Identifier

etd-11172014-130516

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

History

Document Type

Dissertation

Abstract

This dissertation analyzes the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) ratification battle in Louisiana and the women who helped defeat it. The study emphasizes the role of anti-ERA women in the amendment’s defeat, but the views of pro-ERA women are also featured. Historical evidence shows that ERA advocates underestimated anti-ERA women. They dismissed anti-ERA women as either ignorant of their oppression or as pawns of male interests. This study challenges the idea that female ERA opponents in Louisiana behaved irrationally, worked against their own interests, or acted at the behest of men. Organized women led in opposition to the ERA in Louisiana. Several factors motivated them, including their religious beliefs. Anti-ERA women had different worldviews than pro-ERA women regarding the meanings of gender and equality. Although they came from different faiths, most ERA opponents believed in a created order based on gender difference. In their view, a law that forced equality by demanding men and women be treated the same would not only fail, it would generate disastrous social consequences, including women being drafted into the military, moral decline, and family breakdown. The desire to preserve their class and social status also motivated them. Most anti-ERA women were wives who depended on their husbands financially. They received economic rewards from their marital status, but also psychological and social rewards. Anti-ERA women believed the ERA would diminish and possibly eliminate their roles as housewives. An emerging conservative movement, which began to take shape in the context of the Cold War and the 1960s social revolution, also influenced and motivated anti-ERA women in Louisiana. A significant number of Louisiana women rejected many of the tenets of this social revolution, including feminism and the ERA.

Date

2014

Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Long, Alecia P.

Included in

History Commons

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