This week, we did something we’ve never done before: we recorded a live episode in front of our listeners! It was so fun to celebrate our 100th episode with Heather Cox Richardson, some special Troublemakers, women from Red Wine & Blue, and most importantly… all of you!
Our lovely hosts - Rachel Vindman, Jasmine Clark, and Amanda Weinstein - shared some reflections about imposter syndrome, all the conversations we’ve had in the past two years, and of course the Republican Party’s “suburban women problem.” Then we chatted with everyone’s favorite historian, Heather Cox Richardson, about the origins of Mother’s Day, the connections between reproductive rights and democracy, and the history of women shaping politics and the world.
After that we were joined by Julie Womack, Chief Organizing Officer for Red Wine & Blue, along with her college-aged daughter Sydney! Julie and Sydney share a love of politics and their community, and they talked about what initially inspired them to get involved. Julie also shared more about Red Wine & Blue’s new initiative The Freedom To Parent 21st Century Kids. Because right now, a small but vocal minority of parents are claiming to speak for everyone and it’s time for mainstream parents to call BS. You can learn more about Freedom To Parent, including all of the fun and informative events we’re planning, by going to go.redwine.blue/SWPF2P.
And finally, before we wrapped up our event, Amanda, Rachel and Jasmine raised a glass to Mother’s Day, all the women who inspire them, and all the Troublemakers out there in this episode’s “Toast to Joy.” And this week, Heather joined us with a toast of her own: to finishing her brand-new book!
We now have some exciting Suburban Women Problem merchandise to share with you as well! There are stickers, t-shirts, and even “Toast to Joy” champagne flutes to rep your love for the pod. You can check it out here: go.redwine.blue/SWPmerch.
Thanks again for joining us for 100 episodes! We can't wait for 100 more!
For a transcript of this episode, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.
You can learn more about us at www.redwine.blue or follow us on social media!
Twitter: @TheSWPpod and @RedWineBlueUSA
The Suburban Women Problem podcast: Season 3, Episode 18 - a live celebration of 100 episodes with special guest Heather Cox Richardson
Amanda Weinstein: Hi everyone, thanks for listening. I'm Amanda Weinstein.
Rachel Vindman: I'm Rachel Vindman.
Jasmine Clark: I'm Jasmine Clark.
Amanda: And you're listening to the Suburban Women Problem. We are very excited for this hundredth episode! I have my bubbly ready, ladies, for the Toast to Joy!
Jasmine: Same same!
Amanda! Yes! But we're not there yet. We're not there yet. Are you guys excited?
Jasmine: I'm very excited. I'm super excited. I can't stop smiling. I'm like, my face is gonna hurt by the end of this.
Rachel: I'm so excited. I can't believe it. I'm just a little nervous about the live part, I'm not gonna lie.
Amanda: Amy has had to edit out some things over the last a hundred episodes! It was also fun seeing all of the guests that we've had over the last a hundred episodes. It has been so fun to get to talk to all of the people, all of the guests, all of our troublemakers. And I know we've got some troublemakers on here today. So it is super fun.
Rachel: Yes, yes. You know, I still face this, but I, I'm trying to get over it two years into this, but did you guys ever have imposter syndrome? Or do you still?
Jasmine: Oh yeah. I think that sometimes I feel… when we’re about to talk about one of our more difficult subjects, I'm like, “oh man, I don't know if I'm ready for this. And I don't know if I really am an authority on this subject to be able to really speak on it.” But I think that's like the best part about this podcast is we are not here to be authorities on anything. We're just a couple of suburban moms who have– or I guess a few, a couple would be two– a few suburban moms that just care about our communities and care about each other. And just want to, you know, see people be able to thrive, live and thrive without all the crazy that's been going on around us. And I think that's our listeners as well. Like everyone doesn't have to be like an expert in a field to have conversations and just know what you're talking about. Cause you're living it.
Rachel: That's a really good point. I think that's a really good point because I mean we try really hard to educate. And on a lot of these topics that we discuss, I come from zero. And you know, when I listen to our episodes, if I haven't done the, the featured interview and it's the part that I haven't listened to, I always learn something. And I love that about the show. I mean, I listen to quite a few podcasts, Heather's is one of them. But I hope that we can help other regular people learn how to have a conversation with someone on a subject and just bring it up and talk about it, because it's always something that's, you know, quite relevant to us as women, as moms, you know? Even if you don't live in a suburban area. So I really like that.
Amanda: I think as an economist, we're taught, like, “if you're an economist, you probably know everything.” But I’m often like, “oh, I didn't think about it this way. They didn't cover that in my, you know, economics lessons.” So I have also learned a lot on the podcast.
But I also think it's really fun. Like, I love talking policy and I love talking policy with people who, you know, care about it like I care about it, right? And I care about it as a mom and I care about it as part of my community. And I often don't hear a lot of politicians talk about it the way that I like to talk about policy, of like, “Hey, this is what I care about for my kids and my community, and this is why this really matters.” And I like that we have had those conversations with each other and with all of our guests on the show.
Jasmine: So how do y'all feel like, I know we've been doing this for basically two years, a hundred episodes in, and like, you know, we got into this because we are the suburban women problem. We are the problem for the Republican party.
Rachel: Here's my shirt!
Jasmine: I love it.
Amanda: Love your shirt, Rachel! “It’s me, I'm the problem, it's me.” I can't sing haha.
