Discrimination Against Women

Examples of unequal treatment of women

All American women do not now enjoy:

  • Full rights to make important decisions about their own lives
  • Fair Social Security pay outs
  • Equal representation in elected office (e.g., U.S. Senate: 84 men to 16 women)
  • Medical insurance coverage for reproductive healthcare
  • Fair salaries and career advancement opportunities
  • Necessary protection from violence
  • Equal treatment by America’s institutions of government, banking, insurance, education, medicine, commerce, religion, military, and the law.

Why this continues today, and why the ERA is still needed

The right to vote is the only constitutionally guaranteed right that American women have. All the rights that women have won through state and federal legislation can be lost. Legislation can be amended, repealed, inconsistently enforced, or ignored.

Continual Congressional battles over Title IX and the Violence against Women Act, and the failure of the United States Senate to ratify the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women (CEDAW, otherwise known as the international women’s rights law) demonstrate that American women are still not seen as equal under the law.

The Supreme Court did not use the “equal protection” clause of the Fourteenth Amendment (1868) to strike down laws that treated men and women differently until 1971. The Court does not hold cases of sex discrimination to the same high level of “strict scrutiny”, or importance, as race, religion, or national origin. If an ERA were added to the U.S. Constitution, sex discrimination would likely also be accorded strict scrutiny by the courts. Thus, women are forced to persuade the courts, on a case by case basis, that statutory sex distinctions are discriminatory, and that discrimination does matter. A more conservative Supreme Court could overrule even these interpretations or refuse to apply them consistently to new cases. Including sex discrimination in the Constitution of the United States of America is a very basic Human Rights Issue. Adding the ERA to the Constitution would be a clarion statement of bedrock equality, affirming that women as well as men must be accorded all of the rights guaranteed by the Constitution. Continuing to allow more than half the American population to be left out of the Constitution goes against America’s fundamental democratic principles, and needs to be corrected.

What the Equal Rights Amendment can do

  • Grant legal equal rights to the sexes.
  • Declare unconstitutional pervasive sex discrimination in insurance, business contracts, housing, pensions, estate taxes, Social Security payments, credit, and so forth.
  • Guarantee females admission to publicly supported schools and state colleges, universities and vocational schools using the same standards as males.
  • Require equal employment opportunity for women in federal, state and local governments.
  • Assure that women in the military be accorded the same benefits as men as well as full equal treatment.
  • Require the same criminal penalties for men and women and the same rehabilitation opportunities.
  • Enhance the dignity of all humankind by proclaiming equality of women and men under the law in perpetuity.
  • Propel society forward by unleashing the talent and energies of ALL people, working together to forge a civilized society.

In summary, the Equal Rights Amendment would declare sex discrimination illegal by the government wherever it is now practiced in this country. Two years would be permitted for correction. Citizens would then be able to follow their chosen life’s trajectories according to their needs, desires, and capabilities, and not according simply to their sex. Finally.

Males Also Benefit From An ERA

Granted, it’s hard for some to admit that discrimination exists and often goes unchallenged. Males experience sex discrimination, too, — often goes unrecognized — though women experience it more egregiously and more routinely. Not everything would be “fixed” right away by the ERA. Equal treatment by the courts and in the military and fair equal wages are among the most notable. Defense against sex discrimination needs to be written in the US Constitution for both sexes because NOTHING else guarantees it. Laws and the 14th Amendment—each has quirks making them unreliable as guarantees.

Child custody: often traditionally goes to the mother in a divorce case just because she is typically assigned to be the better parent for a child, whether that is the case or not.
Males often have little or no choice in becoming a father if they rely on a woman’s word that she is “on the Pill”.

Women’s molestation of boys is sometimes not punished by the courts as rigorously. (e.g., Debra LeFevre case)

When a crime is described, the unknown perpetrator is always called ‘he’.

Working families’ accrual from their combined wages averages $4205 less per year than if both partners were paid equally and fairly for the work they do.

Men cannot automatically take the woman’s last name in marriage.

Children are considered citizens of the Mother’s country only.

American males filed an increased number of sex discrimination charges last year! Justice would be better served with an ERA to provide a higher level of review by the courts. As they say, strict scrutiny. Men as well as women who bring sex discrimination cases are currently deprived of court review by Strict Scrutiny since ERA guidelines are not yet in place in the Constitution. Intermediate Scrutiny is usually applied. This means that these plaintiffs’ cases have statistically only a 47% chance of positive outcome. Winning under Strict Scrutiny has a statistical chance of 73%. (Rutgers Law Journal, April 2006).
According to one large recent study, wherever equality of the sexes is the standard, divorce rates decline. (It may be that equality could bring about improved mutual understandings of the other sex, and more healthy negotiation of issues in the family and workplace.) Another study found that marital relations improve.

Beliefs about men and their roles will not be directly rectified by ERA, but may change as a result: “Real men deny their feelings, cannot cry. Masculinity has to be proven constantly. Men’s jobs are more important to them than anything else. Men are identified by their jobs. Real men don’t get sick. Men are tough and can take it. Men must be perfect in bed. Old: Providing for his family is completely the man’s responsibility. Men must be all things to all people. Men must be the Rescuer; women the Victim. Strong, strong: Men must act the Predator role no matter what; not even Family matters. Men must meet society’s demand to be: the capable provider, aggressive competitor, the wise father, the solver of all problems, the sensitive and gentle lover, the fearless protector, the cool and controlled one under pressure (this is in 1978). Sounds unrealistically demanding to us. From Goldberg’s, The Hazards of Being Male.

You may be thinking, we already have laws against sex discrimination, and the 14th Amendment. THEY DON’T WORK RELIABLY. Unfortunately, none of them defend reliably against sex discrimination. Laws can be ignored, distorted, overturned, or made worse. Women, on average of all states, earn only 77 cents to every dollar a man earns. In Virginia, women make 68 cents according to an AAUW study. Working families lose an average of $4205 per year for that reason. Why aren’t men marching in the street about that? The 14th Amendment focuses solely on racial discrimination, speaks only of males’ rights, and does not address women’s problems because it was not intended to do so. The only incontestable right in the US Constitution for women is what they went and got for themselves 50 years after all men had it – the right to vote, in 1920.

Bottom line is that there is much historical precedent of women being discriminated against. The first ever case of sex discrimination that found it illegal was only in 1971. Before that it had no legal standing. History does influence the court’s judgments. Until there is an ERA, there is NO guarantee of equality of the sexes. The Constitution is a contract with the people that is still missing this piece. And everyone knows that if you don’t have a contract, you don’t have a substantive legal claim. Both sexes should get Honorable Mention in the Constitution representing citizens’ contract with America.
Who could be against Equality for ALL in America?