Part Two: Pregnancy (1972-1978)
What Happened To Sally Armendariz
Could Not Happen To A Man
By 1978, Ruth Bader Ginsburg was commenting that the law had reached the stage where it could help a woman so long as whatever harmed her could also "happen to a man." What happened to Sally Armendariz could not happen to a man — or at least not exactly. What happened to Sally Armendariz would lead to the most infamous decision in the Supreme Court's early years of groping with sex discrimination.
In early May of 1972, Sally Armendariz was driving near her home, among the farm fields of Gilroy, California, when she was rear-ended by another car. Sally was not easily slowed by hard knocks. She had been born 29 years earlier into a Mexican-American family that had worked in California for generations, usually in the fields picking. Every time she looked at her mother, she thought of the hardship of the fields. Working before Sally was born, on one brutally hot day her mother had lain down in a field and fallen asleep, exhausted, facing up into the California sun. She woke up blind.
Looking for a route away from the fields, Sally became the second child and the first daughter in her extended family to graduate from high school. At age 19, she found work as a secretary. For 10 years she never took a sick day. No car accident, she resolved, could keep her from working.
But though her rear-ender was an accident that could "happen to a man," its effect could not: when Sally was hit from behind, she was four months pregnant.
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[This is the opening of Part Two of Fred Strebeigh, Equal: Women Reshape American Law (W. W. Norton, 2009), listed in the Norton catalog and also at Amazon.com.]
A note on this website for Equal: Women Reshape American Law
As of May 2012, Microsoft has ended its long-running website service called Microsoft Office Live, on which I built this site, www.EqualWomen.com. I am now rebuilding the site on a new website service, but for a while this site may remain in progress.
Many apologies, Fred Strebeigh