Episode 40: Feminist Maven Dr. John Erickson, Ph.D.

Heather Newman:  Hello everyone. Here we are for another episode of the Mavens Do It Better podcast where we interview extraordinary experts who bring a light to our world. I am so thrilled today to have the lovely and talented and super smart John Erickson on with us today. John, do you want to say hi?

John Erickson:  Hi everyone. I'm so glad to be here with you and so thankful for you Heather to make time so we can chat today.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, I am so super psyched. So, and John, are you in Los Angeles today?

John Erickson:  I am in Los Angeles today. Yes. I am busy here in LA toppling the patriarchy.

Heather Newman:  (Laughter) You know what, I'm here in Marina del Rey and I got my hand up giving you a high five on that one, so

John Erickson:  That's right.

Heather Newman:  Fantastic. Yeah, so everyone, I met John through a mutual friend and she was featured at the Women's March this year as a top speaker. And that was super fun. And you were involved with that, Zoe Nicholson, our mutual friend and I got to say hi and. Tell everybody how you were involved in the Women's March. Maybe we start with that.

John Erickson:  Oh yeah. Well obviously I love Zoe and so she and I go way way back. So, after the election of 2016 and the Women's March movement was really, you know, just beginning. Here in LA, I was able to meet two amazing individuals, you know, Emiliana Guereca and Deena Katz, the co-executive directors of Women's March LA Foundation and then you know, they put on the march and I got in touch with them through our, you know, interconnected feminist circles and they basically, you know, it was such a hodgepodge of people upset and wanting to do something and take action and we didn't know what it was going to be or how many people would show up. And I ended up programming the opening stage and running it and being a lead there. And you know, before we knew it we were on top of the bus in Pershing Square and like, I think it was like 800,000 people just like looking out at us, just completely swamped and you know, and I continued on with it the next year, in that official role in programming the opening stage, and again did it this year at Pershing and you know, just a part of that whole Board and team of really making a difference in organizing. I think it was over 1.5 million in the last three years. I don't know. But definitely one of the, the largest march in, you know, California history. But then I believe the Women's March total is the largest march ever. Period.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. Yes. With those foundations back a hundred years ago with the original Women's March, which I learned all about from our friend Zoe. So yeah.

John Erickson:  Yeah. The original march on Washington.

Heather Newman:  Yep, absolutely. That's so cool, yeah, I loved seeing you there this year and being a part of that along with Zoe, it was really powerful. And you have, an interesting day job. And I, I think it's gotten more interesting in the recent past and

John Erickson:  This week.

Heather Newman:  Especially this week as the Director of Public Affairs at Planned Parenthood LA. So, will you tell everybody one, maybe how you got into that role and then also what it is that you do for the organization? That'll be cool.

John Erickson:  Yeah, I hear, you know, Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, you know, we as an organization have been fighting for reproductive healthcare for quite some time here in LA and making it a priority and providing the critical services that we see that are under attack currently with the attacks on Roe vs Wade, but you know, the state attacks, you know, banning abortion outright like we saw in Alabama or Georgia and other places. And so, I got involved through Planned Parenthood, honestly through activism when I was a master’s student and then through a lot of my feminist circles and got to know the team here and always worked and interacted with them, you know, and was involved. And they really approached me a few, a year ago and you know, offered me the ability to come, you know, work at my dream job and it really is a dream job. And so I sit here every day and you know, making sure, you know, our health centers our doors stay open, we have policy that is effective and pushes, you know, for further expansion of access to care and the services we offer. And then, you know politically on the (c)(4) side separately, you know, making sure that we, you know, elect women's healthcare champions up and down the ballot as well as across the country with the amount of power that we have here in LA. So my role is very multifaceted and it's never not busy, and it's never not interesting. And honestly, it's always, I always feel it's sometimes cliché to say this, but when you can really wake up every morning, even no matter how tired you are, and you can say you love what you do, you're very blessed. And I'm fortunate enough to be in that situation.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. And you know, I know most people, a lot of our listeners are going to have a very clear vision of Planned Parenthood, but will you talk about just a little bit about how Planned Parenthood, like a little bit more expansion on when you talk about reproductive rights and reproductive health, what, what that encompasses at say a Planned Parenthood facility. I think that would be great to know.

