“Why is thinking something women never do? Why is logic never even tried? Straightening up their hair is all they ever do, why don’t they straighten up the mess that’s inside?”
Hopefully you recognize this as a line from “A Hymn to Him” sung by Professor Higgins in the musical My Fair Lady. The song is a hilarious recital of stereotypes about women performed by a character who is portraying the perennial struggle of men to understand women.
Women do not suffer from an imbalance of logic with men, but I certainly wouldn’t point to feminist activism to prove that point.
Feminists likely won’t laugh at this clever ballad. They are humorlessly bent on proving that women are just as rational and reasonable as men. I agree. Women do not suffer from an imbalance of logic with men, but I certainly wouldn’t point to feminist activism to prove that point. Nowhere does the old stereotype feel more overwhelmingly true than at events promoting the feminist agenda.
When it comes to feminists who support the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), we could ask Professor Higgins’ question with sincerity: Why is thinking something feminists never do? Why is logic never even tried?
Feminists promote and advocate for the ERA using shameless appeals to emotion. They rarely, if ever, address the true merits of the amendment or the actual, legal ramifications it would have on women and on our society. Feminists demand society take them seriously, while accepting and promoting a fairytale they call “empowerment”. The logic of which they never question.
In 1972 the U.S. Congress passed the Equal Rights Amendment, a change to the U.S. Constitution for which feminists had been battling many years.
The text of the bill is deceptively short. It was billed as a straight-forward few sentences that would recognize the dignity of women in the Constitution and ensure equality between the sexes. Feminists campaigned for the ERA by listing the many areas where they believed equality was lacking or where they wanted to solidify advances for women’s rights that had already been addressed legislatively.
The topics feminists believed would be impacted ranged from discrimination in employment, to education, to pay, to sports, and the ability to get mortgage and credit loans. To discerning eyes, however, the amendment would clearly not prohibit discrimination so much as prohibit legislators from acknowledging and taking into account the very real differences and varying needs between men and women.
Feminists attempted to distract the public from the catastrophic results of a mandatory, gender-neutral system, by promising higher wages for women and broader career opportunities. The Congress of 1972 accepted ERA as an easy vote for women, and passed the feminists’ resolution.
Congress placed a sunset provision on the legislation and sent the proposed amendment to the states to seek the 38 approvals necessary to ratify it within the allotted timeframe. Thirty-five states quickly passed ERA, but thanks to the groundswell of grassroots activism led by Phyllis Schlafly, five states rescinded their initial approvals, and no further states approved the amendment.
Despite an extension on the deadline granted by Congress, the ERA failed and Schlafly and her STOP ERA supporters declared a hard-fought victory in 1982. The ERA has been dead for decades, but feminists are now trying to resuscitate it. They are attempting to get ERA passed in a few more state legislatures. They hope to claim the twice expired deadline does not bar ratification.
If you think Sullivan’s gravitas lent serious intellectual weight to the ERA debate, you would be wrong.
With that goal in mind, on April 30th this year, enthusiastic feminists from all over the country gathered in Washington, D.C. for a House Judiciary Committee hearing on the ERA.
To testify on their behalf, the feminists fielded an impressive female attorney, Ms. Kathleen Sullivan. Her lengthy resume included a stint as Dean of Stanford Law. If you think Sullivan’s gravitas lent serious intellectual weight to the ERA debate, you’d be wrong. She is an accomplished constitutional scholar, but her testimony and debate primarily centered on the looming battle over the deadline—the question being whether the amendment can be revived. Her testimony could be equally applicable to any constitutional amendment passed by Congress with a deadline.
Ms. Sullivan briefly touched on question of Equal Protection, admitting women already enjoy protection. But she didn’t testify to the merits of the Equal Rights Amendment itself. That task was left to Hollywood actress Patricia Arquette. The star witness in support of the amendment. But she didn’t address the substance of the ERA either.
Arquette testified about the sexual abuse she has suffered in her life, and the indifferent responses of her employers and coworkers in the wake of these assaults. Her story would move anyone to compassion, but it had nothing to do with the ERA.
Arquette’s story would move anyone to compassion, but it had nothing to do with the ERA.
Neither did the ensuing litany of grievances with which she filled her allotted time. Arquette noted a record number of rape kits remain unprocessed in the United States. That is true, and a deep injustice. The answer is, of course, to hire more staff to process rape kits. The ERA has nothing to do with how quickly any given jurisdiction is able to process rape kits.
Arquette discussed the need for better training for hospital employees tasked with gathering and preserving evidence for these rape kits. Again, undoubtedly needed training, entirely unrelated to a constitutional amendment that would erase the differences between men and women in our laws.
