Are Women People? A History of the Equal Rights Amendment

When the ERA is described in terms of equal pay for equal work, Americans tend to support it. However, when it is understood as a tool to eradicate gender- and sex-based distinctions in public and private life, including those governing who changes the diapers and prepares dinner, support withers.

Lecture Description

First proposed in 1923 as a follow-up to the 19th Amendment, the Equal Rights Amendment has prompted heated debates about American womanhood for nearly 100 years. Are women people first, or mothers? Are women fundamentally equal to men, or fundamentally different from men? What would it look like for women to be both equal and different? This talk analyzes the evolution of ERA debates, highlights the fascinating women who devoted their lives to working for and against the ERA– including Alice Paul and Phyllis Schlafly– and brings the debate up to the present with the post-2016 resurgence of ERA activism.


Women Women's Rights, Activism, and Suffrage

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