Thursday, July 14, 2011

Imagining Upheaval: The Often Adversarial Relationship of Solicitude and Respect

Imagine the upheaval that would result from adoption of blanket language requiring total equality. Would male citizens be justified in insisting that women share with them the burdens of compulsory military service? What would become of traditional family relationships? What about alimony? Who would have the obligation of supporting whom? Would fathers rank equally with mothers in the right of custody to children? What would become of the crimes of rape and statutory rape? Would the Mann Act be invalidated? Would the many State and local provisions regulating working conditions and hours of employment for women be struck down?

You know the biological differences between the sexes. In many States we have laws favorable to women. Are you going to strike those laws down? This is the entering wedge, an amendment of this sort. The list of foreseeable consequences, I will say to the committee, is unlimited.

—Comments by Emanuel Celler (D-NY), the Representative who introduced the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into the House of Representatives, opposing an amendment to forbid discrimination based on sex, 110 Cong. Rec. 2,577-2,584 (1964).

You want to treat [group] as full persons? But don't you care about them?

See also: slaves, native inhabitants, mental patients, poor people, children.


  1. I am reminded here of pro-life politicians who insist they would be doing women pregnant as a result of rape some sort of great favor by denying them access to abortion, because their pregnancies are all part of God's wonderful plan.

    Adversarial relationship between solicitude and respect, indeed.


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