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Flashcards in 1969-1992 Deck (11)
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The Equal Rights Amendment (ERA)

Equality rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on
account of sex

Congress had originally set a ratification deadline of March 22, 1979, for the state legislatures to consider the ERA. Through 1977, the amendment received 35 of the necessary 38 state ratifications.

With wide, bipartisan support (including that of both major political parties, both houses of Congress, and Presidents Nixon, Ford and Carter, the ERA seemed destined for ratification until Phyllis Schlafly mobilized conservative women in opposition.

These women argued that the ERA would disadvantage housewives, cause women to be drafted into the military and to lose protections such as alimony, and eliminate the tendency for mothers to obtain custody over their children in divorce cases.

Labor feminists also opposed the ERA on the basis that it would eliminate protections for women in labor law.

Five state legislatures (Idaho, Kentucky, Nebraska, Tennessee, and South Dakota) voted to revoke their ERA ratifications.

In 1983, the ERA passed through House committees with the same text as in 1972; however, it failed by six votes to achieve the necessary two-thirds vote on the House floor. That was the last time that the ERA received a floor vote in either house of Congress


Women and work 1970s

- Discrimination laws during the 1970s meant that area of
work for women now opened up. For example, women
could now become telephone engineers as well as work
in the police and fire services

- Between 1970 and 1980 , employment discrimination fell
by 10%. Although discrimination ended, it was a clear
sign that it was not eradicated, even in the face of equal
opportunities women were still paid lower than men

- By 1970 women made up 42.8% of the workforce and
47% of all women had a job


Continuing issues for women in this period

Only 5% of Americas 3 million managers and executives were women

The federal government refused to offer paid maternity leave and child care facilities for women that were working. Only 5 states in the middle of the 1980s provided this service.

By 1992, there was still no federal law to provide paid maternity leave.

The increase in working class women during this time alongside discrimination in the workplace explains why during this period most feminist organisations were women based


Roe v Wade (1973)

- Marked a lankmark decision by the Supreme Court which
ruled that during the first six months of pregnancy, a
woman had the right to have an abortion.

- However, there was a great backlash at the Supreme Court
decision and many states refused to implement the ruling.

- The Supreme Court did agree to allow restrictions on
abortion and eventually in 1976 stopped federal funding for

- However, for many supports of women’s rights the case
continued to be a triumph – soon after, the ‘National
Abortion Rights Action league’ was formed to enforce the

- However, they were targeted by religious groups
especially Catholics and Jews.


Impact of the contraceptive pill

- The availability of the contraceptive pill during this
period also liberated many women and encouraged a
‘marry later, work now’ attitude.



Anti-feminism during this time was headed by Phyllis Schlafy who rejected abortion and the ERA using violence to express her message.

Along with her, many other women were convinced that liberation was not the way forward for Women’s rights

Schlafly established the ‘National Committee to stop ERA’ in 1972 which generated support against Roe v Wade case.

Although Schlafly failed to overturn the ruling , she did manage to stop other states voting in favour of the ERA and by 1982, the ratification had ended and so did any hoped for the ERA


Impact of opposition from the Republican Party

The Republican policy was strongly against abortion, both in 1976 and 1980 calling for an amendment to ban it.

Politically speaking, they focused on middle class women who tended to be anti-feminists anyway.

Notably, Reagan and Bush Snr were strongly opposed. Both presidents appointed anti-abortion judges in the Supreme Court


Changing attitudes by 1990

- The availability of the contraceptive pill during this
period also liberated many women and encouraged a
‘marry later, work now’ attitude. Liberation can also be
seen as by 1985 56% of women regarded themselves as
feminists as well as by the fact that 40% of women in
higher education wished to work

- Although there was no distinctive base for women in
politics, there was growing awareness – awareness that
women had the power to influence policy and motivate
change – By 1991 polls indicated that 86% of Americans
would want a female president


Impact of President Clinton

President Clinton who encouraged female figures in government.

Democrats supported female support and in legislation such as the Child Development Act that aimed to support mothers


Extreme responses to Roe v. Wade

- Attacks on abortion clinics and at, the most extreme
incidents involving violence towards, and even the
murder of , doctors who performed abortions

- These were manifestations of the depth of opposition
from some sectors of the public


Phyllis Schlafly

The impact of anti-feminism on the national scene can be attributed to the ability, drive and convicted of Phyllis Schlafly, who organised and led the anti-feminist reaction

She was able to use skilfully arguments that praised the traditional role of women whilst dismissing radical feminists

Able to attract support from a wide range of women who were readily convinced that women's liberation did not have all the answers to furthering their rights