Episode 67: It's Almost Over
Published November 4, 2016.
Aminatou: Welcome to Call Your Girlfriend.
Ann: A podcast for long-distance besties everywhere.
Aminatou: I'm Aminatou Sow.
Ann: And I'm Ann Friedman. On this week's Vagenda of Manicide . . . [Laughs] On this week's agenda, the election. Guess what? It's happening so soon. We have some international news about what's happening with women in Japan and Iceland, men and the birth control study that they dropped out of, plus not just the presidential election but we talked to Deirdre Schifeling of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund about what's happening in the states.
Aminatou: Hey girl, hey. How's it going?
Ann: Good. I feel like -- I don't know, this is our first long-distance recording in a little while.
Aminatou: Right? It's been a minute.
Ann: We're very far away. I know.
Aminatou: We're always in the same room. Well, you know, it should be said on the podcast that we are once again a classic long-distance relationship.
Aminatou: Bi-coastal because I live in New York City now.
Ann: Aha! Which makes me . . . okay, it makes me sad that you are far away but it makes me happy because I know that you do really well in New York.
Aminatou: I'm so happy. Also I got that second bedroom so you've always got a place to sleep.
Ann: Oh! Burying the lead. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Also I love how I said New York City like a tourist. [Laughs]
Ann: I think that's cute. I feel like New York City is very respectful to the rest of New York, because it's like you know? Let's be specific here.
Aminatou: For real though, I live in Brooklyn. What's up?
Ann: I know. It's true.
Aminatou: It's a true testament to how much I love the east coast that it's getting cold and dark earlier and I still haven't despaired yet.
Ann: I'm going to stop this right now before we talk about the weather. [Laughs]
Aminatou: You know the weather's important to me.
Ann: It is, but I'm like stress-picking at my thumbs due to the election. They are in a state.
Aminatou: Oh, no. Don't do it. Don't do it.
Ann: I know.
Aminatou: We have what, six more sleeps until election day? Five more sleeps?
Ann: By the time people listen to this, yeah, like five sleeps max depending on how much sleep you get. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Ugh, yeah, five sleeps, four showers until election day. We've got this.
Ann: Again, depending on your shower regimen, you know? Some of us work from home and don't exercise often and we're on more like an every other/every third day routine.
Aminatou: Yeah. You know who seems like they're losing their mind at the election?
Aminatou: What's that guy? The 538 guy, Nate Silver.
Ann: Nate Silver.
Aminatou: Yo, I swear to god, I will refresh that website and within 15 seconds it will have Hillary at 90% winning then it'll be 68%. It's like the thing is all over the map. And the other day I just made a resolution to stop checking it because I was like this is actually contributing to a lot of my stress.
Ann: Here's the thing, I believe polling is a dark art. I'm like yeah, yeah, analyzing statistics is not a dark art but polling itself which is what the analysis is based on is a total dark art.
Aminatou: Oh, yeah, no, it's like garbage. The thing where I was getting really stressed out, I was checking the thing all the time, and I was like you know what? Every time that I am stressed out about the election or the results I'm just going to do an action for it. [Laughs]
Ann: Yes, that's such a good idea.
Aminatou: Yeah, so I've been doing phone calls which if you go to hillaryclinton.com that's the easiest thing in the world to setup and then I'm heading to Pennsylvania to Get Out the Vote and that's going to be super fun. I was like oh, I forget how much I love knocking on doors and doing all of that dorky stuff. That's how I'm channeling my anxiety about the election and I'm super pumped about it.
Ann: I was so frustrated because as you know I'm from a pretty swingy state, the great state of Iowa, which is not so great right now because they're looking pretty Trumpy.
Ann: You know, you can select when you login on Hillary's website to phone bank or make a few calls, you can pick which state you want to target. And I was like okay, I've got this. I'm going to call all the Iowa grannies and be like "Hello? What are you doing? What are you doing for the young women coming up behind you?" And it wasn't an option. I had to go Ohio.
Aminatou: That's crazy. What else is happening?
Ann: I don't know. I mean lots of election news and lots of election air quote "news". That's what's happening, both real news and news that shouldn't be news but everyone's in a frenzy so it's news. That's what's going on.
Aminatou: Yeah, lots of election news from everywhere.
Ann: I mean, our girl Huma . . .
Aminatou: I can't even. [Laughs]
Ann: I can't even. Can you imagine? I mean, okay, we were texting about this when lots of emails on Mr. ex-Huma's laptop news broke and I was just like you know? I mean it's hard not to feel a little frustrated. And I think you said something to the effect of she only made one mistake ever but it was a big one. [Laughs]
Aminatou: It was a big one. Listen, people had a lot of issues with the book Lean In by Sheryl Sandberg, friend-of-the-podcast Sheryl Sandberg.
