Gloria Steinem on what Amy Coney Barrett’s confirmation would mean

This is the web version of The Broadsheet, a daily newsletter for and about the world’s most powerful women. Sign up to get it delivered free to your inbox.

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Sen. Lisa Murkowski says she will vote to confirm Amy Coney Barrett, menopause is a $600 billion opportunity, and we talk with Gloria Steinem. Go get your Monday.

– All about Gloria. Covering the 2017 Women’s March was an overwhelming experience. Standing in the press area near the Washington, D.C. stage, it was thrilling to hear the speakers calling for equality—and not just for women, but for people of color, the LGBTQ community, immigrants, the list goes on. How, I wondered, had such essential ideas become so divisive? And what was the role of a journalist in covering the fight for equal rights?

As Gloria Steinem addressed the crowd, I thought about her own journey from journalist to activist and realized there was no one better positioned to answer these particular existential questions. I snuck through the press-VIP divide and approached Steinem to ask her what she thought journalists should be doing right now. She reminded me that “there’s nothing more important than facts today”—and, as you can see, four years have passed, and I’m still doing the job.

So it was especially meaningful for me to connect with Steinem again for a conversation in large part focused on that same perspective. The activist and author is one of several feminist leaders featured in a new PBS documentary, Not Done, chronicling the past half-decade of activism, Women’s Marches included. 

Steinem also lends the documentary historical context—and in our conversation last week she did the same for both the movements seen in the film and some of our current political questions, from Amy Coney Barrett’s seemingly imminent confirmation to the Supreme Court to the fast-approaching U.S. presidential election.

Steinem, you may not be surprised to hear, believes that Coney Barrett “does not represent the majority opinion of Americans and certainly not women.” She says that Americans must be prepared to “disobey the court” if it makes decisions that are not just.

And on the closely-watched issue of reproductive rights, Steinem believes that even if Coney Barrett helps the court to overturn Roe v. Wade, it won’t mean a full return to the lack of abortion access of the mid-20th century (Steinem has written about her own experience accessing abortion care during that time). “We have become accustomed to practicing medical norms. There were always doctors who would disobey the law,” she says. “I think now there are going to be many more.”

The activist also provides historical context in another important way. “I’ve never seen this much activism in my life,” the 86-year-old says onscreen in the PBS documentary.

Read and watch more of our conversation for Steinem’s perspective on the interconnectedness of activist movements past and present here.

Emma Hinchliffe

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *