I don’t care what you have in your pants; this is a big deal. I really don’t care what’s in there, but for the purposes of this post, it’s even less important now. Today, the Virginia State Legislature became the 38th state to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. This is HUGE.
Before we go any further, the wording of the amendment also known as the “ERA”:
“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 Equal Rights Amendment ( “Alice Paul Amendment,” 1943)
Because of the wording of this amendment, we need to address some things. First, I’m aware that sex and gender are not the same thing. I would say “baby steps,” but that would be maddening to a transgender or gender-fluid person whose sex does not match their gender – exactly – every single day of their lives. And the original wording (“Men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States. . .,” aka the “Lucretia Mott Amendment,” 1923) is not any better for those in that situation. I will say that the ERA is a step in the right direction because I (not a lawyer) believe that someone trying to discriminate against another person because of their perception of gender would think twice since a) they don’t know what’s in your pants, and b) their guess about what is in said pants is probably influencing their decision about who you “should be,” how you “should” present, rather than who you’ve told them or shown them you “are.” This amendment gives everyone protection; it says that what’s in your pants can’t be used as a reason to discriminate. Period. The rest of it, their perception of how things and people “should be,” is their problem; not yours, not mine. If they try to make it someone else’s problem, the court can remind them how equality works.
Second, a semantics issue. As it’ll matter for generalizations I’m going to have to make for easy reading even to someone who still must categorize everyone into the binary sexes, my default will be “men” and “women.” It will simplify describing how this amendment is good for everyone. I’m aware that men can have a uterus, that they can carry and give birth to children, that men need to protect Roe, to have protections for bodily autonomy and privacy, too. It’s the point of this post, but not just because a man can have a uterus; it’s for more reasons than just that, as important as that one point is. I’m aware that children can have parent(s) of one sex or gender or another, both, whatever. A parent is a parent, regardless of how the child came to be theirs and who else was involved or how. I’m completely aware that some humans don’t fall neatly into the man or woman category; some never will. They’re “they” and that’s that. For those purposes, “they” are both “men” and “women” in these statements, and they’re also neither as the case may be. You know where you and all the people you love fit when people are using the standard two pronouns. Until our language evolves more inclusive and general pronouns for human beings, I work with what I have in the language and in our society.
Reminder, in case it matters to you what’s in my pants, who I “am,” I’m a cisgender female. My pronouns are “she/her,” and I don’t mind if you ask. Hell, if you’re unsure, I hope you will ask. I appreciate you wanting to be able to recognize me as I am regardless of how I look or what you assume. I bet I’m not the only person who appreciates that, too, that show of respect.
I’ve written about all this before – a LOT – and I’ve gone over arguments for and against recognizing rights. I’ve gone over agency. I’ve talked about how it’s presumptuous and ignorant of people (usually men) to say they will “give” or “take away” rights. I’ve gone over why it makes no sense for any politician to claim the ridiculous “pro-life” position. Ever. The point is, what Virginia did today is not giving anyone anything other than protections. Our rights simply are. Ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment means protections of those rights we already have under the law. It’s for everyone. And I mean, everyone. And it gives us recourse if someone tries to deny us our right.
Ratification of the ERA means:
. . .that we can’t be fired for being a woman. Or for being a man. It means that what’s in our pants is not important, according to the law, as long as we are physically and mentally able to do the job.
. . .that we will all register for the draft.
. . . that we can choose to serve in the armed forces and can’t be denied based on our sex as long as we are physically and mentally able.
. . .reinforcement of the privacy protections of Roe v. Wade and Griswold v. Connecticut (and others). It means that people have a right to privacy in medical decisions, in birth control, to discontinue treatment, to die, etc. It means transgender students can use whichever bathroom is right for them. It means privacy for ALL people.
. . .reinforcement of bodily autonomy and integrity protections. It means that a person’s right to consent to or to refuse treatment or a procedure is protected no matter their sex. It means that any person with agency over their body can get an abortion (since it’s legal and can’t be illegal just because it’s women generally who need them).
. . .courts won’t automatically award custody of a child(ren) to a female parent.
. . .courts won’t automatically award child support to a female parent.
