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Apologies to women outside the USA, as this is a very US centric question.

I have been preparing a lecture for my high school students about the Women’s Lib Movement and therefore I have been reading a lot about the ERA, the arguments for and against it, Phyllis Schlafly, etc.

I am curious what the women of Ovarit think of the arguments that opponents made regarding the potential of women to be drafted, as well as the conversion to/installation of gender neutral bathrooms.

Last year, before I has peaked, I thought these arguments were absurd, but I now find myself questioning my previous judgements. Please don’t confuse this as me being a member of the Eagle Forum lol, I’m just curious about other gender critical women’s perspectives on these issues!

Apologies to women outside the USA, as this is a very US centric question. I have been preparing a lecture for my high school students about the Women’s Lib Movement and therefore I have been reading a lot about the ERA, the arguments for and against it, Phyllis Schlafly, etc. I am curious what the women of Ovarit think of the arguments that opponents made regarding the potential of women to be drafted, as well as the conversion to/installation of gender neutral bathrooms. Last year, before I has peaked, I thought these arguments were absurd, but I now find myself questioning my previous judgements. Please don’t confuse this as me being a member of the Eagle Forum lol, I’m just curious about other gender critical women’s perspectives on these issues!

14 comments

[–] WatcherattheGates 13 points (+14|-1)

Yes, as a result of Bostock, "sex" in the ERA would be interpreted to include "gender identity." It would work the same as the Equality Act, but would be even worse because it would be an amendment to the Constitution and therefore much, much harder to repeal. Until and unless the Supreme Court rules that gender identity cannot trump sex--and that single sex spaces are permissible--the ERA has become (sadly) a total Trojan horse.

And yes, the ERA would pretty much ensure that any draft would have to be sex-neutral. Here are my (apologies--long!) thoughts on the draft issue.

Now, I am delighted that the combat exclusion has been lifted for women, but I draw a line at Selective Service—that is, registration for a possible draft of 18 to 25 year olds. And I draw that line not for the reason tradition would give us, that women are weak or delicate creatures that must be protected. After all, most women in the world are not protected in any sense of the word. Would you enjoy living as a woman in Afghanistan, where 87% of women report having been assaulted? Or in Liberia, where the chance of dying incident to pregnancy is 1 in 8? Most women in poor countries do the lion’s share of the work of the household each day, and are given fewer calories to eat despite the fact that their daily work load forces them to expend far more energy than others in the household, including men. They watch their children die of preventable diseases and malnutrition because the powerful men of the country could not care less about such lowly matters. In truth, if women were weak, delicate creatures, the human race would have died out millennia ago.

No, I do not oppose Selective Service registration for women because of their delicacy. I oppose it because women already sacrifice more for their country than men do, and women should not be asked to bear even more. There should be parity between men and women in the work of protecting our country and giving it a future. Selective Service registration for women would undo that parity, placing an unjustly heavy burden on women, and making their burden far heavier than that of men.

What, at a minimum, must a nation have to survive? It must have protection, even physical protection in the form of armed forces whose members are willing to lay down their health and even their very lives if necessary to counter threats to the nation’s security. But protection is not enough for a nation to survive. A protected nation will nevertheless die out in the space of a generation if there is no reproduction. Only through reproduction does a nation have a future.

And reproduction—carried out through the labor and efforts of women, not of men—is personally quite costly. Women offer to lay down their health and even their very lives that their nation might have a future in the new citizens brought into the world through women’s reproductive labor. That we have not seen this as a patriotic service on a par with men’s service in combat says more about our society than it says about the reality of women’s valuable service to our country.

Indeed, consider that in the history of our nation—from 1776 onwards, more women have died or been seriously harmed in or incident to childbirth than men have died or been wounded in battle. For example, in 2012, over 700 US women died in childbirth, with another 52,000 suffering a profound bodily harm, such as acute renal failure, stroke, heart failure, or aneurysms. In 2012, 310 American soldiers died in Afghanistan, with less than 4,000 wounded. Indeed, the maternal mortality rate in the US is now double what it was 25 years ago (it’s now 15 per 100,000 births).

