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“We are disengaged and overburdened. Sounds like it is time we . . . get reenergized and reinspired.” —AMY RICHARDS

e hear “ERA” and think of burning bras and grainy photos of Gloria Steinem from the ’70s. An equal-rights amendment seems like an item on our feminist to-do list that has been checked off. Sadly, it hasn’t. The federal ERA was introduced in Congress in 1923 and passed in 1972, but it was never ratified. It’s been ninety-one years. Where’s our outrage? Shouldn’t we be burning our customfitted underwires? World Muse recently held an event to support and celebrate statewide ERA ballot measure 89 being voted on in Oregon this November. Surprisingly, less than a handful of the fourhundred-plus equality-minded attendees knew it was even on the ballot. Two feminist icons, Amy Richards and Gloria Steinem, shared some of their recent musings on the ERA matter with me.

Amanda Stuermer: Why didn’t the ERA get ratified back in 1972? Gloria Steinem: In retrospect, I think the anti-ERA forces succeeded for a mix of reasons. First, they knew very well that equality would cost a lot of money, and they were motivated to stop it. Second, they had crucial influence in many state legislatures where business interests reign. Third, many or most anti-ERA women were operating out of an unfounded but well-cultivated fear that the ERA would weaken rather than strengthen their ability to be supported as dependent homemakers or to get child support if divorced. They gave the press an image of women against women. In Manifesta, Amy Richards wrote, “[T]he presence of feminism in our lives is taken for granted. For our generation, feminism is like fluoride. We scarcely notice we have it—it’s simply in the water.” AS: Is that why we are currently so disengaged with the ERA? Amy Richards: As much as younger women are infused with a greater sense of possibility than most women of preceding generations, as a generation we are generally politically disengaged. Plus, the goal of equality seems to disproportionately burden women, since it’s

assumed that they have to assume more responsibility, while men can remain the status quo. Women have to do all of the catching up. So we are disengaged and overburdened. Sounds like it is time we ditch the complacent fluoride-in-the-tap-water feminism and get reenergized and reinspired. At our recent World Muse ERA event, we asked attendees—women, men, girls, and boys—to consider what liberty and equality for all means to them personally. We believe world change comes from within, so we wanted individuals to contemplate how equality fits into their everyday lives. One very young muse kept it simple and sweet: “I love to hug ever butty.” An older muse put it like this: “Begin to think of the first thoughts we had as children. Everyone was the same; we saw nothing but a friend.” AS: What would the founders of our democracy think about the ERA? GS: The truth is that our democracy is a work in progress. We are all its founders. We are all learning that we are linked and not ranked.

We are linked and not ranked. Ever butty is equal, everyone is the same. Muse on that.

“Our democracy is a work in progress. We are all its founders.” —GLORIA STEINEM

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Profile for THRIVE. ORIGIN + MANTRA Magazines

ORIGIN Magazine: Issue 21  

Annie Lennox, Ariana Huffington, Questlove, Top Musicians making a Difference, Music, 12+ Leaders redefining success, innovation, Michael Fr...

ORIGIN Magazine: Issue 21  

Annie Lennox, Ariana Huffington, Questlove, Top Musicians making a Difference, Music, 12+ Leaders redefining success, innovation, Michael Fr...

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