Harper’s Bazaar Magazine’s “Women Who Dare”

Posted on October 08, 2018

Laverne Cox and Rosario Dawson, Jane Fonda and Patrisse Khan-Cullors, Gabrielle Giffords and Edna Chavez — these daring duos are laying the groundwork for a new generation of activists in their (never-ending) fight for human rights. Outspoken and unconventional, these brazen women are beacons of change who refuse to conform. As they dare to do the impossible every day in their fight for human rights, they open up about the importance of intergenerational conversation—and why they’re better when they’re working together.



Rosario on the importance of staying vigilant: “Now we’re so comfortable being able to say ‘LGBTQIA movement’—wonderful. But that doesn’t mean that coalition is evenly represented, that the disparities between them doesn’t exist. We get so comfortable with the vernacular that we think we’re in a post-racial, post-sexism, post-whatever [world] and it’s like, no, we’re a far cry from it. That’s what’s so gorgeous looking at younger people. They’re really embodying the community and recognizing intersectionality. We have to be able to be there and stand up for each other. It’s sad to realize for them that there’s so much still to do, even with that. What we basically did was come to a common language so we could almost start to fight from the beginning again.”

Laverne on recognizing intersectionality: “What does it mean to really be inclusive and what does gender equality look like now? And how does that really include people who are gender non-binary and trans folks?…We have to think beyond making these generalizations about what men do and what women do because so many people exist in the spaces in between and beyond. And that is the space, I think, of true liberation. We need to move beyond all of those gender expectations and just be inclusive of everyone when we have these conversations, make our policies, and form our initiatives.”

Rosario on the current political climate: “I keep saying with this generation of Yelping, we just want to Yelp the government. It needs a reboot. I find it really interesting when I talk to folks who are not as alarmed as I am about what’s going on, because there’s something they’re liking — that the messiness might mean something good because it’s different and we’ve been doing the same thing for so long and even under a black president we still needed to prove black lives matter. So [they think] maybe what this person’s doing, what 45 is doing, could actually be helpful. It’s like no, how do you normalize separating families?…I can’t imagine what those children…it’s frightening.”

Laverne on the country’s reaction to current policies: “[Separating families] is being normalized and we’re being desensitized. We are becoming adjusted to injustice and we should become maladjusted to injustice. We must have a historical perspective and so that we’re not repeating the same historical mistakes. We’re being colossally distracted, too, by the spectacle and the entertainment of it all. Forty-five, if nothing, is entertaining. And there’s a lot of things to be outraged about and to resist against… Trans people are under attack right now and there’s so much else going on that a lot of folks aren’t paying attention. But everybody’s under attack.”

Laverne on women’s rights over their own bodies: “Obviously I can’t get pregnant so it’s not a personal issue for me, but the folks I know who’ve had abortions it was not an easy decision for them. It was one of the worst days of their lives. And it’s not an easy decision but it’s not for me to tell her that she should or shouldn’t. There’s not ever a conversation about the woman who has to carry the child. There’s not a conversation about the child once the child gets here. How do we have those conversations? I’m not sure, I’m really not…I want to be able to come to a space where we can coexist, but also so that people can have rights over their own bodies. As a trans woman, it’s the most sacred thing for me to be able to do exactly what I need to do with my body because this is my body and everybody should be able to have that right.”



Jane on what drove her to start joining movements: “Well, it was the Vietnam War. I was living in France, and the French had already been there. So, they had their war in Vietnam, and they knew we couldn’t win, and it was an interesting thing for me, as an American, to listen to [the French] talk. I just felt, I can’t just stay here and listen to this, I have to go back and be part of it. And, as you probably know, once you begin to study one issue, everything else — race, imperialism, capitalism — everything starts to come into question: economic issues, the fact that we don’t have that economic democracy.”