John Erickson:  Yeah, so definitely. So, you know, when we talk about access to reproductive healthcare or healthcare in general, you know, a lot of aspects can and can come up. You know, so since 1965 here at Planned Parenthood Los Angeles, we have provided convenient and affordable access to a comprehensive range of really quality reproductive healthcare and sexual healthcare information through direct patient services, education and advocacy. And you know, we're really made up of those three areas, health services, education and advocacy. You know, in terms of health services, when you look at reproductive healthcare, abortion is reproductive healthcare and abortion is healthcare. So that is a service that we do offer. But in addition to the other health services that we offer, such as STI testing, HIV/AIDS testing, cancer screening referrals, cervical cancer tests, you know. The work that we do all across Los Angeles County because that's how much of our affiliate, what we represent to the educational pieces where we're in, you know, the schools and out there in the community providing sexual sexuality and Family Planning Education to, you know, almost over 50,000 men and women and teams each year. And then, you know, I think our advocacy side with what we do to secure and protect access to this full range of reproductive healthcare, often times, you know, people are afraid to talk about these issues or they're uncomfortable or, you know, if you look at it from a policy standpoint, the policies just aren't there yet. And how we actually talk about sexuality, gender identity, reproductive healthcare, and, you know, we help fight for that on the policy side to get really great laws passed. Like, you know, the California healthy, the sex education bill that passed a few years back that teaches all these things now and in schools. You know, to the way in which we have to reframe the question and when we look at, you know, what, what is abortion in 2019 with such all of the attacks. I mean, 73% of all Americans support Roe v Wade and access to these services. So, you know, we really have to think about what our role looks like in this and how it shifts and, but we're always going to be here, making sure that, you know, our mission continues and that we fight on because people need our services so much. People utilize our services so much. And we need to, we'll be here.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. And in some places, and we live in an urban, a large urban center right? But we also have all kinds of people at all kinds of different strata of, you know, what they get paid and, and I think, and then, and then, then Planned Parenthood is in other communities. You know, sometimes that's the only game in town for folks, right? I mean, that's what we’re looking at.

John Erickson:  Exactly. You know, we provide low cost and no cost, affordable sexual and reproductive healthcare, you know, here in LA, you know, because we've been able to work and all of our affiliates across the state, because of all the work we've been able to do, you know, with our state government and with our local leaders and just, you know, being out there and how we approach all these issues and think really creatively and innovatively about them. People don't have access to these services. People don't even have health insurance because health insurance is still really expensive, right? Even though they're supposed to, but you know, how can we make sure we're serving those communities as well as communities that are directly under attack? How are we serving our immigrant communities that are afraid to go to doctors, are afraid to do certain things because of all the attacks on them? How are we servicing homeless individuals? How are we servicing members of the LGBTQ community that can't go to their regular provider and get an HIV test maybe because their parents pay for it and they don't want to see that on there. We're there to make sure that we provide that service to those patients because it is exactly what needs to be done. And that's why we do it.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. There's so much of our lives that is behind closed doors for so many reasons, you know, and if you don't have a safe place to go, you will go to a non-safe place or you will just not deal with it. Right? And I think, that's

John Erickson:  Yeah, totally. I mean, I came to Planned Parenthood too because I was a patient. Right. You know, I'm from Wisconsin for example. Right. So, you know, it's not, it wasn't as bad as it is now, although we're trying to get better. In reality, you know, I grew up in a very, you know, small, not crazy conservative town, but I grew up in a small town where, you know, I was afraid to, you know, get an HIV/AIDS test. So I went to a Planned Parenthood because I knew I'd get the care and respect that I needed and I did, and I felt safe and secure and I wasn't ready to come out yet, but I was still able to take care of my body as well as other people. And so, you know, those are the types of things that are so powerful about all the work that we do.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, no, absolutely. I'm from Michigan, so I'm a fellow Midwesterner as well, and I come from very small towns and my family as well. So I know exactly what you're talking about. So, yeah. And you know, and the work you do for, the day job, but you, you have so many other amazing things that you're involved with that I could just like laundry list it out. But, I know that, you know, you're a part of Hollywood Now and Stonewall Dems LA and the ACLU SoCal and probably many other things that I haven't even listed. That's all part of this activism. And, I love how you, talk about feminist, the word feminist. You've used that a couple of times and I assume you would call yourself a feminist as well.

John Erickson:  I call myself a very proud feminist.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Right on me too.

John Erickson:  I am involved in a lot, yeah, we should all call ourselves feminists. I mean I would hope we would. In regards to, you know, feminism men need to be more involved in fighting for women's equality. I think as you saw where like with what's happening with these draconian laws that are getting passed, like men love to legislate women's bodies or bodies that are like non, that are not a part of this, you know, normative hegemony that's out there. So like, unless your life's like white, Hetero normative, patriarchal male, like, you know, of course these men love to like legislate the crud out of it. Right. And so we need more men standing up and saying, that's not right and I'm going to use my power, position, and privilege to make sure that these horrible laws, people, you know, you name it, aren't there. And that's not all of it as well. We need more men to understand that patriarchy, as I say it is itself a concept and a really restrictive force that impacts men as well. You know, Bell Hooks and The Will to Change really quoted this about how patriarchy effects both men and women. And we see that with toxic masculinity. And we see that with all of these forces. And so, and also we, we can't get to true gender equality if we're only focusing on, you know, 52 or 53% of the species, right? We need everyone there fighting side by side and working together to get those meanings, you know, but then also men need to check their privilege in the feminist movement. Right? So I'm the president of the Hollywood chapter for the National Organization for Women and that's great. And I'm so proud to be their president and all the work that we do, but my E-Board, you know, I try to make sure that they're the face of the chapter. I'm not the face of the chapter and they're out at events and I'm, you know, just there lending whatever support I can through whatever connections I have, you know. I always want to try to create a more equitable and just society and you know, we really need to work towards that. And I think having more men identify as feminists or just like progressive in general are so critical to the future of the movement.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. Yeah. I know, in working in technology as you know, I do. And you know, we, I've been working a lot in the diversity and inclusion committee groups and it is, the shift has been from the, you know, women in tech, women in IT, which is still there. But it also has, I think, I mean, I don't want to be on a panel or in a meeting or that where we're excluding anybody because if they're not part of the conversation, you're just not part of the conversation. Right? So also, as, so will you talk about the ACLU SoCal as well? I know you're a board member there.

