In passing the Equal Rights Amendment, Congress had set a seven-year deadline for ratification. At first, ratification seemed to be a given, with states quickly approving the amendment, but those ratifications slowed to a trickle. Crucially, the amendment’s passage had had a major consequence: mobilizing anti-feminists, including its arch-opponent Phyllis Schlafly, to defeat it.That's right, those questions did not fail to emerge. Defeating ERA did not cure the problems of feminism.
In many ways, Schlafly was deeply contradictory. Although she praised stay-at-home mothers, Schlafly — a mother of six — dedicated much of her life to political organizing and traveled the country giving lectures. She believed that the ERA would do away with much of the special status granted to women, including the right to be supported by their husbands, and would damage the traditional American family. Schlafly founded the organization “STOP ERA” (an acronym for “stop taking away our privileges”) to oppose the Equal Rights Amendment.
“What I am defending is the real rights of women,” Schlafly once said. “A woman should have the right to be in the home as a wife and mother.”
Telling her audiences that the ERA would eventually lead to a future of gender-neutral bathrooms and women being drafted into the military, she successfully made many people think twice about what Constitutionally mandated equality of the sexes would mean. Deirdre Condit, an associate professor of political science at Virginia Commonwealth University, notes that in fact Schlafly was right that the future would include such things — but they came to pass even without the amendment.
“Well, if you fast forward to 2019, without the Equal Rights Amendment having passed, we’re trying to figure out how to deal with bathrooms in a multi-gendered universe. And we’re trying to figure out, should in fact women be drafted if men are drafted?” says Condit. ”And while we were are unsettled as a culture about these new questions, they did not fail to emerge because we didn’t have an Equal Rights Amendment.”
Saturday, August 24, 2019
Time magazine has an article on ERA history: