What the ERA Means to Me: A Peaceful Walk Down the Street

By Georgia Maclean, Field Intern

“I wasn’t looking at what you were doing, I was looking at you baby…”
“Hey honey you’d be so much prettier if you smiled at me…”
“Daaaamn!”

The Equal Rights Amendment means a day of peace for me. A day where I won’t have to be harassed while walking to class. A day when my thoughts aren’t interupted by a man yelling at me from a car. A day where I can wear a cute skirt without fear of being catcalled all day long.

I understand that ratifying the ERA wouldn’t make catcalling unconstitutional but it would at least send a message to all the men who think it’s acceptable to do this. The U.S. Constitution is respected as the supreme authority by everyone on both sides of the aisle. If women were finally included in this supreme authority it would raise women up to the level of respect that men enjoy.

Our leaders came together and agreed that African American’s rights were human rights and that race discrimination was unconsitutional, yet they have failed to say the same about women’s rights and sex discrimination.

Some say that women don’t need any more protection under the law, that we are equal, that we should stop talking about this already. To them I ask: Have you ever lost your child in a custody battle? Have you ever been fired because you became pregnant? Have you ever found out that your collegue makes 23 percent more than you? Talk to a woman who works at Wal-Mart, and you will hear what sex discrimination in the workplace feels like. Yet Justice Scalia wrote the opinion of the Supreme Court that ruled against the women of Wal-Mart. By his own admission, women are not protected by the Constitution. Imagine what the ERA would have meant to those 1.5 million women workers — probably a vote in their favor.

If the ERA is ratified, it would send a powerful message to the country that sex discrimination is not a fringe issue, not something we can just ignore, but an issue of human rights that is recognized by Democrats and Republicans alike. Wal-Mart would be held accountable for human rights violations. If women’s rights are human rights, well then those catcalling men would be disrespecting every person’s right to his or her own dignity. I want the ERA to protect my dignity. I want to be respected both in the workplace and while I simply walk down the street.

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