Jasmine: Do you feel like the problem has shifted or changed at all in our last two years. Cause I do.
Amanda: Oh, same.
Jasmine: I feel like some things we've been talking about like the whole time. But then there are all these new things that keep popping up and I'm just like, oh I don't know. I don't know if it's getting better or worse.
Rachel: Yeah, there's a lot of things that keep popping up. I think they're gonna have enough rope to hang themselves, but only if we make it matter. And we say that a lot. All these issues are only issues if we make it matter.
Jasmine: That’s why we have to keep talking about it.
Rachel: Yes. We make it matter by educating people. By talking about it. Yeah.
I, so speaking of this suburban women problem merch, I also ordered the sheet of stickers and it's I, I love the quote for, I love the quote for me. Sorry!
Amanda: No, own it! You should love the quote from you. There's a reason that you said it, because it's good.
Rachel: I just, this is what happens when it's live! I say idiotic things! But no, you know, it's like, “well, even if you don't do politics, politics does you.” So that's the thing and, and I mean, we've been taught as women that we shouldn't discuss those things. “It might alienate someone. We shouldn't have these discussions.” But everything is politics now. I mean, that's the problem, is that all this is affecting our lives.
And especially, I live in Florida now, so we, you know, if someone's uncomfortable talking about the fact that the governor doesn't want anyone to say “period” in schools, and that shouldn't be discussed…. that's only political because someone else made it political. Right? But you have to ask yourself, do I think that's okay? I mean, at that point, it doesn't matter if this is political or not, you're not the one who made it political. So it's a conversation you have to have because it's going to affect you and your children. Even if you have a son, that's something that very well could affect them and his friends.
So if we didn't, in polite society, talk about all these things, then we are the ones that are choosing not to do it. Because one side is talking about them. So we have to be more comfortable. And that's the thing is when you hear these conversations, I hope, and you hear us talking or have had a chance to attend some troublemaker trainings with Red Wine & Blue, you kind of have those tools of how to more easily have those conversations. And by the way, it's still awkward for me. This Friday, I saw Amanda and Katie actually, and I was collecting signatures because Ohio wants to have a ballot initiative to protect reproductive rights.
Amanda: We're trying.
Rachel: And yeah, I was with Katie collecting signatures. Katie's really good at it and I was just like, it's still awkward for me to ask people. Even though I know it's the most important thing, it never gets easy for me guys. So please don't think it's, it's like something that we just love doing. I mean, Jasmine, do you like knocking on doors?
Amanda: I think Jasmine, you've said you did.
Jasmine: I kind of do like knocking on doors, but it… it's not the easiest thing in the world. But I do like having conversations with people because one thing I've learned is that when you actually talk to people in person they are not as mean as they are on the internet, even if they disagree with you. But also a lot of the doors that I knock on people are just really excited to see me, to hear from me, to talk to me. So I like it. But I will say of course there's always that initial trepidation, that initial anxiety about it. So yeah.
Amanda: I am not a knock on doors person, but I do think one thing that Red Wine & Blue does well and that we have talked about is find what you're good at.
And there is a way that you can use whatever you're good at for, you know, furthering a cause or finding that thing that you really love. And it doesn't have to be knocking on doors and it doesn't even have to be talking to a stranger. In fact, it works better when you talk with your friends and your family cause they trust you, they know you and they know your heart. And it makes it so much easier to have that conversation. And to me, the podcast is all about having those conversations about anything. We have talked about marijuana, trans kids, CRT, DEI. There is no conversation we have not been willing to have.
Rachel: We've talked about a lot!
Well, without further ado, I think it's a great time to bring on our very special guest, Heather Cox Richardson. She is an expert. She writes a newsletter that is famous in song and story. I cannot tell you how many people have been like, “oh, I read this great newsletter from this historian, Heather Cox Richardson.” And I’m like, “Oh yeah, I interviewed her for my podcast. I just wanna point that out.” Heather is amazing. Hi Heather!
Heather Cox Richardson: I'm laughing here! Song? It's famous in song?
Rachel: Song and story!
Heather: My baby, she wrote me a letter, huh?
Rachel: Haha yes. But Heather, you joined us for our very first episode back in May 2021, and here we are almost two years later. That episode, you and I talked about how we were at an inflection point in history. It's a very long inflection point. And you said that we could regain our democracy or lose it. So here we are two years later… are you feeling better or worse about our democracy?
Heather: Well, that's complicated. But I wanna start by saying congratulations to all of you!
Jasmine: Thank you.
Amanda: Thank you.
Heather: I have, you know, I have watched you grow and watched what an incredible difference you make, not just in the nation at large, but so much of what we're doing is trying to empower people who have previously felt as if they were not part of the public conversation. And you're so good at that.
And just now, when you were talking about imposter syndrome, I don't know if people could see me, I started laughing and I'll tell you why in a minute. But it is my observation that those people who throw their weight around and insist that they know everything are freaking clueless. The people who say, “Wait a minute, I don't quite understand that” are the really smart ones. And you know, like, the stuff that I write, I still have to look up who the director of National Intelligence is, or I have to look up, you know, what treaties we have with someone. It's not like that's in my head. I just know where to look.
But I was laughing about the imposter syndrome. You know, it is true that, that what I do is very popular, but don't have any great fantasies about what my life looks like. I was laughing because I'd just come back from a several day quite important trip in a number of cities, important both professionally and personally, and I realized after getting all my clothes ready and all that… I got to the first hotel and I hadn't packed a hairbrush.