John Erickson:  Yeah. Well we actually have a meeting tonight. So, the ACLU of Southern California, I love being a part of this board. They are so cracker jack smart. And the ways in which you look at the aspects of how much of our society that we come to think of like normal, right, are being attacked. So from access to care, LGBTQ rights, speech itself, like freedom to say and do and all, I mean all of these things the ACLU protects, you know, I signed up before the election of Trump and I got elected to the board and you know, ever since then it's just been one thing after another. And we're really on the ground here in Southern California doing so much work with all of our partners, not only from a policy standpoint, from the states, but also suing across the border with all of these horrible things that are happening nationally. So, and really drawing attention to a lot of critical communities, like our immigrant community that are being constantly harassed and attacked and just scapegoated for everything and we're suing and we're winning. And so being on that board, you know, we really serve as gatekeepers and protectors of the thing that we call, you know, I think one of our most inalienable rights, what we're doing right now, talking and, and, and being able to express our opinions. And, you know, some people, you know, give a bad rap to the ACLU for how and who we defend sometimes. But that speech is just as critical and important, you know, to protect. At times when we may not agree with it, now when it promotes hate and violence and misinformation and all these things, that's when we get into the nuances of the First Amendment of course, but you know, and directly if it's a call to action to be violent. But you know, the ACLU of Southern California really sets these big issues and we succeed at all the items that we do there. And, you know, I'm just so proud to be a part of such an amazing board. I'm on the (c)(4) Board. So the political board and passing laws, you know, making more police accountable and making, you know, types of transparency laws more visible, you know, fighting for women's reproductive rights both here in California as well as across the country. Fighting for our immigrant communities in LA, as well as in Orange County and San Bernardino counties where we all know that they're still being attacked because of how, um, you know, Republicans still have control, local jurisdictions there, to a whole host of other issues that are so critical that we have to fight for. I mean, so many organizations are suing and so many organizations are leading the fight. I mean, we can all name, you know, several of them, but you know, just to be a part of this board is very exciting.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, that sounds like it. Will you, will you tell everybody exactly what (c)(4) is for those who might not know?

John Erickson:  Oh yeah. I love talking about this actually. So, you know, nonprofits are traditionally, called what we identify as, you know, 501(c)(3)s meaning, you know, they're non-electoral so they can't actually endorse or be really politically involved because it would make them a different type of organization that is something that they're not tax exempt from in all of the ways in which our lovely IRS system works. A 501(c)(4) is an organization that is allowed to be involved politically and lobby and endorse candidates and fight for bills and ask legislators to, to support certain bills. A (c)(3) can't do that, but a (c)(4) can. So most organizations that are really large are just directly (c)(4)s because they're involved in political work. But for example, like with the ACLU and Planned Parenthood and all these other, um, organizations that are really powerful out there nationally, you see the differences in their name. So, you see the ACLU Foundation for example, and that's a (c)(3) versus, you know, the ACLU Southern California, I can't remember what that the (c)(4) name is. But there are various ways in which these organizations are structured so they can be successful on all aspects because as you and I both know, it's, you can only be able to go so far when your lives are on the line or when you're policies are on the line or what you need to do. You know, you need to be able to go the full, the full way to make sure that our rights are protected and the (c)(4) of many of these organizations do that.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. Thank you for that. That's great. Yeah, because I think that's sometimes like I people know about 501(c)(3)s, but I don't know if they know as much about the other side. So that's, thank you for that. That's awesome.

John Erickson:  It's really complex. I had to teach myself a lot. But yeah, it's really powerful. And right now we need a lot of them.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I want to, talking about, you know, being a feminist and I know that you have a lot of background in women's studies and you are very educated and you, you know, you've gone to school, your masters and your congratulations about to get your PhD and become a doctor. Will you tell everybody about in what that's happening?

