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The Women's Movement
Then and Now

By Irene C. Taylor

religion, articles, christianity

The idea of rights for women has been around since the beginning of time. From day six when woman was created, she was made equal to man but with a different, very important role. Though in the annals of history some societies considered woman of lesser importance than man, the purpose of God for womankind has not changed. Only when mankind deviates from God's pattern has trouble arisen.

In the early days of our country, woman's role was greatly curbed. She was not given the right to vote nationwide until August 16, 1920, though many of the states granted her that right previous to that date. Women have not always been treated fairly in business matters. I remember the crooked dealing visited upon my mother in the 1930's and 1940's. She was left widowed with a large family to rear alone and became prey for the unscrupulous.

The resurgence of rights for women in the early 1970's bad little, if anything, to do with improving the fate of women. Under the smokescreen of equal pay for equal work, the movement gained early momentum with those who failed to investigate its true purpose. At first glance the Equal Rights Amendment, primary vehicle promoted during this time, seemed quite simple and innocent. It read:

Section 1. Equality of Rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex.
Section 2. The Congress shall have the power to enforce by appropriate legislation the provision of this article.
Section 3. This amendment shall take effect two years after the date of ratification.
A careful examination of the amendment revealed that nothing in it addressed, let alone guaranteed, better working conditions for women. Rather, equality could be achieved by lowering the standard for men or by removing protection previously granted women. Case in point: Bank of America in California is reported to have provided taxi service for women workers on the night shifts. When the state ERA passed, the men workers protested such inequality. Instead of providing "equal" service to the men, such protective service was ended for women! Such "equality" in action caused many to re-think the benefits which had been promised.

Further, the caliber of women in the forefront of the movement should have been cause for alarm early in the game. Quoted are but a few of the published statements, from their own literature and/or speeches, which reveal the real attitude of those pushing for the passage of ERA.

"For the sake of those who wish to live in equal partnership, we have to abolish and reform the institution of marriage" (Gloria Steinem).

"In the area of sexuality we believe that intolerant attitudes often cultivated by orthodox religious and puritanical cultures unduly repress sexual conduct" (Humanist Manifesto, a document of people who believe in human good rather than God).

Bella Abzug openly pushed for Gay Rights Legislation while in Congress and as Chairwoman of the National IWY Commission. It is interesting to recall that one of the published goals of the Communist Party was to create unrest among women as well as other segments of society. What better vehicle to accomplish this goal than the Equal Rights Amendment?

Not until the various state conventions, capped by the national convention in Houston in the fall of 1977, did undeniable evidence surface revealing the real reason for the push for passage of ERA. The radicals wanted universal acceptance of "an alternative life-style" or legalization of homosexuality and lesbianism. There had already been a definite push for a unisex society and this would have been the proverbial icing on the cake! Such ridiculous requests had been made to remove "sexist" language from our vocabulary. Manholes should now become personholes (according to their thinking); Fisherman's Wharf should be Fisherperson's Wharf, and, they insisted, sexist terms should be eliminated from God's word. They preferred God be called "Our Source," "Our Person," or "Holy One;" man should be "The Human Being" and sons should be changed to "children." It took a few years but the committee of the New Revised Version, published by Thomas Nelson Publishers, buckled under the pressure and met many of their demands to publish a perverted version o table to the feminist viewpoint.

Sadly, many members of the churches of Christ (both men and women) jumped on the bandwagon early in the movement. In all fairness to them, many honestly thought the betterment of women's lot would be accomplished by the amendment. Some stayed on the wagon in spite of mounting evidence of the ungodly thrust behind the movement. It became unpopular to speak against the amendment in many places because of the intensity of feeling on both sides of the issue. Some of the most irate reactions this writer faced were from women in the church. More than we would like to believe, the attitude of filling an equal role with men has spilled over into the church. Many are the problems which have arisen as a result of a gross misunderstanding of woman's role as God would have it. Until we realize that man and woman are equal before God but with different, distinctive, important roles in all walks of life (especially in religion), the confusion will only intensify.

Our next article will examine some of that confusion, followed by an overview of the current status of women.

Published October 1992