Saturday, August 22, 2020

The Ladies Who Lunch

If you have not watched Mrs. America I urge you to do so. It is a semi fictional account of the movements behind the Equal Rights Amendment, both pro and con, focusing on some of the most "notorious" OG's of their respective movements. And what it did was to remind me that women are their own worst enemy, particularly around the issue of popularity defined by looks and sexual attraction. It shows how women work that to their own favor and their own detriment and opens that door to what we now call #METoo the systemic sexual harassment and subjugation of women. Again, we can play that game which group or personhood has had it worse but let's not.

This is where we are in America where we "one up" each over who has had it the worst when it comes to loss and pain. And when it comes down to it it will always be the provenance of white men who regardless of status or class or education, they will aggrieve themselves to position number one. Case in point: Donald Trump.

Watching the DNC this week the parade of states had many faces of color, many genders and we are assuming sexuality although with the prominent position of Pete Buttigeg that was clearly assumed, the lovely young well educated white man-splaining why another old white man deserves the Presidency. Irony or Oxymoron? Yet other faces of color, trans folks the new hated class and the alt left were given little floor time. But hey did those parade of women Actors do a great job? One of every group, how convenient or a coincidence? Can you make it any clearer? No. But the parade of states and the delegates made me love America in a way I never thought I could and now I suddenly crave Calamari. The tears shed when Matthew Shepard's family cast their vote to remember hate crimes to those whose sexuality is not linear, to Mr. Guttenberg of Florida to remind us of the failed efforts at gun control, and Mr. Karzai returning again to remind us why we all have pocket Constitutions were important. There were the delegates from the "colonies" of Puerto Rico, the Virgin Islands, Guam and American Samoa remind me we have some States to add as the votes cast by Alaska and Hawaii told a story of the power of Immigrants and the power of our place and role in the world. There were tears shed while my beloved Elizabeth Warren shared her amazing story that truly is one of meritocracy and the cleverness of well placed cubbies, and of course even Kamala Harris, whose own personal story is one to again prove that myths like Meritocracy do still survive and that we have come a long way since Shirley Chisholm and her failed run for office, beautifully told in that same show, Mrs. America. Funny how it is stories about Jill Biden are lost that she will continue to work if and when Senator Biden takes office, again unprecedented and that we would have a man as a professional spouse. Nor that like the stories about Phyllis Schlafly 30 years ago with her bikini and bread making is how women turn heads and minds. Mrs. Biden wore a bikini with the word NO written on her stomach to prevent Biden from running for President 20 years ago.

Yes the power of sex and the word NO always seems to run hand in hand. And which is why I am exhausted from trying to learn about women from their own personal relationships, past or present tied to their benefactors. And this is why I loved Elizabeth Warren and her story of Aunt Bea and how she helped her do it all. Ms. Warren did remarry but her spouse, do you know him at all? Her dog, however, Bailey, yes I do. There are others, Ruth Bader Ginsburg whose husband took a secondary role to let her rise, and their is Sonya Sotamayor, who clearly did it all on her own to rise to the top of the Court. My memory of her speaking at the Nashville Festival of Books two years ago, still brings tears. There are few women we don't seem to have some sort of comma tied to their resume as I recall Ms. Harris when City Attorney of San Francisco was the "girlfriend of the Mayor." The former wife of the now Governor of California (but once also the former Mayor of San Francisico) now paramour to Trump Jr. Kimberly Guilfoyle, or the biggest comma of them all, Hillary Clinton, does little to remind me that we as women can make or break a glass ceiling. Most women today in the news inherited their wealth or attained it via divorce which has enabled them to do more which they would never do without it but when are we truly going to meet a "self made woman" in the same vein that many men present themselves as, despite knowing they had family money all along to help them on their way. Case in point: Donald Trump.

The most overused word of the 21st century is Entrepreneur. This applies to Mark Zuckerberg, a privileged kid who got other privileged kids to help him, the same goes for most others in Silicon Valley, the largest bromance in the history of them. The few women and faces of color I could count on one hand and again I wonder how many comma's they have following their titles that have little to do with education or achievement.

