It is easy to lose track of the ultimate goal of women’s liberation – the end to sex-based oppression of half the human race born female – by focusing exclusively on our defensive battles. There are many such battles taxing our spirits. In the wake of our loss of abortion rights last year, we have seen the passage of one horrific state law after another placing women’s liberty, health, and very lives at risk.
And of course, there is the defensive fight against a pernicious worldwide ideology that denies the existence of sex, allowing males into women’s spaces and programs, and depriving us of privacy, safety, and opportunity and even the language needed to talk about ourselves and assert our rights. We are also seeing the tragedy of a whole generation of girls (future feminists, future lesbians) desperately attempting to escape their womanhood by doing great harm to their female bodies through submitting to puberty blockers and cross-sex hormones and lopping off healthy body parts.
Despite these challenges, we must maintain our broader vision. We women have still not achieved equality in the workplace, under law or in the rest of society, and winning our current defensive battles will not by themselves get us there.
We are coming upon the 100th centennial of the Equal Rights Amendment, written by suffragist Alice Paul in 1923, that would finally guarantee equality based on sex in the U.S. Constitution. The ERA does not solve all problems but is a vital tool to move us forward once again.
Feminist lawyer Wendy Murphy recently spoke at Seneca Falls in celebration of this centennial in the presence of the great-great-granddaughter of Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Coline Jenkins:
“For the entirety of women’s 247 years in this country – a country that dares to declare itself the greatest democracy on earth – women have been denied basic legal equality of rights and no laws must be enforced equally when applied to women because without the ERA women are not constitutionally entitled to equal treatment under the law.”
“Neither party truly supports the ERA,” Wendy added. She also extolled the independence of Ms. Paul from both parties. something she claims we need now more than ever, as we have a Democratic President that refuses to instruct the archivist to publish the ERA.
So, no matter how hard things get, sisters, let’s keep our eyes on the prize.