In the 1920s after women were granted the right to vote. The next logical step to be taken would be an Equal Right Amendment. However, suffragists were generally split on this issue. The major split occurred because suffragists that previously worked on getting women better work hours and conditions did not want to risk invalidating those sex based labor laws established after Muller vs Oregon. Due to the division created over an Equal Rights Amendment, suffragists would not be able to come together with a united agenda for four decades.
The dividing point among suffragists was, for the most part, whether the Equal Rights Amendment would match women’s needs. Some suffragists worried that if the Equal Rights Amendment was passed then women could be subjected to the horrible working hours and conditions they previously endured. Those on the other side of this argument did not want to be limited by the sex based labor laws put into place post Muller vs Oregon. However in 1923 at Seneca Falls the National Women’s Party came together and announced the new language for the Equal Rights Amendment. The amendment stated “men and women shall have equal rights throughout the United States and every place subject to its jurisdiction (Kerber p.506).” The Amendment would later be send to congress, but would not be passed.
Opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment claimed that “women will always need many laws different from those of men (Kerber p.509).” In other words they claimed that “the sexual division of labor was eternal (Kerber p.509).” Though, the National Women’s Party argued that women should have open access to jobs and professions. On one side there are arguments that women need separate legislation from men because of their roles as child bearers and mothers. On the other side there are arguments that men and women should follow the same legislation so neither gender is limited.
Personally I believe that men and women should have the same rights when it comes to being able to get a job. Life is full of choices and women and men should be able to have choose any profession. Though, the problem does lie with a woman’s ability to bear children. Should a woman get special treatment because she has this ability? I don’t believe so, if a woman decides to do a job that could negatively affect her ability to have children than that was a choice she made. Furthermore, if women are allowed to go on maternity leave than why not make it so fathers can go on paternity leave. There needs to be compromises in legislation for both men and women. We cannot give onside something the want at the expense of the other.
Kerber, Linda, et.al. Women’s America. 8th edition, New York: Oxford University Press, 2016.