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Columbus State Community College
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Education Standards

HIST 1152 American History since 1877 Primary Source Readings 6 & 7: The Triumph of the Right & Recent Events

Overview

A collection of primary source readings for American History since 1877.

Testimony Before Senate Hearings on the Equal Rights Amendment

Testimony Before Senate Hearings on the Equal Rights Amendment Gloria Steinem

 

Section 1. Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.

Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.

Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification

 

This is proposed Equal Rights Amendment - in its entirely - written by women’s rights activists Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman and submitted to Congress by the National Women’s Party in 1923. Paul and fellow women’s rights activist, Lucy Burns, founded the National Women’s Party in 1916, as an alternative to the National American Women Suffrage Association (NAWA), which Paul and other feminists believed was too conservative.

The ERA first went in front of Congress in 1923, three years after women gained the right to vote. Many people opposed the amendment in 1923, including many prominent women such as Eleanor Roosevelt and Jane Addams. They believed women were different than men and therefore should have special protections such as restricted working hours and maternity leave. 

Paul and Eastman believed in equal rights for women and men. The National Women’s

Party and other women’s rights organization, sent the Equal Rights Amendment to Congress every year from 1923 until 1972. The Republican Party included the ERA in their platform from 1940 until 1980. The Democratic Party did not include the ERA in its platform until 1972, primarily because labor unions opposed the amendment on grounds that it would undermine protections for labor. 

In 1966, Betty Friedan and Pauli Murray founded the National Organization for

Women (NOW) to advocate for women’s rights. The 1964 Civil Rights Act barred discrimination based on gender as well as race, and NOW fought for legislation ensuring equal pay, non-discrimination in employment, access to education, and other rights. At the encouragement of Alice Paul, NOW renewed the campaign for an Equal Rights Amendment. 

In February 1970, Michigan Representative Martha Griffins reintroduced the ERA to the House floor. Afraid the amendment would be ignored again, twenty NOW leaders disrupt hearings of the U.S. Senate Subcommittee on Constitutional Amendments, demanding the committee hold hearings about the ERA. Hearings started in May of 1972. Some of the most memorable testimony came from Gloria Steinem who argued that opposition to the ERA revealed deep misperceptions about women’s capabilities despite factual evidence of inequitable treatment and in turn, promoted male domination. 

Toledo native Gloria Steinem has been a “writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer” for over sixty years.1 She first gained national attention after she went undercover in the early 1960s as a “Playboy bunny” at one of Hugh Hefner’s Playboy Clubs.2 She spent the 1960s fighting for Civil Rights of every kind, but was particularly active in the Women’s Rights movement and proudly called herself a feminist (as well we all should). In 1970, Steinem co-founded the feminist magazine Ms. with African American activist Dorothy Pittman Hughes. 

That same year, Steinem testified at the Congressional Hearing about the Equal Rights Amendment. The amendment passed the House and Senate in 1971 with overwhelming bipartisan support from Congress and the American public. The ERA passed in thirtyfive of the necessary thirty eight states by 1977. The campaign against the ERA began as soon as it passed Congress, primarily led by Republican women, most notably, Phyllis Schlafly, who you will read shortly. Schlafly’s anti-ERA campaign was so successful that several states rescinded passage, leaving the amendment without the necessary votes by the 1982 deadline. Conservative politicians, clergy, and organizations spent the decade in-between waging a relentless campaign against women’s rights, claiming feminism would destroy the family, turn women into lesbians and/or witches, and humiliate men.3 

Many people over the last decade or so have called for the 1982 deadline to be lifted, and Congress to call another vote. As I write this in January, the Virginia state legislature moved passage of the ERA out of their working committee for a vote on the by the whole state Congress. If it passes in Virginia, we have the necessary thirty-eight states. We need Congress to lift the 1982 deadline and allow another vote on the amendment. So far, the Republican Controlled Congress has vehemently denied allowing another vote. And so we wait.4 

Below is an excerpt of Steinem’s 1972 testimony before Congress.5 

 

 

 

My name is Gloria Steinem. I am a writer and editor, and I am currently a member of the Policy Council of the Democratic National Committee. And, I work regularly with the lowest-paid workers in the country, the migrant workers, men, women, and children both in California and in my own State of New York.

 

 

  1. Quoted from Gloria Steinem’s webpage. 
  2. Gloria Steinem, “A Playboy Bunny’s Tale: Show’s First Expose for Thinking People,Show magazine, June, 1963. If you are unfamiliar with Hugh Hefner, Playboy magazine, Playboy Clubs, and Playboy Bunnies (not to be confused with the Playmates featured in the magazine), here’s a good article: Bruce Handy, “A Bunny Thing Happened on the Way to the Club: An Oral History of Playboy Clubs,Vanity Fair, May 2011. 
  3. In 1992, televangelist Pat Robertson told his followers, “The feminist agenda is not about equal rights for women. It is about a socialist, anti-family political movement that encourages women to leave their husbands, kill their children, practice witchcraft, destroy capitalism and become lesbians." Note the “destroy capitalism” aspect of his diatribe here. Noncompliant women are a threat to the entire economic and social structure of civilization.  
  4. Legal Challenges Await as Virginia Gets Ready to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment,” CNN, January 11, 2020.  5 Gloria Steinem, Testimony Before Congress, 1972. 

I am here in support of the equal rights amendment. Before I get on with the statement I would like to point out that Mrs. Wolfgang[1] does not disavow the principle of equality only disagrees on the matter of tactic. I believe that she is giving up a long-term gain for a short-term holding action. Some protective legislation is gradually proving to be unenforceable or contrary to title VII.[2] It gives poor women jobs but serves to keep them poor. Restrictions on working hours, for instance, may keep women in the assembly line from becoming foremen. No one is trying to say that there is no difference between men and women, only as I will discuss more in my statement that the differences between, the differences within the groups, male and female, are much, much greater than the differences between the two groups. Therefore, requirements can only be sensibly suited to the requirements of the job itself.

