In an irony that feminists and their liberal supporters have yet to fully grasp, the opponents of the Equal Rights Amendment celebrated its defeat as a "great victory for women' and as a "great achievement by women." The ERA had been a major--perhaps the major--goal of the American feminist movement for ten years. It would have rendered unconstitutional dozens of arcane state laws which limit women's property rights during and after marriage. It would have strengthened women's position as wage-earners--helping open up higher-paying, traditionally male jobs, and providing a wedge against all the subtle, informal mechanisms of wage discrimination. It would have, in symbolic fashion, finally given women recognition as full and equal citizens. Yet on June 30, 1982, it was defeated.

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