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Patricia Nugent: It Feels Bad

When asked to write a blog post for our local League of Women Voters about the recent U.S. Senate hearing on the Equal Rights Amendment, I reported to my desk armed with the latest data on women’s status in this country and rolled up my sleeves. There are many arguments to be made as to why our nation must move forward to ensure women full protection under the U.S. Constitution. And I was ready to pound them out. 

But when I sat down to write, I first had to acknowledge and honor the despair I often feel as an American woman. As that washed over me, there was only one thing I wanted to say about women not having rights and protections equal to white men in the United States of America: It feels bad.  

It feels bad that we are the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have women’s equality built into its constitution. 

It feels bad that the ERA was proposed more than 100 years ago and hasn’t yet been adopted

It feels bad that women have no rights in this country that cannot be reversed legislatively. 

It feels bad to hear late Justice Scalia on YouTube declaring that the Constitution “doesn’t say you have to discriminate against women but doesn’t say you can’t.” 

It feels bad to read current arguments, the same tropes from the 1970s, as to why women need protection instead of liberty – especially when put forth by other women. 

It feels bad to see women standing on the dais behind politicians blocking the ERA. 

It feels bad to hear women’s voices answering the phones of politicians who voted against the ERA. 

It feels bad that American Catholic bishops are issuing directives to parishioners to reject equal rights legislation.

It feels bad that it’s periodically necessary for Congress to reauthorize the Violence Against Women Act, which one political party consistently votes against. 

It feels bad to see merch for sale on the internet advocating “Repeal the 19th.” 

It feels bad that The Handmaid’s Tale now reads more like nonfiction than fiction. 

It feels bad that the tokenism of an all-female flyover at the Super Bowl is considered progress.

If feels bad that many of my feminist friends are suffering from resistance fatigue.  

It feels bad to be considered less than by my government.

It feels bad to wonder if I might be reciting Susan B. Anthony’s final words on my own deathbed: “To think, I have had more than 60 years of hard struggle for a little liberty, and then to die without it seems so cruel.”

What feels good is that this enumeration of what feels bad pisses me off enough that I must continue working to make it feel better. For all of us.

Oh…and welcome to Women’s History Month, which also feels bad. 

Copyright 2023 Patricia Nugent

Patricia A. Nugent is past president of her local League of Women Voters and currently chairs their Women’s Rights Awareness Campaign. Her latest book is Healing with Dolly Lama: Finding God in Dog. 

Patricia A. Nugent

9 comments on “Patricia Nugent: It Feels Bad

  1. Lisa Zimmerman
    March 11, 2023

    “It feels bad that we are the only industrialized nation that doesn’t have women’s equality built into its constitution.” 😣

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Dinah Kudatsky
    March 9, 2023

    Yes, it feels bad, Patricia. It feels totally bad. The only thing that doesn’t feel bad is the fact of our feeling bad in larger and larger numbers. Every day: consolidation, then movement. We are like the women in the film “Women Talking”. Be silent? Forgive? Stand and fight? Leave? We have a decision to make: the only sane decision is to fight so we don’t have to feel this bad. You know how long it takes to turn a giant ship around? How long? Too long! How long? We want to say: NOT long! How bad do we have to feel before we turn this ship around? The answers are built into the questions, and into how much we can tolerate feeling bad, en masse.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Rose Mary Boehm
    March 9, 2023



  4. Patricia A. Nugent
    March 9, 2023

    Each day, I realize my list keeps growing! “It feels bad to hear Ruth Bader Ginsburg quoted out of context.”


  5. sabinso
    March 9, 2023

    Thank you for not giving up on the fight

    Liked by 1 person

  6. barb1937
    March 9, 2023

    The current backlash against women’s rights is happening precisely because the majority in this country do support equality for women and LGBTQ+ folks. Don’t wallow in grief.
    Keep on working to make our laws reflect the majority opinion. As Rosie said, “We can do it.”

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Beth Peyton
    March 9, 2023

    It feels terrible. Thank you for this.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Vox Populi
      March 9, 2023

      Yes, this list makes it clear that gender discrimination exists not just on a personal level, but on an institutional level as well.


      Liked by 1 person

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