 

During twelve years of working for a living, I have experienced much of the legal and social discrimination reserved for women in this country. I have been refused service in public restaurants, ordered out of public gathering places, and turned away from apartment rentals; all for the clearly-stated, sole reason that I am a woman. And all without the legal remedies available to blacks and other minorities. I have been excluded from professional groups, writing assignments on so-called “unfeminine” subjects such as politics, full participation in the

Democratic Party, jury duty, and even from such small male privileges as discounts on airline fares. Most important to me, I have been denied a society in which women are encouraged, or even allowed to think of themselves as first-class citizens and responsible human beings.

 

However, after 2 years of researching the status of American women, I have discovered that in reality, I am very, very lucky. Most women, both wage-earners and housewives, routinely suffer more humiliation and injustice than I do.

 

As a freelance writer, I don’t work in the male-dominated hierarchy of an office. (Women, like blacks and other visibly-different minorities, do better in individual professions such as the arts, sports, or domestic work; anything in which they don’t have authority over white males.) I am not one of the millions of women who must support a family. Therefore, I haven’t had to go on welfare because there are no day-care centers for my children while I work, and I haven’t had to submit to the humiliating welfare inquiries about my private and sexual life, inquiries from which men are exempt. I haven’t had to brave the sex bias of labor unions and employers, only to see my family subsist on a median salary 40 percent less than the male median salary. I hope this committee will hear the personal, daily injustices suffered by many women– professionals and day laborers, women housebound by welfare as well as suburbia. We have all been silent for too long. But we won’t be silent anymore.

 

The truth is that all our problems stem from the same sex based myths. We may appear before you as white radicals or the middle-aged middleclass or black soul sisters, but we are all sisters in fighting against these outdated myths. Like racial myths, they have been reflected in our laws. Let me list a few.

 

That women are biologically inferior to men. In fact, an equally good case can be made for the reverse. Women live longer than men, even when the men are not subject to business pressures. Women survived Nazi concentration camps better, keep cooler heads in emergencies currently studied by disaster-researchers, are protected against heart attacks by their female sex hormones, and are so much more durable at every stage of life that nature must conceive 20 to 50 percent more males in order to keep some balance going.

 

Man’s hunting activities are forever being pointed to as tribal proof of superiority. But while he was hunting, women built houses, tilled the fields, developed animal husbandry, and perfected language. Men, being all alone in the bush, often developed into a creature as strong as women, fleeter of foot, but not very bright.

 

However, I don’t want to prove the superiority of one sex to another. That would only be repeating a male mistake.[3] English scientists once definitively proved, after all, that the English were descended from the angels, while the Irish were descended from the apes: it was the rationale for England’s domination of Ireland for more than a century. The point is that science is used to support current myth and economics almost as much as the church was.

 

What we do know is that the difference between two races or two sexes is much smaller than the differences to be found within each group. Therefore, in spite of the slide show on female inferiorities that I understand was shown to you yesterday, the law makes much more sense when it treats individuals, not groups bundled together by some condition of birth.

 

A word should be said about Dr. Freud. the great 19th century perpetuator of female inferiority.[4]  Many of the differences he assumed to be biological, and therefore changeless, have turned out to be societal, and have already changed. Penis Envy, for instance, is clinically disappearing.[5] Just as black people envied white skins, 19th century women envied penises. A second-class group envies whatever it is that makes the first-class group first class.

 

Another myth, that women are already treated equally in this society. I am sure there has been ample testimony to prove that equal pay for equal work, equal chance for advancement, and equal training or encouragement is obscenely scarce in every field, even those–like food and fashion industries–that are supposedly “feminine.”[6]

 

A deeper result of social and legal injustice, however, is what sociologists refer to as

“Internalized Aggression.” Victims of aggression absorb the myth of their own inferiority, and come to believe that their group is in fact second class. Even when they themselves realize they are not second class, they may still think their group is, thus the tendency to be the only Jew in the club, the only black woman on the block, the only woman in the office.

 

Women suffer this second class treatment from the moment they are born. They are expected to be, rather than achieve, to function biologically rather than learn. A brother, whatever his intellect, is more likely to get the family’s encouragement and education money, while girls are often pressured to conceal ambition and intelligence, to “Uncle Tom.”[7]

 

I interviewed a New York public school teacher who told me about a black teenager’s desire to be a doctor. With all the barriers in mind, she suggested kindly that he be a veterinarian instead.

 

The same day, a high school teacher mentioned a girl who wanted to be a doctor. The teacher said, “How about a nurse?”

 

Teachers, parents, and the Supreme Court may exude a protective, well-meaning rationale, but limiting the individual’s ambition is doing no one a favor. Certainly not this country; it needs all the talent it can get.

 

Another myth, that American women hold great economic power. Fifty-one percent of all shareholders in this country are women. That is a favorite male-chauvinist statistic. However, the number of shares they hold is so small that the total is only 18 percent of all shares. Even those holdings are often controlled by men.

 

Similarly, only 5 percent of all the people in the country who receive $10,000 a year or more, earned or otherwise, are women. And that includes the famous rich widows.13 The constantly

 

increasing again for the first time in 100 years. As expected, the wage gap is wider for African American and Latinx women, and as this article points out, the increase in the wage gap is not because women’s salaries are decreasing, but rather because women are more likely than men to do unpaid/unsalaried labor in the workplace. This is especially true for women of color. The article also shows how the United States compares to other countries regarding the gender wage/pay gap. Spoiler alert: not good. The US has a massive gender wage/pay gap compared to the rest of the world. In fact, this article quotes economists who say it will take another century for the US to achieve gender parity. That’s your great-great-great-great-great grandchildren, in 3018. 

repeated myth of our economic power seems less testimony to our real power than to the resentment of what little power we do have.

 

Another myth, that children must have full-time mothers. American mothers spend more time with their homes and children than those of any other society we know about. In the past, joint families, servants, a prevalent system in which grandparents raised the children, or family field work in the agrarian systems–all these factors contributed more to child care than the laborsaving devices of which we are so proud.

 

The truth is that most American children seem to be suffering from too much mother, and too little father. Part of the program of Women’s Liberation is a return of fathers to their children. If laws permit women equal work and pay opportunities, men will then be relieved of their role as sole breadwinner. Fewer ulcers, fewer hours of meaningless work, equal responsibility for his own children: these are a few of the reasons that Women’s Liberation is Men’s Liberation, too.

