Updated: Apr 10, 2020
When I first tell someone that I work with women state legislators to further the goal of nuclear disarmament, people are understandably puzzled. But studies have shown it’s actually crucial that women in particular speak up and take action. Fortunately for the world, some women already have.
New research from ReThink Media shows that, when informed of the disastrous consequences of nuclear war, women are more likely than men to engage with the information and take action to prevent impending doom. The study showed that gendered socialization may affect how people process information about the risks and consequences of nuclear war. During focus groups, women appeared to "lean in" to the information and wanted to share it with others. In the face of our well-founded fears about nuclear war, women want to do something — whether it's sharing what they know with others, calling their representatives, or joining the movement.
In 2018, women state legislators introduced 10 resolutions calling on their congressional delegations to enact checks on the president’s sole authority to launch a nuclear first strike. These resolutions were introduced in eight states throughout the country: California, Georgia, Illinois, Iowa, Maryland, Massachusetts, Minnesota, and Vermont.
The women who introduced these resolutions have diverse expertise; Rep. Marti Anderson in Iowa is a social worker, and Delegate Pamela Queen of Maryland is a college professor. Even though state legislators have to balance a thousand issues that impact the day-to-day lives of their community and their jobs outside the legislature, these women made the time to listen to constituents’ concerns about their fear of nuclear war — and to act on it.
The author (right) with Massachusetts State Senator Barbara L'Italien (middle) and Cassandra Varanka (left).
Before I began working at Women's Action for New Directions (WAND), I was the president of my college’s pro-choice advocacy group in D.C., and I worked at multiple reproductive rights organizations. But Trump’s “fire and fury” rhetoric forced the country, and me, to confront the potential for nuclear war. The immediacy of this issue eclipsed my other career ambi