As a country, we are close to finally having such protections enshrined through the Equal Right Amendment (ERA)—a movement for a constitutional amendment that has been almost 100 years in the making.
Now, with a surplus of time that must be spent at home, the League of Women Voters is here to help you bring some productivity into your quarantine while also satisfying the urge to relax on your couch. Here are a few movies, a tv show, and a book recommendation to learn more about the history of the Equal Rights Amendment—as well as some ways you can get involved in this fight (from your home and in-person after quarantine ends).
Available on Hulu (released April 15, 2020)
This series chronicles mostly the fight against the ERA led by Phyllis Schlafly. Not all episodes have been released yet, but Schlafly seems to be the main character and the series appears to be mostly historically accurate.
Mrs. America exposes the fears against the changing dynamics for women in public and private spaces during the 1970s. Retorts from the “Stop ERA” group focused on getting rid of gendered bathrooms, women being forced into the military or women losing alimony—all moot points now. Read our FAQ to learn more about why these retorts aren’t credible.
Available on YouTube, Hulu, HBO, and Amazon
This movie tells the story of Alice Paul, the woman who first wrote the Equal Rights Amendment, and fellow activist Lucy Burns as they fight for women’s suffrage. While protesting for their right to vote, the women end up in jail and go on a hunger strike. They are force-fed and become known around the country as the “iron-jawed angels.”
Paul and Burn’s sacrifices were instrumental in changing the tides towards women’s suffrage and passing the 19th amendment. LWVUS was actually present at the premiere of this film in 2004.
Available for purchase on iTunes or through the production company
This documentary by Kamala Lopez describes the discrimination women still face today in the form of workplace harassment, domestic violence, rape, sexual assault, and disparities in treatment in foster care, healthcare, and judicial systems. Lopez demonstrates how our current legislation leaves gaps for addressing these issues and makes the case for why we need the ERA.
You can also purchase the book Equal Means Equal: Why the Time for an Equal Rights Amendment is Now, which was released in conjunction with the film. The book is written by one of the founders of the ERA Coalition, Jessica Neuwirth.
- Are you up-to-date on where the ERA stands now? Read a quick synopsis in our blog here.
- Check to see if your Senators are cosponsors of S.J. Res 6, the legislation to remove the time limit on ratifying the ERA, so that this amendment becomes a reality.
If your senators are co-sponsors, thank them! If one or both aren’t, use our action alert to contact them and ask them to co-sponsor this important legislation - because there is no time limit on equality.
- Spread awareness of the ERA and how it would change lives in your community through a letter to the editor or op-ed. Visit the LWV ERA Toolkit for a sample letter to the editor or guide to writing your own op-ed!
- Check if your state has already ratified the ERA; if it hasn’t, start organizing and mobilizing your community to pass the ERA.
Just because we’ve reached the 38-state threshold doesn’t mean we should stop the momentum! We need to show Congress equality on the basis of sex is something people want across the country.
- While nothing is as strong as the protections in our federal constitution, you can also work to enact an equal rights amendment in your state constitution. Many states already have such an amendment, you can check here if yours does. Passing a state constitutional ERA will also bolster our advocacy at the federal level.
- If you or someone you know is 20 years old or younger, connect with your local chapter of Generation Ratify to get plugged into youth-led efforts to ratify the ERA in your state
- And of course, reach out to your state League to learn about their ERA advocacy efforts and how you can get involved!
LWVUS recognizes the hardships many people are facing and that many are not able to remain in their homes because they are essential workers.
COVID-19 has laid bare the structural gender disparities that exist in our society.
Recent headlines and studies have described how women are on the frontlines of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the ERA cannot solve all the issues exposed by COVID-19, LWVUS will continue to fight so, in future pandemics, women are not disproportionately impacted.