 

As for the psychic health of the children, studies show that the quality of time spent by parents is more important than the quantity. The most damaged children were not those whose mothers worked, but those whose mothers preferred to work but stayed home out of role-playing desire to be a “good mother.”

 

Another myth, that the women’s movement is not political, won’t last, or is somehow not

“serious.”

 

When black people leave their 19th century roles, they are feared. When women dare to leave theirs, they are ridiculed. We understand this: we accept the burden of ridicule. It won’t keep us quiet anymore.

 

Similarly, it shouldn’t deceive male observers into thinking that this is somehow a joke. We are 51 percent of the population; we are essentially united on these issues across boundaries of class or race or age; and we may well end by changing this society more than the civil rights movement. That is an apt parallel. We, too, have our right wing and left wing, our separatists, gradualists, and Uncle Toms. But we are changing our own consciousness, and that of the country. Engels noted the relationship of the authoritarian, nuclear family to capitalism: the father as capitalist, the mother as means of production, and the children as labor. He said the family would change as the economic system did, and that seems to have happened, whether we want to admit it or not.[8] Women’s bodies will no longer be owned by the state for the production of workers and soldiers; birth control and abortion are facts of everyday life. The new family is an egalitarian family.

 

Gunnar Myrdal noted 30 years ago the parallel between women and Negroes in this country. Both suffered from such restricting social myths as: smaller brains, passive natures, inability to govern themselves (and certainly not white men), sex objects only, childlike natures, special

 

 

skills, and the like.[9] When evaluating a general statement about women, it might be valuable to substitute “black people” for “women”–just to test the prejudice at work.

 

And it might be valuable to do this constitutionally as well. Neither group is going to be content as a cheap labor pool anymore. And neither is going to be content without full constitutional rights.

 

Finally, I would like to say one thing about this time in which I am testifying.

 

I had deep misgivings about discussing this topic when National Guardsmen are occupying our campuses, the country is being turned against itself in a terrible polarization, and America is enlarging an already inhuman and unjustifiable war.[10] But it seems to me that much of the trouble in this country has to do with the “masculine mystique” with the myth that masculinity somehow depends on the subjugation of other people.[11] It is a bipartisan problem; both our past and current Presidents seem to be victims of this myth, and to behave accordingly.

 

Women are not more moral than men. We are only uncorrupted by power. But we do not want to imitate men, to join this country as it is, and I think our very participation will change it. Perhaps women elected leaders–and there will be many more of them–will not be so likely to dominate black people or yellow people or men; anybody who looks different from us.

 

After all, we won’t have our masculinity to prove.

 

[1] Reference to Myra Wolfgang, a Union activist and labor leader from Detroit. She opposed the ERA, although for very different reasons than hard right neoconservatives like Phyllis Schlafly. Wolfgang also testified at the same Senate hearing. 

[2] Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits employers from discriminating against employees on the basis of sex, race, color, national origin, and religion. 

[3] “That would only be repeating a male mistake.”

[4] Dr. Sigmund Freud (1856-1939) was an Austrian neurologist and psychologist famous for his development of psychoanalysis. 

[5] Freud’s theory argues that young girls experience anxiety and anger upon realizing that they do not have a Penis. Freud claimed Penis Envy is crucial for girls to mature sexually because the realization teaches girls that other women (specifically their mothers) are competition for men, i.e., “the Penis” (specifically their fathers). See Freud’s Oedipal and Electra Complex theories for more details. Penis Envy is also the stage that girls realize they are inferior because they do not a Penis, which, according to Freud, is a necessary and positive aspect of maturity for women, not just sexually, but generally, speaking. In other words, Penis Envy is how girls learn they are inferior to men, and that is good. Freud reinforces the same idea that noncompliant women are a threat to everything, especially manhood.  

[6] When Steinem testified in 1972, the wage/pay gap between white women and white men was about 60 cents on the dollar (for every dollar a man earns, a woman earns 60 cents for the same work). The wage/pay gap between white women and men in 2015 was 79 cents on the dollar. The data from 2018 shows the gender wage gap is

[7] Uncle Tom is the title character of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 novel, Uncle Tom’s Cabin. The phrase “Uncle Tom” has also become an euphemism for a person who is excessively subservient to a perceived authority figure, or any person perceived to be complicit in the oppression of their own group. It is a bad metaphor, try to avoid it.  13 The national average wage in 1970 was just over $6,000; however, the national average wage for women in 1970 was a little over $2,000. In 2017, the national median income was about $44,000. Average income for men (without adjusting for race, region, education, etc) was about $49,000. Average income for women (without adjustment) was about $39,000. You can see that, generally speaking, men earn more than average and women earn less than average. In 2015, the United Nations sent a team to investigate gender relations in the United States. The Report claimed American women have “missing rights,” meaning women are not protected in the United States by legislation or shared values. American women, the Report found, experience more discrimination, harassment, and violence than women in other wealthy countries. Gender discrimination and inequality (what the report refers to as “missing rights”), and the high level of public harassment of women. The Report called the lack of gender equality in the United States “alarming.”  

[8] Friedrich Engels (1820-1895) was a German social scientist, author, political theorist, and co-author of The Communist Manifesto (1848), with Karl Marx. 

[9] Gunnar Myrdal (1898-1987) was a Swedish Nobel laureate economist, sociologist, and politician, whose book, An American Dilemma: The Negro Problem and Modern Democracy, was published in 1944. Myrdal and his research team (which included Ralph Bunche, Ohio native and the first African American to win the Nobel Peace Prize) spent over a decade working on the sweeping study of “race relations” in the United States. 

[10] Gloria Steinem testified just two days after the Ohio National Guard fired on Kent State University demonstrators protesting the US bombing of Cambodia as part of the Vietnam War, killing four people. For what it’s worth, the May 4 memorial at Kent State is incredibly powerful and very well done, and definitely worth a visit. 

The “inhuman and unjustifiable war” refers to Vietnam. In 1970, the United States had been waging war in Vietnam for six years, and still had five years to go before the Fall of Saigon, marking the end of US military action in Vietnam. 

[11] A play on The Feminine Mystique (1963) by Betty Friedan, an investigation into the lives and unhappiness of suburban housewives. See the textbook for more information about The Feminine Mystique.

