Wednesday, 29 June 2022

Meghan & Gloria Steinem in Hopeful Conversation & Efforts to Ratify Equal Rights Amendment

Like so many all over the world, and of course especially in the United States, the Supreme Court's decision to overturn Roe v Wade has been at the forefront of Meghan's mind. Two days after the seismic news, Jessica Yellin, founder of media company News Not Noise, dialed in with Meghan and Gloria Steinem for a conversation on their work together and hopes for the future. The piece was published in Vogue last night.

There are several important elements to the story, beginning with the important work stemming from Gloria and Meghan's friendship. Over the summer of 2020, the pair's blossoming closeness was revealed when they sat down in Montecito to discuss representation, the importance of young people in particular using their vote, and how women "are linked, not ranked". Their full conversation was shared by MAKERS Women, a platform supporting women by amplifying their voices and sharing their stories. "If you don’t vote you don’t exist. It’s the only place where we are all equal," Gloria told the Duchess. "You know, I fear we get a case of the 'shoulds' - the 'what should I do?' as opposed to 'I'm going to do everything I can'. We should ask ourselves: ‘Who do I talk to every day? Are they registered or not?’ Whatever it is that is next to us we can do. If we each do that, then I think we’ll be OK."

Two years later, Jessica Yellin told Vogue:

“It would explicitly extend to women the rights granted in the Constitution to men. The ERA would change the playing field for women’s reproductive rights, women’s workplace rights, and so much more. For decades Steinem has been advocating for its enactment, and now Meghan is joining in.”

Town & Country reports:

'Suffragettes Alice Paul and Crystal Eastman first drafted the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) in 1923, and it was approved by the Senate in 1972. Nearly a century later, American feminist Gloria Steinem and Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, are working on a plan to finally get the ERA ratified.

"Equality of rights under the law shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex," the amendment reads.

President Biden is in favor of the ERA becoming part of the Constitution as soon as possible. In a statement in January 2022, he said, "I have been a strong supporter of the ERA ever since I first ran for the Senate as a 29-year-old. We must recognize the clear will of the American people and definitively enshrine the principle of gender equality in the Constitution."'

The opening portion of the conversation from Vogue:

'Jessica Yellin: I hear from so many people—they’re feeling panic, confusion. They’re looking for guidance on what to do now. Let’s talk about the immediate impact of this ruling. Women in 13 states are seeing their reproductive rights vanish. And in another 13 they’ll likely be severely restricted. Tens of millions of women will have to make brutal choices, and we know that some will die. For people who were born after 1973 and have no idea what that was like, would you tell us a little about the reality of being a pregnant woman before Roe?

Gloria Steinem: There were underground networks, most famously Jane. That is where you called up a particular number and asked for Jane and that meant you needed an abortion. And there were women who bravely guided you. In my situation, I was in London, not this country, when I needed an abortion and was lucky to find a physician in the equivalent of the Yellow Pages, who said that if I promised him two things—one, that I would never tell anyone his name and two, that I would do what I wish to do with my life—he would send me to a woman doctor who would do the abortion. I dedicated a book to him. He’s no longer with us. So I thought it was okay, finally, after all these years, to do that.

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex: That gave me chills, Gloria. Also that you were in the hands of someone who understood that it was your choice to create the life that you wanted for yourself. That’s so powerful.'

On the impact overturning Roe v Wade is having, the Duchess said: "This is having a very real impact on women’s bodies and lives starting now. Women are already sharing stories of how their physical safety is being put in danger. Women with resources will travel to get an abortion, those without might attempt to give themselves one at tremendous risk. Some will have to source abortion pills from unregulated pharmacies. Others who are pregnant and find themselves in a medical emergency will be at the mercy of doctors and lawyers to determine if a procedure that is needed to save her life can even be done at all. What does this tell women? It tells us that our physical safety doesn’t matter, and as a result that we don’t matter. But we do. Women matter. And this is one of the reasons that I called Gloria immediately. Because in all of it, she reminds me that when you have anger, you have to channel that energy into something that makes a difference. That’s what activism is. It’s about how we show up."

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The Duchess continued to note the impact this will have on women of colour: "These issues are systemic, interconnected, and preventable. Women of color and especially Black women are most impacted by these decisions because most of us don’t have the same access to health care, economic opportunity, mental health resources…the list goes on. It’s difficult to overstate what this decision is going to do to these communities."

People reports:

"Men need to be vocal in this moment and beyond because these are decisions that affect relationships, families, and communities at large," said Meghan. "They may target women, but the consequences impact all of us. My husband and I talked about that a lot over the past few days. He's a feminist too."

Discussing Harry's thoughts on the decision, Meghan said, "His reaction last week was guttural, like mine."