Aminatou: And I will say this. First of all, that book is amazing because it's rooted in data. But one of the things Sheryl says in the book, it's like one of the most important decisions that you can make as a woman who wants to get married is who you marry. This election season has really -- you know, that has come to be very true. I made a list on my phone of all of the women in politics I could remember that had been dragged down by their husbands' sins.
Ann: Oh my god, how long was it? Was it so long? Please.
Aminatou: I'll list them out to you. Hillary Rodham Clinton.
Ann: Number one, numero uno.
Aminatou: Huma Abedin. Geraldine Ferraro. Judge Jeanine Pirro. Debbie Stabenow. Diane Feinstein, kind of. It's like her husband has done some shady stuff.
Ann: He's just kind of like low-level constant shady, right? Not one big scandal?
Aminatou: Yeah. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the husband and tax evasion. That's weird. And I had one non-American on the list, Benazir Bhutto. [Laughs] Like that was LOLio. But yeah, it's just like all of these women who can't live because they married some shady person.
Ann: Here's a question for you: do you think that it's like women who have political ambitions or who are interested in doing politics for a career have exceptionally bad choice in men? Or is it just that statistically odds are if you're a woman who partners yourself with a man you're just taking on a huge risk?
Aminatou: Yo, yeah, men are trash. That's the control. [Laughs] That's the explanation.
Ann: So your answer is the latter. This could happen to any of us. The only difference is we're not in politics.
Aminatou: This could happen to any of us. Here's what I think about why some of these women make these choices, and this is completely not founded on any kind of data, just my own hunch.
Ann: I love hunch-based research. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Listen, we don't do facts on this podcast. Get it together.
Ann: I know, we do a last-minute Google.
Aminatou: It's something that I have noticed anecdotally in my own friend group but also with some of these powerful women. They're all fairly intimidating women to people who are just regular humans. When some dude is into them they're like oh, this is one guy that's not intimidated by me, but it turns out that that person could be a crazy person.
Ann: Which is true. It's like one of the very earliest Hillary quotes about Bill is she was like he was a man that wasn't afraid of me.
Aminatou: Yo, let me hit you with the two-by-four effects about that situation. [Laughs] Did you watch that PBS documentary that's like the choice about Hillary and Trump or whatever?
Ann: I did, yeah.
Aminatou: So anyway, in the Hillary parts, and I think this is in her biography also -- I'm going to have to go back -- I was so surprised that I had never picked up on this, but the way that the chronology worked, in at least the PBS documentary, I will actually go back and do some book research to see if it's true because if it's not it's kind of misleading. She was working in D.C. for what, the Watergate commission or whatever then she was going to pass the bar after that but she fails the bar which is huge. And I knew that part, right? But it's such a defining kind of moment for her where she was first in her class and everybody thought she was going to be president and blah, blah, blah, but she doesn't pass the bar. So it's a huge moment of personal disappointment. And it's literally in the wake of that that she decided to pick up her life and move back to Arkansas because this guy liked her there. And I was like damn, what?
Ann: The alternate future in which Hillary got into law school.
Aminatou: Yeah, I had never realized that that's how the chronology worked.
Ann: Or passed the bar, sorry.
Aminatou: Yeah, she didn't pass the bar. So she was like well, the next best thing is this guy still has a crush on me. And it's kind of amazing because the woman who was her best friend who was also her landlord in D.C., they had gone to school together and they were like besties, she drove her down to Arkansas and she says how sad she was that they were leaving her in the middle of nowhere. [Laughs] And I was like oh my god, can't you see this in your own personal context of oh, here is my smartest friend and I just drove her through cow town to be with her boyfriend?
Ann: Here's the thing. Like the Arkansas part doesn't bother me. It's that she's going somewhere she would never be except for a dude's ambitions. That's the sad part about that story.
Aminatou: Of course. But the Arkansas thing, and I think the reason she said that is they are both very urban, metropolitan people. And now it's like what? I'm dropping you in the middle of nowhere and now it's for a dude, you know? Like obviously this fits very neatly into my own what I want to believe about this so I will actually go back and double-check but that's the way that they set it up in the documentary. And I was like whoa, things I didn't know.
Ann: It's funny because you just kind of assume that when you know a couple publicly or you know the image they project, oh yeah, of course they sort of jointly decided that this is what they were going to do and this is where they were going to move after law school because I knew that they had met in law school. That part of no, no, he was like "I'm doing this. Are you onboard or not?" is kind of how it ended up working out is for the time period not shocking. But in terms of how we view Hillary and view their relationship today kind of shocking.
Aminatou: If you are a smart, ambitious woman don't get married. That's what the data shows. It's not to your advantage. It's not to your advantage.
Ann: Oh my god, the data. [Laughs]
Aminatou: That's what the CYG data shows. Listen.
Ann: Oh, I commission a 538 analysis please.
