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date: 25 April 2019

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter traces the history of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and its relationship to the women’s movement. The ERA has both mobilized and divided the American feminist movement from its inception in the 1920s, backed by the National Woman’s Party, through its defeat in the 1980s. A broad coalition of feminist groups fought for the ERA, yet also were divided on issues of race, class, and political ideology. Some radical feminists, socialist feminists, women of color, and working-class women publicly questioned what impact the ERA would have on women’s everyday lives, suspected its formal equality, and criticized the National Organization for Women and liberal feminists for allocating significant resources to a seemingly single-minded pursuit of the ERA. The conservative countermovement finally blocked the amendment’s ratification. The ERA today faces a revival, prompted by a legally innovative “three-state strategy.”

Keywords: Equal Rights Amendment, National Woman’s Party, race, class, liberal feminism, radical feminism, National Organization for Women

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