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Gender/Generic Language in the United States Constitution: Gender Bias Versus Democratic Ideals

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Human Rights

Part of the book series: Policy Studies Organization Series ((PSOS))

Abstract

The Constitution of the United States, as the law of the land, offers an objective measure over time of the development and change in meaning of the ascriptive characteristics of Americans who may be considered to be participants in the body polity under the rubric ‘We, the People’. A determined effort is made to identify classes of ‘people’ who were intentionally or unintentionally omitted from viable citizenship in the first great social experiment in representative democracy. Particular attention is directed to the two largest categories of the population: men and women. Certainly the thrust of the proposed Equal Rights Amendment to the Constitution was to clarify and neutralize the Constitution’s numerous masculine gender references. However, since the ERA was not ratified on 30 June 1982, it becomes important to understand precisely how the Constitution specifies significant gender and generic relationships in a document basic to the principles underlying human rights.1

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© 1988 Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited

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McDonagh, E.L., McDonagh, E.C. (1988). Gender/Generic Language in the United States Constitution: Gender Bias Versus Democratic Ideals. In: Cingranelli, D.L. (eds) Human Rights. Policy Studies Organization Series. Palgrave Macmillan, London. https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-349-10122-1_8

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