Aminatou: I know! Man, it's like look at Judge Jeanine Pirro, that crazy Republican lady, but she couldnt get ahead in life because of her husband. That's crazy.
Ann: My point-of-view is that heterosexuality is inherently a gamble. Like everything could get all fucked up at any point if you are entangling yourself with men a bunch and you're a woman. So I don't know. I mean yes, but . . .
Aminatou: Listen, we've all ready Rebecca Traister's book All the Single Ladies. If you get married you're complicit in this. I'm just saying.
Ann: Oh my god, I was going to say the opposite. If you get married it doesn't mean you're going to be married forever.
Ann: So I actually had a different take away from that book. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Aminatou: Also if you get married probably not going to be president.
Ann: If you don't get married? That's what you're saying?
Ann: Oh, for sure. For sure. It's like yeah, and if you're an atheist you're going to have to check another box or two so you definitely have to get married. [Laughs]
Aminatou: I can't wait until we have our first single lady president and everybody is like what's up with her? It's going to be amazing.
Ann: Oh, I can't wait.
Aminatou: Okay. No more America election talk. It's stressful.
Ann: No more America period.
Aminatou: I mean, listen, next Tuesday that's a real possibility.
Aminatou: Let's check the news from around the world. We're too America-centric these days. Let's see what's up for ladies everywhere else.
Ann: Oh my god, there's lots of interesting news for women all around the world. There's this article, which I think I had heard this anecdote somewhere before, but it's a little bit of a deeper exploration of the fact that in Japan apparently it is a legal requirement when a couple marries that they have to have the same last name. And so you can imagine how for centuries that ended up going which is like men's names, men's names, men's names always. In theory though it's legal to choose either party's name.
Aminatou: Yeah, or you could pick up a name or whatever.
Ann: Sure. However, 96% of women still take their husband's name in Japan. And so it's this interesting article about what happens when women are like "No, no, you take mine."
Aminatou: Yeah. Or women who say "I like my maiden name because I have good SEO under this name." Or "I want to keep my own individual identity." And it was so interesting to read this, and obviously it's happening in Japan, and how it is a legal requirement that everybody has to have the same name in a family. I cannot believe how many women our age like to change their last name and there's always some like "I don't like my name," or "I want to have the same name as my kids," or whatever. And I was like listen, all of those reasons are fine but you don't find it a little suspicious that it's only women who think that this is the way to do it, you know? Like for me this is where all this loses steam. I'm like sorry, this is garbage.
Ann: Yeah. Well and it's also this thing too where it's like I don't care. Change your name to whatever you want. I support you calling yourself whatever you want to be called for whatever reason. But just don't deny the roots of why and what's informing this choice. You know what I mean?
Aminatou: Can I say though I really think that if you . . . this might get me in trouble but it's a thing that I believe.
Ann: We know and love a lot of women who are legally married and have changed their names. Just saying. [Laughs]
Aminatou: No, of course. Yeah, because that's literally what everybody does. But this is what I will say.
Aminatou: One of the strong ways and also one of the few ways that you can show that you are serious about being a feminist is by keeping your name. It's so important, and it seems like it's a small thing. It's another one of those things where people are like "Well, I should be free to choose whatever." And I'm like this is true in the same way that I wear makeup or I participate in the beauty industry and blah, blah, blah. We have all of these choices that we can make. But again it's like a reminder that this is a strong way to signal that you want change and that you are not down for this kind of heteronormativity that we have. And it really makes me sad that not enough people choose this.
Ann: I have been frequently surprised by which women in my life have chosen to change their name to that of their husband. I have been very surprised on multiple occasions, yeah.
Aminatou: No, me too. I've actually been surprised. Some of my most conservative friends have kept their names. It's really interesting how it falls along the career ladder. Women that I think are doing really well at work, a lot of them have not changed their names. The thing that annoys me in this whole scenario though is when I'm like you can change your name if you want, but when they change their email to match their new name I lose it.
Ann: Okay, but I mean that's totally reasonable. You want it all to line up. I don't know. It makes total sense that you're going to change your email.
Aminatou: Your email could literally be starbucks44. Who cares? It's like the email . . .
Ann: Okay, are you still using AOL? [Laughs]
Aminatou: No, listen, this is the hill that I'm going to die on. Nothing makes me more annoyed than when somebody changes their email to match up with their married name. I'm like I'm sorry, this is Gmail. It's not American Express. I don't need to know. You don't have to do this.
Ann: I feel like metaphorically what's happening right now is I've wrapped you in a bear hug and I'm physically trying to prevent you from going up to the hill to die on it for this issue.
Aminatou: It's true. It's true. It's like . . . I mean like 70% of what I'm saying. But it makes me sad. It just makes me very sad. I was like this is . . . it's 2016. Your name is important if you're a woman but also what does it say when very progressive women all say that this is a thing they want to do? It's like Patriarchy 101. Keep your name.