What’s Wrong with ‘Equal Rights’ for Women?

What’s Wrong with ‘Equal Rights’ for Women?

Phyllis Schlafly[1]

 

One of the first major conservative victories of the 1970s was the defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), a proposed change in the Constitution that would have affirmed that "equality of rights under the law" could not be abridged because of sex. This seemingly uncontroversial measure passed Congress in 1972 with little opposition. It soon aroused unexpected protest from those who claimed it would discredit the role of wife and homemaker.

 

To its supporters, the amendment offered a guarantee of women's right to participate fully in public life. Its foes insisted that women should remain within the divinely appointed roles of wife and mother. They claimed it would subject women to the military draft and let men "off the hook" by denying their responsibility to provide for their wives and children. Phyllis Schlafly, a veteran of anticommunist politics of the 1950s, led the campaign against the ERA. Polls consistently showed that a majority of Americans, male and female, favored the measure. But thanks to the mobilization of conservative women, the amendment failed to achieve ratification by the required thirty-eight states.

 

 

Of all the classes of people who ever lived, the American woman is the most privileged. We have the most rights and rewards, and the fewest duties. Our unique status is the result of a fortunate combination of circumstances.

 

1) We have the immense good fortune to live in a civilization which respects the family as the basic unit of society. This respect is part and parcel of our laws and our customs. It is based on the fact of life—which no legislation or agitation can erase—that women have babies and men don’t.

 

If you don’t like this fundamental difference, you will have to take up your complaint with God because He created us this way. The fact that women, not men, have babies is not the fault of selfish and domineering men, or of the establishment, or of any clique of conspirators who want to oppress women. It’s simply the way God made us.

 

Our Judeo-Christian civilization has developed the law and custom that, since women must bear the physical consequences of the sex act, men must be required to bear the other consequences and pay in other ways. These laws and customs decree that a man must carry his share by physical protection and financial support of his children and of the woman who bears his children, and also by a code of behavior which benefits and protects both the woman and the children.

THE GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT OF WOMEN’S RIGHTS

This is accomplished by the institution of the family. Our respect for the family as the basic unit of society, which is ingrained in the laws and customs of our Judeo-Christian civilization, is the greatest single achievement in the entire history of women’s rights. It assures a woman the most precious and important right of all—the right to keep her own baby and to be supported and protected in the enjoyment of watching her baby grow and develop.

 

The institution of the family is advantageous for women for many reasons. After all, what do we want out of life? To love and be loved? Mankind has not discovered a better nest for a lifetime of reciprocal love. A sense of achievement? A man may search 30 to 40 years for accomplishment in his profession. A woman can enjoy real achievement when she is young—by having a baby. She can have the satisfaction of doing a job well—and being recognized for it. Do we want financial security? We are fortunate to have the great legacy of Moses, the Ten Commandments, especially this one: “Honor thy father and thy mother that thy days may be long upon the land.” Children are a woman’s best social security—her best guarantee of social benefits such as old age pension, unemployment compensation, workman’s compensation, and sick leave. The family gives a woman the physical, financial and emotional security of the home—for all her life.

 

THE FINANCIAL BENEFITS OF CHIVALRY[2]

2) The second reason why American women are a privileged group is that we are the beneficiaries of a tradition of special respect for women which dates from the Christian Age of Chivalry. The honor and respect paid to Mary, the Mother of Christ, resulted in all women, in effect, being put on a pedestal. This respect for women is not just the lip service that politicians pay to “God, Motherhood, and the Flag.” It is not—as some youthful agitators seem to think—just a matter of opening doors for women, seeing that they are seated first, carrying their bundles, and helping them in and out of automobiles. Such good manners are merely the superficial evidences of a total attitude toward women which expresses itself in many more tangible ways, such as money.

 

In other civilizations, such as the African and the American Indian, the men strut around wearing feathers and beads and hunting and fishing (great sport for men!), while the women do all the hard, tiresome drudgery including the tilling of the soil (if any is done), the hewing of wood, the making of fires, the carrying of water, as well as the cooking, sewing and caring for babies. This is not the American way because we were lucky enough to inherit the traditions of the Age of Chivalry. In America, a man’s first significant purchase is a diamond for his bride, and the largest financial investment of his life is a home for her to live in. American husbands work hours of overtime to buy a fur piece or other finery to keep their wives in fashion, and to pay premiums on their life insurance policies to provide for her comfort when she is a widow (benefits in which he can never share).

 

THE REAL LIBERATION OF WOMEN

3) The third reason why American women are so well off is that the great American free enterprise system has produced remarkable inventors who have lifted the backbreaking “women’s work” from our shoulders. In other countries and in other eras, it was truly said that “Man may work from sun to sun, but woman’s work is never done.” Other women have labored every waking hour— preparing food on wood-burning stoves, making flour, baking bread in stone ovens, spinning yarn, making clothes, making soap, doing the laundry by hand, heating irons, making candles for light and fires for warmth, and trying to nurse their babies through illnesses without medical care.

 

The real liberation of women from the backbreaking drudgery of centuries is the American free enterprise system which stimulated inventive geniuses to pursue their talents—and we all reap the profits. The great heroes of women’s liberation are not the straggly-haired women on television talk shows and picket lines, but Thomas Edison who brought the miracle of electricity to our homes to give light and to run all those labor- saving devices—the equivalent, perhaps, of a half-dozen household servants for every middle-class American woman. Or Elias Howe who gave us the sewing machine which resulted in such an abundance of readymade clothing. Or Clarence Birdseye who invented the process for freezing foods. Or Henry Ford, who mass-produced the automobile so that it is within the price-range of every American, man or woman.

 

A major occupation of women in other countries is doing their daily shopping for food, which requires carrying their own containers and standing in line at dozens of small shops. They buy only small portions because they can’t carry very much and have no refrigerator or freezer to keep a surplus anyway. Our American free enterprise system has given us the gigantic food and packaging industry and beautiful supermarkets, which provide an endless variety of foods, prepackaged for easy carrying and a minimum of waiting. In America, women have the freedom from the slavery of standing in line for daily food. Thus, household duties have been reduced to only a few hours a day, leaving the American woman with plenty of time to moonlight. She can take a full or part-time paying job, or she can indulge to her heart’s content in a tremendous selection of interesting educational or cultural or homemaking activities.