Amanda: I did the same thing a month ago!
Heather: And so, so I wrote to my college roommate and I was like, “this is not gonna surprise you, but I didn't bring a hairbrush!” And of course I hadn't had time to get my hair cut in six months. And so she's like, “Well, that's typical.” And then the great part was three days later, as I'm going to a fancy event with my friend Joanne Freeman, I looked at her and I said, “Oh my God. I could have bought a hairbrush in all these days!” It was on my third day of combing my hair with my fingers going, “I can't believe I forgot a hairbrush.” I'd even been in a Duane Reade to buy something else and it never, honest to God, never occurred to me that I could actually buy a hairbrush instead of going, “I shouldn't have left it behind.”
Jasmine: That's definitely something I would do!
Heather: All that to say that this is really accessible and anybody who tries to make it seem like it's not accessible, like there's, you know, geniuses out there running the show, they're trying to keep you from getting involved. Because the truth is that all our politics is… is how we live with each other. And what the government does and who it helps and who it hurts, and also who pays for it. And that's something that there isn't a woman in this world who can't comprehend, or a person in this world who can't comprehend, as long as they're willing to spend a little bit of time thinking, “Hey, wait a minute here. How come they just got this and I'm the one paying for it?” Which is kind of what we think.
Jasmine: Absolutely. Well, you know, Heather, I am so glad that you are here today. And something else that I remember from two years ago when you and Rachel were talking was about the history of Mother's Day, which is surprisingly political. And so since we just celebrated Mother's Day yesterday, I'd love to hear that story again about the history of Mother's Day.
Heather: So it's a great example of how everything really is political and how people want to change that story, change it and sort of sanitize it and turn it to be about something else.
The story that most people understood until people like me started writing about it was that Mother's Day had started in 1908 when Anna Jarvis wanted to celebrate her mother and started a Mother's Day to celebrate her own personal mother. But in fact what Jarvis was doing was she was remembering that her mother had participated in Mother's Days, which were plural mothers’ days that began in the 1870s.
And those are really interesting because they were started by Julia Ward Howe, who was a reformer in Boston, and she was married to a guy that I try never to name because he was totally abusive and in fact his nickname was Shev, and this is kind of a play on words, was which stood for Chevalier. In fact, in French, the word for goat is very similar to that. So I privately always refer to him as the old goat. He was really horrible to her and every time she tried to leave him sh he would say, “Well that's fine, but, you know, I've already spent all your money. Now I'm gonna take your kids.”
Anyway, she started to think about what it meant to be a mother and in the immediate aftermath of the Civil War, she started to say, “well, you know, women really should get the vote so we can do things like change the divorce laws, so I won't lose control of my children if the old goat–” sorry, that's me, “–manages to take them away. But she realized after the Franco-Prussian war, which happens in the early 1870s, she's like, “Wait a minute here. The Civil War seemed like it was worthwhile because we ended enslavement except for as a punishment for crime. But then, the Franco-Prussian War did it all over again. To what end?” And she thought, “You know what? The way we should change world history, the way we should change world politics, is for mothers to get together and say we are no longer going to permit our sons and our husbands to go kill other sons and husbands. And we're gonna put our feet down and we're gonna stop that.”
So she decided to have these meetings at the very beginning of spring when it was warm enough for people to gather outside in large gatherings, and they did for a number of years. But she pretty quickly realized that she couldn't create a global movement without changing a lot of other stuff as well. But that's the origin of Mother's Day, is it was mothers plural getting together to change the way the world worked, both by stopping war and by getting the vote to do that.
Amanda: Wow. So powerful. It reminds me a lot of Moms Demand Action now, where you see moms doing something similar of “how can we get moms to come together and unite as a collective to make the world a better place?”
So I remember, when I was taught history in grade school, it seemed devoid of women to me, and I've said this before on the podcast. You know, to be fair, I thought the same thing about economics, it also seemed devoid of women to me. But it seemed to me as if women never played a pivotal part in politics or our country in our history. I just didn't see it the way it was taught to me. But you have changed a lot of the way I think about a lot of this with a lot of the stories that you tell about our history. What are some of the other ways that women have been important in fighting fascism throughout history?
Heather: So a couple of things. One thing to remember is, and, and I wanna go back to mothers for a minute, is that, “mother” is a verb as well as a noun. And I don't wanna exclude anybody who did not give birth to one of those screaming little loaves of bread. But the idea of nurturing as opposed to dominating is a really important way to approach politics. And that's something that I think women tend to do much better at least under certain circumstances and in certain cultural moments than men do. So that's sort of trying to be more realistic about what it actually means for mothers to… you know, for it's people who wanna nurture as opposed to dominate, I think.
But it's important to remember, in terms of the way people think about history and not including women, that men wrote those histories, first of all. And one of my great examples from this is actually economics. So if you look at the ways in which women were written out of the industrial revolution, for example, at least in the United States. You know, there were no women, basically. The men, I guess, just ran around doing their own thing? And no children either. But in fact, most economists will tell you they do not think it was possible for the industrial revolution to work in the United States the way it did without the labor of women that never made it onto the books.
