How Long Till Equality?

American women take stock and step up the pace

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the Haymarket People's Fund of Boston, says, "No one, and I mean no one, got here by herself. Women in the past have paid a heavy price for the women of today.

What affirmative action programs we have, what salaries—no matter how small—were made possible with help from another person."

Scott, who is black, is a solid refutation of the widely held notion that feminism is strictly a white, middle-class issue. That remains a common enough criticism, as if the whole movement could be bundled up in a Volvo station wagon and sent off for a spin into irrelevancy. In fact, minority women may still be more concerned with problems of employment and discrimination than with the comparatively rarefied legalities of a constitutional amendment. But even their priority issues, in the words of former NOW President Aileen Hernandez, "flow out of the ERA." Adds Ruth Mandel, director of the Center for the American Woman and Politics at Rutgers University: "I'd be willing to bet that there is only a small minority of families in the U.S. that has not had to deal over the past ten years with the fact, or the consequences, of the women's movement."

Some families may have dealt with the consequences so extensively that for the younger members, the problem has just about blown away. "Equality is not as big an issue for us as it is for grownups," says Demetrius Toney, 17, of White Plains, N.Y. Maybe the reason is that, for Demetrius, it has long been a part of his second nature. His mother is a day worker, cleaning other people's houses, "so I do everything in our house. I sweep, I wash dishes. This week my brother is doing the laundry." At U.C.L.A., Director of the Women's Resource Center Tina Oakland says, "Most college women think the movement has worked. Girls don't think they need a women's movement. They think society is fair." Lori Harrington, 21, of Yonkers, N.Y., is not quite so sure. "I haven't lived long enough to know exactly what I'd be giving up for equality, but I do know what I'd be giving up if we went back to the '50s," she says. "I wouldn't be in school. There'd be no reason for me to be hi school. I could forget becoming a journalist, unless I wanted to write a cooking column some place."

If Harrington is serious about a column, she might consider one about women and the law. Along with other benefits, it could shake up some of her peers. She might explain the immediate practical need for the ERA ("We are probably not going to see many more gains without some major legal change such as the ERA": Donna Lenhoff of Washington's Women's Legal Defense Fund. "I think we have gone as far as we can under the 14th Amendment": Gail Harmon, president of the fund). She might point out that the Supreme Court, lacking any clear standard for sex discrimination cases, has ruled both that the Martin Marietta Corp. was guilty of sex discrimination by not hiring women with children and that a California state disability plan was not discriminatory, even though it excluded pregnancy as a disability. If Harrington wants to stir things up a little more, she might speculate on whether the country's first woman Justice, Sandra Day O'Connor, was more a jurist or a feminist. Her deciding vote in a case establishing

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