Should we ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

@Phyllis Schlafly "What’s Wrong With Equal Rights for Women?"

"What's wrong with equal rights for women?"1 I am probably not the only person who asks this question when he hears that the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) has not been ratified by three-quarters of the American states since 1923.

"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United states or by any state on account of sex."2

This is required by the constitutional amendment of 1923 drawn up by Alice Paul. Although it was approved in both the Senate and the House of Representatives in March 1972, it has not yet been ratified by a three-quarters majority of the US states. Phyllis Schlafly and her “STopTakingOurP.privileges ERA ”movement contributed to this. But "What's wrong with equal rights for women? ".3 Especially from the eyes of a woman herself?4

To understand this, we need to take a closer look at this woman, Phyllis Schlafly. Born on August 15, 1924 in St. Louis, Missouri, she lived through the Great Depression as an adolescent. After high school, Schlafly attended Washington University in St. Louis and graduated from Radcliffe College with a Master of Arts degree in political science in 1944. 34 years later, after taking her law exam, she was only admitted to the bar in Illinois and later in other states as well.5

In politics, Phyllis Schlafly appeared as a strongly conservative woman. Even today, she is often celebrated by the conservative side as a fighter for the family and the role of housewife and stood up against the women's rights movements, especially against the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, a. Among other things, she founded the conservative Eagle Forum, which she chaired until her death in 2016. She also led protests on the street against the "women’s libbers"6 and wrote essays in which she opposed the ERA and its "few but noisy, unhappy"7 Proponents railed. Probably her best-known contribution to the ERA debate is her essay "What’s Wrong With 'Equal Rights‘ for Women? " It was published in February 1972 in, by the Eagle Forum distributed newsletter, the Phyllis Schlafly Report (since her death in 2016 Eagle Forum Report), released. With the appearance of the newsletter, Schlafly responded to the confirmation of the ERA by the House of Representatives in October 1971. However, it was not able to dissuade the next instance, the Senate, from approving it in March 1972. 8

Her essay "What’s Wrong With 'Equal Rights‘ for Women? "Was the beginning of a series of essays with titles such as" ERA and homosexual' Marriages ""9 or "How ERA will Change State Laws - Women’s Rights Measures in Trouble"10 in which Schlafly cited conservative and Christian values ​​as arguments against equality for women.11

Phyllis Schlafly explains in her essay why she is against the women's rights movement in the USA. She sees American women as the "most privileged"13 Group of people at all. In their opinion, they have "the most rights and rewards, and the fewest duties"14 - and she wants to defend this position. The expression "equality"15 uses her very ironically, as she has the view that American women lose more rights than they gain through the women's rights movements. She explains these rights, which, according to Schlafly, need to be defended in her essay "What’s Wrong With 'Equal Rights‘ for Women? "16

First of all, however, she refers to the indisputable difference between men and women, namely that a man cannot bear children. This is not the fault of "of selfish and domineerig men"17 but given by God. Here Phyllis speaks out of her conservative Christian conviction. But wouldn't it be particularly sensible if women, be it due to biology or God, have to take on the pain and burdens of childbirth, to treat them at least equally? 18

As a conservative politician, Schalfly saw the family as the central point of society. She wanted to uphold the family and the related rights of women. Through the ERA, she saw a woman's right to be protected and supported by her husband at risk. She fears that the financial situation of women in America will also change. Skipping the common people, most of America, she argues that women should consider themselves lucky that in American society, a diamond for his wife is "the first significant purchase"19 of a man. This is only the beginning of his working life, which is done for the most luxurious maintenance possible for the woman. Isn't Phyllis Schlafly forgetting the value of the work women do at home? And what about financial independence?20

No, she doesn't forget the housework. Rather, she disregards and reduces the performance of women, e.g. with the sentence "[...] household duties have been reduced to only a few hours a day, leaving the American women with plenty of time to moonlight"21 to a minimum and implicitly assumes women are exercising their right to be lazy. 22

Another point why Schlafly opposes the supposedly dangerous ERA in her essay is her fear of women entering the army. She fears that the equality of all people, regardless of gender, could call women and especially (expectant) mothers to military service. So here too she sees a danger for the family that she puts above everything else. 23