. . .courts won’t automatically award maintenance/alimony to a female spouse.
. . . landlords can’t discriminate based on a tenant or prospective tenant’s sex.
. . . adoption organizations can’t discriminate based on the sex of a parent or prospective parent.
. . .a new parent can’t be fired or demoted for taking a few weeks off after they acquire a new child (by whatever means, you know, other than kidnapping which the law frowns upon) based on their sex.
. . . dress codes at work or school won’t be different by sex. Women won’t be required to wear a skirt or heels or earrings (unless the men are, too), and men can’t be prohibited from wearing a skirt or heels or earrings (unless the women are, too). There won’t be exceptions to tattoo or piercing rules (and the like) for men who have served (but not for women who have served). Showing my age on this one, as it’s probably mostly gone already, but it used to be employers could (and did!) refuse to hire or could fire an employee for having a tattoo unless it was a man who had served in the armed forces. They didn’t even have to see the tattoo; just knowing you had it was enough.
. . . silly rules about wearing shirts or showing nipples will apply to all. Either all must cover the nips or all can expose them.
It means much more when you stop and think, but this will get you going on my points. This amendment means protections for ALL people.
Passing the ERA in the state of Virginia does not mean it’s all done and automatically goes into effect two years from today. Three states – Alabama, Louisiana, and South Dakota – are trying to undo their ratification so we need to wait for the courts. There is also some question of the expiration of the time limit though two states (Nevada and Illinois) recently ratified the ERA, too, and it wasn’t an issue then. In the meantime, consider the ramifications of passing such important protections for all people. Consider what protections it gives you, your parents, your children. Consider what people have gone through as we’ve waited for our government to get around to putting these protections in writing. Then call and write to your members of Congress, your governor, your representatives in your state legislature (especially if you’re in Alabama, Louisiana, or South Dakota) and tell them how important it is to you that the Equal Rights Amendment is ratified and becomes law. And elect people who will fight for your rights, for equality. Refuse to support or vote for anyone who is not up to the task and does not explicitly tell you they will fight for you, for all.
THIS is what fighting for rights looks like. It’s up to you. This is the time. Stand up for your rights and for mine.
I’ll be at the Women’s March (Milwaukee) on Saturday. See you there!
My Patreon if you are so inclined. Your support is much appreciated!
I can’t thank you enough for your compliments and moral support over the years, and I’d also appreciate your financial support. Happy New Year! Let’s make this one about equality and opportunity for ALL people. – Love, Brooks.
Link: Out of Bubble Gum – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters (rights exist for all and aren’t “given” or “earned,” and we don’t owe men gratitude because they stop one form of oppression)
Link: Hysteria, My Ass – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters (don’t minimize or ignore the threat to human rights, to bodily autonomy and privacy, that the current wave of anti-abortion and anti-women laws pose, especially to non-males. Abortion laws are about controlling women. Period.)
Link: Representative Government – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters (while all the major political parties represent straight, white men, one party – the Democratic Party – gets a very large portion of their votes from black women and other groups but sas the Democratic Party considered representing them?)
Link: Uppity Woman – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters (on making excuses for sexists, especially men)
Link: Less Than – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters (there is no party that supports women or that supports and defends equal rights protections as even the Democrats will welcome anti-women’s rights, “pro-life” members and candidates)
Link: Through – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters (no point in wishing we could go back, and why would we? the past sucks for the majority of Americans. the only way out is through)
Link: Expect More, Part One – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters (examine our own biases, be aware of them in our language, thoughts)
Link: Expect More, Part Two – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters (on taking responsibility for our own behaviors and statements and expecting others to do the same, not defending rapists or the “boys will be boys” sort of mentality)
Link: Mother Taught Me – by E. Brooks of Gray Matters (on recognizing sexist remarks and not being a part of holding up the Patriarchy especially at the expense of women)
Link: Roe v. Wade (1973) – Cornell Law School
Link: Equal Rights Amendment
TL;DR: The ERA passed in Virginia, the 38th state today. This is not just a win for non-males; it’s protection for the rights of all people.
#RatifyERA #WomensRightsAreHumanRights #Equality #BodilyAutonomy