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Kalina Gibson

Red Group
Feminism Essay
Due to the failure of ratifying an Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to the Constitution and social
inequalities between men and women, women must be given the legal protection of a minority group. The
ERA was designed for the full parity of rights between sexes, but because the ERA was not passed into law,
women must be given the services of a minority group because without them they have neither equality nor
benefits.
The first big win for women rights was in 1920 when the 19th Amendment was passed and gave
women the right to vote. The ERA was written around the same time, but it wasnt until the 1970s that it
came to the forefront of the feminist movement. The ERAs main objective is that the, equality of rights
under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex (Paul,
Alice). There was a substantial amount of support for the ERA, and with great momentum behind it, it
seemed likely the amendment would be ratified, however the momentum slowed down. This was due to an
anti-ERA movement headed by Phyllis Schlafly.
Schlafly, a political activist and mother of six, opposed the ERA and argued a strong case that
appealed to many mothers in America at the time. Schlafly argued that the ERA had, nothing to offer
American women, and claimed that if the ERA was ratified it would, take away women's traditional
exemption from military conscription and also from military combat duty (A Short History of E.R.A). She
insisted the ERA, would take away the traditional benefits in the law for wives, widows and mothers. The
ERA would make unconstitutional the laws, which then existed in every state, that impose on a husband the
obligation to support his wife(A Short History of E.R.A). Schlafly played into the fears of American
mothers by suggesting their daughters would be drafted and have to go to war, that their basic rights would
be taken away, and that their husbands might not have to take care of them. As a result of this, many
American women joined the anti-ERA movement and as time ran out for the 38 states to ratify the
amendment, Schlafly won the battle. Susan Brownmiller, author of Against Our Will had a different
perspective than Schlafly.
Susan Brownmillers philosophy was something along the lines of fight back. She was a strong
believer in feminism and would have viewed the attempt to ensure the ERAs ratification as an action to
correct a system in which, women had no choice but to let men be our lawful protectors (Brownmiller

Kalina Gibson
Red Group
388). Brownmiller exclaimed The battle to achieve parity with menwill be the ultimate testing ground
on which full equality for women will be won or lost,(388). She wouldve said the ERA was this ultimate
testing ground to determine if men and women would have equal rights. Brownmiller would even accept
the fact that women would be drafted into the military because it goes right along the same lines as her
fight back philosophy.
Brownmiller also dealt with issues like rape in her book Against Our Will. She took a new stance
on the issue, declaring it wasnt the victims fault for being raped, and the violation was first and foremost
a violation of male rights of possession(Brownmiller 377). She would have supported the attempts for the
ratification of the ERA since it would equally protect both men and women from rape and crime.
Pornography, another topic Brownmiller discussed alongside the topic of race, is neither a form of
hate speech nor a way to keep women in their place. Hate speech is speech that offends, threatens, or
insults groups, based on race, color, religion, national origin, sexual orientation, disability, or other traits
(American Bar Association). While it may be offensive and objectifying, it is not hate speech. Prohibiting it
would be against the first amendments right to the freedom of speech because people are allowed to say
whatever they want as long as they are not threatening violence. Pornography is not a direct promotion of
rape and plenty of women in the porn industry want to be there, not because someone is keeping them in
their place.
In the past 30 years womens rights have improved significantly, but equal opportunity is still
something to be fought for. Women have made significant progress in being able to have an education.
More women are going to school, excelling at it, and graduating than they did 30 years ago. Although there
are more women in corporate positions only, 3.3% of the top-earning corporate officers inare women
(National Womens Law Center). Women make up more than half the workforce, but despite that fact they
are stuck in jobs with fewer benefits and lower pay. On average, for very dollar a male makes, a woman
only earns 73 cents (National Womens Law Center). Women are treated like a minority group, so its
important for them to be afforded the legal protection and benefits of one, because without them they have
neither equal protection nor any benefits.

Kalina Gibson
Red Group
Works Cited
American Bar Association. "Debating the Mighty Constitutional
Opposites." americanbar.org. Division for Public Education, n.d. Web. 3
May 2015. <http://www.americanbar.org/groups/public_education/
initiatives_awards/students_in_action/debate_hate.html>.

Brownmiller, Susan. Against Our Will: Men, Women and Rape. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1976. Print.

National Women's Law Center. "Affirmative Action and What It Means for Women."
nwlc.org. National Women's Law Center, 1 July 2000. Web. 3 May 2015.
<http://www.nwlc.org/resource/
affirmative-action-and-what-it-means-women#N_8_>.

Paul, Alice. "The ERA: A Brief Introduction." equalrightsamendment.org. ERA,


n.d. Web. 3 May 2015. <http://www.equalrightsamendment.org/
overview.htm>.

Schlafly, Phyllis. "A Short History of E.R.A." Eagle Forum. N.p., n.d. Web. 29
Apr. 2015. <http://www.eagleforum.org/psr/1986/sept86/psrsep86.html>.