July 10th, 2023
The ERA is a proposed amendment to the US Constitution that would ensure equal rights for all citizens regardless of gender. The amendment was first introduced in 1923. Yes, one century ago. But shockingly, it still has not yet been ratified. That means women currently have no constitutionally held right to equality.
Let that sink in for a moment…
In 2023, we still don’t have equal rights under the law.
Why This Matters
Without the Equal Rights Amendment, we can’t sue for discrimination solely based on gender. We can’t hold our government accountable for ensuring women are treated fairly and equally under the law.
For example, women in the United States still make, on average, only 83.7 cents for every dollar earned by men. And that gap is even wider for women of color. This is not only unfair, but it’s also illegal under the Equal Pay Act of 1963.
But the Equal Pay Act has some limitations. It focuses mainly on equal pay for equal work, meaning that it addresses situations where men and women are doing identical jobs with similar responsibilities. But the gender pay gap persists even when comparing jobs that have different titles or responsibilities but are of equal value.
That’s where the ERA comes into play. It would make a big difference in closing the gender pay gap for a few reasons.
First off, the ERA would have a broader scope. It wouldn’t just focus on equal pay for equal work, but also on equal pay for work that’s of comparable worth. That means it would cover wage disparities across different job roles and sectors, not just identical jobs.
Secondly, the ERA would promote transparency and hold employers responsible. Employers would be accountable for proving any pay disparities are based on legitimate factors besides gender. This would make it easier to identify and fix unfair wage gaps.
Why hasn’t the ERA been passed yet?
It’s a long and complicated history. The ERA was first introduced in 1923, and it took until 1972 for it to be approved by Congress. But it still needed to be ratified by at least 38 states before it could become a part of the Constitution. And as an attempt to suppress the ERA, an arbitrary “deadline” was enacted — giving the states until 1982 to ratify the ERA (no other amendment has been given such a deadline). But by then, only 35 states had done so, falling short of the necessary number.
In recent years, there has been a renewed push to ratify the ERA. In 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the amendment, and in 2018, Illinois became the 37th. And in 2020, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify the ERA, meaning it had met the original requirement for ratification.
But the fight isn’t over yet…
The Trump administration and conservative activists have argued that the deadline for ratification has passed and that the ERA is no longer viable. And even though Congress passed a resolution to remove the arbitrary deadline for ratification, in April of 2023 the Senate blocked it from passing.
Clearly, women’s rights are under attack. And they’re being systematically rolled back.
From the attempts to overturn Roe v. Wade to the attacks on our reproductive healthcare, we can’t deny that there are powerful forces working against us. And without the ERA, we don’t have a strong legal foundation to fight back.
And that fucking matters. Especially when it comes to our safety.
Domestic Violence and its Connection to the Equal Rights Amendment
The people who are supposed to protect us (like judges, family court, and police) often don’t have any training about domestic violence. Because of this, they often don’t recognize obvious signs, putting women at a higher risk of being murdered — just because they’re women. Believe me, if a man was being beaten every nine seconds, there’d be swift laws enacted to stop it.
Domestic violence is a serious issue in the US. And it happens wayyyy more often to women than men. According to a report from the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 1 in 7 women have been injured by an intimate partner.1 in 4 women have been injured by an intimate partner. For men, it’s around 1 in 25. And men’s lives are rarely in danger when abused by women.
The data is crystal clear — women need more protection. We need the ERA. Without it, we can’t use the Constitution to challenge inequalities that make it harder for women to get help when they need it. This means…
- Women are often not believed when they report violence
- Their abusers are often not punished
- Women rarely get the protection they need to stay safe
Imagine a woman who has experienced domestic violence and needs legal protection from her abuser. Without the Equal Rights Amendment, she may not have the legal basis to argue that she deserves equal treatment under the law, or to sue if and when she doesn’t get it. This means that she may not get the protection she needs, which could ultimately put her life at risk.
Currently, there’s no clear legal framework for holding abusers accountable. There’s no way to ensure they face consequences for their actions. This lack of accountability can lead to more violence and even homicides against women and children.
Gun Violence and the Equal Rights Amendment
We can’t talk about domestic violence without addressing gun violence. The two are unfortunately closely related. When women are abused by their partners, they’re more likely to be killed with a gun than in any other way. When an abuser has access to a firearm, they’re five times more likely to kill their victim. With little-to-no real gun control laws in the U.S., this puts far too many women at risk.
If we want to keep ourselves and our children safe, we need to take gun violence very seriously. But clearly, our current laws aren’t keeping violence against women in check. The ERA could help.
How the Equal Rights Amendment Can Help
The ERA is crucial for women’s rights because it would give us a legal foundation for challenging laws and practices that treat us unfairly. This means if we face discrimination based solely on our gender, we would have the power to sue and the government would be required to take women’s rights and safety seriously.
With the ERA, we would have an unshakeable legal framework for holding abusers accountable and getting the protection we need. No one should have to live in fear of violence at home, and the Equal Rights Amendment could help make that a reality.
Women’s Rights and Ratification of ERA
It’s been one hundred years since the Equal Rights Amendment was first introduced, but we still haven’t gotten it passed. It’s 2023 and we’re debating whether women deserve equal protection under the law? What kind of archaic nonsense is that?
Ratifying the ERA is not a partisan issue. It’s a human issue. It’s about acknowledging that women are equal to men and deserve the same rights and protections under the law.
So what’s getting in the way of ratification? Lawmakers who oppose the ERA typically argue that it would have negative consequences for women and society as a whole. Some of the arguments against the Equal Rights Amendment include:
- The ERA would threaten traditional gender roles: Opponents of the ERA argue that it would undermine the role of women as caregivers and promote an androgynous society where gender differences are erased. (Thanks, Phyllis Schlafley!)
- The ERA would allow men to invade women’s spaces: Some opponents of the ERA claim that it would allow men to access women’s bathrooms, locker rooms, and other private spaces, putting women at risk.
- The ERA would promote abortion: Some opponents argue that the ERA would create a constitutional right to abortion and undermine state laws that restrict access to abortion.
- The ERA is unnecessary: Some lawmakers argue that women’s rights are already protected by existing laws and court decisions and that the ERA is therefore unnecessary.
*Gigantic eye roll*
These arguments are steeped in misogyny and ignorance. They perpetuate harmful stereotypes and myths about gender and equality. They ignore the very real ways in which women continue to face discrimination and violence. The ERA would provide a strong legal foundation for addressing these issues and promoting gender equality.
We Can’t Afford to Wait Any Longer
Women are still being abused and killed because of their gender. Women are still being denied opportunities and treated unfairly because of their gender. Women are still being told that they don’t deserve equal rights because of their gender.
It’s time for lawmakers to get their heads out of the sand and prioritize women’s rights. It’s time to finally ratify the Equal Rights Amendment and give women the legal foundation to fight against inequality and discrimination.
Enough is enough.
Urge your Senators to support the ratification of the ERA here.
If you’re experiencing domestic violence, I want you to get help.
Please know that you’re not alone. There are resources available to you. For help with domestic violence, you can reach out to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) for help and support.
At this time, you may be contemplating, going through, or recovering from a divorce. If so, my program, Grit & Grace, is here for you. In my program, you’ll receive guidance from a passionate domestic violence advocate and support from a community to help you navigate this difficult period.
If you’re looking for clarity, confidence, and empowerment — you’ll find a home in Grit & Grace. You deserve far better, love. You’re not alone. Let me show you the way.