When I was a young and naive high school student (back when dinosaurs roamed the earth), I was very excited that the Equal Rights Amendment was, it seemed, well on its way to becoming the law of the land. After all, how could anyone in the 1970s believe that ensuring that women would have the same rights as men be anything but good common sense?
As a political science major in college a few year later, I came to learn about the power of Phyllis Schlafly and others like her who claimed traditional womanhood and motherhood would be undermined with such a Constitutional amendment (notwithstanding the fact that she and others like her had multiple college degrees and careers,in addition to their marriages and children). With just a few states to go before the ERA became part of the Constitution, they ere able to stop it in its tracks. Since then, conservatives have upped their opposition to the ERA for fear that it could be construed to offer gay marriage protections.
At least one woman on Capitol Hill isn’t afraid to try again. Today, New York Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney is reintroducing the Equal Rights Amendment. Maloney believes that with Barack Obama as President, if she can get it to the House floor, the ERA will pass easily.
While that may be true, the rub isn’t with Congress, it’s with the required ratification by 38 states. Last time, it wasn’t getting the needed votes to approve it in Congress that killed it — it was the work of conservatives like Schlafly that undermined state ratification and made the ERA a minor historical footnote of the women’s movement. As my friend Linda Lowen points out at her blog, many of us are still smarting from the comments at Sonia Sotomayor hearings or having men put down women who want to take positions of power and ask them to go iron their shirts. It’s clear from those few examples that women being treated equally in terms of political power is something that needs a little help.
I know Digitalsista will be at the news conference today, so I can’t wait to hear her reports and see what she has to say on Twitter.
But it’s refreshing to know that at least one woman in Washington, D.C. is trying to look out for us and our daughters. I’ve been having some interesting conversations with nine-year-old PunditGirl recently, and I know she’s already getting ticked off because boys and girls aren’t completely on equal footing.