The Full Flush of Equality


Years and years ago, it was often said against the proposed Equal Rights Amendment that it would prohibit separate toilets. Under the ERA, men and women would have to use the same public restrooms.

Properly interpreted, nothing of the kind should have happened. The text of the ERA stated 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.” One does not have a right to a toilet, really, so it shouldn’t have affected restroom construction.

But leaping to absurdity is, alas, a propensity of government. In Minnesota, today, the state’s Department of Human Rights has declared that the offering of a “ladies’ night” by taverns and bars, etc, is illegal, discriminating (as it does) on the basis of sex.

Economist Robert Murphy has carefully explained why price discrimination is not bad — why it is common and why it benefits us. By setting up “ladies’ nights,” certain businesses attract female customers and (shock of all shocks) male customers, too . . . men actually eager to pay extra, if only to be around women.

I don’t see much point in explaining the philosophical basis for not getting carried away over the “sexual/gender discrimination” involved in this. But it may be good that the ERA fizzled in 1982. It would have been twisted by bureaucrats in state after state, and we’d all endure uncomfortable encounters in public toilets throughout the land.

This is Common Sense. I’m Paul Jacob.

5 Comments so far ↓

  1. Jul
    Jan Narveson

    Thanks once again. I only write these little congratulatory notes rarely, for fear of boring you. But really, your little posts are often gems, and today’s note abut the Minnesota illegalization of “ladies’ nights” is tops.

    Keep it up! (I know you will, happily)

  2. Jul
    Mel Pinney

    If “ladies night” is discriminatory, then so are “senior discounts!”

  3. Jul

    Stuff that is good for business is “bad” for the socialist state. And most particularly vice versa.

  4. Jul
    ed kahn

    If we can’t discriminate on the basis of sex, and, if separate but equal is not equal, and, if some women want to be equal, then,we cannot have separate facilities and all men & women must be treated THE SAME: ie: same rooms, same showers, same physical requirements etc.

  5. Jul

    I’m not so sure regarding Jacob’s “proper interpretation.” Does government build restrooms – yes it does. So what should it do?

    Perhaps the real issue is should government treat us as individuals, or males/females, or even divide us into more groups (adult/child, gay/straight, black/white, veteran/not, etc)?

    My thinking, is since government is force, and we’d like to minimize the use of force in the world (by governments or criminals) perhaps we should leave these kind of subjects outside of government’s sphere of power, and give us the freedom to act as we believe is best. When one group asks for specific advantages, then we’ve been divided.

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