John Erickson:  Yeah. So I will be a doctor I hope by the time this podcast airs. I'm finishing my PhD at the Claremont Colleges in American Religious History, focusing on the separation between sexuality and spirituality within the LGBTQ community from post-Stonewall to the fight for marriage equality. And I did this through interviewing major stakeholders within the LGBT community from all walks of life and backgrounds and you name it. I was trying to get those interviews and really shaping around a core set of ideas that I was able to, I think, successfully to portray. And so I will be Dr. John soon. It's, it's really weird to say that, but it's been a dream of mine and at certain times I didn't think I'd be able to do it, but here we are.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Well, and doing it while you're working, you know as well. Right. I mean that had to be a lot.

John Erickson:  Yeah. You know, I envy people in school. When I got my masters degrees, one in Women's Studies, Applied Women's Studies and then one in Women's Studies and Religion, you know, it was so structured. I had to be in class and I wrote my thesis. It was two years and it was done. And then, you know, obviously when you're in PhD coursework you're at school too. But you're also kind of living life a little bit more. I was fortunate I had a great fellowship and all these things and so I was able to pick up a job where I really started getting into all these policies, politics and government at the City of West Hollywood. Changed my life. And you know, and then I, you know, got done with coursework and I had to take my exams and my proposal. And when you're out of school and you have like no structure, like okay, I'm going to write from twelve to four and you're like running around like a crazy person that life is happening and all these things right. And you're like, when am I going to write this whole thing? But you, you, you make do and you find time. And it took me a year longer than I expected, but oh well.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Hey, whatever you're going to be Dr. John soon. So that's so exciting.

John Erickson:  New business cards are coming.

Heather Newman:  That's fantastic. I can't wait to have one. Yay.

John Erickson:  Also, I just want to say, like you want to talk about like the basic levels of like sexism within like academia. Like there was this whole amazing Twitter conversation where like, where all these male scholars jumped on this woman for like on Twitter, changing her name to like doctor something, um, you know, when they have it too. And so like, those are the types of fights that like are even still going on. So, like if you're a woman and you have a PhD and you don't have it listed on any of your social media profiles, do it, you earned it. You worked for it, you're a doctor.

Heather Newman:  MmHmm, yes. Done doctor. Doctor, yes. Wow. That's

John Erickson:  Right?

Heather Newman:  Yeah! That's crazy. Okay. Yeah. Wow. Um, you know, so you've been, like when I was looking at, you know, I was, I've been doing my research, you know, and I was looking at

John Erickson:  You we're sipping all the tea and looking at my background.

Heather Newman:  Yes, I was looking at the tea. So you've been in, you know, with the Women's Center at the University of Wisconsin. I'd love to know what, maybe there was a spark or a something, a book. What was it that lit you up to go, you know what, this is where I want to go with my heart, my career, all that stuff? Can you go back and pinpoint maybe one or something that happened or a couple of things that happen that you could share with folks? Your spark? Yeah,

John Erickson:  yeah. The spark probably really was my grandmother. I mean I grew up with a kick ass, both of my grandmothers are amazing, but my maternal grandmother name is Gladys, Ritzgo, people call her Sarge cause she was in the army. She was a staff sergeant in the Women's Auxiliary Corps after Pearl Harbor. And you know, when that influx of women joining, you know, the WAACs as they call them, happened, you know. And she, she set out on this whole life that I don't think she ever realized she was going to do, but she existed in such male, Hetero, patriarchal spheres. And, and she conquered them. I mean, you know anything about the army, you know, she rose up to many levels and you know, was in charge of many sensitive aspects. And, you know, even on when she was older, she was such an advocate for older adults. And how she, you know, was the first, I believe, female president of the Wisconsin Veterans of Foreign War, she had, you know, very close connections with all of these men in the army. And then, you know, the governor, you know, the old governor of Wisconsin, Tommy Thompson actually coined her nickname because of her involvement and he called her Sarge, that's why she got her nickname. And so, yeah. And so, you know, but she was a pillar in my community of Ripon, Wisconsin. And, and so I saw this woman without realizing it, right? Cause young and naive and watching Dawson's Creek or whatever I was watching. Um, and, and I see this woman overcoming the world, right? And so like gender, and this sounds really naive and but like, so when you look at gender parity or gender equality, like I didn't see it, but like those, I obviously was coming from a position of privilege because I existed in a world where like women in my life like rule, like they ran the roost. My sisters are incredible. Like they are, I mean better people than I could ever hope to be. My aunts are incredible. I mean, my mom is kick ass. I mean, you name it, I got it right? But, you know, I mean, we all have that story. We all have those people in our family that are so critical that shape us. That's why like, you know, you know, matriarchies and how they pass down this knowledge is so important and why we have to honor our mothers and you know, everyone that comes before that. And you know, so I think my feminism roots we're always there and I wanted to actually be a doctor. Another type. I wanted to be a medical doctor when I was growing up because I have asthma. So I wanted it to be a pediatric pulmonologist, which is basically like an asthma doctor or a doctor that deals with kids, you know, lungs and all that stuff. Cause I went to them my whole life and you know, I was at college and I was taking all these classes and I was doing great. And I had to take like an English class and we read Toni Morrison's The Bluest Eye and it sounds so weird, but like that did it, like that was like the spark. I was like, wow, like I'm done with this and activism and all these things and getting involved in my campus and you know, being active and paying homage to all the work that was done. And I grew up with such a respect for suffragettes and women's history because Carrie Chapman Catt actually lived in my hometown of Ripon, Wisconsin. And so, you know, I think of all these symbols and all these things that really kind of played this route to like get me to where I was and they were just all there. So that's kind of the spark that lit the fire. And then after that, you know, I think everything just toppled down successfully.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. And you worked on the Margaret Sanger papers project as well?

