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What arguments can be made for and against adding the Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution?

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The major argument for an equal rights amendment is that it would be more just.  The major argument against it is that it would force our society to treat men and women equally in ways that we do not want.

On the “pro” side, the major argument is that women should be equal to men.  In the old days, women were seen as inferior to men based on outdated medical notions and on the basis of physical strength.  Most jobs today do not need physical strength.  Modern science has disposed of the idea that women are less intelligent than men or that women are too delicate to do various things that men can do.  However, there are still some people who believe women should be treated differently and there are things (like the fact that women make less money than men) that seem to indicate that discrimination might be going on.  Therefore, we should have an amendment that protects women from discrimination just as racial minorities are protected.

The major argument against such an amendment is that it would force “excessive” equality.  This is partly based on concerns about things most Americans would not want to see happen.  For example, there are concerns that it would lead to bans on separate bathrooms or changing rooms for men and women.  It is also based to some degree on the fact that some people still do not think women should do all the same things men do.  For example, there are concerns among many that women would be forced to sign up for the draft and be drafted in the event of a major war.  There are people who do not want women to be allowed in combat positions.  They worry that an equal rights amendment would force these things to happen.

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