Cecile Richards walked out on stage at Joe's Pub in Manhattan on Friday night, carrying a pussy hat, a ball of yarn, and knitting needles. She was there to chat with Catie Lazarus, for her live talk show and podcast, Employee Of The Month.
Those of us in the audience got to listen in as Lazarus and Richards, the current president of Planned Parenthood, talked about her family history of activism work and lobbying, her experience testifying before Congress, and how she, personally, deals with mansplaining.
For anyone who doesn't know, Richards is the daughter of former Texas governor Ann Richards, who was well-known as an outspoken politician and champion for women's rights. Her father was also an activist, and lobbied for the rights of labor workers. So Richards grew up knowing how to lobby, she said during the show. While other families did game night, her family "did politics."
Lazarus asked how it was possible for someone who grew up marching and protesting to not get burned out, to which Richards said it was just something she knew she needed to do. As the president of Planned Parenthood, lobbying is something she still does often — and would like for you to do, as well.
More and more activists and advocates for women's rights have been coming out of the woodwork since Trump was elected (just a little more than 100 days ago), Richards pointed out. And many of those activists who stop her in the street want to know, "what can we do to help?"
Since Planned Parenthood is at a constant threat of losing federal funds, donating to the organization is one simple way to help. But it wasn't the first thing on Richards' mind.
"Marching is good, calling Congress is good, going to town hall meetings and raising hell with your member of Congress is super good, but most important? Voting," she said."I think the most important thing I can say as an organizer is, 'Don't wait for instructions.'"
She has been inspired by all of the women, and people of other genders, who are taking politics in their own hands — like a group of about 1,5000 women who have organized to help people run for office in Kenosha, Wisconsin.
It's incredible to see so many women taking control of politics and legislation for women's rights, even though doing so can be difficult. As president of Planned Parenthood, Richards has faced her share of struggles going against men who don't believe her organization is doing important work.
In 2015, she testified in Congress on Planned Parenthood's services for women (which include vital cancer screenings) defending the organization against those who want to take away government funds.
While there, Representative Jason Chaffetz mansplained women's healthcare to Richards. She addressed that moment with Lazarus, giving us all needed advice about dealing with those moments.
"I just think when someone is making a fool of themselves, you just gotta let them rip," she told Lazarus. "They really did not need a lot of assistance in that hearing."
Her statement was met with applause from the whole audience — many of whom probably knew exactly how she felt. Some men will always think they know more than women, even about topics that are personal to women (and even more than the president of America's largest group of women's healthcare providers), which is why it's important for us to stand up and advocate for ourselves.
Listen to the full podcast, posted here.
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