‘Women have been waiting 232 years for equality in this country.’ — Actor Patricia Arquette urged Congress to finally pass the Equal Rights Amendment.
You can see Patricia Arquette The Act now on Hulu, but the Patricia Arquette Oscar speech established the actress as a fierce fighter for women, feminism, and equality.
'Women have waited 232 years to be enshrined as full and equal citizens. Why? Because in 1787, women were left out of the Constitution intentionally. While the Constitution says nothing about deadlines for amendments, Congress put a deadline on the Equal Rights Amendment when it was passed in 1972. I am here to appeal to you to remove the 1982 deadline placed on Congress for the ratification of the ERA. Just because women didn’t achieve full equality in America by 1978 or by 1982, doesn’t mean they shouldn’t have it today. There’s a groundswell in this country. Women are being elected in record numbers, women are rising up by the millions and saying they will not be sexually assaulted, they will not be paid less, they will not be treated as subhuman, and they will have their voices heard.
Women’s protections cannot be left to interpretation alone. So let’s look at the treatment of women in America today. These are present day truths. See, they’re not antiquated horrors we have to search for in history books. These are things that are happening to both Democratic and Republican women. In America, in 2019, there are estimated to be hundreds of thousands of untested, evidentiary rape kits across the nation. Only half our states mandate the timely testing of evidence contained in these rape kits. Many victims are being billed for the collection of their own forensic evidence. Countless emergency rooms and hospitals don’t even have trained staff to collect evidence in rape kits, even though it’s estimated that one-quarter of all women in America will be raped in their lifetime.
Isn’t it reasonable to expect that an emergency room would know how to collect evidence from a rape kit? Isn’t that reasonable? And yet, women are going, when they are raped, from hospital to hospital, and being told – sometimes they go to four hospitals right after they’ve been raped – and they’re told they don’t know how to collect the evidence. They have to go to another place. By the time they get their rape kit taken, and this is from the Joyful Heart, gave me this information, by the time they get their rape kit taken, the date rape drug is gone! It is no longer in their system. And we know only 3% of rapists ever spend a day in jail.
In some states in America today, women could be forced to co-parent with their convicted rapists, and incarcerated women, up until 3 months ago, could be forced to give birth while shackled to beds. We have the only rising mortality rate in the developed world. American women, especially African American, Latina, and Native American women are dying of pregnancy related complications here, on the wealthiest nation on Earth. And we know the gender pay gap is having devastating consequences for women and their families, especially women of color. We know 98% of all jobs, women are paid less. According to the Census Bureau, 4 million women over 65 years old are living in poverty, and if they had equal pay, more than 2.5 million children with working, single mothers would be lifted out of poverty. These are just a few examples of how systemic bias against women is expressed in America. Why? Because women don’t have the same value as men in our country. That was true in 1787. It was true in 1982. It is true in 2019. So I hope by now we are all ready to make women’s equality a bedrock American value, and enshrine it in the U.S. Constitution. I hope we’re ready for all our mothers, daughters, sisters, and friends to have full equal rights. Why didn’t women achieve full constitutional equality in 1787 or 1982? Because the country wasn’t ready? Well I hope you’re ready now, because women have been waiting 232 years for equality in this country, and it’s failed them. Legislators have blocked the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment for decades, but we’re done waiting.'
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