So for example, bartering, food trading, clothing, providing beds, all the things that economists like to attach a price tag to, but in fact always were the underground economy. And you hear that and you think, “Oh, whatever, she's talking about the 1880s.” Think about baby clothes. Think about today, the underground movement, if you will, in baby clothes. You have a baby, it outgrows the clothes, you give them to somebody. You know, you don't even think that you're doing anything other than being neighborly, but in fact, that's a really big economic transfer. When my daughter was born, I don't think I bought clothing for her until she was two because my friends were all like, “Here, take my old baby clothes.”
So just as that as an example, in economics, women in politics have always been important and they haven't been important because they convinced their husbands to do things. They've been important because they did things like look around and say, “Hey, wait a minute here,” in the late 19th century again, for example. “Our children are dying because of the diseases in our, in the, in the city streets.” And at first they didn't really know what those were, but they did recognize that there were more flies in the neighborhoods where people where children were dying. And that meant that there was more garbage there. So women start to become garbage inspectors, for example, and walk around behind the wagons and say, “You know, we need to clean this up.” And then they realize that they need to learn a lot more about working conditions and living conditions.
So they start to take statistics. Now they can't vote and they don't have any effect on machine politics in the cities in the 1880s and the 1890s and in the early 20th century. But they start to say, “It's not okay for girls to be dying in burning buildings and for children to be dying because their bosses lock them into the factories that then catch fire,” for example. So they started to take statistics, and at the turn of the century, our legal system was based on precedent. So lawyers would get into a room and the judges would get into a room and they would argue intellectually about where the law should come out on a certain issue. Well, that changes really dramatically with a question about whether or not the state could prescribe a maximum amount of hours for women to work.
And a new Supreme Court Justice provided what was called the Brandeis Brief. And the Brandeis Brief said, “Would you people stop talking just about the parameters of the laws and start looking at what the world looks like?” Well, in order to make people do that, he appended to the Brandeis Brief a very long list of all the statistics about what life was actually like in 19th century working conditions. And who put that together? His sister-in-law, Josephine Goldmark, who had been part of this whole movement.
So this is a case where women were not voting, nobody was really listening to them, but they were looking around them and going, “This is not okay. We gotta find a way to clean this up. And, and by God, at least I'm gonna bear witness.” And having borne witness, their statistics that they collected and the connections that they made to put pressure on politicians were a key driving factor of the entire progressive movement in the early 20th century.
Amanda: I love that they did it with data, can I just say.
Jasmine: I know!
Amanda: Like that is awesome. We know women aren't always listened to, so sometimes we have to bring the data.
Jasmine: I love that. You know, speaking of lawyers sitting in a room and saying, oh, we can only do things that have a precedent. Sounds very familiar. Recently we saw the overturning of Roe v Wade, and that is obviously one major thing that's happened since we started the podcast. It's not our fault! Correlation does not equal causation! So what are your thoughts about the historical connections between reproductive rights and democracy?
Heather: They're huge. And I cannot emphasize enough that countries that curtail women's reproductive rights are always on a trajectory toward authoritarianism. And countries that do the opposite are on a trajectory toward democracy. That's not to say it's an irreversible trajectory in either case, but controlling reproductive rights is a key way to control women, and women make up 50% of the population. Right? And so, so what that means is that if women's bodies and women's lives become controlled by their reproduction, they are essentially chained to those conditions and chained to child rearing. And they no longer have control over their time or their futures. And again, I hate to pick on the late 19th century, but this is why we fought that battle in the late 19th century. Because women were unable in many places to obtain abortions. And they were performing self abortions and dying in really horrible numbers.
And that matters when you get to the 20th century. And in fact, Roe v Wade, people don't realize that the reason we got Roe v Wade to begin with in 1973 was that by the 1960s, doctors, male doctors were looking around at the number of women who were suffering illegal abortions in the 1960s were as many as 1.2 million a year. And they recognized it as a public health issue. And the wording of that decision is really interesting because the wording of that decision doesn't say women should have this right. The wording of that decision says with the advice of their doctors, women should be able to make these decisions. With the idea that it was going to stop this horrific public health concern that people had.
Now, what's interesting about that is that it was in the 1960s when states began to decriminalize abortion, and how states got the criminalization of abortion itself is interesting. But they started to decriminalize abortion. And the United States government under Richard Nixon said to the doctors, the military doctors, that they should perform abortions. Even in states that did not allow abortions at the time. So the government was moving in that direction. And in 1973, Roe versus Wade was actually written by a Republican appointed justice to the Supreme Court. There was this idea that among the Republicans, that governments should stay out of families’ rights to plan their futures and out of women's roles in society.
So that's 1973. And people think that there's a backlash to the decision after 73, but in fact the backlash, if you will, began in 1970, before that decision was written, when Richard Nixon was afraid he was going to lose the midterm elections that year and he was very eager to pick up Catholic Democrats. And his advisor, Pat Buchanan, said, “well, the way to get them is with the abortion issue.” So Nixon, who had given the order to the government military doctors to perform abortions, goes in front of the cameras and uses the language of those pro-life Catholic Democrats and starts to really hit the idea that the other side is “embracing things that will destroy traditional America.”
So if you remember the 1972 election, they tried to hit George McGovern as being “the candidate of acid, amnesty and abortion.” But in those days, what the Republicans began to say was that, abortion…. they didn't talk about babies, they didn't talk about fetuses. They talked about “women's libbers.” That this was women's libbers who hated the family and wanted abortions and daycares instead of staying home with the family. So it became part of an identity of traditionalism versus women who had jobs and who wanted or needed to work outside the home, which they actually had to because of some of the policies of that era.
