Women and Gender Seminar: Alison Lefkovitz, University of Chicago and Emily LaBarbera Twaróg, University of Illinois at Chicago

Women and Gender Seminar
Friday, November 7, 2008

3:00 pm to 5:00 pm

Housewives, Citizenship, and Feminism in Postwar America

“The Value of Housework, Queer Competition, and the Defeat of the Equal Rights Amendment, 1978-1982”
Alison Lefkovitz, University of Chicago
This paper argues that ERA proponents believed women’s inequality could only be fully shattered by compensating wives for their unpaid labor as homemakers. The conservative movement disavowed this strategy and argued that granting entitlements to homemakers would transform the vast majority of families into matriarchies or welfare families. The ERA would simultaneously grant gay couples the right to marry and thereby create another perverse alternative to the “traditional” family. The Right interpreted women’s equality as offering a world where all families were equally deviant, a cost many Americans agreed was too high to pay for formal gender equality.

“ ‘A Golden Apple Filled With Acid’: The Political Citizenship of Working-Class Housewives and the Campaign to Defeat the Equal Rights Amendment in Post-World War II America”
Emily LaBarbera Twaróg, University of Illinois at Chicago

Commentator: Lynn Weiner, Roosevelt University