At some point I will write about something other than sexual assault, but it’s only been a few months of media attention after decades of silence. Plus, there are still lots of new things to talk about.
For example, why did so many influential women squander the Golden Globe Awards by talking about the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns, but never once mentioning the Equal Rights Amendment? (ERA) It would be like having a national award show in 1864 where all the important people take the stage to condemn slavery, but nobody mentions the Thirteenth Amendment.
Oprah’s rousing speech at the end included a double-barreled “Time’s Up” command, followed by the observation that a “new day” was “on the horizon.” She got so many people excited that social media started talking about Oprah running for president before the applause stopped. I wasn’t one of them, because as cynical as it sounds, I didn’t understand the whole “new day” thing. She said the “new day” would be when nobody has to say “Me Too,” but she didn’t say how or why that day would arrive anytime soon. She didn’t even mention that she was raped at age 9, or that because her attacker was a family member, her type of suffering wasn’t being addressed by all the Hollywood tree-shaking. Why didn’t she use her enormously influential moment in the global sun to say something like this:
Women and girls in America are beaten and sexually abused because-they-are-female. This I know because I have been a victim of abuse based on my gender.
I also know that women will continue to be abused by men so long as we remain second-class citizens under the United States Constitution. Nothing will change no matter how many #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns we launch, and no matter how many powerful men are dethroned, until women obtain their rightful seats as fully equal persons under the law.
Until that day comes, the violence will continue because the space between equality and inequality is where the rule of law itself permits the abuse of women, without effective legal recourse.
Women have been fighting for the ERA for nearly a hundred years! We have been abused, beaten, raped, mistreated, underpaid and disrespected at inhumane levels, and in the name of democracy, for longer than any civilized society should tolerate. And yet we remain unequal.
TIME IS UP!
Starting today – starting right NOW – women must join hands and raise their voices together, across racial, ethnic, class, religious, and all other lines, and declare their commitment to one another, and to the enactment of the ERA once and for all. When victory comes, it will be the dawn of new day; a time when women will walk side by side with men, and stand tall in courtrooms across this nation where they will ask for, and receive for the first time in history, THE FULL AND EQUAL PROTECTION OF ALL LAWS!
That’s what Oprah could have said. But she didn’t. Not even close. And none of the other powerful women did either. They gushed words without wisdom, and platitudes without plans. Reese, Barbra, Fran, Ashley, Meryl, Susan, Emma, Michele, Shailene, Viola, Laura, Natalie, Amy, and so many others, seemed utterly unaware that there even IS an Equal Rights Amendment. It was like a feminist Twilight Zone episode. There was no ask, no petition to sign. Just glitz, glamour, and then nothing. It was reminiscent of the 2017 Women’s March, when scores of women rallied in our nation’s capital, only to hear speaker after speaker talk about everything BUT the ERA. Then they went home, without a purpose.
Into this leadership void an intrepid activist should insert the idea of a new Women’s Party, with a single platform issue: pass the ERA. If women won’t come together on an issue that affects every aspect of their lives, then they deserve their subjugation, and the abuse that comes with it.