So reproductive rights has been characterized now with the idea that it's all about saving babies to the point that you recently had a former president say that, you know, people who wanted reproductive rights would murder babies after they were born, which is actually infanticide and is pretty illegal.
Rachel: Yeah. But if you want to believe it, I guess it's okay. I mean, you know, there's this section that just wants to believe this.
Heather: True. Yeah. So it becomes about women's roles in society as embracers of a traditional world or a modern world. And it's couched in language that makes it seem like the protection of babies. But you know, the extraordinary inconsistency on that front among those making that argument should make it really clear it's not the truth.
Amanda: Yeah. And you said the word “control” probably 10 times there, so I think it is pretty clear, but like, let me just highlight, it's about control. Specifically controlling women.
Heather: It is. And I think it's important for people to realize, you talk about how things have changed in the two years since you started doing this podcast, and one of them is the growing strength, although it's still a tiny minority, but the growing strength of those people who embrace what Viktor Orban of Hungary calls “illiberal democracy” or “Christian democracy.” And that's what ties together the book burning and the trans bans and the anti LGBTQ stuff and the anti-abortion stuff. All of those things are an attempt to impose radical evangelical Christian values on society. With the argument that the idea of equality before the law, the idea that everybody should be equal, has destroyed human virtue. And the way to return that is to bring radical Christianity into our society, to dominate our government and to dominate people.
And going back to reproductive rights, a piece of that, you know, you hear all these things about “should a 10 year old have to–” it seems crazy to somebody like me, that a 10 year old should have to bear a rapist's baby. But part of that argument is that it's central to recreate virtue to have people suffer and to have people sacrifice for the greater good. So they're imposing the idea that children should sacrifice for this baby. Ultimately, it will be better for them.
But I would love to point out here that they never want themselves to sacrifice. It's always other people who are supposed to be making that sacrifice. And you know, I'm happy to follow somebody's logic when they're the one saying, “I'm making this sacrifice and I'm setting an example.” I'm willing to consider this. But I cannot tell you at 60 years old how much I have lost patience with “sacrifice is a virtue.” So why don't you go ahead and do it.
Rachel: Yeah. Be my guest. I would like to say, you know, on correlation versus causation, Jasmine, I actually think there might be something to that, because I am married to a policy nerd and one of the things he always talks about with Ukraine is “why now?” Or, you know, a year ago, more than a year ago, “why now?” The answer was because Ukraine was becoming more western, and the more Ukraine had an opportunity to look to the West and see something different, it was like moving further away from Putin. So I think that after four years of Trump and Trump lost, that they were really clinging onto the last option, the judiciary, which is where they had the opportunity to really make some of these attempts to control women and to codify this.
And especially, I mean, you know how it is in Georgia, you know how it is in many states. It's not the will of the people. We know this is not the will of the majority of the people. But I, I have to ask you, Heather, I mean, do you think we're still at an inflection point? Are you optimistic about where we are right now?
Heather: So you asked me that, and inflection points aren't a minute long. Something major could sometimes change things, but yeah, I think the country is changing. And I would point out that people who are confident about their power do not have to pass draconian laws.
Rachel: Absolutely. Amen.
Heather: You know that you're safe. That you're gonna stay in control. You don't bother because you know you're in charge. And people ask me, like, “how can you stay hopeful in this moment?” And I look back at my old notes and I think I was freaking tearing my hair out during the George W. Bush administration when he started putting signing statements on laws to say that he could decide what laws actually meant. And I remember talking to a group of people about that and they're like, “Oh yeah, that's fine. You know, let's go to dinner.” And thinking, “You don't get that we're on this trajectory and I am terrified by this trajectory.”
And now, we're deep in the weeds for sure. We're in the thick of it. But people are now seeing it and saying, “I'm not gonna put up with this.” So let's game that out. What does that look like when this many people support gun control legislation, for example, gun safety legislation? The numbers of people who want background checks, last I checked, were at 87%. That's not small.
Amanda: No! That's a consensus.
Heather: Yeah. So, so what do we do if they say, “no, no, no, you can have any gun you want, anywhere”? Do 87% of us go, “Oh yeah, that’s okay”? I mean, no! I just can't do that math. I do think we're going into a period that is going to be very rocky, but if you look at the voters coming up, the millennials and the Gen Zs, they don't want any part of this crap. And you know, the older people who do, they tend to be over 50 years old. The ones who adhere, for example, to Christian nationalism. I just looked at those numbers tonight. They're people over 50 years old.
You know, the, the, the country is definitely changing. What worries me is that they will do so much damage in these next 10 years or so, that it's gonna take us forever and maybe never to recover. Which is why things like the debt ceiling are so important. Don't let them crash this economy by driving it over a cliff. Which is why all these other pieces are so incredibly important. So, so, yes, I'm optimistic. Yes, we have the numbers. Those things will only matter if enough of us speak up. And yes, I would love to get us into a better place so I could actually get two unbroken night's sleep.
Jasmine: Oh, I love that. Yeah.
Jasmine: Yeah, I think we could all use two nights of sleep. We would all love that. Well Heather, thank you. It's so important to hear this historical perspective of what we're going through right now in our country and in our states. And you know, I've been watching the chat and you know, people are just like, they all want a good night's sleep or two in a row. That would be great.