John Erickson:  Yeah. Yeah. So when I got done with my master's degrees, I didn't really know what I wanted to do. I applied to doctoral programs and got in and you know, but I was with a former partner at the time and he wanted to move back to New York, but I got this great internship at NYUs Margaret Sanger's papers project where I worked and helped edit and write on the fourth volume of her letters, I believe it was the fourth volume. And be there and work with the students and everything and really read her letters that were just incredible. And because I had such a drive for women's history and one of my master’s thesis in Women's Study's and Religion dealt with women's suffrage and women's history and radical women's activism in, you know, the 19th century. I was so drawn to Margaret obviously for many reasons, but so this just appealed. And so when I worked there over that summer and then decided I wanted to go back to school and move back to California, that's something that just led a part of that. And you know, that's also why Zoe and I love each other so much cause she loves Margaret Sanger and I love Margaret Sanger.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. And for those of you who don't know, Margaret Sanger was one of the forefronts of, you know, the organizations and foundations that became Planned Parenthood as well. Just to put a point on that history, herstory, as well. So, yeah, that's so cool. I just, I love watching all the, do you sleep?

John Erickson:  Um, no. Actually I do. Not right now cause like I have a board meeting tonight and I have to go home and write my diser, I have to continue editing. I'm fiercely editing as we speak. You know, the project and getting it done. And you know, my whole family flies in tomorrow. And then, you know, work and everything else that we do. I do sleep sometimes, but you know, I think that as activism and the legendary Ivy Bottini said this to me, she was one of the original founders of the New York chapter of NOW, like when you think about radical feminist activism, Ivy Bottini always comes to the front of the line. She designed the original NOW logo, which is iconic and is on all those rounds that you see, I mean it's just incredible. She said something to me before she moved to Florida that, you know, um, sometimes, you know, in life we only get one great love. And if you do it wrong. Mine is most likely activism. And, you know, sadly other things take a backseat. And I think that's where I'm at right now with this love affair. With all that we do. I mean, fighting for change is not easy and we sacrifice so much of ourselves and we're so tired, but we get up every day because we have to. And I think that, you know, hopefully long, long, long down the road, you know, if, when I pass on into the realm of the goddess, you know, if I don't, I wanted just to know that I did everything I can to make the world a better place and better place for my nieces and nephews who live in Wisconsin, for my sisters, for my friends and people that I meet and, you know, and I think if I can do that, I guess that's a life worth living.

Heather Newman:  Absolutely. Yeah. I think, I just, I feel an urgency, you know, like I feel an urgency and something Zoe said to me, she was like, you know, you're a member of the, what is it, the divinely discontented club, you know? Like you, you just, you have, you have this drive that you want to make change and that it, it, yeah. You know, I like sleeping, but you know, I like all this other stuff a lot more.

John Erickson:  I still sleep every now and then. I think right now with activism, like there's so many people jumping on the bandwagon. Activism nurtures your soul. As I explained to everyone at the women's march that after that first year, you know, it gave everyone this momentum for like, you know, the rest of the year to do something. I think back about that moment. And it's powerful. Right? And you know, people come to me and they ask, or groups that we're in and, you know, they're all worried, like everything's immediate now, you know? But like we get to say, I mean maybe it's my age, you know, and I get to say no, like, okay, hold on. Like, let's figure this out. Right. We don't need to act right away, you know? And so being smart about it, you know, I guess that comes with age, but you know, it's a time right now I think when we see our rights being completely taken away, you know, when, when someone, when you feel the need to be militant sometimes maybe you should listen to that. What it's telling you. Sometimes we do have to take to the streets.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Listen to the ice pick that is forming in your hands, right. Yeah. You know, and I was talking, I was actually just talking to someone in the gym and we were talking about, I was actually telling her that I was going to interview you and that I was so excited about it. And she's like, oh my gosh, what are you going to talk about things are so hot right now? And I was like, I'm sure we're going to talk about all kinds of things. But, and we were, a couple of other women were standing there and they're like, yeah, they're like, you know, you know, I just, how do I get, how do I get more involved? You know? And, and I was like, well, I said, you know, on a base level there's, you know, you can always help with money and funding, you know, ACLU and Planned Parenthood and those kinds of places and stuff. And they were like, you know what else? And I was like, well, I said, you know what, I'm going to pose that question to John. And I had a couple of things, but I'm curious like for the listeners, you know, and also two points, that question, but also I know that people, people are afraid sometimes to bring up these topics because they are very volatile and they are worried about their jobs. They're worried about, you know, not losing, losing clients. And, I just, I'm like, I want to have us be authentic. I want to have us have integrity. How do you talk to people about balancing how your passion and not losing a job and, and those sorts of things? You know what I mean? For people who want to get involved but are like I'm not sure how, so I know that was a lot, but I know you got it.

