Rebecca DeWolf, "Gendered Citizenship: The Original Conflict Over the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920-1963" (U Nebraska Press, 2021)


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In Political Science, we are very familiar with the work of scholars who try to unpack why the ERA failed to get the required states. But Gendered Citizenship: The Original Conflict over the Equal Rights Amendment, 1920-1963 published by the University of Nebraska in 2021 interrogates how earlier debates on the ERA transcended traditional political divides and ultimately redefined the concept of citizenship in the United States. By using a rich collection of public and private sources, Dr. Rebecca DeWolf shows that support for and opposition to the ERA was not tied to either conservatism or liberalism. Instead unusual allies coalesced around two competing views of citizenship – what DeWolf calls the emancipatory and the protectionist. Gendered Citizenship argues that the early conflict over the ERA changed the definition of rights -- and the catalyst for that change was the 19th amendment. Those opposing the ERA provided a modern justification for separate and distinct standards of rights for men and women citizens -- and that formulation still haunts 21st century politics.

Dr. Rebecca DeWolf is a historian focused on gender and women’s history, politics, and United States' constitutional culture. She has received the Dirksen Center Congressional Research Grant as well as grants from American University to do her archival research on the ERA. Her writing has appeared in the Washington Post, History News Network, New America Weekly, and Frontiers.

Susan Liebell is Dirk Warren '50 Professor of Political Science at Saint Joseph’s University in Philadelphia.

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