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July 29, 2020 13 mins

In July of 1848, four women sat around Mary Ann M’Clintock’s kitchen table in upstate New York to draft the Declaration of Sentiments to proclaim that all women and men should be equal. In this bonus episode of Fierce we talk to former White House Communications Director Jannifer Palmieri about how she is carrying on M’Clintock’s legacy with her new book She Proclaims: Our Declaration of Independence from a Man's World.

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Speaker 1 (00:00):
Fierce is a production of I Heart and Tribeca Studios.
In July of eight, four women sat at Marianne m'clintock's
kitchen table and Upstate New York to draft the Declaration
of Sentiments. Their plan was to present the document and
the accompanying resolutions at the Women's Rights Convention at Seneca
Falls later that month. These women were gathering at a

(00:23):
time when they had virtually no power in the eyes
of the law. There was no precedent for their actions
for what they were writing. All they had was faith
in their own abilities and in the inherent righteousness of
their crusade. What was their crusade, equality for women? See.
One of them had the idea to model the Declaration

(00:43):
of Sentiments on the Declaration of Independence itself. Seventy two
summers earlier, Thomas Jefferson had committed to paper the radical
concept that it was self evident that all men are
created equal. So Stanton and McClintock they amended Jefferson's sentence
to include two universalizing words, we hold these truths to

(01:07):
be self evident, that all men and women are created equal.
I'm Joe Piazza, and this is a bonus episode of Fierce,
the podcast about the women left out of your history books,
probably because men wrote most of history. What I just
read is an excerpt from Jennifer palm Mary's excellent new book.

(01:29):
She proclaims our Declaration of Independence from a Man's World.
It takes marian Clintock's declaration to the next level. Jen
is the former White House Communications director for Barack Obama
and the director of communications for Hillary Clinton's presidential campaign.
She's also the author of the best selling book, Dear
Madam President. Until I read Jen's new book and talked

(01:53):
to her about it, I'd never heard Marianne Klintock's name,
much less the story of this group of women who
wrote a coal declaration that their rights were equal to
those of men. I talked to Jen for this bonus
episode to find out how she's carrying on marian McClintock's
legacy today and why we still need a declaration of
independence from a man's world. Also, what can every woman

(02:16):
do right now to start making the world a better
place for all women in marginalized communities. So let's get
started by just having you tell me a little bit
about who you are. I'm Jennifer Paul Mary and I've worked.
It was my life in politics. I was Hillary Clint's

(02:37):
communication structor in two thousand sixteen. I was Barack Obama's
communications director of the White House before that, and spent
decades working in democratic politics. And after that two thousand
and sixteen experience where people in the Clinton campaign, people
who covered Trump, we were sort of the first through
the looking glass of you know, like the world that
was to come. And I wanted to write a book

(02:59):
about the experiences I saw with women being held to
a higher standard in politics. I think women are all
sort of having the same awakening at the same time.
And I think this reckoning that we're having has been
a long time coming. And you see it both with
women coming to terms with their lack of power, of
all people of color comming to terms with their lack
of power and trying to do things differently. How did

(03:23):
what Marianne did at that kitchen table inspire you to
make this a true call to action instead of just
another nonfiction book. These women were abolitionist. Mary McClintock was
an abolitionist. The women's rights movement has its beginnings in
the abolition movement, and so as these women are working
the abolition movement, they start to become empowered themselves and

(03:44):
be like, why don't I have rights? Uh? And also
there was a sense that if women had the right
to vote, they would vote to enslavery and they would
be good allies in that way. And I just this
idea that you know here it is in the nineteenth century.
We're not even at eighteen fifty, and these women are
sitting at their kitchen table in their farm house and
upstate New York. No one cares what these women think.

(04:05):
They have no reason to think anyone's going to care
what they declare. And they put it and they sit down,
they put it on paper anyway, and they decide, I'm
going to take that clause, that principle that America has
founded on that everybody's created equal, and I'm going to
make that apply to the people excluded from the start,
to women, and it's gonna matter, and I'm going to

(04:27):
demand these rights. And that's why I think it's important
we say this stuff out loud. That's why the book
is called she proclaims, because we have internalized so much
that tells us not to value ourselves. It tells us
we have to act like men. That tells us that
we're doing something wrong. And if you committed to paper
the way these women did, and then you're like holding

(04:47):
yourself accountable. I'm going to be this change in the world.
And you know, it took seventy two years, but eventually
they got there. I thought this was all in the past.
The women's from rights movement was settled, and now I
was like, Wow, we're not done and we could slip
back easy. Most women that I know, even women who
are involved in the feminist movement and care about pushing

(05:10):
everything forward, still don't know the names of a lot
of the women that were involved in the women's suffrage movement.
But also those women fought so hard, so tirelessly. After
they achieved what they achieved, do you think they thought
that we were then on a path to continue kicking
that ball forward, to continue making change year after year?
And what do you think they would think about where

(05:32):
we ended up? Women's rights were a lot considered an
issue further on in the nineteen twenties, because it was
everything was considered resolved and the declaration of sentiments is
this outrageous expression of female ambition. They go through all
the ways that their rights are denied, what they're not
permitted that men are. They demand immediate access to all

(05:54):
rights that men have. But they also say at the
end that they are sure that they're going to be mocked,
that they're going to be subject to derision, that they're
going to be subject to misinformation in pursuing their cause,
but they will not be they will not be stopped.
And so that it was remarkable because it was, you know,
language that you could read today about how women are

