The Equal Rights Amendment:
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.
It’s late afternoon in the Midwest on this long-awaited election day. The prospect of watching an Obama victory celebration at Chicago’s Grant Park this evening has brought back memories of another event that occurred there some 28 years ago.
On Mother’s Day, May 10, 1980, I joined several members of the Unitarian-Universalist Church in Rochester, Minn. for a bus trip to Grant Park to march in support of the Equal Rights Amendment. We’d been instructed to wear the same colors for a show of unity. I stood stock still in amazement that day when I stepped off the bus to see 90,000 women in green and white converging on Carl Sandburg’s “city of the big shoulders.”
According to the Feminist Chronicles: “Marchers came from every state of the union and represented over 300 organizations and delegations. The massive event was conceived and coordinated by NOW. Mayor Jane Byrne, the first woman mayor of Chicago, addressed the crowd, together with Jessie Jackson, Ellie Smeal, TV celebrity Phil Donahue, and Marlo Thomas.”
With hope in my heart, I sat on the ground that day, listening to our speakers while imagining what it would feel like at some far away future date to tell my grandchildren about my participation in this historic event.
To my dismay, Ronald Reagan was elected president that November and ultimately the ERA failed to win ratification by its deadline.
When Hillary Clinton announced her candidacy in the Democratic primary, I’m sure that many of those 90,000 women with whom I marched in Chicago in 1980 felt as uplifted as I did. I’m equally certain those same women were as stunned as I was by the tsunami of misogyny against Sen. Clinton in the primary that helped sweep Barack Obama to victory as the nominee.
The tidal wave of irrational hatred of women crested again during the general election when Sarah Palin set foot on the national stage and quickly became the object of slander and ridicule amplified by a media still under Obama’s spell - objectivity be damned.
Just for the heck of it, I’ve scanned the readers’ comments on election-day coverage this afternoon at a couple of leading so-called progressive blogs. To my consternation, I suddenly realized these mostly young Obama supporters aren’t even aware they’re being sexist with their crude, offensive comments that once targeted Hillary Clinton, but are now primarily aimed at Sarah Palin.
Obama’s millions of online supporters don’t appear to know the difference between sexist attacks and civil discourse in discussing political issues; their mindlessly offensive comments are their normative behavior.
But here we are on Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008 and what more can I do or say? I confess that a part of me grieves that on a day when many are gleefully anticipating a potential landslide for Obama, my principles dictate that I must sit on the sidelines. A life-long Democrat, there was a time when I longed to see my party return to the White House. But the wounds from the primary and the obviously rigged Democratic convention are still too raw. And having recently left the Democratic Party to re-register as non-affiliated, I can’t bring myself to vote for the lesser of two evils. What a travesty in these perilous times that the name of Hillary Clinton, obviously the best qualified of all the candidates who announced in 2008, is not on the ballot.
Guess I’ll skip TV coverage of the gathering in Grant Park tonight; it would feel sacrilegious.