In a conversation with women’s rights lawyer Gloria Allred for the Guardian, feminist icon Gloria Steinem claims that President Donald Trump has “made us woke.”
“That is his only good purpose,” the 85-year-old added. “He has shown us everything that’s wrong with the country at a high level.”
She also agreed with Allred’s assertion that the Trump presidency has “really mobilized” his critics.
“I’ve never seen the degree of activism, ever, in my life,” Steinem said. “People who didn’t even vote before are now running for office. It’s amazing.”
Allred also called Trump’s 2016 victory “a catastrophe for the country,” while Steinem vowed to “work my heart out for any one of those [Democratic] candidates to make sure they get elected, and not Donald Trump.”
The women’s lengthy discourse also covered topics ranging from reproductive rights — with Allred recalling being shamed by a nurse after terminating a pregnancy that stemmed from a rape — to the sexual harassment allegations against Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Brett Kavanaugh, to the #MeToo movement.
“While Epstein was alive, I thought we should have a street demonstration between the two houses — cordon off the blocks and say, we’re taking back the streets!” she said, adding that Epstein’s death in August made the idea unseemly.
Allred, who is representing some of the women who have accused Epstein and Harvey Weinstein of sexual misconduct, also defended herself against claims that she prevented past clients from speaking out. (Allred also declined to speak on behalf of daughter Lisa Bloom, a fellow women’s rights attorney who has come under fire for her past work with Weinstein.)
“Some reporters have said, ‘She silenced her clients,’” the 78-year-old attorney said of settlements and non-disclosure agreements she’s arranged in the past. “So let me try to be concise and clear: I stand by the fact that every woman, and every man, has a right to choose whether she wishes to enter into a confidential settlement, by which she will be compensated and make that wrongdoer accountable to her. And it is her choice. It’s a voluntary process and I am very disturbed by anyone who wants to take away that choice.
“Not everyone wants their mother, their sister, their brother, their community to know they were raped, sexually abused as a child, sexually assaulted, whatever. Some people think it might hurt them in their next job if they were known to have sued someone in their career path. And let me put one last line on that; no confidential settlement can prohibit a victim from going to the police, asking that criminal charges be filed against that same perpetrator. They can still do that. What’s more, they can still testify in someone else’s civil lawsuit, if they are subpoenaed ... They can’t file a lawsuit themselves, but through the confidential settlement they’re saying I don’t want to file a lawsuit, I just want to resolve this now. I want to be able to get a settlement, which may be as much as, or more than they would get going through three or four years of litigation. Using words like ‘hush money,’ or that an attorney silenced them — it’s voluntary, they can say no.”
Though there’s much work to be done, both women expressed some optimism, with Steinem calling the presence of female candidates in the 2020 presidential election a “step forward.”
With the Weinstein trial looming, Allred also predicts a reckoning of sorts for women.
“We are going to see, in the coming year, more women being brave,” she said. “We have the Harvey Weinstein trial starting on Jan. 6. I feel that, both in the political arena and in the judicial arena, women want to be constructive. They want to help to empower women and make sure men are accountable, politically or in the courts. 2020 will be a good year for women.”
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