Now that we’ve got the marriage equality question settled for all time (1), I think it’s time we turned to a brand-new, never-before-contemplated issue of social concern – women’s rights.
That’s right. We women want rights.
What rights, you ask?
Well, I dunno. There are so many.
The right to fair wages. The right to be believed when reporting a rape. The right not to be abused by a partner and to get something more than a restraining order that doesn’t work. The right to affordable, good-quality child care. The right to be represented in groups that make decisions about women. The right to have children or not, as we decide. The right to health care, mental health care, places in homeless shelters. The right not to be assaulted by fellow service members.
I could go on. So could you, I bet.
But, just as we’re now living in a post-racial society (2), I’m told we’re living in a post-feminist society.(3)
I’ve also heard that one of the reasons the Terrifying Gay Agenda (4) is having such current success is that they found a specific issue to organize around – marriage equality. Not “Treat Us Like Human Beings” or “Don’t Discriminate in Jobs and Housing” or “We Want Equal Rights.”
And those are some of the problems with the women’s movement – we’re not organized, we don’t have just one issue that we can knock off the list above, and “Change Society” is too vague.
So let’s narrow it down to one. For myself, I’d like to be mentioned in the U.S. Constitution. And that means the Equal Rights Amendment.(5) All we have to do, according to the experts at http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/, since the one proposed in 1972 was passed (6), is just get enough states to ratify it to put us over the top – three whole states.
The ones that haven’t ratified are Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Illinois, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Nevada, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Utah, and Virginia. I figure Illinois is a good place to start. Then, I don’t know – Nevada? North Carolina? Virginia? What do you think?
But let’s do it. Then see what happens with all those other issues. I’m betting the ERA will have a good effect on many of them, and more besides.(7)
What’s that? It isn’t a good time to bring up women’s rights? The climate in the country isn’t conducive to the issue? There’s no chance of it happening?
Well, was it a good time to bring up marriage equality? Was the climate of the public discussion in favor of that? Was the country ready for it? Take a look at all the strict constitutionalists scrambling to figure out a way to defy the Constitution (8), and you tell me.
And to those who say that it’s an empty gesture, that an Equal Rights Amendment will make no real difference in women’s lives, think about what happened once black people were mentioned in that foundational document. No, it didn’t change everything for the better right away. But it sure got the ball rolling.
And I don’t know about you, but I sure would like to see some ball-rolling on behalf of women.(9)
(2) *snerk* again
(3) I had a t-shirt that said “I’ll be post-feminist in the post-patriarchy.” My husband and I both wore it until you couldn’t see the letters anymore. I’d get another one if I could remember what catalog we found it in.
(4) As the joke goes, it includes brunch at 11:30, decorating committee at 4:00, and a dance at 9:00. It’s probably the dance that terrifies people.
(5) Here’s the full text:
Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by 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.
Fifty-two whole words. Scary, isn’t it?
(6) Yes, the ERA actually passed, although almost no one remembers this. It was the ratifying that did it in.
(7) Back in the day, when the ERA came around the last time, it was sneeringly referred to by some as the Equal Restrooms Amendment. Which is actually a topic that still needs addressing. Women’s bathrooms in public buildings need more stalls than men’s to achieve parity. Women need a stall for each excretory (and hygiene) function. Men conserve space using urinals; for some unfathomable reason, they’re willing to pee without walls and doors.
(8) And/or the Supreme Court. And/or the President, for that matter. Anything mentioned in the Constitution, really, except the Second Amendment.
(9) yet more *snerk*