Preserving American Freedom

The Evolution of American Liberties in Fifty Documents

National Organization for Women (NOW) brochure on Equal Rights Amendment, 1976

National Organization for Women (NOW) brochure on Equal Rights Amendment
1976
200 years of bondage is enough!
ERA Equal Rights Amendment ....as basic as freedom of speech
bird (labeled "ERA") perched on a chained hand
Source Information: 
National Organization for Women (NOW) brochure on Equal Rights Amendment
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
National Organization for Women. Philadelphia Chapter Records (Collection 2054)
Box 1, folder n.d.; 1968-1977
National Organization for Women (NOW) brochure on Equal Rights Amendment
1976
Did You Know....
*Under the U.S. Constitution corporations are considered legal persons, but women are not
*Women earn on an average 41% less than men
* A man with an 8th grade education earns as much as a woman with a college degree
*Women and men do not receive the same benefits under Social Security, although they contribute the same percentage of their income
*"Equal pay for Equal Work" is based on Title VII of the Civil Rights Act1 which can be reversed by Congress
*If a man dies, his widow pays a large tax; if a woman dies her widower pays substantially less
*A husband controls his wife's use of "his" credit cards; a wife cannot establish credit in her name
*Insurance rates are higher for women than for men; loans for house payments, etc. are more difficult for women to obtain than men
*The military has higher entrance requirements for women, but significantly fewer benefits and opportunities
*During probate, a joint bank account is considered to be solely the property of the husband
*Women receive longer jail sentences than men for the same crime
*Unemployment is twice as high for women as for men
*There are over 1,795 laws which discriminate against women
The ERA Equal Rights Amendment Will..
*Declare women full persons under the law
*Outlaw discrimination on the basis of sex, establishing constitutionally the legal right of "equal pay for equal work"
*Provide equal Social Security benefits for women and men at the same retirement age; widowers will receive the same benefits now only received by widows
*Recognize a housewife's contribution as a financial resource to the home by not taxing her half of the estate when her husband dies
*Give married women the right to establish credit, own businesses, buy and control property, and sign contracts
*Equalize military entrance standards; make military women eligible for equal benefits and opportunities
*Extend alimony and child support responsibilities to members of either sex, depending on need and ability to pay
*Establish equal rights for both parties holding joint husband/wife bank accounts during probate
*Mandate "equal time for equal crime"
*Strike down laws which restrict rights. If a law protects rights, it will be extended to the other sex
National Organization for Women logo
The Pennsylvania ERA....
*Affirmed joint ownership of household goods
*Given girls equal access to scholastic sports
*Equalized sentence and parole standards
*Established that State Licensing Boards no longer permit sex biased requirements
*Eliminated male only job classifications in most cases, opening new employment opportunities to women
*NOT caused an increase in the divorce rate
*Established that a mother who is a housewife is providing her children with valuable support, equal in worth to the father's financial support
*Extended property tax relief to widowers over 50 years old, in addition to widows
*Provided that all financial institutions regulated by the State must be free of sex discrimination
*NOT challenged the right to privacy in public restrooms, school locker rooms, college dormitories, prisons, public hospitals, army barracks and the like
Source Information: 
National Organization for Women (NOW) brochure on Equal Rights Amendment
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
National Organization for Women. Philadelphia Chapter Records (Collection 2054)
Box 1, folder n.d.; 1968-1977
National Organization for Women (NOW) brochure on Equal Rights Amendment
1976
ERA Equal Rights Amendment - only a step away!
silhouette of early suffragist holding a protest sign, standing at base of staircase. silhouette of 70s-era woman standing on top of stairs
The Equal Rights Amendment Reads:
"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex."
August 26 has been declared National "Shoulder to Shoulder for the ERA" day across the country. Contact your local NOW chapter for information about ERA support activities planned for that day.
Ongoing activities in support for the ERA will take place this Fall, and until passage of the ERA is assured. If no group exists in your area, start one! Or get your local club, church, union or other group to pass a resolution in support of the ERA, and print materials for membership information. Brochures and other information can be obtained by writing to
This brochure has been written and produced by:
PO Box 185
Philadelphia, PA
(215) 561-7185
Source Information: 
National Organization for Women (NOW) brochure on Equal Rights Amendment
The Historical Society of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA
National Organization for Women. Philadelphia Chapter Records (Collection 2054)
Box 1, folder n.d.; 1968-1977
About This Document: 

Throughout the 1970s, many women witnessed the advancement of African Americans in the work place, public spaces, and education, while little progress was made by feminists. Although the Civil Rights Act of 1964 came with a provision guaranteeing equal rights for women, the US Equal Employment Opportunity Commission was unable to effectively enforce that equality. In response, the National Organization of Women (NOW) stepped in. Twelve years later, NOW printed this brochure as a reminder to everyone in the United States that women's rights had not yet advanced far enough. From its headline of "200 years of bondage is enough," to its closing image of a modern young woman alongside an older suffragist, readers of this Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) brochure felt the intensity of the new feminist movement.

The brochure lists disparities in social and economic status between men and women and suggests remedies. This strategy was notable because it demonstrated a more conservative type of feminism: the makers of this brochure did not want to alienate the lawmakers in Washington by positioning themselves as too radical. The brochure also pointed out that Pennsylvania's ERA amendment did not increase the divorce rate as a result of women's expansion of rights, one of the primary arguments made by opponents. However, civil rights movements had historically only succeeded at the federal level, so feminists focused their efforts on Congress and on obtaining a constitutional amendment. Taking another page from the Civil Rights movements of the 1960s, NOW was backed by wealthy organizations such as the AFL-CIO and the American Civil Liberties Union to promote a stable, centrist image. After all, the majority of members in these organizations were men. And if men could stand behind women's rights, they determined, so could the federal government.

Many attempts to obtain an equal rights amendment had been made throughout the 20th century but were never quite successful. The first attempt in 1923 was not supported by the federal government. An amendment was again submitted in 1958 with President Eisenhower's support, but stalled in Congress and never passed. Despite numerous failures, an ERA bill was introduced with each new Congress. ERA submission to state governments, in contrast, met with much greater success. Early adopters of equal rights amendments such as Alaska, California, and Pennsylvania had equal rights legislation as early as 1972. Currently, over 22 states have explicit ERA stipulations in their state constitutions.

Ultimately, the ERA brochure is evidence of a new generation of women using techniques popularized by the Civil Rights movement in the 1960s to advance their own agenda. They connected with the population using economic appeals, which worked especially well in the weak economy of the 1970s. Although an ERA amendment would eventually pass through Congress, state ratification led to its rejection in 1982. And while gender disparities still exist today in the military, the workforce, and healthcare, efforts like the brochure from NOW reveal the battles American women had to fight in order to win the freedom they have today.

Sources:

The Equal Rights Amendment: Unfinished Business for the Constitution (website), Alice Paul Institute in collaboration with ERA Task Force of the National Council of Women's Organizations, accessed November 2012, www.equalrightsamendment.org.

"History of NOW," National Organization for Women, accessed November 2012, www.now.org/history.