And this is not even to mention the “mommy tax” on a woman’s lifetime earnings of having a child, which can amount to over $1 million. Indeed, the greatest risk factor for being poor in old age in the United States is to be a mother (and not a father). Not just a physical, bodily sacrifice, then, but a profound economic sacrifice as well.

We have all seen many, many monuments to great generals and unknown soldiers in our land. But there is only one monument—hidden in the back yard of a church in Pennsylvania—to all of the American women who died in childbirth to give our nation a future. Just one!

This matter strikes close to home for me. A young woman I knew died giving birth to her third child. I cannot forget the sacrifice she made to bring that child into the world. Yet my country does not honor these deaths, for my country is blind to the sacrifices of women that give it a future. Dying in childbirth is somehow “natural,” whereas dying in battle is “glorious.” How sightless we really are!

And there’s a GI Bill for all the soldiers who volunteered to lay down their health and their lives for their country, so that soldiers are not asked to make both an economic as well as a physical sacrifice for their country . . . but no such Bill for the mothers. No, indeed, the pay gap between mothers and childless women is about as wide as the pay gap between men and women. That’s because, I am told, women choose to have children; no one forced them to. Of course, in today’s all-volunteer army, soldiers choose to fight for their country; no one forced them to. But somehow a soldier’s blood and a soldier’s sacrifice just seems so much more precious than the blood and sacrifice of a mother—which to my feminist mind is just so very wrong on so many levels.

We women know that it may be our fate to die for our country’s future not on some foreign shore, but in labor on a hospital bed right here in the States. But most of our countrymen simply do not have the eyes to see. For example, another NYT commenter wrote,

“Until women can be drafted and forced to die in battle just like men have for centuries, we will not have true equality between the sexes.“

I say,

“Until men can die in childbirth just like women have for centuries, women should not be drafted and forced to die in battle also—that will simply deepen the existing inequality between the sexes.”

[–] Felis_margarita 4 points (+4|-0)

Wow, up until now I hadn’t minded the idea of women signing up for selective service but you changed my mind. And it’s not even like men are being called to armed service, while women uphold society day after day with no appreciation. And now I’m mad that as a mother I have had to pay for my college (after having a kid) and struggle to get a new career—while taking care of a kid and being at the top of my class—and I get dismissed by society while I’ve seen guys on the GI Bill fail upwards.

[–] Hecate [OP] 1 points (+1|-0)

I oppose it because women already sacrifice more for their country than men do, and women should not be asked to bear even more.

I have never thought about the draft this way before, thank you for your perspective!

Sexist men and "trad wives" (for lack of a better word) had so many horrible things to say and they tried to misrepresent what women were asking for. The Manosphere does this today. For example, if a woman gets punched by a man in a heated protest on the street, men say "you wanted equal rights" to mean they're treating you the same as a man. That is clearly NOT what the ERA was about.

I don't think young people today know that women were being denied jobs just for being female. You could be the secretary but not the boss. Women were being paid less for the same job, using the line "well a man has a family to feed."

True story here: in the 90s my friend applied for a job in a bank, and they told her "you're a woman in her 20s. You'll probably want to start a family soon. We can't hire you." I told her to sue, sue, and sue. She didn't sue. And she never had kids. But that kind of crap happens.

The draft is a huge one. We just saw a high school boys team beat the official US women's soccer team. We can't pretend that the average woman can go hand to hand in combat with a man and win. But is being drafted a "right"? Men didn't want to be shipped off to Vietnam either.

I think the ERA was poorly worded (looking at what you posted).

Women and men both deserve the right to sex-segregated facilities for privacy and safety. The ERA could be misconstrued by those who advocate for mixed sex facilities.