(06:16):
treated in America today. Nothing's changed, Absolutely nothing's changed. Well,
and their declaration, while intensely radical at the time, but
also beautiful and also sensible. If you read it, you're like, well,
this just just makes good sense. Women to be able
to own property. Women should be able to own property.
It is amazing to me that their words have been

(06:38):
they're not, I don't want to say lost to history,
but more people just don't know that it even happened.
I didn't learn it in school, did you know. Of
course I didn't learn it in school. No. I had
to learn anything I know about suffrage, basically I learned
in the last two years writing this book. And the
only reason why some of it is memorialized is because
some of the women themselves under diod. If we do

(07:01):
not write this down, no one will know what happened,
and they memorialized a good bit of it. But I
think this is like part of our charge. Now you
got to go back find these stories, learn them. That's
why Fears is so great, to make sure that women
haven't gotten their due are known. And also they inspire me.
We need to be inspired by other women and make
it your charge to learn their stories. That also learn

(07:22):
from the mistakes because there's you know a lot of
some of the separate history is like well documented, is
pretty ugly in terms of rice, and there are times
when women allowed southern politician racists to hold back progress
of black women and like weren't good allies along the way.
So you know, what I've tried to do with this
book is say like, here's what happened, here's how we
can do it better, and here's what you can just

(07:44):
do in your own life. And I push myself to
be specific for that reason because it is also nebulous.
It's so nebulous. I think we need specifics, right like,
and everyone wants a task, tell us what kind of
action we could take today to try to proclaim and
change the world just a little goddamn it, go out

(08:04):
of your way to support another woman today. Just go
out of your way to do it, and it like
it will come back at you tenfold. Not that like
it needs to, but that it will. Don't let that
doubt enter your mind that you're in competition. She is
your sister, and if you support her, this is when
the lid comes up. This is when everything is possible.

(08:35):
Part of the reason we wanted to do fierce was
because men wrote most of history. How can we reclaim
that history? How can we reclaim this great storytelling and
rewrite parts of history by recognizing the women who shoulders
that we've been standing on. I think because like, we've
internalized so much of this, but we don't see how
history clouds our own view of ourselves. Right, we expect

(08:56):
to do worse than men and accept it when it happens.
We've think we're supposed to sound like them, we think
we're supposed to dress like them. You know, this is
like all the things that we've thought that we had
to behave like And I'm want women to be proud
that they've come as far as they have that they
managed to succeed with all of those barriers in place.
And when I go through in the book is chapter

(09:19):
by chapter there's a proclamation of something that we are shedding,
that we're getting rid of, Like I think the most
important thing you can do is support other women. We
buy into this notion that female success is a finite resource,
right amen to that. No one thinks the white man's

(09:39):
success of the finite resource. If that were true, the
late night TV shows host would not look like what
they do right there were one woman. That's what we
hold up as like what a gracious post looks like
is a white guy unless you're Samanthathy. We buy into
that notion when we think we're in competition with other women,
what we're really saying is, I'm not sure I belong here.
There's only room for so need of us to succeed.

(10:01):
And I really believe when I've looked at like, why
are we not making progress? Why are there still only
seven percent of the fortune? Five CEO or women? Right?
Congress are men hundred years after women getting the right
to vote. There's no black governors, there's only nine female governors.
We're operating in a system that wasn't built for us.
You have to change what you can change what's in

(10:21):
your own power, which are the bias, seats, and the
beliefs and the behaviors in your own head that holds
you back. And chief among them is that I am
in competition with other women. So support women. That is
the book in two words, me to believe women. This
book is support women, and that means yourself too. I
have one chapter in the book that's called Man's World.

(10:42):
I'm just not that into you, And it's just my
favorite title of the chapter. And it goes and it
starts by asking the reader to think about what it
would have been like for men if women had been
in charge from the start. Right, So, if every time
in your whole whole life growing up, every time you
heard a president speak, it was a woman's voice, like

(11:06):
when we heard when we heard male politicians, we'd be like,
whoa gosh, that's so off putting me so loud. He's
got this big, booming voice, sounds like my dad, sounds
like my dad. That's terrible. Like or if we're talking
about the women's soccer team, if ally, if every Sunday
we all have the family all staund around the television

(11:27):
and watched women play soccer, you know, as opposed to
men play football. Like they're all these things that we
internalize about what a leader looks like and sounds like
there's just some nowhere else for us to go. I
was like, I feel like I've had great male mentors.
They all want women to succeed. They're frustrated to that
women aren't doing well. Be grateful for all that. Be
grateful for the experience that we had in the man's world.

(11:49):
Everything we learned, the fact that we worked harder than
the guys. That means we're stronger now. That means we're
faster now. And move on and stop expecting their path
to work out for you. I remember in two thousand
eighteen there were fewer female CEOs in the Fortune five
than there worthy year before, and I did not find
it disappointing. It was validating. It's like, yeah, exactly, we're

(12:13):
not getting anywhere. So you know, support women, support other
marginalized people. Embrace your ambition, Like we've got to get
over the notion that in the ambition is to come
on undesirable quality and women and you know, this is
like the charge for our generation, she proclaims. Our declaration

(12:34):
of independence from a man's world is available wherever books
are sold. If you haven't already, you can subscribe and
download the entire first season of Fierce, all eight episodes
about the incredible women whose names should be on the
tips of our tongues and whose accomplishments have paved the
path for all of us. You can get them right
now on the I Heart Radio app, Apple Podcasts, or
wherever you get your podcasts. Stay Fierce,
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