John Erickson:  No, so number one how you want to get involved if you're asking yourself that question, you're asking yourself the right question. And let me tell you some things that we can do. There's always, if you live in LA, there's a zillion democratic clubs that make it so easy for you. Join Stonewall if you want, you know, or you know, or Heart of LA Democratic Club. If you love feminists, it's the only feminist Democratic Club in Los Angeles County or you know, start your own crew. I mean, Moms Demand Action was something that wasn't there until you know it needed to be. And that's why it's so powerful because it's people that come from all walks of life around an issue that's bipartisan, gun control, that doesn't have a democrat, I mean, I know people like to think of it that way, but it's not. So how do you get more involved is you know, you've got to do a little bit of research too. I mean, we, I'm getting, you know this, we meet people all the time that are like, I'm mad about this and I'm mad about that and I want to do this and I want to do that. It's like, okay, you know, my academic side, what do you actually want to do? Oh, so you want to, you want to fight against police brutality? Well, you should go to a local Black Lives Matter meeting and really sign up and learn about white privilege, institutional racism, and get involved and be a supporter and an ally, and stand in solidarity and your life will be changed forever, right? Oh, you care about reproductive justice? Well, let me introduce you to Planned Parenthood or Naral or you know, all these organizations that do all this type of work. I mean, there's, there's so many out there. It's not just always the big ones. Right. And it's also just sometimes showing up to a meeting. Activism is about showing up and being there. And then it is also about doing stuff, don't get me wrong. But people that are activists aren't always the loudest in the streets. They're not always, you know, the most crazy on social media, posting every five seconds, you know, like some people are. But activists are sometimes those silent types that change life with their words, you know? I don't want to out my friend that this story belongs to, but you know, uh, I think after the 2016 election, they weren't really a take to the streets and march person, but they're an amazing letter writer. And I remember, do you remember that whole electoral college thing where people were writing to all of those individuals? Well she writes a mean letter. Mean as in like amazingly wickedly worded perfectly. That's why she's so incredible. And that was her activism and that's beautiful. And I think that that's the type of activism that we need. And also we need activism happening all over the country. We need it in Alabama, we need it in Georgia we need it in Wisconsin and a lot of the times it starts with a conversation. So who do you know that the 2016 election maybe in your family or in your friend group caused a great rift? Right? I know it happened to me with my family and that's, you know, bringing up your second question of how do we really talk about this stuff? They don't want us to talk about this stuff. They don't want us, I say they as the proverbial other side of the coin of people that are doing these awful things like Trump and his cronies, right? They don't want us to talk to each other. They want that line there. Now, I'm not going to lie, I too have stopped talking to people in my personal and professional life. And because I believe a line was kind of drawn in the sand and the people that really chose to jump over it, it's really hard for me to see them in a different light now. And I think we have to be, we have to stand in that light and honesty because if we don't, we forget the past and we forget really how hurtful all the stuff that's been done since then really comes about. So we need people to talk to people and not be afraid to bring up these issues and maybe they haven't before. Maybe they did. And how can we mend old wounds and how can you also, you know, do self-care at the same time. Don't, don't bring it up at Christmas usually, or Thanksgiving. Maybe sometimes it is and it's okay to, you know, if someone says something horribly racist at your Thanksgiving table, you should say something, first of all. But you know, I think what we need to do is we need to make sure, you know, it would be great to bring back this divide and come back together. I mean, I've often times thought about reconnecting with my family members, but you know, I don't know how much I can sacrifice my morality because they haven't seen the error that they caused. So, you know, there are things that we have to grapple with, but I think that, you know, obviously don't bring up politics in a work setting is really hard, especially if we work for a corporation because you never know who voted for who. And also sometimes like there's whole legality issues, but you know, there's nothing wrong with setting lines and boundaries and saying like, I'm not going to work with someone that I'm seeing do x, y, or z. That's completely fine. You just have to be wary that, you know, that it's a different world right now.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. I mean activism, like you were saying, can be on so many levels, you know, writing, writing a letter up to being front and center at a march or helping with policy and all of that stuff. I think, you know, I love what you said, especially, you know, I had some of those family and friends members as well. And I think that there's so much, and it's like how you as a person hold yourself in the world and put yourself out there in the world. And you know, sometimes it's even, it's like how do we, if you're, if you happen to be a parent, you know, what's going on at your kid's school and being an advocate there, you know, when our kids are young is, is huge or it, you know, at your Curves workout class or whatever, you know, like all of those things. I think you're right. If we don't have these conversations, if we don't reach across the divides, then we're never going to come together. We're just going to continue to be split apart. And I agree with you that that's, um, keeping people not talking, apart and at each other's throats is attack is a tactic. It's a smart tactic, you know?

