In this episode, recorded just over a week before the election, our hosts talk with feminist icon Gloria Steinem about her feelings on the Dobbs decision, how we have to get out the vote, and why people sometimes vote against their own interest. Jamia Wilson, named in Refinery29’s “17 Faces of the Future of Feminism,” talks about her hope for what is coming and how to keep doing the work.
All episodes begin and end with the 2017 single “Rise” by rock group Betty (www.hellobetty.com)
All episodes are produced by Amy Yoder (www.alyoder.com)
Additional support provided by Cary and Logan at Broussard Global.
Hope is a form of planning.Gloria Steinem
The Hosts Start by Sharing What They’re Pissed About
Betty is pissed that Marjorie Taylor Greene said that it was a lie that abortion is healthcare on a radio show in Georgia.
Gloria is pissed about Elon Musk’s takeover of Twitter and that one man’s money can buy that much influence over public conversation. He’s likely to let Donald Trump back on to the platform after he was banned just after the January 6th insurrection, as well as many others who spout dangerous, violent bigotry.
Sherrye is pissed about the truth about Justice Samuel Alito – that he is a liar. Senator Ted Kennedy wrote 17 years ago that Samuel Alito stated he did believe in precedents and the right to privacy. And yet he was one of the right-wing justices on the court who voted to overturn Roe v. Wade.
Check out the #VoteProChoice Voter Guide.
Carol is pissed that the tightening race for Pennsylvania senator between John Fetterman and Dr. Oz. John Fetterman is a pro-choice candidate, and Dr. Oz thinks that abortion should be a state’s rights issue – which is just the GOP party line.
Winning Elections and the War of Ideas
Gloria Steinem states that we’re learning the consequences of low voter turnout. We have a much lower turnout rate than a country like India, which is a democracy of a similar population size. Complacency and anger certainly contribute to why people don’t head to the polls, in addition to the rampant issues surrounding voter suppression. We should aim for “100% voting rate in the groups we belong to, the neighbors we have, everyone we have access to.”
Jamia discusses the underpinning of democracy and the collective trauma of watching our democracy being shattered. But we have to maintain optimism and hope. We have to resist authoritarianism. She talks mentions a sticker she saw in a bathroom that read: “If you don’t respect my existence, expect resistance.” Even more poignant, she saw this at an event designed to combat the shared existential threat and engage marginalized voters.
Listen to these episodes about how to get out the vote:
Episode 20 with Dr. Jason Martin, TN gubernatorial candidate
Episode 18 with Tom Bonier, data analyst, and the new wave of women voters
Episode 17 with Steve Phillips & Maya Rockeymore Cummings on how to key in on the Black vote.
The Supreme Court Doesn’t Represent Us
While the day that the Dobbs decision came down, Gloria Steinem points out that we started out disobeying the law in terms of reproductive freedom, and we will continue to disobey any unjust law because unless we have decision making power over our own bodies, we’re not living in a democracy.
Listen to our interview with “The Janes” filmmakers Emma Pildes and Tia Lessin.
Jamia recalls the day that the ruling came down and how she wanted to just hide under her duvet. Instead, she interviewed abortion providers on her podcast, “Ordinary Equality.” Her cohost Kate Kelly actually went to protest at the Supreme Court, and even though Jamia says it wasn’t her best day of interviewing, she felt it was important to show the vulnerability and humanity of that day.
Check out Jamia Wilson’s podcast “Ordinary Equality.”
Perspectives on the Context of Today’s Extreme Misogyny
Gloria Steinem says that patriarchy begins with the effort to rule our wombs, and it’s been that way since time immemorial. But women have always found ways to control their own bodies. She shares a story of sitting with women in the Kalahari desert as they showed the herbs they used to aid in birth and those they used for abortive agents. This is the source of democracy. If half of the population doesn’t have decision making power over its own bodies, it is no democracy.
Although women are half of the population, an issue that is of particular concern to that half of the population is viewed as special interest rather than fundamental to democracy. Jamia recounts a time she was on a podcast with her cohost and two progressive men who balked when they asked them to imagine if the issue was about forced vasectomies or regulating Viagra. Their reactions will forever be embedded in her head, but it speaks to the absolute absurdity of trying to regulate women’s bodies.
Voting Like “Them”
Gloria Feldt asks why many anti-abortion activists are women who vote and advocate for things against their own self-interest. Gloria Steinem has said in the past, “There are women who look like us but act like them.” In this conversation, she expands a bit on why that is:
“Well, I think when there is a dynamic, a far-reaching dynamic, in which one group is superior to the other than the residents, is members of the inferior group, feel that their future, their even survival necessitates identifying with the superior group…If you are you sense that you are in trouble in some ways in society, then identifying with the superior group is often seen – wrongly – as a remedy or a rescue. And we have to continuously invite the members of the group who are identifying with the oppressor, you might say, to join in what is truly their long-term self-interest.”
Jamia talks about how during the 2016 election, where many people voted against their own interests as women but voted to protect their privilege as white people. She also became really interested in the death of Heather Heyer, (who was killed in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017) and Viola Liuzzo who was killed by the KKK in 1965. These white anti-racists activists were killed for going against white supremacy. The message there is that “if you betray the ultimate dominant power, if you betray this apparatus, you will die. If you betrayed this apparatus, you will lose access. You will be alienated. You will be driven to the stake.”
To further this point, Gloria Steinem talks about that at a “very intimate daily level, many women are still living in a patriarchal household.” So for those living under the thumb of patriarchy in their own home, it can be very difficult to imagine viscerally a world where there is a true and free democracy.
Voting on the Abortion Issue
Betty Spence wants our listeners to stand up and vote on this issue and how important it is, especially for young women and men. Gloria Steinem brings up that in general, young women can be more conservative as a voting block. That may be changing around specifically the Dobbs decision. Jamia talks about how women can come truly into themselves and have true self-actualization at a younger and younger age. As Jamia writes books for a young audience, she does see people coming into that actualization at a much younger age.
To close, Gloria Steinem says that she gets hope from children all over the world who are saying, one way or another, “You’re not the boss of me.”
Gloria Steinem is a writer, lecturer, political activist, and feminist organizer. She has spent decades traveling in this and other countries as an organizer and lecturer and is a frequent media spokeswoman on issues of equality. She is particularly interested in the shared origins of sex and race caste systems, gender roles and child abuse as roots of violence, non-violent conflict resolution, the cultures of indigenous peoples, and organizing across boundaries for peace and justice. She lives in New York City.
Jamia is an award-winning feminist activist, writer, speaker, and podcaster. She joined Random House as vice president and executive editor in 2021. As the former director of the Feminist Press at the City University of New York and the former VP of programs at the Women’s Media Center, Jamia has been a leading voice on women’s rights issues for over a decade. Her work has appeared in numerous outlets, including the New York Times, the Today Show, CNN, Elle, BBC, Rookie, Refinery 29, Glamour, Teen Vogue, and The Washington Post. She is the author of This Book Is Feminist, Young, Gifted, and Black, the introduction and oral history in Together We Rise: Behind the Scenes at the Protest Heard Around the World, Step Into Your Power: 23 Lessons on How to Live Your Best Life, Big Ideas for Young Thinkers, ABC’s of AOC, and the co-author of Roadmap for Revolutionaries: Resistance, Advocacy, and Activism for All. Jamia is passionate about mission-driven organizations and serves on the Omega Institute, Feminist.com and Center for Reproductive Rights boards, and the St. Timothy’s School Advisory Council. She is also the co-host of the second season of the Anthem Award-winning podcast, Ordinary Equality.