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Location: St. Louis, Missouri, United States

Friday, April 22, 2011

The ERA Utopian Vision is Nearsighted

Jack Kemp

Once again, there is a movement to extend the time allowed to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. The premise behind this effort is the same one that got feminists to buy dolls for their boys – and the boys to aim the arms of the dolls forward, hold the leg down and pretend they were guns. This is basically another attempt to legislate a change in human nature which will only torture those not lusting for political power to fulfill their lives.

A website, United4Equality, states the Lysistrata dream of no wars - but in an understated way, with plausible deniability:

"Alice Stokes Paul (1885 - 1977) - Author of ERA
'This world crisis came about without women having anything to do with it. If the women of the world had not been excluded from world affairs, things today might have been different.'"

Really? There were wars under the reign of Catherine the Great and the leadership of Golda Meir. In fact the reason Golda Meir's political career ended was her failure to order a full military call up of reserves before the 1973 Yom Kippur War, discounting the warnings of her intelligence service and deciding it was an expensive and unnecessary exercise. When the Yom Kippur War began with massive attacks on Israeli forces, Golda Meir placed specially equipped Skyhawk fighter-bombers on a runway with nuclear weapons, ready to take off to destroy Cairo, Damascus and Amman on ten minutes notice. Not exactly Lysistrata-like.

I recall feminist posters sold in America previous to the Yom Kippur that showed a photo of Golda Meir with the caption, "But can she type?" A better question would have been, "But can she order a first strike offensive?"

The first woman to enter the US House of Representatives, Jennette Rankin, voted against entering World War II on the day after the Pearl Harbor attack of December 7th, 1941.

A little discussed fact is that Ayn Rand opposed US entry into World War II on purely political reasons. She was right in her objections to the leftist ideas FDR advanced, de facto, by mobilizing for war, but the both the Japanese and German jet fighter (yes, they developed early jets) and atomic bomb programs made Albert Einstein's warning to President Roosevelt much more pressing existential argument than anything Ayn Rand’s Objectivism could posit. But I digress.

Phyllis Schlafly, in her 1970s fight against ERA ratification, made the point that the law would actually eliminate many women's rights such as the right not to be drafted and sent to combat and "the right of a woman to be supported by her husband."

In "The Flipside of Feminism" by Schlafly and Susanne Venker, pages 39-42, it states that:

"Most pro-ERAers were over draft age and enthusiastically confirmed that they wanted to make the military draft sex neutral and send girls to war just like men.

Stop ERAers argued that ERA would give a blank check to the federal courts to define the words 'sex' and 'equality of rights.'

Section 2 of ERA would transfer to the federal govenment power over all laws that traditionally allowed differences of treatment on account of sex: marriage, property, divorce, alimony, child custody, adoptions, abortion, homosexual laws (I'm old enough to remember 70s liberals mockingly - and in some cases, sincerely - saying that the ERA would not lead to homosexual marriage), sex crimes, private and public schools, prison regulations, and insurance. To feminists, 'sexual equality' included same-sex marriage and the right to abortion funding. ERA did not mention women - it called for 'equality...on account of sex.'”

Some of you may recall Demi Moore’s 1997 movie “GI Jane” where she became member of a Combined Reconnaissance Team, something akin to the US Navy SEALs. In the real world, no woman has completed (and few, if any, have tried) the physically intense training program of the Navy SEALs. Jesse Ventura was a Navy SEAL. How would you like your daughter to face him on a battlefield – or in a wrestling ring – either in his prime or today?

“The Flipside of Feminism” goes on to state:

Feminists put Phyllis (Schlafly) up against all their heavyweights, starting with Betty Friedan in 1973 at Illinois State University, where Friedan famously said to Phyllis, 'I'd like to burn you at the stake.'"


Since IWY (International Women's Year) turned out to be a public relations disaster (no one got burned at the stake?), President Jimmy Carter and Congress gave the ERAers a three-year time extension (later held unconstitutional by a federal court)."