On Judge Clarence Thomas' concurring opinion which said the court should "correct" the error of same-sex relationships and contraception, Meghan described it as "a blueprint for reversing rights", and said it very much felt like "the tip of the iceberg", which is why fear has to be channeled into action. The Duchess stressed the importance of voting.

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The Duchess discussed the work she and Gloria have been doing: "We’re fighting to get a constitutional amendment put through the Equal Rights Amendment that makes it clear that women can be treated equally, and how it is completely nonsensical that that’s even something we’re still fighting for." On her passion to continue these efforts: "Being home, seeing what’s happening in our country and feeling energized and motivated, if this is the type of legislation that we need pushed through, then this is a moment that I am absolutely going to show up for. Not just because it’s what we need as women, but it’s what we need as people." Meghan added she and Gloria should take a trip to DC soon.

Meghan on her own pregnancies and enduring a miscarriage:

'I think about how fortunate I felt to be able to have both of my children. I know what it feels like to have a connection to what is growing inside of your body. What happens with our bodies is so deeply personal, which can also lead to silence and stigma, even though so many of us deal with personal health crises. I know what miscarrying feels like, which I’ve talked about publicly. The more that we normalize conversation about the things that affect our lives and bodies, the more people are going to understand how necessary it is to have protections in place.

This is about women’s physical safety. It’s also about economic justice, individual autonomy, and who we are as a society. Nobody should be forced to make a decision they do not want to make, or is unsafe, or puts their own life in jeopardy. Frankly, whether it’s a woman being put in an unthinkable situation, a woman not ready to start a family, or even a couple who deserve to plan their family in a way that makes the most sense for them, it’s about having a choice. It’s interesting that here you’re talking to two women: one who chose to give birth happily, and one who chose not to give birth happily. And we’re both prospering because we were able to make our own choices. Incredible.'

Meghan said Harry is a feminist too, to which Gloria added: "Yes I can testify to that since I met him before I met you. He was at a big meeting I attended and he was advocating for people’s rights".Gloria spoke about the impact of Harry and Meghan speaking up "It’s very, very, very important. Because what they both have is trust. We trust them and nothing but nothing replaces trust. It is the most important quality or attribute. We can see things on television and not believe them or not trust them. But when people like these two tell us, then we trust it." Meghan thanked her, saying, "That's really kind." Meghan added she's grateful to be holding the baton next to Gloria, who replied, "We're chosen family."

"I feel just as thankful to Meghan for being the present, the future - for taking risks of criticism by standing up for what she believes in and what the majority needs." - Gloria Steinem.

'I always look at things with the undercurrent of hope. If you are someone who truly believes that there can be something better, if you’re someone who sees injustice, you have a choice: You can sit there and be complacent and watch it, or you can say, “What can I do to get us to the other side of this?' - Meghan, Duchess of Sussex.

Click here to hear audio clips from the interview.

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Elsewhere, the Duchess sent a letter of thanks and words of encouragement to mothers campaigning for gun reform at non-profit Moms Demand Action. The package included an array of snacks, coffees, donuts, bagels and pastries.

Vanity Fair reports:

'Along with the refreshments, the Duchess also added a special note written on her letterhead which features her monogram with the Coronet of the Child of the Heir Apparent. “Good Afternoon Ladies. To each of you and your fearless leader Shannon, a huge thank you for the work you are doing to keep our kids, families and and communities safe,” the letter began. “Please know that while you may feel exhausted by your endless hours of dedication to this cause, I hope you feel energized in knowing that the work you're doing is vital and so deeply appreciated. As a mom, and a friend, thank you so much! Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex.”'

The Duchess also made a call expressing her sincerest condolences to the family of Uvalde victim Irma Garcia.

Irma's husband Joe "passed away due to grief" days after the shooting, Irma's nephew confirmed. Irma and Joe shared four children who have now lost both their parents. They were high-school sweethearts married for over twenty years. The family has been through an unimaginable ordeal. A Go Fund Me has raised almost $3 million dollars in support of the family.

Meghan paid her respects in person in Uvalde "as a mother" late last month.

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And finally, polo season in Santa Barbara was certainly fun, wasn't it? The wife of Harry's close friend Nacho Figueras, Delfina, shared this heartfelt message on Instagram: "M - looking forward to many more of these times with you and H. Getting to spend time together over these 2 months was so special. I wish everyone new you the way you are. My sister ❤️, my now fellow “pwife” (polo wife) -genius of you to come up with this 😂 - Can’t wait to see you again soon, to share thrill, hikes, and just more chill time. You also have my respect. Keep walking, steady and strong. Listen to your heart, that will guide you well, bc you have a big one and it’s a beautiful one. I love you my darling."

In the above image, Meghan wore a button down shirt, her Doen Lane shorts and a pair of Emme Parsons Laurie Sandals.