Ann: This article about Japan also contains the aside that in the United States only one in five women keeps her surname when she marries.
Aminatou: That's crazy.
Ann: Shockingly few.
Aminatou: That's crazy. I'm also down for hyphens. I want to be clear I'm down for hyphens. Basically all I want is for your spouse to jump through the same hoops that you have to.
Aminatou: I'm sorry, come up with a new name if you want. Because it's annoying. You know, at the baseline it's just a lot of paperwork you have to do and I was like why should you be the one to have to do it?
Ann: No, totally. I mean listen, for better or worse I'm keeping this name for life. You don't have to talk me into it. It's one of those things though, there's a lot of choices that other women make that I'm like I will never understand this ever. So I mean . . .
Aminatou: [Laughs] I was just going to say I love the woman in here, the 28-year-old, who is like my name is my brand. She's so forceful about it and she's like "Yeah, I don't want to waste the trust and good reputation that I've built in my career." I was like you're right. Good for you, lady.
Ann: It's true. And in some ways -- I mean, I don't know, I have been confused before when people I correspond with for purely professional reasons change their name. And I'm like "New phone, who this?" Who is emailing me?
Aminatou: I thought you were going to say that people email you because they think you're the wife of Thomas Friedman, famous New York Times columnist.
Ann: Oh my god. You know that has happened, right? A former coworker of mine who will not be named came into my office once years ago and was like "You never told me you were married to Thomas Friedman." And I was like wow. Wow.
Aminatou: Ann, it's the best rumor I spread about you everywhere I go.
Ann: Oh my god. Oh my god, yeah, it's like I spend a lot of time in the back of taxi cabs chatting about economics. [Laughs] I'm super into mustaches.
Aminatou: You're like countries with McDonald's don't go to war.
Ann: Oh my god, I can't. I can't even. I died though when my coworker said that. I died.
Aminatou: Oh my god, that's so perfect.
Ann: What else is happening around the world?
Aminatou: Iceland. Icelandic ladies have got it together. They've always got it together in the Nordic countries apparently.
Ann: Tell me more.
Aminatou: So women across Iceland are leaving their workplaces every day at 2:38. It's to highlight the gender wage gap in their country. They're leaving work 14% of the time faster than they would have to then they're protesting in this town square every day at 3:15. It's genius.
Ann: I mean and here's what is so shocking about this. As you mentioned, Scandinavian countries have a lot of things together on at least the gender stats front. And around the same time this article came out about the protests in Iceland there's this Guardian article. The headline is "Why Iceland is the Best Place in the World to be a Woman." And it's like they still have got to walk out every day in protest.
Aminatou: I know. In Iceland the wage gap is 14%. In the EU on average it's 16.6%. Compared to America it is smaller but it's still just fucking pay us what we're worth.
Ann: Oh my god.
Aminatou: And even these European stats, I would love to see them broken down by race because in the United States it's definitely true that black women get paid less than white women and Latina women get paid even less and Native women get paid even less than that. So it is really, really despairing.
Ann: Oh, completely. And it's like in Iceland for example I'm like okay, so they are getting it together. First of all, it's a small country. I get it.
Ann: But to do sort of a widespread protest, that is one of the things that's most notable to me. It's not how big is your gap or how small is your gap, but it's the fact that all of these women there are like "No, no, this is a problem." And then when I read this other article about why Iceland is such a great place for women there was this quote from a woman who teaches essentially an "empowerment" class to three-year-olds in Iceland. And she says "We are training our girls to use their voice. We are training them in physical strength. We are training them in courage."
Ann: And I'm like no wonder these adult women are walking out. They've been trained in courage and using their voice and physical strength. It's pretty awesome.
Aminatou: Totally. That's amazing.
Aminatou: Oh my god, I never told you about the crazy dream that I had. [Laughs] Because it was so crazy.
Ann: Please tell me it was about Iceland and equality.
Aminatou: No, it was not about Iceland but it was definitely about equality. So we wake up in a world where I don't know who is president at this point but it's definitely in the future and Congress is refusing to put forward any of the president's picks for the Supreme Court so Merrick Garland is still chilling and no job.
Ann: Are you sure you aren't a psychic and this isn't like January 2017?
Aminatou: No, obviously this is the anxiety that I have, right? But you and me run into him at a Panera. [Laughs]
Ann: Wait, we run into Merrick Garland at Panera?
Aminatou: So we run into Merrick Garland at Panera and we're like "Yo, why aren't you working?" and he goes "Because they won't let me work." And we start this country-wide protest. I can't believe I haven't told you this. It was so embarrassing.
Ann: I cannot believe you dreamt about both Panera and Merrick Garland.
Aminatou: It was so good and the reason I remember it is because we had what's the loudspeaker things that people always yell into?