And so if you're a regular listener on the podcast, you know that we also talk to a Troublemaker every week, someone who's doing something great in their local community or someone that we wanna highlight here on the podcast. So tonight, in honor of Mother's Day, we're gonna be joined by Julie Womack of Red Wine and Blue and her daughter Sydney. Hi!
Julie: Hello. How's everybody? This has been fun so far!
Jasmine: Yes! Thanks for joining us, both of you. All right. Well, Julie, you're the Chief Organizing Officer at Red Wine and Blue. But like many of us, you haven't always been involved in politics, so what inspired you to get involved?
Julie: Well, my kids. Sydney, her sister and her brother. So after the 2016 election, you know, I was one of those moms who was like, “I vote, I pay attention, I know what's going on.” And then that election happened and I was like, “Oh no, this is not the world that I want for my kids. This is not the world I want them to be raised in. This is not the world I want them to go out and get jobs and work in.” So that just made me very motivated to start doing more at the local level.
So we started organizing. We live in a conservative county north of Cincinnati. So there hadn't been a lot of organizing on the, I guess the more progressive side of the aisle. And so we were like, we really wanna make a difference. We wanna stand up for our values. So we started organizing here and we haven't stopped. And we've had a lot of success. We're still a work in progress, but we've had a lot of success.
Amanda: That's awesome. So Sydney, what's it been like watching your mom get involved? Do the two of you talk politics a lot now?
Sydney: Yeah, it's been super cool to see just since 2016, like how involved she's gotten and like literally building a career out of this just like driven off of pure passion for what she is interested in and like what she wants to do. And we do talk politics a lot, whether or not like the rest of our family wants to hear it. Which has been really nice because I know she's super well versed in it. So there's someone I can always go to to learn new things from and to just rant to if I want to.
Julie: Yeah, she'll text me from college. I'll send her stuff when she's, you know, up at school. So we keep in touch about this a lot.
Rachel: Nice. I'm impressed. Sydney, I heard you planned a Black Lives Matter march in your conservative suburb in 2020. What was that like? Can you tell us about it?
Sydney: It was interesting. It was an experience I'm very glad to have had. So we did it during the summer of 2020 after the murder of George Floyd, and it was me and five other high school girls. And we did it entirely ourselves, which was very interesting. And we had never done anything else before, obviously, but it was super cool to see the turnout. We had around 1200 people end up showing up, which was unexpected. We had no idea how big the turnout would be, but it was very interesting.
There were a lot of ups and downs, a lot of dealing with very crazy people, which was surprising cause we were like 16, 17 years old and you would think maybe they would be a little different towards high school girls. But they were definitely not. But in the end it was a super rewarding experience to have and I'm glad that we did it.
Rachel: That's a great perspective. Thank you.
Heather: What would you recommend for people who wanna get involved at the local level? Like, where do you even start?
Julie: Well, number one, you just gotta, you have to find your people. So when I started, I felt very alone because I lived in this pretty red community. I didn't really know anybody who felt like I did, and we weren't talking a lot of politics. And so we started a Facebook group. And man, it took off. So all of a sudden we were like, “oh, there are a lot of people here who feel like us. We are not alone.”
Rachel: Aw, I love that.
Julie: Yeah. So you definitely have to find your people. And I have now taught Troublemaker Trainings about doing this exact thing and I have yet to meet a person who said to me, “You know, I started a Facebook group and like two people joined and that was it.” That's never the story. It is always my exact story. Hundreds of people have joined. So you find your people and then you just start doing it. You just go out in the community. You start talking to your friends and neighbors. You start showing up at your school board meetings and your city council meetings. You start paying attention to who's running for office. And make those phone calls. Like there's, there is so much work to do, but I do think you need the support of other people who have your back.
Amanda: I've heard that from so many women. A very similar story of, “oh, I found a bunch of people on Facebook. I thought I was the only one. And it turns out my neighbor four down from me is, you know, she thinks like I do. So now we meet all the time.” And your kind of network just grows from there. I've heard that from so many women.
So I know with a lot of what we've been talking about, especially with schools about banning books and CRT and DEI and now more attacks on higher education, it's a lot of adults talking about what young people should talk about or not talk about and what young people should read or not read. And I don't hear as much from young people about their perspective. Sydney, I would love to hear your perspective on what you think about all of these adults talking about what you should or shouldn't talk about or read.
Sydney: Yeah, it's crazy. I feel like obviously very personally connected to it because there are a lot of debates around things surrounding, like my major in college and like a lot of the classes I take, a lot of the groups I'm involved in, would be at risk of being taken away if they continue to try and push this agenda on us. I have a whole scholarship. I go to Ohio State and it's a diversity scholarship.
Amanda: Oh-Hi-Oh! Woo! Haha sorry.
Sydney: Haha, yeah! But yeah, my whole scholarship program would be at risk if they continue to try to censor and ban these types of things. So it's definitely very scary and I don't know, just being a student and being a youth and understanding how this works. Like I know that I wanna learn these things. So it's very frustrating to have adults try to tell you what you should and should not be wanting to learn about. Like I know for myself what I do and do not wanna learn.
Amanda: What's your major?
Sydney: I'm criminology and criminal justice studies and I'm gonna add a history minor.
Julie: I didn’t know that!
Heather: So I have what may be like a really frivolous question, but when they say you can't read a book, does it make you wanna read it more?
Sydney: For sure.