The ERA needed better wording to make it clear women should not be denied consideration for a job, barring sex-specific jobs (men should be able to request a male doctor, etc.), nor paid less, simply based on being female. That is what they wanted to say.

The way it's worded makes it sound like men have the right to enter the women's locker room. If a sign says "gym patrons can use these showers" there's going to be some AGP creep who thinks that somehow means single sex shower rooms suddenly vanish.

It also would have covered same-sex marriage because if a person couldn't be denied rights based on sex, and every person (not already married or declared mentally unfit or such) has the right to marry, then it clearly would have included same-sex marriage.

[–] bumpyjerboa 5 points (+5|-0)

Sex is not treated the same as race in older consideration of things like equal protection and I highly doubt if the ERA had been approved, that would've changed. The law consistently has recognized that women are different from men in some situations, so separation or the granting of different rights is acceptable. This was used to uphold the right to sex segregated intimate spaces (restrooms, changing rooms) as recently as like 2015.

This is all off the top of my head but when we have pushed for greater equality in the past and (conservative) men have "threatened" us with the draft, we called their bluff and they backed down. Regardless, the draft will never happen again in this current iteration of the US. So that doesn't worry me. (I appreciate the hell out of @WatcherattheGates 's analysis but I'm a bit more of a blunt pragmatist at times.)

What worries me now is that TRAs have completely muddied definitions (which was their intention, of course). The average person knows damn well what sex means, but how do the law and courts contend with someone who has had both their driver's license and birth certificate changed to "match" their "gender identity"? How does that monstrous creep who clearly wants to violate disabled women as a part of his job get treated when he requests the "right" to do so and all his legal markers say "woman" or "female"?

Slight aside, but I think if we had the ERA from the 70s, gay rights would've come easier under the same reasoning as in Bostock: you can't fire a man for having a wife, so you can't fire a woman for having a wife. It's simple logic, and it works!

And it's still immune to the gender neutral crap. Women have different needs than men in some circumstances purely specific to our sex (we need more facilities in restrooms because it takes us longer to de/clothe and urinate, we need more accommodations for pregnancy and nursing needs, etc.). We could've argued that not accommodating all of those things was discrimination on the basis of sex.

And we would've been quite correct in doing so! And the literal constitution, as amended, would've been on our side. The conservative arguments were wrong and completely incendiary nonsense at the time they were made. We feel discomfort (instead of outright dismissal) with them now... Well, because...

Phyllis Schaefly's ideas were happily adopted and adapted by TRAs and family courts as a modus operandi. (Consider "parental alienation" and gender neutral but urine soaked bathrooms from male spray.) Honestly, thinking of the MRA to TRA pipeline, they probably followed her warnings like a rulebook. Sick.

Looking forward, with all this being said, and going back to my point about how TRAs have made an utter mess of our language... It all makes me feel quite hopeless now. Again, I think if we had the ERA from the 70s we might have been able to shore up women's rights in a significant way before this garbage started. Maybe that's wishful thinking.

I don't have a conclusion except that this all is infuriating and men, yet again, suffer naught in the face of our oppression.

[–] Hecate [OP] 2 points (+2|-0)

What worries me now is that TRAs have completely muddied definitions (which was their intention, of course). The average person knows damn well what sex means, but how do the law and courts contend with someone who has had both their driver's license and birth certificate changed to "match" their "gender identity"? How does that monstrous creep who clearly wants to violate disabled women as a part of his job get treated when he requests the "right" to do so and all his legal markers say "woman" or "female"?

The muddied language is so damn frustrating. I wouldn't be surprised if in the future we see the ERA wording change to be "on account of gender" instead of "on account of sex", like we are seeing with laws like the Equality Act. What a disaster that would be.

And it's still immune to the gender neutral crap. Women have different needs than men in some circumstances purely specific to our sex (we need more facilities in restrooms because it takes us longer to de/clothe and urinate, we need more accommodations for pregnancy and nursing needs, etc.). We could've argued that not accommodating all of those things was discrimination on the basis of sex.