In the following, she again takes up the rights of a mother, such as receiving maintenance from the child's father and, in the event of a separation, always receiving custody of her own child. With the possible loss of these rights, she tries to affect a large part of American women on an emotional level. The indirect threat - They will take your children away from you if the ERA is approved - specifically targets insecure and young women to draw them on Schlafly's conservative side. 24

During the Cold War, an essay by a conservative-patriotic American should of course not be without a swipe at the Soviet Union. In the USSR, women and men had the same rights by law. According to Schlafly, however, they were also "oblidged to put their child into a state-operated nursery"25 so that the woman could go to work. This contradicted the conservative values ​​of Schalfly’s and many other patriotic Americans and so Schalfly was once again able to conjure up the fear of losing their own child in the event of the ratification of the ERA. 26

Finally, Schlafly lets her thoughts about "Women’s Lib" run wild. She describes them as "radicals", "anti-family" and "anti-children" and accuses them of the goal of "sharp-tongued, high-pitched whining complaints by unmarried women"27 be it, "that all women can be unhappy in a new sisterhood of frustrated togetherness"28. She is convinced that progressive women are in the minority. This could serve to ensure that women who were not quite decided, now tend to Schlafly's opinion and join the supposed majority. 29

With Phyllis Schlafly we are dealing with a thoroughly patriotic-conservative lady who sees an equal society as a danger to her own values, especially those related to the upper class. With her aggressive attitude towards a progressive movement, with her essay “What’s wrong with 'Equal’ rights for women? ”She wants to stir up fear in society in order to overcome her own fears.


  1. What's wrong with 'equal' rights for women? [↩]
  2. Alice Paul, “Equal Rights Amendment,”, accessed January 26, 2020, - Legal equality should not be denied or reduced by the USA or any other state on the basis of gender [↩]
  3. Phyllis Schlafly, "What’s Wrong With Equal Rights for Women ?," The Phyllis Schlafly Report, February, 1972,, 1. [↩]
  4. “Two Modes of Ratification” Ratification,, accessed January 26, 2020, ; “Phyllis Schlafly Bio - founder of the Eagle Forum,” Phyllis Schlafly, The Eagle Forum, accessed January 26, 2020, [↩]
  5. Eagle Forum, "Phyllis Schlafly Bio" [↩]
  6. colloquial for "liberators of women" [↩]
  7. few but loud, unhappy [↩]
  8. Eagle Forum "Phyllish Schlafly Bio"; Schlafly, "What’s Wrong with Equal Rights?" [↩]
  9. "ERA and homosexual 'marriages'" [↩]
  10. "How the ERA will change the laws of the states - women's rights movement in unrest" [↩]
  11. “The Phyllis Schlafly Report,” The Eagle Forum, accessed January 26, 2020, [↩]
  12. [↩]
  13. most privileged [↩]
  14. most rights and achievements and the fewest obligations [↩]
  15. Equality [↩]
  16. Schlafly, "What’s Wrong with Equal Rights?", 1 [↩]
  17. of selfish and dominating men [↩]
  18. Schlafly, "What’s Wrong with Equal Rights?", 1 [↩]
  19. the first major investment [↩]
  20. Schlafly, "What’s Wrong with Equal Rights?", 1-2 [↩]
  21. Household tasks have been reduced to a few hours a day and give American women enough time until the moon rises [↩]
  22. Schlafly, "What’s Wrong with Equal Rights?", 2 [↩]
  23. Schlafly, "What’s Wrong with Equal Rights?", 2 [↩]
  24. Schlafly, "What’s Wrong with Equal Rights?", 2-3 [↩]
  25. obliged to give their children to a state-run kindergarten [↩]
  26. Schlafly, "What’s Wrong with Equal Rights?", 3 [↩]
  27. sharp-tongued, shrill weeping complaints from unmarried women [↩]
  28. that all women can be unhappy in a new sisterhood of frustrated togetherness [↩]
  29. Schlafly, "What’s Wrong with Equal Rights?", 4 [↩]

Author linusweimannPosted on Keywords ERA, ERA opponent, gender equality, Gleichstellung, Phyllis Schlafly