Hoosier Antifeminism in the 1970s: Why Indiana was the Last State to Ratify the Equal Rights Amendment

Rachel Wilburn Butler University
Faculty Sponsor(s): Vivian Deno Butler University
From the anti-suffrage countermovement in the 19th century to today’s political climate, feminism and the fight for women’s rights have been points of debate and controversy. Women have historically led campaigns of opposition to such rights, citing the preservation of social order as the rationale behind such convictions. The Equal Rights Amendment, which aimed to affirm overarching equal rights for men and women, was vigorously refuted by antifeminist women across the country under the umbrella of Phyllis Schlafly’s national Stop-ERA organization during the 1970’s. These women believed that the passage of the ERA would lead to various undesirable consequences, such as women being forced to fight in military combat units and the implementation of unisex bathrooms. Most importantly, however, these antifeminists viewed the ERA as a threat to traditional values. In focusing on the anti-ERA movement specifically in Indiana during the 1970’s, this project showcases not only how Stop-ERA and other anti-ERA women thought about womanhood, but also how they believed this amendment would impact that feminine identity, both legally and symbolically. This project augments scholarship that focuses on the legislative history of the ERA through the examination of Indiana’s conservative worldview. In doing so, “Hoosier Antifeminism” reveals why women fervently fought against an amendment that sought to unequivocally assure equal rights in the United States Constitution. Antifeminist discourse is observed through the words of these Hoosier women themselves, demonstrating the effects of Indiana’s conservative culture on the identity of womanhood within this context of the Equal Rights Amendment.
History
Oral Presentation

When & Where

11:15 AM
Jordan Hall 301