 

THE FRAUD OF THE EQUAL RIGHTS AMENDMENT

In the last couple of years, a noisy movement has sprung up agitating for “women’s rights.” Suddenly, everywhere we are afflicted with aggressive females on television talk shows yapping about how mistreated American women are, suggesting that marriage has put us in some kind of “slavery,” that housework is menial and degrading, and—perish the thought—that women are discriminated against. New “women’s liberation” organizations are popping up, agitating and demonstrating, serving demands on public officials, getting wide press coverage always, and purporting to speak for some 100,000,000 American women. It’s time to set the record straight.

 

The claim that American women are downtrodden and unfairly treated is the fraud of the century. The truth is that American women never had it so good.[3] Why should we lower ourselves to “equal rights” when we already have the status of special privilege? The proposed Equal Rights Amendment states: “Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex.” So what’s wrong with that?

 

Well, here are a few examples of what’s wrong with it. This Amendment will absolutely and positively make women subject to the draft. Why any woman would support such a ridiculous and un-American proposal as this is beyond comprehension. Why any Congressman who had any regard for his wife, sister or daughter would support such a proposition is just as hard to understand. Foxholes are bad enough for men, but they certainly are not the place for women—and we should reject any proposal which would put them there in the name of “equal rights.” It is amusing to watch the semantic chicanery of the advocates of the Equal Rights Amendment when confronted with this issue of the draft. They evade, they sidestep, they try to muddy up the issue, but they cannot deny that the Equal Rights Amendment will positively make women subject to the draft. Congresswoman Margaret Heckler’s answer to this question was, Don’t worry, it will take two years for the Equal Rights Amendment to go into effect, and we can rely on President Nixon to end the Vietnam War before then! Literature distributed by Equal Rights Amendment supporters confirms that “under the Amendment a draft law which applied to men would apply also to women.” The Equal Rights literature argues that this would be good for women so they can achieve their “equal rights” in securing veterans’ benefits. Another bad effect of the Equal

Rights Amendment is that it will abolish a woman’s right to child support and alimony, and substitute what the women’s libbers think is a more “equal” policy, that “such decisions should be within the discretion of the Court and should be made on the economic situation and need of the parties in the case.”

 

…Why should we abandon these mandatory wife-support and child-support laws so that a wife would have an “equal” obligation to take a job? By law and custom in America, in case of divorce, the mother always is given custody of her children unless there is overwhelming evidence of mistreatment, neglect or bad character. This is our special privilege because of the high rank that is placed on motherhood in our society. Do women really want to give up this special privilege and lower themselves to “equal rights”, so that the mother gets one child and the father gets the other? I think not....

 

WHAT “WOMEN’S LIB” REALLY MEANS

Many women are under the mistaken impression that “women’s lib” means more job employment opportunities for women, equal pay for equal work, appointments of women to high positions, admitting more women to medical schools, and other desirable objectives which all women favor. We all support these purposes, as well as any necessary legislation which would bring them about. But all this is only a sweet syrup which covers the deadly poison masquerading as “women’s lib.” The women’s libbers are radicals who are waging a total assault on the family, on marriage, and on children.

 

Don’t take my word for it—read their own literature and prove to yourself what these characters are trying to do. The most pretentious of the women’s liberation magazines is called Ms., and subtitled “The New Magazine For Women,” with Gloria Steinem listed as president and secretary. Reading the Spring 1972 issue of Ms. gives a good understanding of women’s lib, and the people who promote it.[4] It is anti-family, anti-children, and pro-abortion. It is a series of sharp-tongued, high-pitched whining complaints by unmarried women. They view the home as a prison, and the wife and mother as a slave. To these women’s libbers, marriage means dirty dishes and dirty laundry. One article lauds a woman’s refusal to carry up the family laundry as “an act of extreme courage.” Another tells how satisfying it is to be a lesbian. (page 117) The women’s libbers don’t understand that most women want to be wife, mother and homemaker—and are happy in that role. The women’s libbers actively resent the mother who stays at home with her children and likes it that way. The principal purpose of Ms.’s shrill tirade is to sow seeds of discontent among happy, married women so that all women can be unhappy in some new sisterhood of frustrated togetherness...

 

These women’s libbers do, indeed, intend to “break the barriers” of the Ten Commandments and the sanctity of the family. It hasn’t occurred to them that a woman’s best “escape from isolation and boredom” is—not a magazine subscription to boost her “stifled ego”—but a husband and children who love her…

 

WOMEN’S LIBBERS DO NOT SPEAK FOR US

The “women’s lib” movement is not an honest effort to secure better jobs for women who want or need to work outside the home. This is just the superficial sweet-talk to win broad support for a radical “movement.” Women’s lib is a total assault on the role of the American woman as wife and mother, and on the family as the basic unit of society. Women’s libbers are trying to make wives and mothers unhappy with their career, make them feel that they are “second-class citizens” and “abject slaves.” Women’s libbers are promoting free sex instead of the “slavery” of marriage. They are promoting Federal “day-care centers” for babies instead of homes. They are promoting abortions instead of families.

 

Why should we trade in our special privileges and honored status for the alleged advantage of working in an office or assembly line? Most women would rather cuddle a baby than a typewriter or factory machine. Most women find that it is easier to get along with a husband than a foreman or office manager. Offices and factories require many more menial and repetitious chores than washing dishes and ironing shirts. Women’s libbers do not speak for the majority of American women. American women do not want to be liberated from husbands and children. We do not want to trade our birthright of the special privileges of American women—for the mess of pottage called the Equal Rights Amendment. Modern technology and opportunity have not discovered any nobler or more satisfying or more creative career for a woman than marriage and motherhood. The wonderful advantage that American women have is that we can have all the rewards of that number- one career, and still moonlight with a second one to suit our intellectual, cultural or financial tastes or needs. And why should the men acquiesce in a system which gives preferential rights and lighter duties to women? In return, the men get the pearl of great price: a happy home, a faithful wife, and children they adore.

 

If the women’s libbers want to reject marriage and motherhood, it’s a free country and that is their choice. But let’s not permit these women’s libbers to get away with pretending to speak for the rest of us. Let’s not permit this tiny minority to degrade the role that most women prefer. Let’s not let these women’s libbers deprive wives and mothers of the rights we now possess.

