In section 4.3 three scholars, one for and two opposing, whether we need the equal rights amendment or not. Shockingly, The United States is not currently under the Equal Rights Amendments. However, states have approved of their own versions of the ERA to protect the rights of both genders. The Equal Rights Amendment would have three sections. The first, main section would be: “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's important to think about this because not all women in the country, not to mention the world, have equal rights. This is an issue that has been spoke of for decades and is still being pursued by protesters and feminists. Although it's not discussed in the book, we also have the Equal Rights Amendments not just for gender equality, but also race equality. It's important for us to think about this now, because although the plan for the ERA was to change the status of women, some women feel as if they are not where they would like to be status wise.

Section 4.3 discusses the equal rights amendment. It goes over both sides arguing whether we need the equal rights amendment or whether we should stay without it. This is something people still argue today. The equal rights amendment was proposed and designed to guarantee legal rights for all Americans regardless of sex. The amendment would end legal distinctions based on sex in regards to divorce, employment, property, draft, voting and other such areas. It's important to think about the rights of every individual. We will also look at how the general public feels about the equal rights amendment and see their viewpoints on the matter in today's society.


We have made partners of the women in this war…Shall we admit them only to a partnership of suffering and sacrifice and toil and not to a partnership of privilege, and right?” -President Woodrow Wilson, September 30th, 1918 (Pienta, 2013). Back in the early 1900s they were trying to make the world see that women can be equal and then pushing to make that official in the political world. Fast-forward to the 20th century and women are still trying to be equal in all aspects rather than the world just saying and thinking they are. “The main arguments against ERA were based on notions that women would lose special protections and be “forced” into combat, lose court-awarded alimony, be forced to pay child support, or lose access to sex-segregated bathroom facilities” (2013). Thinking about that statement; look at the world today and don’t you see women willing to fight for our country and laying down their lives? What about the fact that there are a lot of women that pay child support because the other half doesn’t have a well-paying job? Or what about the fact that few women are awarded permanent alimony? Its to the point that some women have to fight for equal access to dining areas and golf clubs. Even though women and the rights for women have evolved so much over the years, there are still so many uphill battles and challenges that we must fight to win and get through to truly be equal in all aspects all around. “According to Critchlow and Stachecki, the battle over the Equal Rights Amendment was ultimately empowering to all women and illustrated the effective functioning of a democracy in which women could impact the political process” (2013).

Polls have found nearly all Americans believe that the Constitution explicitly prohibits discrimination based on sex. However, the Supreme Court has said the question is open to interpretation, and the late Justice Antonin Scalia said "it doesn't" prohibit sex-based discrimination. (Levy, 2015)
Some additional reasons for opposition to the Equal Rights Amendment not mentioned in the text are its language is very broad, leaving open a wide range of interpretation, some fear there will be confusion creating laws and adjusting old laws to reflect equality, and Federal overreach in affairs that are current in the domain of the state. (Lombardo)

An April 2012 poll for Daily Kos and Service Employees International Union found that 91% of Americans believe that men and women should have equal rights affirmed by the constitution. A 2001 Opinion Research Corporation poll showed that 96% of U.S. adults believed male and female citizens should have equal rights, 88% said the constitution should guarantee equal rights, but 72% of the respondents mistakenly assumed that the constitution already includes such a guarantee.


A big concept in this discussion is gender. This amendment does not change any laws, it just ensures women have the same rights as men. As stated on the BBC News website, "While 76% of constitutions around the world in some way guarantee women's equality, the US constitution, technically, does not". This shows how far the gender gap really goes. The idea of adding this the U.S constitution has been spoke of, however no action has been taken. If something like this were to happen it would be the case that women could then be drafted for the military, or have less of an advantage regarding custody and things similar to those. These may not be concepts that all women and/or men are comfortable with. Another concept important to this discussion is the economics behind it. The Equal Rights Amendment has not been put into the constitution yet because of Congress. The Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced in 1923 but ratification did not begin to happen until the 1960's. In 1972, Congress passed and brought the Equal Rights Amendment to states for each state approval. This is when it was stated that 38 states must ratify it in order for it to be added to the constitution. The senators who opposed the ERA proposed that there be a time frame on it, giving 7 years for 38 states to ratify the amendment. In 1977, 35 states had ratified the ERA leaving only 3 more states needed. In 1978, Congress extended the time frame another 3 years. It wasn't until last year and the launch of the #metoo movement that the ERA became a prime focus in the United States once again.

