Reminder: “We are linked, not ranked,” uttered Gloria Steinem in a room of more than 1,500 supporters from all across the state gathered last week for the 2019 Stand with Planned Parenthood Phoenix Luncheon. It spurred all of us, across generations, to hold onto the common connection that brought us there: a decades-long battle for equality and fundamental recognition that our bodies are our own.
Many try to weasel away from a feminist label, dodge the realities of the power still wielded over us, and say that waiting our turn will mean we will finally get what we deserve. Then there are brave people like our health center escorts who understand that being able to walk safely and with your head held high into a Planned Parenthood health center is worth dedicating every ounce of effort because it’s that crucial and that basic. The luncheon reminded us that there will always be naysayers, people who tell candidates like the Raquels, the Kates, the Katies, the Gregs, the Kyrstens, the AOCs, that you cannot stand proud for reproductive freedom and expect to win — but they did.
The event was both a celebration and a recommitment. It was a call not to give up and return the favor. Gloria Steinem in her fireside chat with Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona Board chair, Chris Love, reminded us time and time again what we already know but needed to hear from someone who has seen this struggle from the thick of it. Steinem spoke about how feminism, in its nascence and now, has always been carried by women of color and they are beyond due for the whitewashing to be stripped away.
Gloria also reminded us to drop our tendencies to see the small minority — less than 30 percent of Americans — who do not want safe, legal abortion available as the people to focus on when organizing instead of pulling from the depths of our abilities to pour our hearts into the 70 percent who do want to march forward. Gloria Steinem also dropped some F bombs because we need to get down to brass tacks about how gender inequity affects us all, no matter how some might try to stick their heads in the sand.
As we demand better and take the strides to get what we rightfully need, want, and deserve — whether it’s stomping to the courthouse to sue the state or walking past the gauntlet of protesters outside of a health center — we need friendly faces reminding us we are not alone, we are welcome, we are seen, and f*ck all the noise and yells that distract us from claiming our power.