Tell your Senators NOW that you want them to vote NO on the Equal Rights Amendment. Tell your television and radio stations that you want equal time to present the case FOR marriage and motherhood.

 

 

[1] Originally published in the Eagle Forum newsletter, Vol 5, No 7, February 1972. The Eagle Forum, a conservative political interest group, was founded by Phyllis Schlafly in 1972 (and still exists). Full source here: http://eagleforum.org/publications/psr/feb1972.html. Introduction from Eric Foner, Voices of Freedom: A Documentary History, (New York: WW Norton and company, 2016).

 

[2] Chivalry is the informal code of conduct expected of Medieval knights and nobles in Western Europe, particularly France and England. Historians generally date the Chivalric Code to the twelfth century, which was closely tied to fealty to the Catholic Church and Monarchy.

[3] In 2015, the United Nations Working Group on Discrimination against Women did a study of gender equality in the United States, particularly compared to the rest of the world. Gender discrimination and inequality (what the report refers to as “missing rights”), and the high level of public harassment of women, the Report found conditions for American women – to use their own term – “alarming.”   https://news.un.org/en/story/2015/12/517932-women-us-lagging-behind-human-rights-un-experts-report-after-myth-shattering.

[4] Ms. magazine was founded by Gloria Steinem and Dorothy Pittman Hughes in 1972. It still exists: http://www.msmagazine.com/. Schlafly references the first issue, published in Spring, 1972. This link has the cover and table of contents: http://www.ioba.org/pages/member-post/6113/ms-magazine-rare-first-issue-spring-1972/.

 

The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House

The Master's Tools Will Never Dismantle the Master's House

Audre Lorde (1979)[1]


 

In the 1970s, women of color and lesbians in the United States called on feminist scholars to recognize their own discriminatory practices and to analyze the intersections of racial, sexual, and gender hierarchies. At an academic feminist conference commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the publication of de Beauvoir's The Second Sex[2], the lesbian poet and literature professor Audre Lorde articulated the frustrations of women treated as tokens, the sole black or lesbian speaker invited to participate in the predominantly white conference. Her influential remarks impelled women's studies courses, programs, and conferences to expand their vision and embrace, rather than fear, differences among women.

 

Lorde knew firsthand the dilemmas of bridging cultures. Raised in Harlem by Caribbean immigrant parents, she had been one of the few black women within the lesbian bar culture that flourished in post-World War II New York City. Her poetry increasingly dealt with multiple identities. "I who am bound by my mirror / as well as my bed / see causes in color/ as well as sex," she wrote in "The Black Unicorn" (1978). Along with members of the Combahee River Collective, Lorde helped found Kitchen Table—Women of Color Press. Her autobiographical prose includes The Cancer Journals (1980), and Sami: A New Spelling of My Name (1982).[3]



I agreed to take part in a New York University Institute for the Humanities conference a year ago, with the understanding that I would be commenting upon papers dealing with the role of difference within the lives of American women: difference of race, sexuality, class, and age. The absence of these considerations weakens any feminist discussion of the personal and the political. 

It is a particular academic arrogance to assume any discussion of feminist theory without examining our many differences, and without a significant input from poor women, Black and Third World women, and lesbians. And yet, I stand here as a Black lesbian feminist, having been invited to comment within the only panel at this conference where the input of Black feminists and lesbians is represented. What this says about the vision of this conference is sad, in a country where racism, sexism, and homophobia are inseparable. To read this program is to assume that lesbian and Black women have nothing to say about existentialism, the erotic, women's culture and silence, developing feminist theory, or heterosexuality and power. And what does it mean in personal and political terms when even the two Black women who did present here were literally found at the last hour? What does it mean when the tools of a racist patriarchy are used to examine the fruits of that same patriarchy? It means that only the most narrow perimeters of change are possible and allowable. 

The absence of any consideration of lesbian consciousness or the consciousness of Third World women leaves a serious gap within this conference and within the papers presented here. For example, in a paper on material relationships between women, I was conscious of an either/or model of nurturing which totally dismissed my knowledge as a Black lesbian. In this paper there was no examination of mutuality between women, no systems of shared support, no interdependence as exists between lesbians and women-identified women. Yet it is only in the patriarchal model of nurturance that women "who attempt to emancipate themselves pay perhaps too high a price for the results," as this paper states. 

For women, the need and desire to nurture each other is not pathological but redemptive, and it is within that knowledge that our real power is rediscovered. It is this real connection which is so feared by a patriarchal world. Only within a patriarchal structure is maternity the only social power open to women. 

 

Interdependency between women is the way to a freedom which allows the I to be, not in order to be used, but in order to be creative. This is a difference between the passive be and the active being. 

Advocating the mere tolerance of difference between women is the grossest reformism. It is a total denial of the creative function of difference in our lives. Difference must be not merely tolerated, but seen as a fund of necessary polarities between which our creativity can spark like a dialectic. Only then does the necessity for interdependency become unthreatening. Only within that interdependency of different strengths, acknowledged and equal, can the power to seek new ways of being in the world generate, as well as the courage and sustenance to act where there are no charters. 

Within the interdependence of mutual (nondominant) differences lies that security which enables us to descend into the chaos of knowledge and return with true visions of our future, along with the concomitant power to effect those changes which can bring that future into being. Difference is that raw and powerful connection from which our personal power is forged. 

As women, we have been taught either to ignore our differences, or to view them as causes for separation and suspicion rather than as forces for change. Without community there is no liberation, only the most vulnerable and temporary armistice between an individual and her oppression. But community must not mean a shedding of our differences, nor the pathetic pretense that these differences do not exist. 

Those of us who stand outside the circle of this society's definition of acceptable women; those of us who have been forged in the crucibles of difference—those of us who are poor, who are lesbians, who are Black, who are older—know that survival is not an academic skill. It is learning how to stand alone, unpopular and sometimes reviled, and how to make common cause with those others identified as outside the structures in order to define and seek a world in which we can all flourish. It is learning how to take our differences and make them strengths. For the master's tools will never dismantle the master's house. They may allow us temporarily to beat him at his own game, but they will never enable us to bring about genuine change. And this fact is only threatening to those women who still define the master's house as their only source of support. 

Poor women and women of Color know there is a difference between the daily manifestations of marital slavery and prostitution because it is our daughters who line 42nd Street. If white American feminist theory need not deal with the differences between us, and the resulting difference in our oppressions, then how do you deal with the fact that the women who clean your houses and tend your children while you attend conferences on feminist theory are, for the most part, poor women and women of Color? What is the theory behind racist feminism? 

In a world of possibility for us all, our personal visions help lay the groundwork for political action. The failure of academic feminists to recognize difference as a crucial strength is a failure to reach beyond the first patriarchal lesson. In our world, divide and conquer must become define and empower. 

Why weren't other women of Color found to participate in this conference? Why were two phone calls to me considered a consultation? Am I the only possible source of names of Black feminists? And although the Black panelist's paper ends on an important and powerful connection of love between women, what about interracial cooperation between feminists who don't love each other? 

In academic feminist circles, the answer to these questions is often, "We did not know who to ask." But that is the same evasion of responsibility, the same cop-out, that keeps Black women's art out of women's exhibitions, Black women's work out of most feminist publications except for the occasional "Special Third World Women's Issue," and Black women's texts off your reading lists. But as Adrienne Rich pointed out in a recent talk, white feminists have educated themselves about such an enormous amount over the past ten years, how come you haven't also educated yourselves about Black women and the differences between us—white and Black—when it is key to our survival as a movement? 

Women of today are still being called upon to stretch across the gap of male ignorance and to educate men as to our existence and our needs. This is an old and primary tool of all oppressors to keep the oppressed occupied with the master's concerns. Now we hear that it is the task of women of Color to educate white women—in the face of tremendous resistance—as to our existence, our differences, our relative roles in our joint survival. This is a diversion of energies and a tragic repetition of racist patriarchal thought. 

Simone de Beauvoir once said: "It is in the knowledge of the genuine conditions of our lives that we must draw our strength to live and our reasons for acting." 

Racism and homophobia are real conditions of all our lives in this place and time. I urge each one of us here to reach down into that deep place of knowledge inside herself and touch that terror and loathing of any difference that lives there. See whose face it wears. Then the personal as the political can begin to illuminate all our choices. 

 

[2] Simone de Beauvoir (1908-1986) was a French writer, philosopher, and feminist theorist. Her 1949 book, The Second Sex, examined the marginalization of women throughout history (and across cultures), and the continued oppression faced by women in modern society. The entire book is here: https://books.google.com/books?id=_hywlrNuYvIC&printsec=frontcover&source=gbs_ge_summary_r&cad=0#v=onepage&q&f=false.

[3] Link to I am Your Sister: Collected and Unpublished Writing of Audre Lorde, which includes some of her most influential writings (although not this speech): https://mwasicollectif.files.wordpress.com/2015/06/audre-lorde-i-am-your-sister-collected-and-unpublished-writings.pdf.

Letter to the Listeners of the Old Time Gospel Hour

Letter to the Listeners of the Old Time Gospel Hour
Jerry Falwell, Sr (1981)

 

Like Phyllis Schlafly, televangelist Jerry Falwell believed the social and political changes following World War II were destroying traditional family values and promoting communism. Falwell earned national prominence fighting against many of the same changes as Schlafly, most notably, the Women’s Rights and Gay Rights Movements. More than anyone else, however, Falwell presented political, economic, and social issues as an assault on Christianity, meaning white Evangelical

Protestantism.[1] Falwell was a born-again evangelist long before the 1970s. In 1956, he established the Thomas Road Baptist Church in Virginia, now one of the largest megachurches in the country with over 25,000 members. 

 

In 1979, Falwell formed the political Christian organization known as the Moral

Majority to mobilize the “family values voters,” as he called them: “get ‘em baptized, get ‘em saved, get ‘em registered to vote,” as Falwell used to say. Conservative, and almost exclusively Republican, candidates quickly embraced the Moral Majority as evidence that they were family values candidates. 

 

The same year he established Thomas Road Church, 1956, Falwell started broadcasting a weekly radio show called The Old Time Gospel Hour that quickly became a nationally syndicated show. Initially, the show featured Falwell sermonizing as if in church. By the 1970s, Falwell used the show to 

In the 1970s, the show expanded to cable television and featured Falwell became a daily reminder to viewers of the threats and dangers surrounding them every day in the form of feminists, gay people, African Americans, poor people, communists, immigrants, and most especially, Democrats, liberals, and godless Americans trying to destroy the country. The Old Time Gospel Hour is still on the air (available on Spotify), and still emphasizes that Christians are under assault in the United States.[2] 

 

Falwell also founded Liberty University, a private Christian College that teaches the

“family values” purported by Falwell and the New Right. The college teaches Creationism, openly condones LBGTQ people as amoral, emphasizes that a woman’s primary role is taking care of a Christian family, and more recently, has become a major supporter of President Donald Trump. In fact, Jerry Falwell Jr., the current

President of Liberty University, serves as “spiritual advisor” to the President and

 

famously referred to him as the “blue-collar billionaire,” showing a profound misunderstanding of how language and word definition work. Under his leadership, Liberty University has grown dramatically over the last decade, primarily by offering online degrees. Almost 100,000 students take classes from Liberty University, all rooted in the beliefs of Falwell Sr. and Jr. Liberty also opened an accredited law school a few decades ago with the explicit purpose of training conservative, Christian lawyers, judges, and politicians for public engagement. 

 

Below is a letter Falwell sent to listeners of the Old Time Gospel Hour in 1981, asking for donations to help in the fight against what Falwell called “the homosexual scourge.” Falwell sent this letter just two months after the Center for Disease Control published the fateful report about the appearance of AIDS.3 

 

 

PLEASE READ THIS LETTER BEFORE OPENING THE SEALED ENVELOPE I’VE ENCLOSED.

 

I refuse to stop speaking out against the sin of homosexuality.

 

With God as my witness, I pledge that I’ll continue to expose the sin of homosexuality to the people of this nation. I believe that the massive homosexual revolution is always a symptom of a nation coming under the judgement of God.

