"The Most Damnable Thing:" Women Who Want to be Women and the Fight to Rescind the Equal Rights Amendment in Texas



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In the 1970s states were quickly ratifying the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which aimed to bring equality between men and women. Success, however, was short lived as a vocal and well-organized opposition of middle class, religious, White women, led by conservative activist Phyllis Schlafly, mobilized to protest the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment. Although Phyllis Schlafly is the most recognized name associated with the anti-ERA movement, the success and influence of the movement lay on the shoulders of countless activists and groups who organized conservative women to become politically active and fight for their values. One such organization, Women Who Want to be Women, began in Texas, and grew to influence the movement nationally. Scholarship on Women Who Want to be Women does not currently exist to fully examine the history and national influence of the organization. This study uses information from Women Who Want to be Women to expand the existing historiography on the role that this group played in the anti-ERA movement. This study examines the group’s literature, beliefs, and history to demonstrate how religious fundamentalism motivated thousands of women to become active participants in their states to either prevent the passage of the ERA or to rescind their state’s vote for the amendment. This thesis also examines why some states were able to prevent a successful rescission effort by having an existing pro-ERA network to combat the activities of WWWW and similar organizations. Fully understanding the anti-ERA movement is vital in understanding the defeat of the Equal Right Amendment, and this thesis demonstrates the importance of local organizations actively campaigning against the amendment and illustrates the need for further research into the topic in various states to form a more complete understanding of the motivations of anti-ERA activists. This work highlights the success that fundamentalists Christians had in preventing the amendment from being ratified.



Women Who Want to be Women, Texas, Equal Rights Amendment, Antifeminism, Church of Christ, Fundamentalist Christians, Phyllis Schlafly, Lottie Beth Hobbs, Women’s history