To the surprise of everyone, Arquette revealed that in teaching hospitals, doctors can bring in medical students while a patient is unconscious on the operating table, and perform invasive exams without the patient’s knowledge. This is a shocking revelation, but contrary to the manner in which she framed it, an abuse to which men are just as susceptible as women. Additionally, several states have already moved to remedy the problem by passing laws that outlaw the practice. There is no need for a constitutional amendment to quickly straighten out what is certainly a bi-partisan concern.
Arquette was selling a promise of “empowerment”. A completely amorphous concept that most feminists cannot define.
Arquette pointed out that in some jurisdictions women who have had children as a result of rape are forced to co-parent with their rapists. This is a horrible abuse of traumatized women. Any woman who has conceived due to rape should be able to shut the rapist out of her life and that of her child’s life entirely.
But what has this to do with the ERA? Again, nothing.
Arquette was selling a promise of “empowerment”. A completely amorphous concept that most feminists don’t define. Arquette and the rest of the women at that hearing want a perfect world. A world where women don’t have to look over their shoulders in parking garages, or keep an eye on their drinks during first dates. Where justice is served promptly and without any hiccups, and where bias is wholly eliminated.
We’d all like that, but the Equal Rights Amendment cannot deliver such a thing. Frankly, it does not even pretend to try.
Arquette’s testimony was an emotional recitation of grievances for which the ERA would have no remedies. Her testimony was completely unconnected to the issue before the committee. Yet there wasn’t even a flicker of understanding that would suggest the packed crowd of feminists recognized this patent disconnect. Nor was there a hint of embarrassment that their star witness was using obvious emotional ploys unconnected to logic or law.
I could almost hear Professor Higgins’ frustration.
The truth is the ERA does not insert magic words into the Constitution that will halt evil men from preying on women, that will endow us with Wonder Woman strength to ward off abuse, or that will clear the roadblocks of bureaucracy to get necessary jobs done faster.
The Equal Rights Amendment isn’t an abracadabra that will create an empowerment wonderland.
The ERA is a bludgeon to beat out our ability to legislate based upon sex.
The Equal Rights Amendment isn’t an abracadabra that will create an empowerment wonderland.
On its face, the amendment is straight forward.
Section 1 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.” It sounds lofty, but in reality this would make sex like race. Any kind of discrimination that is rightly prohibited when based on race would apply to sex, with catastrophic results. No single-sex bathrooms, no fraternities or sororities, men would be permitted in women’s shelters where battered women who have been traumatized by men seek to escape, women would be mandated in combat, and the list goes on.
Section 2 of the ERA is an enforcement clause that mirrors that of the 14th Amendment. The federal government is one of enumerated powers. Congress can only legislate on matters that have their foundation in a power granted to the federal government in the Constitution. By contrast, states have broad “police powers,” that is, authority to legislate on anything that has to do with the general health, safety, morals, and welfare of the people. The ERA’s Section 2 transfers vast power to the federal government over areas of law that are historically – and should remain – in the purview of the states. It is an assault on federalism and an obvious power grab.
The truth is that the Constitution is gender neutral. It always has been. The word male is not to be found anywhere in the original text. “Man” is a universal term to denote humanity.
The Suffragettes of the early 20th century (co-opted by modern feminists, but certainly a distinct political movement) won women the vote, and we enjoy equal protection under the law. The distinction between the sexes is real, though, and ERA is bent on wiping that out. Women who are honest know that the ERA is unnecessary and even harmful to our way of life, but feminists need the ERA to advance the true agenda of feminism.
At the end of the day, the ERA is a tool of the feminist movement to destroy the “patriarchy”. All real feminists understand the goal. Simone de Beauvoir and all the seminal feminist thinkers—the women who shaped the ideology—were of one accord: the “patriarchy” is the traditional family. Erasing gender—battering down the fundamental differences between men and women—is the frontline in that war.
True empowerment requires that you seek the facts, accept where logic leads you, and act in conformity with the truth.
The ERA is being sold to the average woman as a legal vehicle that will usher in female empowerment. Which for feminists is, astonishingly, little more than a promise of Wonder Woman-like authority. This is promoted, with straight faces, by the same grown women who demand acknowledgment of their intellectual rigor and equality.
Real empowerment is knowledge coupled with the freedom and tools to translate your beliefs into action. Knowledge is a critical factor to true empowerment. True empowerment requires that you seek the facts, accept where logic leads you, and act in conformity with the truth. This kind of intellectual honesty is perhaps the civic virtue our society lacks most today.
Nowhere is this character flaw on more naked display than at an ERA rally. Where people who claim they want equality and respect swallow whole the fantastical and false representations of an illogical ideology; where people who want happy lives rally to further erode the very fabric of society; where people claim to be empowered, yet refuse to listen, think, or debate the facts.
Why is thinking something feminists never do? Because dispassionate analysis of the ERA and its promise of empowerment reveals it all to be a feminist fantasy.
Molly McCann is an attorney in northern Virginia, and director of the Phyllis Schlafly Virginia Constitution Center.