Jane Fonda: Older women are stronger, braver – what do we have to lose?

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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.

[From Vanity Fair]

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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