Can we return for a minute to Jill Abramson’s ascension to the top of the Times? I don’t think there’s been nearly enough serious celebration—much less cerebration—devoted to this transfer of power, real and metaphorical. Especially on the part of men. …..
What do we owe to the women whose courage and sacrifice, when they were jeered by many of both sexes, won so much for all of us? What do we owe to the ones who didn’t take the easy way out but became rebels in the ’70s and paved the way for the way we live now?
This may sound incredibly quixotic. But what about the Equal Rights Amendment? Remember that? ….
Here’s the text: "Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction. Congress shall have power to enforce this article by appropriate legislation."
Radical stuff. Endorsed by the Republican Party platform as late as 1976, got passed by Congress and then by a two-thirds vote in 35 of the 38 state legislatures needed for final ratification when the initial clock—and a somewhat shaky extension—ran out in 1982, stopped short mainly by a one-woman crusade on the part of Phyllis Schlafly. Now it’s become conservative and GOP dogma that the ERA is Satan’s No. 1 favorite new amendment.
You might say it’s forgotten but not gone. You could make a case that the advancements in women’s rights legislation on the federal and state level and consequential changes in the culture have secured the equality the amendment insures, rendering it no longer necessary. But the women whose discrimination case against Wal-Mart got kicked to the curb by the Supreme Court this week might disagree. Legislation can be rolled back far more easily than an amendment. Backlash in subtle forms is more easily combated with an amendment in place.
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