 

Romans 1:24-28, Paul clearly condemns the sin of homosexuality. In verse 28, when a nation refuses to listen to God’s standards of morality, the bible declares, “God gave them over to a reprobate mind.”

 

Recently 250,000 homosexuals marched in the streets of San Francisco. Several weeks ago 75,000 more were marching in the streets of Los Angeles.4 

 

Homosexuals are on the march in this country.

 

Please remember, that homosexuals do not reproduce! They recruit!

 

And, many of them are out after my children and your children.

 

This is one major reason why we must keep the Old-Time Gospel Hour alive! The Old-Time Gospel hour is one of the few major ministries in America crying out against militant homosexuals. 

 

 

  1. Jerry Falwell, Letter to Listeners, August 13, 1981. To be clear, most people did not know about the CDC Report until the following year. 
  2. June 1981, was the tenth anniversary of Gay Pride in San Francisco, and drew the largest crowd yet, primarily in response to the assassination of San Francisco’s first openly gay politician, Harvey Milk a few years earlier. The trial went on for several years, ending with a conviction of Milk’s assassin in 1980, and the 1981 Gay Pride parade took on multiple meanings for the LBGTQ community in San Francisco. 

That is why it is vital that this program stay on the air. 

 

And if you will support me with your prayers and offerings, I will continue speaking out—no matter what the opposition says.

 

You may be sure—militant gays are doing everything they can to silence me!

 

I am under constant fire. The want the Old-Time Gospel Hour off the air once and for all! Recently, a homosexual organization came to Lynchburg to demonstrate against me. They held demonstrations outside our offices. They called themselves the “Oral Majority.”[3]

 

In almost every one of my “I Love America” rallies on the state capitol steps, large groups of homosexuals come and demonstrate against me. They shout obscenities into the air. They lift signs and placards with vulgar words on them.

 

It sounds a great deal like Sodom and Gomorrah. As I interpret Scripture, when a society becomes like Sodom and Gomorrah, it is not far from destruction.[4]

 

Some of these people are dangerous.

 

And they are putting pressure on the networks and local television stations. A recent TV Guide told the story of how a homosexual organization censors a great deal of the content of network television programming regarding homosexuality.

 

Can you believe this? How could the networks grant homosexuals the privilege of censoring what goes on national and prime time television? They certainly do not allow Christian organizations any such privilege. We have never asked for such a privilege.

 

And to help you understand the war that is raging between militant homosexuals and this ministry. I have enclosed a special report in a sealed envelop for you today. 

 

I do not want to frighten the children of America regarding the goals of militant homosexuals in this country. They do demonstrate in the streets. They do have plans to create a unisexual society in this country. They do want to transform America into a modern Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

 

Practicing and flaunting gays are teaching children in classrooms today. They are preaching in some of our pulpits today, and they are exerting great influence on the television networks today. They have plans for your children and mine. They have plans for turning America into a nation that will cause “God to give us over to a reprobate mind.”

 

This is why the Old-Time Gospel Hour speaks out against the sin of homosexuality. This is why we promote the traditional monogamous family on the Old-Time Gospel Hour. America must not go down the drain.

 

Because of the strong stand I take against the sin in this country, over 200 threats are made against my life and welfare each month. These threats come by mail, telephone and other ways. I need your prayers so that God will preserve my life and give me the health and strength to continue speaking out. 

 

Will you help me continue to cry out against this sin of homosexuality? For the sake of your children, and your children’s children, will you help me keep the Old-Time Gospel Hour on the air? 

 

Your gift of $15, $25, even $100 will make a crucial difference at this time whether or not I can continue to cry out against the sins of our nation – including the sin of homosexuality. 

 

There is no wonder that Penthouse magazine, Playboy magazine, and other such tabloids are attacking me viciously. It is no wonder that the liberal press is distributing lies about me every day. 

 

And if they have their way, the Old-Time Gospel Hour will be taken off the air. As far as I know, very few major ministries are taking the stand that we are taking. I am glad to continue taking this stand, if you will help me. 

 

Militant homosexuals have vowed to silence me and to remove the Old-Time Gospel Hour from the airwaves.

 

So don’t delay, Let me hear from you immediately! I will be anxiously awaiting your reply. 

 

In Christ,

Jerry Falwell

 

Let me repeat, a massive homosexual revolution can bring the judgement of God upon this nation. Our children must not be recruited to a profane lifestyle.

 

So, please, send your generous gift back to me for $15, $25, or even $100 immediately. Thank you for your help. Make your tax-deducible check payable to Old-Time Gospel Hour.

 

 

 

[1] Two points: the Black Church - referring collectively to the various denominations and churches found in African American communities – is Protestant, and often evangelical. The Black Church, however, is the not the same as white evangelical Protestantism. Race remains a dividing line among Christian Churches, particularly evangelical ones. Second, white Protestantism was a unifying element for the New Right during the 1970s. White evangelicals separated themselves from Black Christians who tended to support something like Civil Rights, and continued to claim Civil Rights was part of a communist threat. 

[2] Following the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, Falwell said on air: "I really believe that the pagans, and the abortionists, and the feminists, and the gays and the lesbians who are actively trying to make that an alternative lifestyle, the ACLU, People For the American Way, all of them who have tried to secularize America. I point the finger in their face and say 'you helped this happen.'"

[3] This is true. Falwell faced a lot of backlash and protests during the 1980s and 90s. When the Old Time Gospel House set up a 1-800 number in the mid-1980s, LBGTQ activists broke the system and somehow managed to rig it so Falwell got a bill for ten of thousands of dollars in phone charges. It’s difficult to explain the convoluted nature of telephones and television in the 1980s. Land lines, cable lines, the break up of Ma Bell, it’s complicated, but suffice it to say, Falwell created a massive media empire, and those targeted by his ideology occasionally found ways to derail his message publicly. He was not physically threatened, but his finances were. 

[4] Sodom and Gomorrah is another Biblical reference found in the Book of Genesis, the first book of the Old

Testament. In the story, God destroyed the people living in the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah because they were

“grave sinners.” Many people believe the grave sin was homosexual activity, thus proving that God condemns gay people. Modern scholars interpret the text differently. Many theologians identify other ‘grave sins’ as cause for God’s wrath.