By Madison Gusler
On April 27th, we did what not a lot of New York locals are willing to do…spent more than an hour in Times Square. The ERA Coalition spent Wednesday supporting our new partners, the POTUS Coalition, at their Time Square Rally for Women. With the opening of POTUS or, Behind Every Great Dumbass Are Seven Women Trying To Keep Him Alive, Broadway is now putting the issue of gender inequality at center stage.
Starring icons Vanessa Williams, Julie White, Rachel Dratch and more, this play touches on a wide range of topics, from the peculiar fashion politics that surround female leaders to the stigmatization of motherhood as a barrier in the working world. This play features a range of strong women who deal with the everyday unnoticed challenges of gender inequality, leaving them reliant on power posing, playlists, and podcasts to improve their confidence, even when they’re practically running the free world.
With the various issues they touch on in POTUS on Broadway, the show formed a coalition of partners whose work they wanted to uplift as they are actively working to break down these barriers. Collectively all members of the POTUS Coalition are working for the advocacy, agency, and activism of women throughout all levels of leadership and in service of equal rights, representation, access to voter registration, and voting. All the partner organizations are non-profit, non-partisan, and women-led.
The ERA Coalition was joined by other members of the POTUS Coalition at the Rally for Women to share their work and messages with the Wednesday matinee crowd. Alongside speakers from Black Voters Matter, the Center for Reproductive Rights, IGNITE, She The People, Super Majority Education Fund and Vote Mama; the rally created a positive environment where women uplifted and supported each other’s messages and work in the movement towards a more equal society.
The event was unique as I can truly say I’ve never been to a rally where you could get a free blue raspberry slushy and register to vote at the same table. Hosted by comedians Joyelle Nicole Johnson and Dana Goldberg we joyously discussed the importance of female leadership in our government with IGNITE and Vote Mama, while discussing equal access to rights such as voting and reproductive health care with the Center for Reproductive Rights and Black Voters Matter.
Along with the many amazing speakers representing the partner organizations, we had the opportunity to close out the show and talk about the Equal Rights Amendment. President and CEO of the ERA Coalition, Carol Jenkins was joined by ERA Coalition board member and former New York City Deputy Mayor Carol Robles-Román on stage to promote the publication of the Equal Rights Amendment as a crucial means to secure gender equality at the constitutional level.
“We women are not part of the United States Constitution—which is our seminal legal document—where all our rights come from. So let’s fix this now” said Robles-Román. “It is my goal to work with all of you. We are going to pass the ERA, the Equal Rights Amendment. Under this President, under this administration. Is that a big ask? No.”
“They say they have declared a war on us—they call it the culture wars. Well you know what? We have been fighting these wars for a long, long time and we have been winning! Take us on then, because we are there to beat you! We are the majority!” said Dolores Huerta, a champion for civil rights and women’s liberation.
Huerta, a partner and avid supporter of the ERA Coalition continued:
“Not only do we have heart, we care about justice. We care about rights: human rights, women’s rights, peoples rights; and that’s why we’re going to win!”Tweet
A co-founder of the National Farmworkers Association, Huerta used her personal power to uplift rights for farm workers while breaking down gender barriers as a prominent leader in the movement. Reminding the crowd, and the members of the POTUS Coalition, to use our personal power to create change—Huerta led us to chant, “Who’s got the power? We’ve got the power. What kind of power? People power. And that’s the power we’re going to use to win”
“We’re going to use our power to bring justice to our country! Stop the Right. Stop the facism,” said Huerta, “Se puede o no se puede? Sí, se puede.”
Now I don’t want to give away too much about the show, as I highly suggest everyone who can take the opportunity to go see the amazing cast and show themselves do so. I can say the show has high energy and commitment that keeps the crowd entertained from start to finish. While an engaging comedy, the play communicated a very relatable experience for women in a world where power has historically been held by men.
In the play a bust of Alice Paul, a leader in securing women’s right to vote and author of the Equal Rights Amendment, plays a significant role in toppling down the patriarchy which allows the ensemble to recognize their power as individuals and women, as they are no longer defined within a system that continually upholds male leaders. This symbol of women’s rights, redefining the experience and role of all women by disrupting the continued and limiting presence of the patriarchy in the play, thus allowed women to re-examine the power they hold. It reflects the power that publishing the ERA would have on women, the patriarchy and the world—reminding us all to take a step back and realize we are powerful people, deserving of equal rights, treatment and opportunity in a world without sex-based discrimination.
So I ask, Why hasn’t the ERA been published in the U.S. Constitution yet? “Well isn’t that the eternal question?”