Today in the Topic

Today, the Equal Rights Amendment is getting a lot of play. While a majority of states have ratified the Equal Rights amendment, The U.S. is one state short of the required 2/3 ratification. In the wake of the #MeToo movement and its accompanying backlash, the election of the current administration, who displays what many believe to be an affront to women’s concerns and equality, and – the ratification of the ERA is picking up steam. According to Gabrielle Levy,” Activists credit the election of Donald Trump, the #MeToo movement and the resultant wave of feminist anger for dislodging the amendment from its four-decade malaise, and on March 22, 2017, the 45th anniversary of its passage in Congress, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the ERA.” (Levy, 2018)
It is unlikely, but not impossible that some of the protections women have, that have been piecemealed together to form the basis of equality that we have now can be bit by bit taken away. With the passage of the Affordable Care Act insurance companies are unable to charge women more for coverage simply because she is a woman. If the Affordable care act is repealed, where does that leave that protection? While there is still opposition to its passage, many of the original concerns have resolved themselves. Women being forced to serve in combat roles in the military is not a concern. There is no draft, and women volunteer to serve in combat roles. Women will no longer have access to alimony. It is no longer guaranteed. Spousal support is paid to both men and women, and men are being granted spousal support in increasing numbers as women become breadwinners in the family. (Pienta, 2013, Pg. 152) Many of the terrible, detrimental outcomes predicted were the ERA ratified have come to pass. What is left to risk by solidifying the equal rights of women? On the contrary, ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment would mitigate discriminatory laws and practices that still exist. Currently, foreign born children born to American mothers are automatically citizens, while foreign born children of American fathers are not. This was to protect U.S servicemen and the results of their dalliances. (Neuwirth, 2015, pg. 74)

As stated, the Equal Rights Amendment is not currently established throughout the United States. As of this year, there are 13 states that have not yet ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. In may of 2018, Illinois became the 37th state to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment. For an amendment to be added to the constitution, 38 states must ratify it, with Illinois being the 37th state to do so, the United States only needs one more state to ratify it in order for it to begin the process of being added to the constitution. However, the last deadline to ratify the Equal Rights Amendment was in 1982 so there may be more legislative boundaries to cross once the last state needed ratifies it to get the Equal Rights Amendment added to the constitution.

Reasons for Controversy

This is a controversial topic for many reasons. One of the reasons would be because we have people on both sides of the spectrum. There are people that agree with keeping it, and those who disagree and would rather get rid of the amendment, as they believe women's rights are already covered under law. For example, without having the equal rights act, women will typically receive less jail sentencing than men do. If a male teacher commits statutory rape, he is labeled a rapist. However, if a female commits the same crime, then she is considered to have made a mistake, in some cases. Also in today's society, women are more likely to get a teaching position than a man would. This may also be controversial for political reasons. For example, fifteen of the states had not ratified the Equal Rights Amendment. It actually took until 2018 to get the 37th state to ratify the amendment. So, the opposing side also takes support on the over-due deadline to get the ERA ratified by 38 states.
5 reasons why we need the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA).
1. Even in the 21st century, the U.S. constitution still does not explicitly guarantee that all of the rights it protects are held equally by all citizens without regard to sex. The only right that the constitution specifically affirms to be equal for both genders is the right to vote (19th amendment, 1920). Therefore, there are other specifics that women would like to see be made in order for them to feel as if they are being treated equally.
2. The 14th Amendment's equal protection clause has never been interpreted to guarantee equal rights in the same way the ERA would. The 14th amendment has been applied to sex discrimination only since 1971. Supreme court justice Antonin Scalia said in September 2010 that he does not think the constitution prohibits sex discrimination.
3. The ERA would make a clearer and stricter Judicial standard for deciding cases of sexual discrimination.
4. We need the ERA because we need its protection against a rollback of the significant advance in women's rights achieved over the past half century. With the ERA in the constitution, it would be more difficult for law makers and judges to reverse progress already made in eliminating sex discrimination. 5. We need the ERA because until we have it, women will have to continue to fight long, expensive, and difficult legal battles to ensure that their rights are constitutional equal to the rights automatically held by males.
The ERA stated that one of their biggest complaints was that "the amendment did not benefit American women in any way, but only caused harm".