This week I went to a bank to cash a tax for overpaying my taxes. It was not accepted at the ATM to deposit so I forced myself to go to the only Wells Fargo open in Jersey City and again was met with utterly oblivion as to my existence or presence when let in. This is something I am used to and I presume that all white women are now seen as the ubiquitous Karen's but also my age and gender do contribute. This was not the first time I was mishandled at the same branch when I walked through the drive through and told by the male teller I was not to do that again, it was not safe and not to come to the branch again. Well surprise! He was not there, so after waiting 10 minutes, ignored, the only person there and counting six employees, I asked if I could simply fill out a deposit slip and leave. No they would be with me and then I was greeted with the "MRS" before my name. WHAT! I knew that was a trigger and I lost it being sarcastic I responded, "MS or Miss will do, I am not married, I made my money the old fashioned way, on my own." Then she said, well I am married and I do it out of habit or something that was utterly idiotic and not needed and then reprimanded me for not using the ATM to deposit the check. Again I explained for some reason it would not take it and she went on explaining that was impossible as they accept all checks.. again I said this is from the State of Idaho so let's go out try it again and let me know that this $40 buck check (yes it was 40) would be accepted by her as it clearly hated me..or just give me the money and let me out of here. She then asked if I would like to talk to the Manager. Okay, no this Karen wants her money and wants to leave and I stamped my hand on the counter. The entire six person staff stopped pretending to work and actually paid attention and I took my money and left. I came home to a call from the Manager which I did not respond. If anyone thinks this will change after Covid, think again. This is where we are in America, we see faces of color as suspect, white women as Karen's and we trust no one who doesn't repeat the talking points of our respective ideological beliefs. We are fucking afraid of it all and Covid exacerbated it.

In the Suffragette Movement there was an initial action to include Black Citizens and a work to encourage cooperation and support from the Black Elite of the time but later the movement segregated out of that aspiration as they felt it was hindering their opportunity to succeed. We see that with the Gay Movement with regards to the ERA and it is now with regards to Black Lives Matter that we are neglecting the abuse of Immigrants, Indigent people and other salient groups that are not solely black. Trans lives matter, period. But if you are not saying it exactly as stated you are canceled and that brings more wrath and indignity that reminds me of the days living in Seattle where liberalism is a laundry cycle, and in Nashville where the expression "I accept the Lord Jesus Christ as my Savior" was a mantra required to prove worth. So folks the twain meets right there with compliance and conformity on either side.

The ERA needs to be passed. It needs to open the door to amend the Voting Rights act and in turn make it a Amendment in its own rights and in turn we need to open Statehood to our "colonies" as well as Washington DC. Biden is a single term President and his legacy could be how he changed it all. He won't and I don't think Ms. Harris will either for fear and legacy and job security is all that matters. Position over possibility.

Equal Rights Amendment: Will women ever have equal rights under federal law?
Coral Murphy, USA TODAY
Updated 7:40 a.m. EDT Aug. 18, 2020

Nearly half a century after the Equal Rights Amendment was passed by Congress, the proposal to enshrine equality for women in the U.S. Constitution has gained new momentum.
Women of the Century wordmark

The timing is fortuitous, aligning with the centennial this month of the 19th Amendment securing women’s right to vote, and the political environment is primed as the women’s movement has reasserted itself as a powerful force.

The protections guaranteed by the ERA – providing specific protection for women as a class – are designed to end gender discrimination in broad segments, including employment, property rights and divorce.

“We face the same challenges we faced since 1982, and that is that very few people understand we still don't have equality regardless of gender,” said Lucienne Beard, executive director of the nonprofit Alice Paul Institute, named after the woman who wrote the Equal Rights Amendment in 1923. The amendment was proposed in Congress every session until it was finally approved in 1972.

“Our country is based on our laws,” Beard said, “and our laws do not reflect the reality that men and women are equal and should be treated as such under the law.”

In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic that’s left millions of Americans unemployed and the economy cratered, the ERA has new meaning: As families struggle to pay their rent, food and other necessities while living with uncertainty about whether they'll receive more federal benefits or not, the ERA would create legal space for women to hold employers accountable for punitive actions taken against them based on increased child care responsibilities.

Christina Sciabarra, a political science professor at Bellevue College in Washington state, said day care and school closures hit working moms particularly hard. Those women "could face punishment from employers who have grown frustrated with accommodating family needs," Sciabarra said. Passing the ERA would offer them some form of protection.

