By Kendall Reingold, Outgoing Summer Intern
Like penicillin and chocolate chip cookies, sometimes the best discoveries are made unintentionally. In my quest for a summer internship, NARAL Pro-Choice Washington was that discovery. I had planned and confirmed an internship on a mayoral campaign in December. However, a week after I started on the campaign, the contentious race necessitated that my candidate drop out. I panicked: what will I do with my summer now? As it turned out, this crisis became a blessing.
With my summer wide open, I had the opportunity to think about what I really wanted to do. A family friend suggested I work on another campaign, but my gut told me to try something else. After contemplating what mattered to me, I realized I kept coming back to reproductive rights. I had the fortune of connecting with the incredible Valerie Tarico,who put me in contact with NARAL. Soon enough, here I was!
My experience at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington has been nothing short of invaluable. Not only have I had the fortune of meeting some powerful women in politics; I’ve also gotten to spend time in a supportive, energetic office with some really amazing coworkers. Finally, from my time here I have taken away three lessons:
1) The fight for women’s rights is still a full-time job
First of all, WOW I am lucky to live in Washington. Cheers to the Evergreen State for voting in legal abortion before Roe v. Wade and consistently upholding a woman’s right to choose ever since. Cheers to our governor, Jay Inslee, who attends Planned Parenthood and NARAL events. But mostly the news isn’t so great. Several states are launching attacks left and right on reproductive health services. Women who speak out are labeled “whores” and “baby-killers.” Even hospitals within our own state are falling under religious directives that prohibit basic rights we as Washingtonians have worked hard to protect, including the recognition of LGBTQ couples, death with dignity, and birth control. I now know that I can’t take my rights for granted. I, and all young people, need to be vigilant to preserve the progress our parents’ and grandparents’ generations have made. So, one more “cheers” to the people at NARAL Pro-Choice Washington for devoting their careers to this battle.
2) We’re all in this together
The most glamorous parts of my summer with NARAL were the events I got to attend. At one event, I was lucky enough to meet Rebecca Walker, founder of the feminist Third Wave Foundation. In her keynote address, Ms. Walker spoke about her deviation from second-wave feminism, a movement that she felt predominantly represented affluent white women. What stood out to me most about her speech was that she originally wanted to avoid the word “feminism” to identify the Third Wave Foundation because she found the term too restrictive. To Walker, feminism is not limited by economic status, race, or even gender. Rather, feminism is for everybody. I wholeheartedly agree.
As Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.” To those men who think they have no part of feminism or reproductive justice, listen up: you have the power to fight. As long as you sit idly by while women are disenfranchised from their own health decisions, and as long as you write off all feminism as “extreme” and “anti-man,” you enable oppression. We are one nation, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all. So let’s live up to the pledge we made every day in grade school and fight for feminism together.
3) Fight your good fight
Maybe reproductive justice isn’t the fuel to your fire. Instead, maybe you won’t quit until we have same-sex marriage in every state, or maybe you can talk for hours about the need for kids to have access to healthy food. Whatever it is, do it. Arguably the most important lesson I’ve learned this summer is that it felt great to do something I genuinely care about. I woke up at the same time to come to NARAL on Mondays as I did to go to my paid job on other days. However, on Mondays, my nocturnal tendencies disappeared and I zipped out the door, determined to arrive by EXACTLY 9 o’clock because I was so excited about what I was doing there.
My wish for you, reader, is that you find something that makes you like getting out of bed. I want you to have a hero who makes you giddy when you meet her, like I did with Senator Wendy Davis. I want you to discover your passion and pursue it, so that you too can have the most meaningful summer of your life.