Summary of Divided We Stand

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Divided We Stand book summary


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The Congress of the United States passed the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1972 with broad bipartisan support. But supporters’ hopes for ratification by the states fell apart by 1980. A small but mighty army of female, religious conservative activists organized by right-wing spokeswoman Phyllis Schlafly led the opposition. She charged that the ERA would take privileges away from American women and would undermine “family values.” Women’s history scholar Marjorie J. Spruill meticulously reconstructs the 1977 International Women’s Year (IWY) Commission process and its controversial conference at which Schlafly emerged as a leader. Spruill’s attention to detail may make the book longer than it needs to be, but her story of the fight over the ERA and how Schlafly skillfully rendered “feminism” a dirty word for decades is fascinating. The family values coalition has defined the Republican Party ever since. Noting that the opinions expressed are those of the author, getAbstract recommends this revealing history to women across the political spectrum, political organizers and those who study US history.

In this summary, you will learn

  • What policies the International Women’s Year Commission recommended in 1977,
  • How conservative women successfully derailed ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment, and
  • How ideological disagreements between Republican and Democratic women in the 1970s and 1980s affected both parties’ agendas for decades.

About the Author

University of South Carolina women’s history professor Marjorie J. Spruill also wrote New Women of the New South and is an editor for the Journal of American Studies.



The International Women’s Year

President Gerald Ford appointed a US National Commission on the Observance of International Women’s Year (IWY) to coordinate events in the United States related to the UN’s World Plan of Action on women’s issues and its International Women’s Year in 1975.

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