There are many controversies in regard to the equal rights amendment. There are people who support the equal rights amendments and have their reasons for doing so. They believe that women's rights should have no limits and be given every opportunity men are given. They believe they should be viewed the same way as men as well. Women are not dainty and they are completely capable of taking care of themselves. There are many women who are independent and can take care of themselves and they want all the rights that men have. There are also many people who don't support the equal rights amendment. They feel as though the rights given to women are fair. They believe that women should not have to drafted because of their beliefs of the men protecting the women. There is also a big public opinion supporting this. It is clear that there are differences between males and females and some people believe that there are only so many things that should be equal due to this. Just as women are better than men at doing some things, there are also things that men are better than women at doing. Some people believe that women have their rights protected within laws and that adding the ERA to the constitution would either cause harm or not really affect anything much more than what is already put into play by laws. It is said that because these laws are in place to protect women, that America has much larger problems to solve than to be spending time on this topic. This concept can be very back and fourth and there are a lot of people on both sides of the argument. It is a wonder if our country will ever be content with the status of this topic.

Common Ground

Over all, there doesn’t seem to be common ground. There is a difference between saying and doing and when it comes to the people and the women that want to do more than the say, they really want the change and the revolution for all women. Then look on the political side and how the ERA handles it; its just been the government continually saying they are working on it, but not doing anything to take action. Our government keeps putting it off and putting it off longer and making all the reasons up as to why we shouldn’t go through with it. Then look at the world today; women are taking charge over a lot of things and aspects, and are no longer hiding or sitting around doing nothing. There are more words in the media, more rallies in the streets, and more awareness being spread worldwide.
Currently proponents and opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment do share common ground. Both have a desire to protect what they feel are the best interests of women, protecting the culture that allows them the most benefit. Both opponents and proponents want to control the aspects of their own lives. (Pienta, 2013, Pg. 155) Throughout the life of the Equal Rights Amendment, different factions of women, and feminists had concerns over what the ERA would mean for women overall and if the best route to achieve those goals would be an amendment. For instance, regarding employment, some women were fearful that the amendment would negate work protections. Others were willing to risk that protection for the vast amount of rights that could be realized with the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment. But all factions concerned themselves with the improvement of the lives of women. None of these factions believe women should not be able to vote, have educational or career advancements, etc. (Pienta, 2013, pg. 156) While there are vast and bitter differences among people who think equality is not something to be achieved- and these differences fall along gender, political, class, religious lines- among women who want equality there is common ground. There would also need to be a forging of ideas regarding an approach to secure equal rights, so that it’s appeal can reach across political, gender, class, and racial lines.

See Also

Out of the other topics we have talked about so far, for the most part, hasn't been a equality issue, but an access issue. Such as, women having access to birth control, or to abortion. If men had to deal with these issues of reproduction, then those would be topic of equality between genders. But, as stated before, the ERA goes for both men and women, and (relating back to section 1.2, "Should the Federal Government Adopt a New Legal Definition of Rape?") the definition of rape and its accusers that are found guilty should be punished with the same verdict. In our society, women are pictured as nurturing,and so it is hard for our society to imagine that women would commit the crime of rape, or that they would have the power and strength to commit it. But, women are capable of doing anything and everything a man can do, and therefore, should be treated equally in being punished for their similar crimes.

The Equal Rights Amendment have been championed by women. However, there are cases where men would benefit by the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. On the Wikidot page “Should the Federal Government Adopt a New Legal Definition of Rape,” boys and men would benefit from the cultural shift that would take place if they were afforded the attention, legal access and dignity afforded by the amendment. Also, males get the short end of the stick when it comes to empowerment regarding sex work. While men face a great deal of risk, legally, culturally, health wise, and financially, they are underrepresented regarding access to safeguards. See the Wikidot page “Can Sex Work Be Empowering.”


5-MINUTE GUIDE TO The ERA: The U.S. Constitution doesn’t specifically guarantee equality for women. Could a new push to pass the Equal Rights Amendment finally change that? (2018). Junior Scholastic, 121(1), 14. Retrieved from

Levy, G. (2018). Equal Rights Amendment, Left for Dead in 1982, Gets New Life in the pass:[#]MeToo Era. U.S. News - The Report, 31–33. Retrieved from

Lombardo, Crystal R.

Neuwirth, J. (2015). Equal Means Equal : Why the Time for an Equal Rights Amendment Is Now. New York: The New Press. Retrieved from

Pienta, R. (2013). Taking Sides: Clashing Views in Women's Studies. The McGraw-Hill Companies, INC.

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