The women’s movement gained momentum in the early 20th century thanks to the ratification of women’s suffrage. Despite that crucial victory, women’s rights advocates argued that women didn’t have equal rights under the law.

“As many voices in this centennial tell us, not all women actually succeeded in securing actual voting rights at the point of the 19th Amendment's ratification in 1920,” said Reva Siegel, a professor at Yale Law School.

There's still work to be done when it comes to equality. The 19th Amendment wasn’t fully extended to women of color: Black, Latina, Native American and Asian women continued to face disenfranchisement, either because they were living under Jim Crow laws or they were not granted full citizenship.

Three years after women secured the right to vote, Alice Paul, a key figure in the suffrage fight, wrote and introduced the Equal Rights Amendment.

It took decades for the ERA to gain traction. The country was recovering from the Second World War, and women were sent back home out of their workplaces. Women felt renewed discrimination regarding employment. The civil rights movement of the 1960s helped the ERA gain momentum again.

The ERA was passed by a majority-Democrat Congress on March 22, 1972, under President Richard Nixon; however, it failed to achieve ratification after it was sent to the states.

To be added to the Constitution, it needed approval by legislatures in three-fourths – or 38 of the 50 – states by March 1979. The ERA received approval in only 35 states by that date. Its defeat was due in part to the work of conservative women, who shunned the ERA and the women’s liberation movement.

One of the ERA’s major opponents was Phyllis Schlafly, who expressed her disdain for the amendment, which she saw as an attack on women, families, homemakers and morality. Schlafly formed the group Stop ERA, which aimed to halt the amendment's ratification. (The ERA fight was portrayed in the 2020 Hulu series "Mrs. America," which feminist leader and ERA advocate Gloria Steinem criticized as being inaccurate.)

Although Congress voted to extend the original March 1979 deadline to June 30, 1982, no other state voted yes before that date, and the ERA was pushed to the back burner.

Critics of the ERA argue it is no different from the 14th Amendment of the Constitution, which says no state shall deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws. The 14th Amendment was ratified after the Civil War to address race discrimination, and it has been applied to sex discrimination only since 1971.

“Although the ERA was not made part of the official text of the Constitution, the mobilization for its recognition profoundly altered the understanding of both public and private actors all around the U.S. and began to make aspects of the law shift in a transformative way,” Siegel said.

Recently, 10 of the states that didn't ratify introduced ERA bills in their legislatures: In 2017, Nevada became the 36th state to ratify the ERA, and in 2018, Illinois became the 37th. On Jan. 27, Virginia became the 38th state to ratify, jump-starting the conversation again for the amendment's inclusion in the Constitution almost 50 years after it was defeated. The ratification vote came after a record number of women were elected to Virginia state office in November 2018.

A new hope

After Virginia’s ratification, the ERA reached the minimum of 38 states required by Congress for addition to the U.S. Constitution. Less than a month later, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a resolution that would remove the deadline for the ERA’s ratification.

“Without full equality under the Constitution, women face a devastating wage gap,” Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said in a speech in February. “And this has an impact not only on the families, what families earn today, but on women's pension and retirement in the future.”

The resolution is in the hands of the GOP-controlled Senate. Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., was dismissive of the measure when asked in February whether he would allow it to come to the floor.

Pelosi, D-Calif., said this year it’s shameful the ERA hasn’t been enshrined in the Constitution.

“As a result, millions of American women still face inequality under the law and injustice in their careers and lives,” Pelosi said in February.

Millions of American women still face inequality under the law and injustice in their careers and lives.

Supporters of the ERA say they aim to end pregnancy discrimination, problems exposed by the #MeToo movement and gender inequities at home and work amid the COVID-19 crisis.

Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden supports the ERA and said that if he's elected in November, he will work with Congress to include it in the Constitution.

The Trump administration filed a motion to dismiss the case that seeks to add the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution.

“With two conservative Supreme Court justices relatively recently appointed and confirmed, there are real questions as to what this could mean for abortion rights, LGBTQ rights and women's employment rights,” Sciabarra said. “Final ratification and certified publication of the ERA would provide an additional legal barrier to reversing gender-based rights, although it is no guarantee, given its simplicity.”
"I haven't thought about that," he said. "I am personally not a supporter, but I haven't thought about it."

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