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Jane Fonda has a new interview with Vanity Fair to promote her new book What Can I Do?: My Path From Climate Despair to Action. She repeats some of the same talking points that we’ve heard from her before, and to be fair she was asked about some things specifically. She said that she initially hoped to convince Trump about the seriousness of climate change by appealing to him with other actresses, which she’s mentioned. She instead brought up the issue to Ivanka, who laughed at her like the evil fascist she is (my words). I wanted to focus on some of the things she said which seemed newer to me, particularly how we can work with Biden and how older women are braver.
You’re an “Elizabeth Warren girl.” What do you think about Biden–Harris?
I like them, and I’m working for them. I know a lot of young people who say, “Biden’s not Bernie Sanders. He doesn’t have his big new vision of the world.” But I reply, “Think hard about who you vote for because, whoever is elected, you’ll need to roll your sleeves up the following day and try to force him to do things that, perhaps, he won’t want to do. Therefore, isn’t it better to try to push a center man rather than having to deal with a fascist?” I say it to everyone: Vote for Biden, because we can work with him.
Older women play an important part in Fire Drill Fridays. Was this a deliberate choice?
Older women are braver. Firstly, due to hormones—the older you are, the less estrogen and the more testosterone you have. We become stronger also because, let’s be truthful, what do we have to lose? Secondly, and going deeper, women are less vulnerable than men when it comes to the obsession with individualism. I don’t know if it’s the same in Italy, but in the United States, Canada, and the U.K., individualism is one of the values underpinning society. But as individuals, we have no power. It’s only when we come together that we mean something. Women, for many reasons, are able to feel this with their bodies, in the same way that we understand collectivity and interdependence. We like to do things together, and when what we’re experiencing is a collective crisis, the solution has to be collective too.
In the ’70s you supported the Black Panthers movement. Comparing it with Black Lives Matter, you once said that BLM has a “sentiment of love” that the Panthers didn’t have. In what way?
The Black Panthers were a very ideological movement that believed in armed revolution. The leaders were all men dressed in black. I remember helping them to fundraise to get some activists out of prison. I was able to understand their reasons, but they scared me. I got to know Black Lives Matter four or five years ago when, in my mailbox, I found a flyer that explained “how an activist must take care of him/herself.” Never in my long life had I received a pamphlet like that from a political organization. So I found out more and discovered that they’d been established by some women, mostly artists. The vibes were very different, and I believe that it is because of this approach by the women founders that many white people also support and protest with them.
I really like what she said about how the BLM movement is founded by women and how they’re emphasizing self care. She said so many other wise things, as she always does, particularly about how it feels powerful to practice civil disobedience. She called it the “only weapon that truly changed a system” and said that being in prison makes you feel “liberated for the simple fact that you succeeded in aligning your body with your values.” I’m sure that’s a very white lady perspective on it, which Jane has acknowledged in the past. I appreciate that about her.
As for women being stronger and braver as we age, I feel that. I never realized that it could be hormonal too, but that makes a lot of sense. It does feel freeing in a way and I’m much more likely to stand up for myself and my values. You definitely care less about what other people think.
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“You’re an “Elizabeth Warren girl.”
She’s not a girl. She is an grown-@ss woman.
I really hate it when adult women get referred to (or worse, refer to themselves) as a girl.
I’m a woman. A WOMAN.
I haven’t been a girl in decades. And Jane Fonda…how long has it been for her since she was a girl? Sixty or so years?
I totally agree. Show me a man that would allow someone to call him a “boy” as if that is a compliment. Also, I think it is ageist—like being called something younger than you are is a compliment which is pretty ass-backward considering the whole point of her interview was how freeing age has been to older women.
I do love how she is a visible activist again. It gives me hope and I really need some hope these days.
I really enjoy listening to her, she’s pretty amazing. She’s funny, too. I appreciate her wisdom and perspective and activism. She didn’t have to choose a difficult path but the fact that she did speaks volumes about her character. She’s such a great role model.
My father in law tried calling me girl, never used my name just called me girl, when we first met. I called him old man until he stopped. Funny thing is that I was a girl, but I knew what he was doing and I wasn’t having it.
Good for you. I love stories about women pushing back on folks’ ridiculous minimizing bs.
I also love Jane Fonda and her activism.
This was very well explained. I’ve always liked her and appreciated that she faced her difficulties from back when and stayed the course in terms of standing up for what she believe is right.
Even though women have to deal with so much consumer BS about looking younger, I actually think aging is harder on men. They come bursting into the world full of confidence and life slowly strips that away. Whereas women gain confidence with age and we just feel better about ourselves as we mature. I look at younger pictures of myself…when I was skinnier and less accomplished..and have no desire to turn back the clock.
I really like Jane, and I think she’s right on most of the time, and also honest when she misses the mark. I think that older women definitely can be stronger and braver, but aren’t always. Some of the biggest misogynists in the way of progress for women as a whole are older women. I guess strong and brave could be seen as independent of ideology, but to me, holding other women down is weak and cowardly.
Sometimes I feel like we are a generation away from a better society. Meaning when those born in the 20s and 30s die out, things will be better for society. But then I remember that white supremacists and other ugly subcultures thrive on young blood. My only hope is that we teach our children better.
There’s definitely some truth to that. Every culture has women who decide to abuse their power as they age, just like men (and it’s not even just boomers or the silent generation).They’re there to be callous and keep the women and girls who come after them in line. It is weak, and it does get in the way of progress. Even when they’re not 100% conservative on every group of people, many often aggressively push a ‘Kings & Male Queens first’ approach to social justice, which ends up playing out in the same way.
At the same time, there are great older women who resist the urge/societal pressure to be like that, and I don’t think they’re always as valued in society, or get as much visibility.
I don’t agree with all of Fonda’s sentiments and phrasing here — I wouldn’t say that testosterone makes people inherently braver, or that women aren’t as individualistic as men (plenty of women are) — but I totally wholeheartedly agree with all of her political views and look up to her as a role model for lifelong activism and speaking out for justice. I grew up with an idea that in the 70s she had been “Hanoi Jane” and many people in the press seemed to think that was a bad thing. But now, I think history is recording her in a far more positive light, as someone who used their beauty, whiteness, wealth, fame, and other privileges to oppose war, support vets, support Black people and Black liberation, and work to remedy climate change. I salute her.
I’m an old-ass 32, but what she says about losing fear over time still resonates. I wish I had the self-assurance I have now as a teenager or young woman! I often think of all the missed opportunities because I wasn’t confident yet. How different things would be now.
She is awesome. She also donated to the women’s protest in Poland where the scale of protests reached the scale unseen in Poland since the protests that led to collapse of Soviet Union. All because the terrorist, right radicals have virtually banned abortion rights. Fonda is someone who has a rare eye out on the world and understands fights are being fought on many fronts and that makes us all stronger.