Heather: To me it's like, I look at those lists and I've read most of the books on them, but there'll be one or two where it really never caught my interest, but I'm like, “I'm gonna go read that sucker right now.” But I wondered if young people felt the same way, because it's not like those books aren't available elsewhere.
Sydney: Yeah. I think I feel that way for sure. Cause it sort of is counterproductive if they're telling you to not do something. Especially as like a teenager, like you kind of want to rebel anyway. You're like, “oh, I might as well go read it then.”
Jasmine: It's like, “what are y'all hiding?”
Amanda: I know. I mean, I've never felt cooler every time I hear a book is banned, I'm like, “oh, I've totally read that.” So I'm very edgy. I'm so edgy now. Haha.
Heather: I'm gonna be totally rebellious and go read Shakespeare.
Jasmine: Haha yes! So Julie, I know that you are working with Red Wine and Blue, so what's next on the horizon? Like, what are y'all working on right now?
Julie: All right you guys, we are so excited. So last Wednesday we launched our Freedom to Parent campaign and I'm gonna tell you a little bit about that because we want everybody on this call to get involved. So start watching the chat for ways to sign up.
But you guys have obviously been hearing about what we just talked about, book bans, you know, telling teachers what they can and cannot say. And it's all been done under the guise of so-called “parental rights.” But what we know as mainstream moms and dads is this is not about our rights as parents. This is actually taking away our rights and telling us what we can and cannot do. And that is not how we prepare our kids for the 21st century, right? She's gonna go out and work in a global economy. She has to be prepared for that.
So what we're noticing is that politicians really aren't stepping up to push back against the so-called parental rights. So we are gonna do it. All of us, everybody here, we are gonna be the ones who go on the offense against this and call it out for what it is. We are not gonna be told by a very loud and vocal minority how to raise our kids. We know that success is learning. Learning is not book bans. It's not censorship. It's not being told that there are no different perspectives or there is no diversity in our society. That is not what we want. We want our kids to go to school and feel like we don't have to worry about an active shooter coming in. Like this is freedom, right? This is the freedom that we want as parents.
So this is what the Freedom to Parent campaign is all about. We are gonna increase our Troublemaker Trainings so you guys can feel really confident going out, talking about this, learning how to organize in your community. We already have a banned book club, we're gonna launch a little banned book club so we can talk about kids books and what's actually being banned. We're gonna have Ask Me Anything sessions. There's a lot of disinformation online in case you guys haven't noticed, especially around all this anti-trans legislation. But I know people have a lot of questions, right? Because it is confusing and if it's not a subject you're really well versed in, you may not understand all of this. So we are gonna have Ask Me Anything sessions to come learn about what it means to be transgender, non-binary. What's it like, you know, if you're raising a child of color in a community that's majority white and you're getting all these attacks on education and your history being taught in schools? We're gonna have these real conversations. So please sign up for updates, join the movement. We want you to be part of this cause together we are gonna become the loud majority who is speaking out about this stuff.
Rachel: Oh, I love it. Julie and Sydney, thank you so much for joining us for being our troublemakers and for sharing a little bit about what you do. It's very meaningful and I appreciate you coming in and obviously talking about Freedom to Parent because that is exciting.
Julie: Thank you for having us and thank you to her for actually volunteering to do it!
Amanda: Thank you!
Rachel: Well, we are just about at the end of our special hundredth episode celebration, but if you're a regular listener, you know that we always close with a Toast to Joy, sharing something positive with each other and our listeners. It’s my favorite part, and it's become such a staple of the podcast that we just added a Toast to Joy champagne flute to our merch store! Very excited about that.
So with that, Jasmine, what is your Toast to Joy this week?
Jasmine: Yay, I get to go first! All right. So my Toast to Joy this week, honestly, is to a super spontaneous but fun Mother's Day with my daughter.
Jasmine: She just was like, “Hey, mom, I don't have a whole bunch of money…” Her dad gave her a little bit of money to spend on me for Mother's Day, and so she's like, you know, “Let's go downtown and just like, walk around downtown.” And I'm like, “Yeah, cool.” So we go downtown and then we happen to see this big billboard that says “Free admission for moms to the College Football Hall of Fame.”
Now I've lived in Atlanta literally my whole life, except for four years when I went off to college, so I have not done all the little touristy things downtown. So I was like, “Hey, let's just go in there.” And it was so fun. I'm a football fan. Those who listen to the pod, you know I love sports. And so we went in and they had mimosas and massages, and then we went to the museum, I got to sing fight song karaoke…
Amanda: Wait, wait, wait. They had mimosas and massages in the football museum??
Jasmine: Yes, yes! It was for Mother's Day.
Jasmine: I know! I know. Isn't it crazy?
Amanda: Yeah, I might think about sports a little more now!
Jasmine: I think it was just like, you know, they were trying to bring people in. But it was a really good time. I really enjoyed spending the day with my daughter. I don't know, it was not necessarily what I thought I would be doing on Mother's Day when I woke up that morning, but I'm just so glad I did it. So that is my Toast to Joy this week.
Amanda: Aw. Oh, that's awesome. Love it. We did the opposite where all of the dads took all the kids away from us and then all the women got together for brunch with no kids.
Jasmine: Oh, well that actually sounds really amazing. Although I will say, my kid's a teenager now, so she's old enough that we can like to do things and talk and she's got a little bit of money in her pocket, so it was fun.
Amanda: Yeah, that's true.