Ann: A bullhorn.
Aminatou: A bullhorn, thank you. They didn't cover that word in ESL.
Aminatou: Yeah, we had bullhorns then I woke up the next day and I was like that would make for a really cool tattoo and then I forgot about it.
Ann: Oh my god, I also had a dream about you in the past week that I believe I did text you about where we were lost trying to get somewhere in New York. It was a pretty boring dream honestly compared to Merrick Garland and Panera.
Aminatou: Wait, you didn't tell me this dream.
Ann: It was a Muppets Take Manhattan style caper where you and I had somewhere to be in Manhattan and it was like we couldn't get it together. Stuff that was our fault and other people's fault, and then getting lost, cars getting flat tires, and then us not knowing where we were.
Ann: I mean, yeah, it was never resolved. We never made it.
Aminatou: Wow, sounds hyper realistic.
Ann: I know, it was also realistic.
Aminatou: Another anxiety dream. What's up?
Ann: Maybe those are both January 2017 dreams.
Ann: Maybe that's just what our lives are going to be.
Aminatou: Merrick Garland, if they don't let you go to work in January call us. [Laughs]
Ann: We might have trouble finding you if you're in New York but call us.
Aminatou: Oh my god, yeah, call us. We'll fix it.
Ann: Oh my god.
Aminatou: Now that I know what a bullhorn is we'll fix it.
Ann: Yeah, exactly, screaming "Merrick Garland, where are you? Come out!"
Aminatou: Merrick Garland is such a baller name. Like great name.
Ann: I know, right? So hmm, this is really putting it to the test. Would you change your last name, Amina Garland? [Laughs]
Aminatou: No, are you kidding me? Aminatou Sow is a popular podcaster.
Ann: I know. I know.
Aminatou: I wouldn't change my name.
Ann: I'm just winding you up. I'm like, you know . . .
Aminatou: Listen, Merrick Sow though on the other hand . . .
Ann: Merrick Sow is a good name.
Aminatou: Listen. Listen.
Ann: Merrick Garland-Sow is a really good name too.
Aminatou: Yeah, no, Mr. Aminatou Sow, future Mr. Aminatou Sow, he's going to have it so easy. I've built a reputation on this name. He's just going to swoop in . . .
Ann: It is one of my favorite things to refer to my friends' husbands who did not take their wives' names by their wife's last name. So actually calling Merrick Mr. Sow would be something I would love to do.
Aminatou: Oh my god, it's the best thing. I actually love doing that because it makes them a little uncomfortable but then they get used to it.
Ann: It's true. It's like that's just what I call you now.
Aminatou: Shout out Phil and Aisha. [Laughs]
Aminatou: I'm such a . . .
Ann: Not that we're naming names. You're the worst.
Aminatou: I'm such a problem.
[Music and Ads]
Aminatou: Did you read this news, Ann, about all of the men pulling out of the birth control study?
Ann: Oh my god, I read that wonderfully-worded headline about men pulling out of the birth control study. I did indeed.
Aminatou: Yeah. You're like welcome to Progestin. [Laughs]
Ann: So wait, Amina, why were men pulling out of the study?
Aminatou: Okay, so here's what's going on. I'm literally pulling up an article from buzzfeed.com. So apparently somewhere -- it's in America -- they're doing a study on the impact of this new hormonal birth control shot for men that it's been found to be fairly effective at preventing pregnancy. Male contraceptive, kind of cool, right? Here's what happened in the trial. I'm just going to read it. "An injection of Progestin in the synthetic form of testosterone stopped pregnancy in 96% of female partners, the four-year worldwide study of 320 men in monogamous heterosexual relationships found. Almost 75% of the male participants reported being willing to use this method of contraception at the conclusion of the study. But an independent committee stopped the trial for safety reasons after participants reported 1,400 adverse effects, percentages as follows. 46% developed acne. 32% had mood disorders and 23% had pain at the injection site. 20 participants dropped out of the study due to side effects. Six men left due to changes in mood, six for acne, pain, or panic on first injection, palpitations, hypertension, or erectile dysfunction, and eight for more than one symptom. Researchers said that nearly 39% of the symptoms reported were unrelated to the shots." I'm a little LOLio but I'm just like this is literally what we go through.
Ann: I know. I also laughed so hard actually at the panic at first injections, like knowing many, many women with IUDs who have gone through something that I will guarantee you is way, way more difficult than getting an injection. I'm just like oh my god. I also love how the independent committee stopped the trial. It's not like men -- yeah, some of these men left, but an independent committee is like "Yeah, you're right, these are probably too intense of side effects to make men put up with." And they are, as every single woman who has ever taken hormonal contraception who's listening to this knows, 100% normal.