John Erickson:  And it works, sadly.

Heather Newman:  I know it does work. You know, I kind of, you know, I was thinking about you today obviously, because we were going to do this and I was like looking and I was watching a few, like I was like, hmm, have many people posted on say Facebook and you know, about this, about Alabama and Georgia. And it's been interestingly quiet, I got to say in certain realms of my life. And I'm like, Huh, interesting. And you know, I do feel like that this is a, and you know better that I in many ways, but I feel like this is sort of a test for that, it's about these states, but this is a test to see if, how the country would feel if the Supreme Court actually got rid of Roe versus Wade, you know? Like, is the uproar big enough about these two states doing this? I don’t know. Maybe. You know what I mean?

John Erickson:  The answer is yes. To every person that cried on election night, not just because Trump was elected, because they knew reproductive freedom and their right to privacy, which by the way, LGBTQ rights are completely based off of. I'm really sorry. I'm really sorry because these laws and they were written this way and they've had press statements like the Alabama law, the person who wrote it said, because the Supreme Court has changed under the supreme leadership of Donald Trump, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. Like we know that we can finally overturn Roe v Wade. Neil Gorsuch stole that Supreme Court seat. The Supreme Court of the United States of America is now a partisan body of the political system. It is not a check and it is not a balance because you can now determine the outcome of almost every decision based on the letter of the president that appointed the Justice. Brett Kavanaugh was an accused rapist from multiple people, not just Dr. Blasey Ford. That is disqualifying. I don't know if I can support Joe Biden because he gave us Clarence Thomas. I mean, people vote in elections for whatever candidate they want. And yes, I have a Hillary tattoo on my body, and I obviously am a Hillary person, but in 2012 I always say, this is about the Supreme Court. This is about the rights that we are trying to win and achieve. This is about the whole kit'n'caboodle, right? And so being, if people think that Roe v Wade is going to be safe, they are mistaken. These are direct attacks to Roe v Wade. And it's either going to be a death by a thousand cuts to say all these restrictive laws are fine, literally fine. Or it's ba-bye. And if you follow the Supreme Court because you're a big nerd like I am, and you read certain decisions, they just overturned like a 40-year precedent in regard to tax law. They, you know, and the thing about stare decisis, which is, you know, the aspect of precedent is that, you know, if it ain't broke, don't fix it. So, unless there's like some exact reason to overturn such long standing past precedent, you don't. And in a descent, you know, Justice Briar said Casey is next basically. Meaning Casey, you know, for Roe. I mean, all of these things that you saw that's coming and that, you know, Row is a very long precedented case. And so it's, it's happening. And when we start living in a, you know, scarily enough, a Gilead type state, like all ala Handmaid's Tale remember that. Remember in 2020, you're not just like, you know, the whole thing about Trump and why he got all these people. He's, you know, he's, he posed the question, what do you have to lose? And to those people that voted for him, I think he's clearly depicted what do you got to lose right from trade tariffs to taxes to fight for healthcare. I mean, you name it, you lost a lot, right? And so right now all of us are sitting here and it's hard for us because we're biting our tongues, not trying to say, I told you so. And we're in the midst of a, you know, a presidential primary on the democratic side where I think we're up to 3,467 candidates running so far. I don't know how big they're going to get them all on that stage. Maybe we'll have risers or something. You know,

Heather Newman:  Like Beyonce's homecoming, you know, like,

John Erickson:  Oh, I mean, first of all, Queen B, bow down, we can do that. I live for that. Um, but you know, Roe v Wade is, I mean if you, if I were a betting man in four years, it's gone in three years it's gone. And it's scary because we have to make sure that we, and it goes back to the states then, right? So Roe v Wade, let's say it's overturned completely, then it goes back to the states. So there are these things called trap laws that are passed in states that are basically targeted, restricted abortion providers, laws, whatever. I, I don't think I got the acronym right, but they are laws that basically the moment Roe v Wade is overturned, it makes abortion completely illegal in that state. And if you Google, I encourage everyone here to Google like just trap laws in the United States and just look at the map and see how many states actually have that. Maybe it's like it's an insane amount, like 23 plus. And then you look at the blue states that don't, that have actually codified Roe within their own constitutions like California, New York just did it, for example, Washington. What's going to happen to those people? 23 million women will lose the right to their own bodily autonomy if Roe is overturned.

Heather Newman:  That's a big number, 23 million.

John Erickson:  23 million. And that's nonpartisan. That, I mean, think about just the economic impact of 23 million women in an apocalypse like scenario where Roe is overturned. And as you and I both know it's not going to stop people from getting abortions. It's just kind of stop him from doing this.

