Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

American Women: ‘Almost Equal’

We Can Do It PosterThe Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution has been introduced in every Congress since 1923, but still hasn’t passed. While equality for women in America may be generally assumed, it isn’t guaranteed like other constitutional rights.

Despite progress, glass ceilings and pay inequality persist for American women. Their status could be accurately described as “almost equal.”

In an op-ed in Sunday’s Oregonian, Leanne Littrell DiLorenzo makes the case for a “yes” vote on Measure 89 on Oregon’s general election ballot. She quotes U.S. Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, “Certainly the Constitution does not require discrimination on the basis of sex. The only issue is whether it prohibits it. It doesn’t.”

She also cites an open letter from four former Oregon Supreme Court justices who wrote, “…no current provision in the Constitution expressly provides those protections.”

Critics of the Oregon ERA have said it could diminish the rights of non-women. But that seems pretty unlikely, except for men who imagine they have superior rights.

civilwarwomen5In an interesting juxtaposition of timing, Maria Popova, writing in her blog Brain Pickings, shares the story of women who assumed male identities so they could fight in the Civil War. Citing the book, They Fought Like Demons, Popova says female Civil War combatants dispel the gender narrative that women served as nurses or brave ladies manning the home front while men were off fighting.

“Women bore arms and charged into battle, too,” Popova says. “Women lived in germ-ridden camps, languished in appalling prisons and died miserably, but honorably, for their country and their cause, just as men did.”

The historical overtones of the Civil War, which wound up being about abolishing slavery, make the story of these women-dressed-like-men warriors all the more poignant. Unable at the time to vote or even have a bank account, women risked their lives for what they believed or, in some cases, to serve side-by-side with a loved one. Many of the women came from the working class, farms or lives lived below the poverty line. And to serve, they had to masquerade as men.

Popova dubbed the situation as “Oppression by Omission.”

KyGlHEsoDHXbAyu-200x200-croppedWhich brings us to our moment of decision about whether to add express protection of the equal rights of women to our guiding document of freedom.

We have come so far – now women can fight on battlefields dressed as women soldiers – not to go the final step and affirm in a sacred place what most already acknowledge what is or should be true.

Having more than 50 percent of population “almost equal” just isn’t quite good enough.


One comment on “American Women: ‘Almost Equal’

  1. ♀ Paradise Kendra ♀
    July 13, 2015

    Too true! “Almost equal” isn’t equal enough! Let’s ratify! 🙂

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