Aminatou: Right. And it's like I obviously laughed a lot, right? Then I went through the ugh, god, this is so depressing. Are you telling me that if women had just protested more they would've fixed it, and the answer is clearly no. The fear of being pregnant supersedes all of this.
Ann: Totally. Totally.
Aminatou: It's like one of those things where your body betrays you because you're the one that's going to be responsible for it at the end of the day.
Ann: I know, the tyranny of biology.
Aminatou: Whew, it was so crazy. But at the same time it was like come on, man. I think it's like one in two women who take hormonal birth control definitely experience side effects.
Ann: Here is the thing I was thinking about. So when you click through on the study there are many women who are at least authoring the study. So I have to imagine that there are women who are listening to men list these symptoms, right? Who are the researchers. And I'm like how do these women keep a straight face when men are like "I'm leaving?" When six men came to them and were like "I'm leaving due to the acne" and the whole list of things that you read. How do they keep a straight face and just say "Uh-huh, yeah, and how did that make you feel? Are you okay?"
Aminatou: They probably laughed so hard they cried. It's just depressing all around. But I'm also like science, can you just fix the birth control problem? We've been doing this for too long. Fix it.
Ann: Although listen to this. There's a line in this article as well that says "The committee said reports of mood changes, depression, pain, and increased libido were of most concern."
Ann: I was just like what? Okay, maybe bodies are different. I was like okay, that is the one thing. I would love . . . maybe I should do some journalism and call the women who were on this committee.
Ann: And be like give me the blow-by-blow. Give me the narrative of what happened. Because it's actually a pretty big study. That's the other thing. I mean a lot of experimental male contraception does not even make it to this stage, so normally when you see articles about why we don't have male contraception, it says something to the effect of like "Oh, we just assumed we couldn't get men to participate, or we thought men wouldn't want it." It's not like we actually studied this in a sample of 320 men and this is what we found. And so this feels different to me. I mean still depressing in terms of long-term prospects for sharing the contraceptive burden but kind of exciting weirdly.
Aminatou: Yo, you're right. It's just, ugh, everything is depressing right now.
Ann: I mean the other thing to keep in mind too -- and have we talked about this before? -- the history of the birth control pill that women take and essentially how early test groups . . .
Aminatou: Oh yeah, with the priests? We talked about this.
Ann: Totally, totally. And so it's like yeah, early test groups of women did report these same things. It's just like the study didn't stop. And you're right, ultimately it's because we need to be unshackled from the burden of pregnancy.
Ann: All for the greater good I guess, but yeah, no one was like hold up. Yeah.
Aminatou: No, it's just so depressing. Also remember, I think very early on in this podcast, there was this fantastic op-ed in the New York Times from a woman who was a biologist or studies biology or something and she basically had this really intense point that maybe all of the PMS that you go through, your period and all that, that's your real self.
Ann: Oh yeah, that's just you reacting how you should react.
Aminatou: Yeah, it's like this is how you should be reacting. And it's like I think about that all of the time and I'm just like my god, what if we just gave into it?
Ann: We'd all be walking out like those Icelandic ladies.
Aminatou: Listen, I'm ready to walk out for equal pay. I'm ready to get Merrick Garland his job. [Laughs]
Ann: And a Panini at Panera.
Aminatou: Totally. Show up at Congress and say which one of these fools said you couldn't go to work today? Just do it. But yeah, no, we are fed up. We are fed up.
Aminatou: This election is about more than just the presidential race too so that's important to remember.
Ann: Oh my god, I know. We are also looking down the ballot and very concerned/interested in women and friends of women who are running for Congress and at the state level. So I called a very knowledgeable person about this, Deirdre Schifeling, who is the executive director of the Planned Parenthood Action Fund and asked her some questions about what is happening below the presidential race.
Ann: Hi, Deirdre, thanks so much for being with us today.
Deirdre: Hi, thank you so much. I'm happy to be with you.
Ann: I wanted to ask you first just to clarify for our listeners who don't know, if you could briefly explain the difference between Planned Parenthood Medical Services, also known as the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, and the Action Fund which is the branch that you work for?
Deirdre: Yes, I'd be happy to. So the Planned Parenthood Federation of America which is a network of affiliates that have health centers provides basic reproductive healthcare including birth control, cancer screenings, and abortion all around the country, as well as sex ed and other services in the community. The Planned Parenthood Action Fund is the advocacy and political arm of Planned Parenthood. So we advocate for laws and against legislation; we also support candidates and campaign for candidates.
Ann: So this is a pretty important time for you, yeah?
Deirdre: Yes, it is. It's a critical moment.
Ann: Yeah, so one reason we really wanted to talk to you is obviously we like everyone else are obsessed with what's happening in the presidential race but we want to talk about some of the other seats that are in play. You know, we've heard for example that having a woman on the presidential ticket is likely to bring out more women voters and boost women candidates in lower ballot races too. So what races are you focused on, what are you looking at, and maybe what's at stake below the presidential level right now?
