As the 2020 campaign goes into full swing, expect Democrats to reboot the same “Republican War on Women” trope they’ve been peddling for more than a decade. Anyone objecting to the progressive, trillion-dollar government reordering of the economy will be tarred as acting out of malice, particularly toward women.

Republicans have an opportunity to counter this narrative, by exposing the actual war on women being waged by the Left. Consider, for example, the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA), which was just approved in Virginia, even though the deadline for ratification passed decades ago. Although even ERA supporter and Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg acknowledges that the ratification process needs to start over before the proposal can become law of the land, proponents are hard at work trying to convince Americans that those who oppose adding the Amendment to the Constitution regard women as second-class citizens. 

The ERA is more than symbolic and threatens to do real harm to the women and girls of America.  Women already have every right that men have. ERA proponents claim it will help close the so-called wage gap, but wage discrimination has been illegal in the U.S. for decades.The ERA wouldn’t change that and won’t alter any of the policies that deter or punish workplace discrimination. 

Instead, the ERA, will throw into legal question any law or program that fails to treat men and women the same.

That’s an important shift. Men and women are already equal under the law, but are not always considered exactly the same or interchangeable. The law is still allowed to recognize that in certain limited circumstances, respecting the very real biological differences between men and women can be important, or even life-saving. But the ERA would erase any policies that treat men and women as distinct biological groups for programs and facilities including public restrooms, domestic violence shelters, prisons, athletic teams, and initiatives to encourage participation in science, technology, engineering, and math fields. 

These female-only programs exist explicitly to help women. That’s something that’s often lost because of the growing public discomfort with acknowledging differences between men and women. Pretending that women are just as physically strong as men may make feminists feel good, but it leaves actual women vulnerable to violence and physical injury, as well as sidelined in athletic competitions. Mothers who want their girls to compete and succeed on athletic fields, as well as to have privacy and safety in locker rooms or in other public facilities ought to ask how their daughters’ interests are advanced by women being erased as a physically distinct category? 

Women should consider how other progressive plans might also jeopardize their progress. Since 2016, the number of women owned businesses grew by nearly one third and female unemployment hit historic lows. In 2018, the increase in earnings caused the poverty rate for single mothers to fall 1.7 percent—the lowest rate on record. Working mothers once faced all-or-nothing choices about whether to work or stay at home, but millions now work on their own terms as independent contractors or direct sellers. 

Progressive plans to dramatically limit flexible work arrangements and push people back toward a full-time, nine-to-five work model threaten this progress. With the passage of AB5 in California, dozens of employers have already announced that they will no longer use independent contractors in that state, destroying flexible work opportunities vital to working parents, students and low-wage workers trying to supplement their income.

Women should ask themselves if we really want a return to the one-size-fits-all work relationship and the end of any programs that account for women’s unique needs and vulnerabilities. When they carefully consider some of the proposals being advanced in their name, they may decide that the real war on women is being waged by those in pink hats who are marching under the banner of feminism.