So a call for a new extension of the ERA ratification is essentially an attempt to pass law from the bench, followed by another attempt at pressuring state legislatures. The ERA extension bill effort would not pass the current Republican majority House and could also be struck down by the Supreme Court – as well as not passed by any state legislatures. Certain things look good among like minded friends, on paper or in a classroom, but are problematic in real life.

This ERA utopianism is all about myths. And who would know more about that subject than famed anthropologist Margaret Mead?

Margaret Mead’s own daughter by husband number 2 (of 3 total), Gregory Bateson, outed her mother as a lesbian, saying that she (the daughter) felt compelled to do this because numerous professors were touting her mother as a role model to young women. Mary Catherine Bateson felt that every young woman who was being told to emulate her mother should be told the entire story before they decide for themselves if they want to try to emulate Margaret Mead’s ideals and lifestyle, in part or in whole. I would add the professors spoon fed a cartoon version of Margaret Mead to their students and Mary Bateson felt compelled to do her part to end this blind utopian hero worship.

The New York Times book review of Jane Howard's 1984 biography "Margaret Mead: A Life" stated:

"Miss Howard says that Mead was uneasy about feminists because they made the emancipation of women sound 'too easy.' Women who only married and had babies, didn't deserve equality, she said.

According to Miss Bateson, her mother told her that she and her mentor Ruth Benedict had had a lasting lesbian relationship. A friend of Mead's, who asked not to be identified, told Miss Howard that there were several such affairs. Mead herself said that homosexuals 'make the best companions in the world,' and that an ideal society would consist of 'people who were homosexual in their youth and again in old age, and heterosexual in the middle of their lives.'''

F. Carolyn Graglia, an attorney with a career in Washington, became a housewife and mother of three by choice. In her book critiquing feminism, entitled "Domestic Tranquility," the back cover of the paperback version summarizes:

"The principal targets of feminist fire in the on-going 'Gender Wars' are not men but traditional wives and mothers."

And Mrs. Graglia's states quite candidly and bluntly on pages 181-182 of her book:

"Any attack on the matrimonial strategy had to offer women something in its place. Contemporary feminism had to offer women something in its place. Contemporary feminism offered them the sexual revolution. Just as women were to pursue careers with the same dedication as men, feminists told them to pursue raw sex as men do; it would, they said, be even better than romance. Men very obviously do not require the lubricant of romance and commitment to enjoy the slippery delights of a depersonalized groined archway.


How contrary to women's nature such learning is should have never been in doubt. Studies have now documented the vastly greater interest men have in casual sex than do women.


"Feminism's second motive in endorsing the sexual revolution was to make women not only mimic male sexual behavior but also develop attitudes and emotional reactions that are more like men's and less traditionally feminine.


Attributing a value to the act of intercourse because of its procreative nature necessarily entails acknowledging the female's unique preciousness as a potential child-bearer and, inevitably, children's preciousness as well. This acknowledgement contemporary feminism must avoid at all costs because the movement has always been profoundly anti-child. Its most basic belief is that only patriarchal oppression would ever lead a woman to leave the workplace and devote herself to what feminists consistently describe as the boring, unstimulating, and unfulfilling occupation of personally caring for one's child."

Complementing this last quoted paragraph is one by Robert Bork. Writing in "Slouching Towards Gomorrah," he states on page 195:

"Some of today's feminist dissatisfaction is due to the lack of adequate recognition of the immense contribution women have made to Western culture. That is changing, but, oddly enough, it is the feminists who continue to denigrate the role of women played in the past."

Will a new attempt at passage of the Equal Rights Amendment result in misery for the advocates – or their family oriented opponents? The odds favor disappointment for the advocates – whether they win or lose. It all seems like so much nostalgia for the advocates “glory days” in the 1960s and 1970s to me. But this time, the feminists can’t burn their bras because it would cause global warming – or so they thi…errr…feel. Yes, that’s the correct final word.

I would like to thank Rosa Perez Leonetti of Smart Girl Politics (New Jersey branch) for her initial research and inspiration in writing this piece.

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