Deirdre: So one of our top focuses are the Senate races that are in critical swing states. So we are both focused on the presidential at the top of the ticket but also very focused on winning -- helping the amazing candidates that are running this cycle for Senate in some of these key states. So states like New Hampshire, North Carolina, Nevada, and Pennsylvania. Those are some of our top priorities and we are lucky to have some amazing female candidates running in all of those states.
Ann: Maybe you can talk a little about specifically in those states -- obviously we want more pro-choice women in Congress full stop, but is there something particular in terms of the stakes involved in those races? Or why you're so focused?
Deirdre: So this is an opportunity this year to flip the Senate. We need to win five seats to flip the Senate and that would be really a sea change in the type of environment that we're facing in Congress. In all of these races these strong, pro women's health candidates are facing incumbents who have voted repeatedly to defund Planned Parenthood, who are on the record as opposing safe and legal abortion, and who have not disavowed or distanced themselves from Donald Trump and his rhetoric around women, his rhetoric around access to reproductive healthcare. So it's really the contrast couldn't be clearer in these races.
Ann: Yeah. And so I sort of think of it as every time I do a face palm because I hear about another stupid defund Planned Parenthood bill it's like right now races like this and these states in particular can make that less of an issue hopefully in the next Congress. Is that what you're telling me?
Deirdre: Yes, exactly. Exactly. I mean these are folks who are even against equal pay.
Deirdre: It's shocking. It's shocking in this day and age that this is who is representing us in the US Senate.
Ann: Ugh, god, it makes my skin crawl. So let's talk about a little bit lower down than Congress, looking more at the state level. I think that many of us have heard the statistics about how many anti-choice regulations and restrictions have passed at the state level, even contraception restrictions in recent years, and Texas is a state where we've talked about this or heard about it a lot. But maybe you can kind of give a little overview of some states where local battles related to choice are really playing out, and what are you guys watching this election?
Deirdre: That's a great question. And as you know and as your listeners may know since losing the elections in 2010 which was really a decimation for elected officials who support women's access to reproductive healthcare we have faced an avalanche of restrictions at the state level and more than 350 of those restrictions have been passed into law at the state level. And so this is real life for women in many states across the country and has real impact on women's ability to access safe and legal abortion and even birth control. And so what we're seeing is in some of these states that have just faced restriction after restriction like North Carolina or who have had battles over defunding Planned Parenthood like New Hampshire, these are hot issues. These are top issues in down-ballot elections and we're supporting candidates who support women's access to reproductive healthcare in those states down-ballot.
The other dynamic at play is redistricting. You know, in 2020 we have the opportunity to draw districts that are actually representative of the voters in our country which the current incredibly gerrymandered districts are not and who controls governors' seats as well as state legislative bodies really determines how those districts get drawn unfortunately. And so those down-ballot races really couldn't be more important at this moment.
Ann: Yeah, I mean exactly. And that's sort of . . . I mean correct me if I'm wrong, but that is the sort of thing that determines actually what happens then again up in Congress after those 2020 elections, correct?
Deirdre: That's right. That's exactly right.
Ann: Yeah. So speaking of Congress again, let's say our dream world happens. All of these incredible pro-choice women candidates win. The Senate goes Democratic. Oh my god, it's a dream zone. Do you think that we'll see maybe more forceful defenses of abortion rights specifically? Because I know we get frustrated sometimes that the rhetoric is more about women's health or things that are a little more euphemistic, which obviously we love women's health, we support it, but sometimes I'm just like you know, really what are we talking about here? We're talking about abortion and I want someone to defend it, like that actual right. So I'm curious about whether you think sort of the tone of the conversation is going to shift as well, or could.
Deirdre: Yes. Yes, I think it could. I mean I think we have at the top of the ticket Hillary Clinton who has been the most aggressive and clear on her support of women's ability to access safe and legal abortion in this country and her support of women's ability to make their own decisions about this than any candidate in modern history.
Ann: Oh my god, I died at her third debate answer to this question. I was overcome kind of actually.
Deirdre: Yes, yes. And interestingly in the real-time focus groups that were happening that CNN was running on undecided voters that was her high mark for the whole debate. So I think women voters and just voters in general really responded to her passion, her clarity, her strength in supporting women's access to abortion. And, you know, I think there is no better way to get us out of this cycle of endlessly re-litigating this issue than winning elections decisively on it. That is the best way to get us out of having to have this fight every two years. So I am hopeful that we will win decisively this year and that we will see candidates take strong positions on it because it's a winning electoral issue. We've seen that over and over again and many candidates are already campaigning on it in this kind of strong way led by the example of Hillary Clinton.
