My crowd, lacking church, has displaced virtue signaling onto politics. Which brings us back to the E.R.A. My fear is that a drawn-out, complicated legal fight over the E.R.A. will enhance conservatives’ ability to mobilize in 2020 the very groups that delivered the White House to Mr. Trump in 2016: evangelicals and working-class whites in the Rust Belt states.
Given today’s Supreme Court, the E.R.A. is likely to accomplish little. That’s what drives my conclusion that feminists should focus their fervor and funds on campaigns that promise concrete results in women’s lives: for example, enacting legislation such as a Pregnant Workers’ Fairness Act that would give pregnant women the right to the accommodations needed to keep their jobs while pregnant and breastfeeding, or amendments to the Fair Labor Standards Act to expand the coverage of the Affordable Care Act’s guarantee of reasonable break time and a clean place to pump milk at work.
The current preoccupation with the E.R.A. is just one expression of elites’ obsession with using politics to enact their virtue. My advice? Use religion for that. Use politics to shape the law to make concrete improvements in women’s lives. That’s the path to gender equality.