Patricia Arquette Has a Strong Warning for Women Who Don't Understand Their Legal Rights
"A lot of people think the Equal Rights Amendment passed and that women are recognized in the Constitution, but we're not," the actress says.
Patricia and Rosanna Arquette are riled up about women's rights. And because they've been using their platforms to push for progress, the duo were honored Thursday night with the Sisterhood Visionaries of the Year award. The Visionary Women’s Second Annual International Women’s Day Awards recognized the sisters' on- and off-screen accomplishments, including humanitarian work across the globe, and a dogged dedication to solving gender inequity. "I think we're activists because our mom is an activist," the Escape at Dannemora star told InStyle. "We were raised in picket lines and demonstrations."
Supporters like brother David Arquette, Frances Fisher, Maria Bello, Kathy Griffin, Senator Hannah-Beth Jackson and Maye Musk gathered at Beverly Hills' famed Spago restaurant for a celebration filled with poetry, sisterhood, and empowerment.
"The light is being shed in the dark right now," said Rosanna, who recently made waves as one of the first to share her experience with Ronan Farrow for his now Pulitzer Prize-winning New Yorker article exposing the heinous abuse inflicted on dozens of women by Harvey Weinstein. "Sometimes it's super scary to see these things coming up that you've never seen before."
As for Patricia, the 50-year-old actress says she doesn't even think twice about speaking her mind or standing up for the most vulnerable among us – even if it means facing unexpected consequences. "[Facing backlash] has not scared me in any kind of way," she said.
And on the eve of International Women's Day, the outspoken actress certainly had something to say. "It's important for us to pass the Equal Rights Amendment. A lot of people think the Equal Rights Amendment passed and that women are recognized in the Constitution, but we're not," she said.
Originally proposed in 1972, the ERA is an amendment to the United States Constitution designed to grant equal legal rights to all American citizens, independent of their sex. It says that, "Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex,” according to congress.gov. And although the amendment was not successfully ratified by the required three-fourths – that's 38 – of the states on its first go 'round Capitol Hill, it has been proposed regularly since then. Now, it has finally gained momentum, as social movements like #MeToo, the election of more women than ever before into Congress, and the public discourse surrounding the pay gap all converge to move the political needle forward in favor of explicit rights for women.
"So when you have a recent Supreme Court justice whose seat interprets the Constitution from the time it was written," she said, referring to Justice Brett Kavanaugh, who is a constitutional originalist, or a judge who ignores certain rights and protections courts have long understood the Constitution to provide, that aren't explicitly written into law. Arquette went on to say that we are at the whims of someone who clings to rules written "when women were considered to be chattel or the property of their husbands or their fathers, and women of color were literally enslaved by this wealthy class of men — we have to do something to change that."
And with more allies like the Arquette sisters continuing to use their platforms to stand up against the blatant inequalities still plaguing women in nearly every aspect of our lives, that change feels closer than ever.