Patrisse on how she has learned from—and leaned on—Jane: “Tenacity. You don’t give up…When you’re on a mission, you’re on a mission. There’s nothing that’s gonna stop it and it’s helped me, in the moments where I’ve felt like, ‘Oh, shit. Are we gonna get these signatures? What are we gonna do next?’…There’s a sense of wisdom that I really lean on, and I’ve really lent on, I don’t know if you know that, but it’s been very comforting. But also there’s a strength in it, too, that’s like, ‘Okay, Jane says we’re gonna do this, we’re gonna do this.’”

Jane on how the current presidency has changed perspective: “You know, I’ve traveled a lot around the world, and the third world, and one of the things that I’ve learned is, it’s easier to understand — for example, misogyny, women being treated like cattle — when you’re in a country where it’s totally blatant…One of the gifts that POTUS has given us, is things are so blatant and bad, that things that were underground before, at least for white people, have come to the surface now. It’s like oh my God, I now understand that we can’t really be a full democratic country, a healthy country, as long as we have the legacy of slavery and race. We can’t, and I’m not sure that it would’ve hit me before November 2016. Isn’t it awful to say, I’m grateful for the lesson.”

Patrice on the importance of the Black Lives Matter movement: “You know, when we started Black Lives Matter, now five years ago, that was in a time where Obama was the president. A lot of folks at the very beginning kind of criticized us, like, “Guys, we don’t really have to talk about that anymore, you have your black president.” And five years later I’m so grateful for that movement. It has actually set the tone for many of the rest of these movements, right?…I think Black Lives Matter was that phrase that people were afraid to say, and now it’s everywhere…The resistance didn’t start with Black Lives Matter, there’s been a resistance movement in this country for 500 years, and I think we are a part of that legacy. And that is, it’s an honor, it’s an honor to be a part of that legacy.”



Gabrielle on the importance of being patient: “Fighting for safer gun laws can be hard. In many ways, it reminds me of what is was like recovering from being shot. Each step took a tremendous amount of work and support. But I was determined to get better. The same is true for the movement to fight gun violence and make our communities safer. It’s important to celebrate the small victories because it’s those victories that will build up to bigger ones.”

Edna on how she became an activist: “My activism didn’t just start with gun violence. The root of it was always immigration. I was personally affected by it, by having my father taken away in 2016. I lost [my brother] Ricardo when I was younger…I decided that I shouldn’t allow this to happen anymore. Hearing the judge telling me that I wasn’t going to have my father with me anymore, that was painful…People need to put themselves almost in an uncomfortable position, where you become very outspoken…Use that as motivation, and whenever somebody tries to shut you down, shut them back down with your words and your empowerment.”

Gabrielle on the new generation of gun control advocates: “The students who have held rallies, walked out of their schools, and marched into the streets are blazing a trail that prior generations of gun safety activists could not have imagined. Your energy and determination are inspiring to my generation. Using tools like social media to speak truth to power in real time creates a sense of nationwide community and action that my generation has never seen before.”

Edna on the frustrations of being a young activist: “What frustrates me is that a lot of older people tell us that we’re the future and that we’re going to make a change, but right now we’re doing that and it’s like they want to put a stop to us, or to diminish our opinions, our thoughts, our movements. They don’t really listen. But I also have to commend those, like you [Gabrielle], who continue to work with us to use their platform to bring awareness to the work that we’re doing as young activists.”



Style Credits:
On Rosario: Blazer, Pants and Necklace by Alexander McQueen | Shirt by Wolford | Rings by Vram
On Laverne: Dress by Diane von Furstenberg | Necklace by David Yurman at Beladora | Bracelet by Lizzie Fortunato

On Jane: Blazer and Belt by Frame | Pants by Versace | Turtleneck by Lanvin | Earrings by Marli New York | Shoes by Chloé
On Patrisse: Dress by Yona New York | Necklace by Alexander McQueen | Shoes by Rupert Sanderson

On Edna: Top by Rachel Comey | Earrings by Jennifer Fisher
On Gabrielle: Dress by Khaite | Necklace by Zied at Beladora

[Photo Credit: Williams + Hirakawa/Harper’s Bazaar Magazine]

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