Ann: Okay, so let's talk about winning. At the point at which people are listening to this podcast it's Friday and the election is just a few day away. A lot of our listeners I'm sure are not in some of those key states like New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Nevada, North Carolina. So what about the rest of us who aren't there? What can we do in these last few days? Is there anything we can do?
Deirdre: Yes, there's always something to do.
Ann: Good. [Laughs]
Deirdre: So I would encourage first to make a plan to vote because that is critical and get your friends and family to make a plan to vote no matter what state you're in. And we have an awesome tool to do just that at www.plannedparenthoodaction.org, so you can go there, you can make your plan to vote, you can share it on Facebook. Then I would encourage you to either go to a swing state and knock on doors, because that is the number one most effective way to communicate with voters, or if you can't physically go to a swing state call into a swing state and talk to voters which is the second most effective way to communicate with voters. And you can do that from anywhere.
And one way to do that even from your own living room is going to hillaryclinton.com and looking for the volunteer call page and you can just get connected to swing voters right online and use your cell phone to make those really important calls. And those calls make a difference. Those are the two things I would advocate that you do right away. [Laughs]
Ann: Yeah, like take an hour out of your weekend and make some phone calls. That's I think a good bar to set.
Ann: That's what . . . I'm all about what is a manageable goal? Then maybe you'll just get so into it that you'll want to keep making calls. That's what I'm hoping.
Deirdre: [Laughs] I guess the thing I would close with is that access to safe and legal abortion is on the ballot this presidential year like never before. The stakes really couldn't be higher. If we lose this election Donald Trump has pledged to appoint Supreme Court justices who will overturn Roe vs. Wade and that's it. It's really important that we do everything that we can to ensure that Hillary Clinton wins.
Ann: Ugh, yes, awesome. Well we're doing our best over here and we know you're doing your best. Thanks so much for all your hard work and for taking the time today. I really appreciate it.
Deirdre: Thank you so much.
Aminatou: So yeah, I guess there's a lot at stake for 2016 and 2020 and the rest of our lives so don't waste your vote.
Ann: Oh my god, don't waste your vote, and like Deirdre says this is a very important choice election, not just like presidential election, so do it.
Aminatou: Man, it's almost like citizenship is an important responsibility.
Ann: Almost. Almost like that.
Aminatou: Almost. Almost. Oh my god, do your Googles. Vote for good people.
Ann: Especially if you live in any of the states that she mentioned.
Aminatou: We're going to be okay. We're going to be just fine.
Ann: I mean at least until Tuesday. [Laughs]
Aminatou: Yeah, Wednesday, can't tell you what's going to happen. Can I tell you, Ann, my election day pantsuit got here today.
Ann: [Gasps] Oh my god, please describe it.
Aminatou: Oh my god, head-to-toe florals. You know I already have one floral suit.
Ann: I can't believe this is baby's second floral suit.
Aminatou: Yes, this is baby's second floral suit. I was debating wearing my . . . I have a linen pink suit that looks a lot like this picture of Hill's that I love but I wanted like a power floral. I'm like this is where I'm going.
Ann: Pink linen is a little off-season. I definitely feel the power floral.
Aminatou: No, that was literally where it was at. I was like I want a fall floral situation head-to-toe. I'm so excited about it because so many women will be wearing pantsuits on Tuesday. It's going to be the best.
Ann: I mean, amazing. I'm wearing a very structured blazer because I don't own a pantsuit but I am there in spirit.
Aminatou: Oh my god, we're going to find you a pantsuit. This is a good 2K17 goal.
Ann: I know, 2K17 goals. You know. You know it.
Aminatou: Putting it on the board. Put it on the board. Easy wins. Easy wins.
Ann: Wow, I'll save it for the 2017 visioning episode, custom-made power suit.
Aminatou: That's right. If you wear a power suit to the polls please tag us on Instagram or on Twitter. We want to see it. It's going to be amazing.
Ann: Oh my god, I want to see all your suits.
Aminatou: Yes. Show CYG what you're wearing. Probably going to cry all day Tuesday. It's going to be a mess so it's going to be great.
Ann: And it's totally warranted to be a hot mess on Tuesday I feel.
Aminatou: That's right. We're about to shatter glass ceilings. It's hard work.
Ann: Oh my god.
Aminatou: I'm going to go to bed. You should have dinner. See you on the Internet, booboo. I'm going to do the sign-off.
Ann: Okay. See you on the Internet.
Aminatou: You can find us many places on the Internet, on our website callyourgirlfriend.com, download it anywhere you listen to your favorite podcasts, or on iTunes where we would love it if you left us a review. You can tweet at us at @callyrgf or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can find us on Facebook -- look up that link for yourself -- or on Instagram at callyrgf. Please don't send us Instagram messages. We don't look at them. [Laughs] Yeah. You can even leave us a short and sweet voicemail at 714-681-2943. That's 714-681-CYGF. This podcast is produced by Gina Delvac.