Jasmine: So Amanda, what's your Toast to Joy this week?
Amanda: Alright, so not to be too cheesy, but I was thinking about all of the hundred episodes that we've had, and I would love to do my Toast to Joy to all of the troublemakers that we have had on the podcast and just all the troublemakers in general. Because when I think about how are we gonna make this inflection point really move us forward… the politicians are important, and the people out there with the platform are important, but the troublemakers are really the ones who are important. It is all of the people making all of the little decisions to show up, to talk with people. All of those little things matter so much, and they build up into a collective that can move this whole country. So my Toast to Joy today is to all of the troublemakers out there, and I know we have a lot of troublemakers here today. All right.
All right, Heather, are you ready for your Toast to Joy?
Heather: I am! And I have all sorts of, like, family things or public things I could say, but I'm actually gonna say something personal for a change that is really important to me. I'm not usually out there saying, “I did something, I did something, I did something!” But… I did something! And it has to do with you all in a sense that I was starting it a hundred episodes ago and that is that today at one o'clock, I finished everything to do with my new book! I am done. There's nothing left to do.
Heather: I, it has been, I'm, I, I just… you can tell, I have no words! It has been such a slog and I don't even care how it comes out or anything else, but–
Amanda: Also, cliffhanger, a book is coming out!
Heather: Yeah. Yes. Which is fine. And it'll be fine. But the accomplishment of finishing an expletive book is just such a relief. And so I finished and then I did some grading and then I came over to do this! And I'm so exhausted. Not, not sleepy exhausted, but just sort of that I'm sitting here and I could just sleep on this table right now.
Jasmine: I know that feeling.
Heather: So I am, I am the kind of joy that I've only had six times before in my life tonight cause this is my seventh book. So I'm happy to share it with everybody, with you all and with everybody here.
Jasmine: I'm so glad you shared that with us. That's awesome!
Amanda: I know! Do you have a big to-do list where you like scratched it off your to-do list? Like, I did a book! Done!
Heather: No, I should do that actually.
Amanda: You should just do it right now. I do this all the time, I write it and I just cross it off right away. It feels really good.
Jasmine: I do that too!
Heather: I don’t usually, but you know what I do is in the last month or so of a big project like that, I keep a running list of things that need to be done. Like clean the bathroom, whatever. Because otherwise you actually run the risk of… you lose such a big thing out of your life, you can get really depressed by it. So in fact, one of the things I did this afternoon was clean the bathroom.
Rachel: Yeah. Keeping it real!
Heather: How about, how about you, Rachel?
Rachel: Well, my Toast to Joy this week, I thought a lot about what it would be and I think it's to the female role models in my life. Both my grandmothers, one of whom is still alive, she was born in 1926, and my mom, who has passed away, and my two aunts. But just the strength they gave me. You know, both my grandmothers were born in Oklahoma and raised during the Depression and had such a tremendous work ethic. They were the greatest generation. But they taught me a work ethic and not just a work ethic, but a perseverance that I think very much lives in me and I'm so grateful for it. So that’s my Toast, I guess it is a little bit a little emotional.
And my mom, who, by the way, Jasmine, my dad was a football coach a long time ago and actually at the end of his life, he went back to teaching and coaching. But one of my brother's friends one time said, “your mom knows more about football than my dad!”
Jasmine: Ha, that's probably me.
Rachel: She knew a lot about football. Much more than me. So in fact, when we were, like I said, I saw Katie and Amanda this, this weekend, and we were in Columbus– sorry, Cleveland, Cleveland, sorry, sorry, sorry. And the players for the Angels, they were playing a baseball game and they were in the elevator with us and my daughter asked them if they were playing there to play a football game. In May. So my parents would be a little bit appalled, but anyway, that's okay. Everyone has has their own life.
Jasmine: It's ok. Everyone has their strengths.
Amanda: Yes. I think Heather might tell us all the history of how every generation is unsatisfied with how the current generation's parenting. Like we will at one point be unsatisfied with the next generation.
Heather: Yes, that's absolutely true. But isn't this cool that we have both the past in Rachel's toast and the present with Jasmine's daughter? And, you know, this incredible moment we are in with the idea of people accomplishing things and everybody across the country participating. So it's almost a kind of a perfect microcosm of the entire podcast. Which is really cool.
Jasmine: I love that.
Heather: Not planned out ahead of time, I have to say!
Rachel: No, not planned out! But I mean, we have to be willing to change. We have to, you know, we have to get out there and some people are really afraid to change. And I think so much of what we see in this moment, in this inflection point, is because people are very, very afraid of change. And they don't know what it's gonna look like on the other side of that. And we have to help them see, it's going to be okay.
Heather: It's gonna be great. It's not just okay, it's gonna be great.
Rachel: Yes! You're right.Yes. I mean, just allow yourself that moment. It's going to be amazing. And I can speak to that personally.
On that note, thank you so much to everyone for joining us today. You made this moment for us so special for being part of it and being here. Whether you're a regular listener or this is your first time hearing the pod, we're just so thrilled that you joined us. It's been an honor and a pleasure to talk with Amanda and Jasmine and all our amazing guests for a hundred episodes, and I can't wait to see what the next hundred will bring.
If you'd like to know more about the Suburban Women Problem or Red Wine & Blue, you can visit redwine.blue. Thanks again for joining us, and as we always say, we will see you again next week on another episode of Suburban Women Problem!