What the ERA Means to Me: A Full Night’s Rest

By Marisella Rodriguez, Communications Intern

I am exhausted.

Some days I go to bed so beat, I am amazed I made it out of bed in the first place. This consuming fatigue has nothing to do with one day’s worth of work, but years of having to affirm and reaffirm my abilities and potential to society. I am a woman, and I am not represented in the United States Constitution.

More than 85 years have passed since Alice Paul first introduced the Equal Rights Amendment into Congress as an expansion on women’s right to vote. Since then, women’s efforts have faltered against the patriarchal governing system currently in place that legitimizes a woman’s right to vote and little more. As we move further into the 21st century, females are finding that there is actually very little progress being made.

Being a young woman has its perks: I can wear dresses in hot weather, march in Slutwalks, hell, I can bring a whole new life into this world. What I can’t do is be seen as an equal to my male counterparts. Too many times my sense of worth is doubted or eliminated in everyday environments, such as work and school.

I have worked at a bookstore for the better half of three years, where I became competent concerning our inventory, as well as popular literature products in general. Despite this, I am still consistently bypassed for suggestions in the “intellectual” sections of the store.

Just last month, a middle-aged male declined my assistance in the politics section, insisting “a young girl” like me wouldn’t be able to point out Vice President Joe Biden in a line up. I am currently majoring in Political Science and getting ready to apply to graduate schools with an emphasis in International Relations. Safe to say, I know who Joe Biden is.

Even at school, my intellect is continuously tested and challenged in mostly male classrooms. With politics being a socially accepted “masculine” topic, I find myself having to adapt to a certain style of language and behavior. I assimilate by avoiding emotional stances when presenting topics and often use harsh, strong language in order to deter being labeled soft.

In no way will ratification of the ERA provide immediate relief from these personal experiences, but laws have the potential to alter a society and the U.S. culture desperately needs to be modified. Women are now the majority on college campuses, but this is far from the norm in our society, as women are paid 77 cents to a man’s dollar and are highly underrepresented in Congress and at the top levels of employment.

Countless women are losing sleep over their lost opportunities and weak image in society. I, for one, am so tired of it! The ratification of the ERA should be a platform that U.S. women can firmly stand on and finally achieve both equality and a good night’s sleep.

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