I've also never thought about the possibility of using these arguments to protect separate bathrooms, so this actually gives me a bit of hope that if a case goes to court about bathrooms that the attorney could employ these defenses!

[–] VirginiaW 4 points (+4|-0)

I’m still in favor of the ERA. It says “on the basis of sex”. So it provides protection to actual women.

[–] SarahTheGreen 2 points (+2|-0)

I've thought about this a lot wrt Canada (we have an ERA in our constitution, but it got derailed very early on) and have read WoLF's arguments. I don't know if these thoughts will help you or not.

I think the issue is formal equality (treat the sexes the same) versus substantive equality (treat them different where it's warranted). This is Canadian legal language so the terms might be different in the US.

On the one hand, treating men and women differently for situations where men and women are the same (the vote, the right to own property, how much men and women are paid for the same job or work of equal value) is wrong. There, you want formal equality.

But when it comes to reproduction and related issues, it's obviously harmful to one sex or the other to treat them the same.

One issue is which norms do you use. Do you use male norms, female norms, norms that don't work for anyone? And if you're using male norms for both sexes, is that treating both sexes equally? Because with both sexes held to male norms, men are held to same-sex norms and women are held to other-sex norms. Sooo . . .

My take is that unless you write substantive equality into the amendment, some people will figure it out while others will insist on formal equality across the board. However, when they tried to add substantive equality to the amendment a long time ago, it lost a lot of support. Case law really matters, because as it's written, it could go in any direction.

With respect to the draft, what is it for? Is there a bottom line in terms of how fit someone has to be to do the job? Is it being measured properly? Or is it to give both sexes equal access to certain types of jobs? I think formal equality is fine for jobs where there's a bona fide reason for criteria. But in Canada we had a case where a women who had fought forest fires for years was not rehired the next season when they added a fitness test to the hiring process. The test was harder for her as a woman, and wasn't really justified because it wasn't the best measure of someone being able to do the job (given that she had been doing the job but failed part of the test).

When it comes to gender neutral bathrooms, the question is what are sex-segregated bathrooms for? Do gender neutral bathrooms work just as well?

I personally think that there are no simple formulas, and trying to apply them will result in failure regardless of the formulas. Instead there's an interaction between differences or lack thereof and the goal of a particular piece of legislation. If you agree on the goal, which approach works best to get there?

In the end, it's possible all the ERA would do is to ensure that sex is considered when laws are drafted or assessed.

[–] Hecate [OP] 1 points (+1|-0)

With respect to the draft, what is it for?

"The draft" is in reference to mandatory military service, if a draft is ever again instated in the USA.

I think formal equality is fine for jobs where there's a bona fide reason for criteria. But in Canada we had a case where a women who had fought forest fires for years was not rehired the next season when they added a fitness test to the hiring process. The test was harder for her as a woman, and wasn't really justified because it wasn't the best measure of someone being able to do the job (given that she had been doing the job but failed part of the test).

I have never heard of the "formal equality" vs "substantive equality" before, but I'm not a lawyer so I don't know if this is a thing in the US.

This case with the female firefighter is also a situation I have never thought of before, and I find it really interesting. I hope she gets/got her job back!

[–] SarahTheGreen 0 points (+0|-0)

The female firefighter won her case.

I knew the draft was mandatory military service. I was just wondering what its primary purpose is. Defence? Spending money on the military? Making men out of boys? Foreign economic policy?

[–] Womancup 0 points (+0|-0)

Can you explain what ERA is?

[–] Hecate [OP] 3 points (+3|-0)

Equal Rights Amendment :)

It was first proposed to Congress in the 1920’s but got significant traction and was close to being ratified in the 1970’s, which spurred a lot of debate between women who were for or against the amendment.

The original wording of the amendment was:

Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex. The Congress shall have the power to enforce, by appropriate legislation, the provisions of this article.