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Repeat After Me: ERA
October 27, 2012
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Here we go again. Another right wing, Christian fundie politician has said something revoltingly offensive about women and we are tremendously exercised over it. We find the words so insulting, we can't repeat them enough. A child conceived by rape is god's will (I will not be offering a capital "g" to that god, you can be sure). Legitimate rape. A rape victim can't get pregnant. Slut slut slut slut.

Sisters, don't you feel like we are being dragged through the mud even by those who are ostensibly defending us? These are hurtful words in any context, especially to victims of sexual violence and targets of misogynist attacks. I think we should stop rising to the bait of a media that loves drama, conflict and sensationalism and routinely exploits for profit all of the ugliest scenarios that have come up in the context of unwanted pregnancy. The media is no help here. They just like saying the word rape. There is a practical solution to attacks on women's rights and we call it the ERA, which stands for Equal Rights Amendment. When was the last time you heard anyone, from any side of the political spectrum, say "ERA" over the airwaves?

The Equal Rights Amendment states: "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of sex." It was passed by Congress in 1972, but fell 3 states short of the 38 states needed for full ratification under the U.S. Constitution. If the equal rights of women were enshrined in the Constitution, no municipality could legally restrict our right to access health care and make our own health care decisions or impose any special rules on females that are not imposed on males. Males have the right to birth control; males are not challenged when they seek insurance coverage for counseling, preventative care and treatment with respect to reproductive and sexual health. They have health issues that women don't have, but we don't begrudge them the cost of their medical care, or try to oversee the decisions they make for themselves. We need to resist on the local level whenever our rights are threatened, but let's not fall prey to the divide-and-conquer strategy. We must have an overarching campaign to pass the ERA so that once and for all the women of this country will have equal status to men.

Read up about the Equal Rights Amendment, tell your friends about it, write to your favorite pundits about it, call into your radio shows about it, blog about it, get a bumper sticker, join or form a local group to show your congressional representatives that constituents want to move the ERA forward. Channel your outrage into action. Repeat after me: ERA!

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Copyright © 2012 Zelda Gatuskin

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