Heather Newman:  No, no. And abortions are down, you know, and

John Erickson:  Cause reproductive healthcare and preventative sex education works. But we just forget that sometimes.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Absolutely. Wow. Thank you for answering that because I feel like I have a lot of people in my life who ask me those questions and I had some of your goodness and I have a little bit more on that, so thank you. I appreciate that. I'm always happy to learn a little bit more about how to, how to, how to help other people find their way in this and, and what we need to be doing.

John Erickson:  People could always email me or tweet me at JErickson85 on Twitter. I'm always happy to tweet back at you and provide you in the right way to get involved.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Thank you for that. That's terrific. All of your goodness will be in the show notes of how they can get ahold of you and all the great organizations and stuff. Yes, of course. I have one more and then I'm going to let you let you run along to oh my goodness, all the things you are doing. But I know you also, you are also a podcaster and

John Erickson:  Yes.

Heather Newman:  Oh, my goodness. And that is, I love it. I was like Pop Culture. Well I should say Pop! Culture Theologians if I was saying it correctly.

John Erickson:  Got to get the (pop sound) in there.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Tell everybody about that because that's super fun. Yeah.

John Erickson:  So, you know, academia these days is a little troubling, right? I love teaching and I go back and I teach at my undergrad, at my graduate school and I love teaching, but I discovered it wasn't what I wanted to do. I mean, I was in this government politics and policy realm. So I feel very blessed that way because, you know, I can still love teaching without growing bitter about it. Um, but you know, a lot of people are asking themselves, well, what do I do with my degrees? You know, when I'm done, teaching or getting my degree and I don't want to really teach. Right. And you know, I started a podcast with my friend after we started a website called the Engaged Gaze, not g-a-y-s, g-a-z-e Gaze, engagedgaze.com. We really wanted to take our academic degrees where we were in all of these classes and learned all this highfalutin stuff, right? But really how do we break down like pop culture because of its like serious impacts and how it shapes society and what we do and how we do it, and obviously when you look at culture and society and what we watch, I mean, you name it, like from religious iconography to, you know, sociological norms to every everything that's there, we really need, you know, to look at other options. And we were like, let's start doing a podcast where we take a show every season and just break it down. We'll be shady. We'll do all the great things that we love to do. Like ala, you know, RuPaul style, glass of wine, you know, have a lot of fun. The library is open. And so we are just finishing up season three of the show now. We, this past season recap, Game of Thrones, that little old show on HBO and you know, and we just really go each episode and, my podcast partner who lives in Florida, she's going to move back to California, but she lives in Florida. So we do it every week. And it's a great way for us to stay in touch too, cause she's one of my closest friends, but it's a great way for us to engage in this whole level of like academic discipline that's in the academy, as well as kind of out there in the Twitter sphere and you know, it's talked about in journals and bring it more to like the masses in the ways in which we break stuff down for like, you know, these fun shows that everyone loves and like, okay, so let's really take a different lens and, and look at it. Right. And so it's been a whole new realm and like advertising and marketing and all this crazy stuff and all these people we interact with and it's been a lot of fun.

Heather Newman:  That's super cool. Yeah, I know

John Erickson:  In my spare time.

Heather Newman:  In your spare time. Well, you know what? Spare time is for other people. I know, I just got my DragCon ticket, so I'm very excited to go see Mama Ru and all the queens. I went last year and it was amazing. So yeah, I'm super excited about that. Awesome. Well, hey, I think you're amazing and I'm so happy, and Zoe, if you're listening, thank you so much. I just am so happy to have you as a part of my life and I learn a lot from you and I also just, I think it's terrific what you're doing in the world and appreciate the time and energy you're putting into it. It's so needed and thank you really

John Erickson:  Thank you for having me. And I'm so glad we met and we're going to be doing lots more together. I'm just so glad that you know, we are able to take this time, you know, and, and talk to each other, you know, when it seems like the world's falling down we always find, you know, the ways to pick ourselves back up is to talk with a friend.

Heather Newman:  Yeah, absolutely. For sure. That's awesome. Well thank you again John, and we'll put everything in show notes so you can find out about all these organizations that we talked about and ways to get involved and talking to John directly on Twitter cause I know you're super active, so that's fun.

John Erickson:  I have mean re-tweeting fingers to say the least.

Heather Newman:  (Laughter) Tippity-tappity. That's great.

John Erickson:  Tippity-tappity!

Heather Newman:  Awesome.

John Erickson:  It takes a little bit more to share it on Facebook. So Twitter is the way to go.

Heather Newman:  Yeah. Okay. Yes, that's what I noticed on there. That that's the way you're so-cial so cool. All right, well everyone, thank you again, John, for being on and we have another Mavens Do It Better podcast in the bag and you can find us on iTunes and Stitcher and Spotify and on the Mavens Do It Better website and wishing you another big beautiful day on this big, beautiful spinning sphere. Thanks everybody.