Keller @ Large: Equal Rights Mission Far From Accomplished

BOSTON (CBS) — It’s been 45 years since Congress voted for a constitutional ban on discrimination against women. And while that was never ratified, many steps to protect women’s equality have since become law.

But from Bill Clinton to Bill Cosby to Harvey Weinstein and beyond, the record shows a yawning gap between the laws and social reality.

“Women have had equal rights, civil rights in the workplace for 50 years,” notes Attorney Wendy Murphy of New England Law/Boston, a sexual violence law expert. “I don’t think the guys got the message.”

Murphy points to Weinstein’s initial response to the charges against him, claiming that he “came of age in the 60s and 70s, when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different.”

“That’s when the Equal Rights Amendment was passed through Congress, that’s when Title IX and Title VII were enacted,” says Murphy. “That’s when women were saying you will treat us with respect, you will not subject us to discrimination. And discrimination includes sexual harassment, sexual assault. These things are forbidden.”

Forbidden, but apparently not uncommon.

Consider the infamous Access Hollywood video of soon-to-be-president Donald Trump, laughing about how easy it is to get away with groping random women: “When you’re a star, they let you do it. You can do anything. Grab them by the (bleep), you can do anything.”

If you thought this sort of thing was no longer tolerated, it’s past time to think again.

As Murphy puts it: “People are so used to hearing about men in power doing these same kinds of things to women that it’s no longer upsetting and shocking to us. I worry about that.”

More from Jon Keller
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