thinks the 14th amendment alone is enough to guarantee equal rights and equal protection under the law to women needs to READ THE WHOLE AMENDMENT. Not just the first part. Read Section 2, which goes on to very specifically protect the voting rights of MALE voters. Because at the time of the 14th Amendment, women weren't legally allowed to vote:
But when the right to vote at any election for the choice of electors for President and Vice President of the United States, Representatives in Congress, the executive and judicial officers of a state, or the members of the legislature thereof, is denied to any of the male inhabitants of such state, being twenty-one years of age, and citizens of the United States, or in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime, the basis of representation therein shall be reduced in the proportion which the number of such male citizens shall bear to the whole number of male citizens twenty-one years of age in such state.
Hell yes American women, and for that matter also people who don't fit into the traditionally viewed binary gender system, need a little clarification in the Constitution that they are actually just as much people as male-presenting cis male men are.
posted by BlueJae at 5:48 AM on May 24, 2015 [13 favorites]


Also, Scalia's thoughts on this are quite relevant. According to his originalism, since nobody thought the 14th Amendment was directed at sex discrimination, it would be an error to interpret it in that way. Scalia will be on the court for at least 5-10 more years, and his comrade-in-robes Thomas likely 20-25. They're going to need something clear as day to combat their retrograde tendencies.

The problem though is that the 70s was the perfect time for an ERA which just covered equal rights guaranteed to the biologically female. Today many, like myself, are going to think that any new ERA should be extended to cover gender, sexual orientation and disability, just as a start, and that's going to be an even more difficult political battle.
posted by dis_integration at 6:25 AM on May 24, 2015 [11 favorites]


Thank you , thank you, so much for this post.
posted by allthinky at 6:46 AM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


This seems to fall within a particular genre of policy analysis that goes, "we can't enact policy change X, therefore we should enact change Y that is inclusive of X and will be much, much more difficult to pass."

An ERA would go a long way toward protecting abortion rights and transgender rights, but that's exactly why it will be hard to pass.
posted by jpe at 6:54 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


An ERA would go a long way toward protecting abortion rights

Not sure why you would think that. I'm pro choice, but the argument that we can't tell women what they can do with their bodies never made much sense to me. A woman (or man) can't put her hands around my throat and choke me until I'm dead. That's absolutely telling her what she can do with her body. Abortion laws don't come down to whether a woman is a person with full rights. It comes down to whether the fetus is a person with full rights, and an ERA amendment could just as easily be used to ensure abortion is made illegal as that it be protected.
posted by willnot at 7:32 AM on May 24, 2015 [2 favorites]


That's absolutely telling her what she can do with her body.

Because they're violating another person's rights. I can't invoke bodily autonomy to justify violating laws and the rights of others.

The argument isn't "we can't tell women what they can do with their bodies," because obviously the law says that people (men or women) can't do certain things. The argument is that we can't forbid pregnant people from terminating their pregnancies.

As for the ERA itself, I agree it's still needed and I don't think it's impossible that it'll eventually be ratified. I find the history of piecemeal expansion of human rights to different groups in the US both infuriating and hopeful: infuriating because human rights shouldn't be denied and hopeful because it shows they won't necessarily be denied forever.
posted by audi alteram partem at 8:23 AM on May 24, 2015 [1 favorite]


Sometimes I think, "Being a woman isn't so bad!"
And then there's this, and I just kind of mindlessly stare at the ground for a while.


Being a woman is absolutely awesome on every level.

What is horrifying is women aren't given the full respect we earned long ago with interest.

We always have to be distracted with nonsense instead of just pushing ahead to do what is needed and what we want without games such as this.

I am equal. I am capable. I have a job to do. You can have your piece of paper stating the obvious -- or not, but don't think you will stand in my way.
posted by Alexandra Kitty at 11:05 AM on May 24, 2015


I'm sympathetic but I'd still like the piece of paper. Funny how important pieces of paper can be.
posted by Miko at 2:07 PM on May 24, 2015 [6 favorites]


I am equal. I am capable. I have a job to do. You can have your piece of paper stating the obvious -- or not, but don't think you will stand in my way.

The point here is that no, the women of America may not have that piece of paper. It's just as obvious to people who oppose the ERA that women are inherently, congenitally, and permanently unequal to men as your perspective is obvious to you. And they're the ones passing sweeping laws these days relating to women's health and social status, not people who agree with you.
posted by clockzero at 5:50 PM on May 24, 2015 [9 favorites]


I realise I am now old and my feminism increasingly obsolete but I am stunned that you can be an American feminist and have just learned about the fucking ERA. Also: Ainsley Hayes on the ERA.
posted by DarlingBri at 5:57 PM on May 24, 2015 [11 favorites]


Abortion laws don't come down to whether a woman is a person with full rights. It comes down to whether the fetus is a person with full rights

I feel like this leaves out some highly relevant history. Roe v. Wade, the most significant legal event related to abortion in American history, at no point (that I can see, anyway) considers this question of "fetal personhood" whatsoever. Which is exactly why that idea was thereafter introduced in reactionary state-level legislation: it attempts to side-step the fact that there's no remotely justifiable legal basis for the state to restrict women's bodily autonomy by claiming that another right takes precedence, for no obvious reason, and thus female autonomy is irrelevant.

and an ERA amendment could just as easily be used to ensure abortion is made illegal as that it be protected.

I dunno, this unsupported claim sounds an awful lot like the classical anti-feminist arguments about the awful things men will do if sex-based equality before the law comes to pass. How could the ERA "easily" be used to make abortion illegal at the federal level, exactly?
posted by clockzero at 6:14 PM on May 24, 2015 [4 favorites]


willnot: A woman (or man) can't put her hands around my throat and choke me until I'm dead.

Similarly, a person can't place a woman's hand on an injured crash victim's artery, say "don't take your hand away or they'll die", and thereby enslave her to the victim's life. She retains every right to take her hand away even though everyone recognizes the victim is a person with rights. (This line of argument is known as the “violinist argument” .)

Now it might be different if she was the medic and put her hand on the artery voluntarily in the first place, which moves the argument to whether sex inherently means consent to birth a person. Given the existence of birth control it doesn't have to—notably, the groups most opposed to abortion are also vehemently against birth control. This sort of pattern forms the nucleus of my opinion that many of these apparently-unrelated issues like gay marriage or the Jocelyn Elders furor are facets of the same overarching problem, namely, our patriarchal institutions fighting desperately to maintain control over human reproduction.
posted by traveler_ at 10:42 PM on May 24, 2015 [5 favorites]


« Older "10 points go to ... Sweden!"   |   Ask not what your country can do for you ask DOES... Newer »


This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments