852 RARE: Men, Baking, and Women’s Rights

Intent on finding something love- or Valentine’s-themed to feature in this month’s 852 RARE, I stumbled upon the wonderful picture featured below.

John Stuart Mill Society Men's Bake Sale, 1977 By George Simian

So what do men, baking, and women’s rights have to do with each other? In the 1970s, at the Harvard Law School, it seems quite a bit.

Published in the summer 1977 edition of the Harvard Law School Bulletin, this picture features David H. Fink ’77 at the third annual John Stuart Mill Society’s Men’s Bake Sale. The Bulletin reported that $509 was raised and donated to the National E.R.A. This is a fitting title for a group of men advocating for the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) and the idea of a men’s bake sale to benefit women’s rights is brilliant! The previous year the Bulletin reported that baked goods had been provided by a number of male professors including Steiner, Sacks, Tribe, and Nesson.

John Stuart Mill (1806-1873) was a British philosopher, economist, and moral and political theorist. Among his writings is the 1869 publication The Subjection of Women, which defended gender equality and the rights of women.

First introduced in 1923, and then rewritten in 1943, it wasn’t until 1972 that both the U.S. Senate and the House of Representatives passed the ERA. Congress placed a seven year deadline on the state ratification process. By 1975, the process had slowed considerably with only a single new state ratifying the amendment, leaving the 27th amendment four states shy of the 38 states needed. The fight to pass the ERA lives on and on March 6, 2013, Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ) and Representative Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) will reintroduce the traditional ERA ratification bills in the 113th Congress.

We don’t have much information on the John Stuart Mill Society, so for those involved with the society and willing to share their story, we would love to learn more! Please enjoy this image; a fitting end to the month of love and a great start for March and women’s history.

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