2023’s Top 10 Most Memorable Moments From ‘On The Issues with Michele Goodwin’

2023 marked three years of On the Issues With Michele Goodwin, a fiercely feminist podcast about the most compelling issues of our time. The show simultaneously supplies its listeners with information about horrific injustice—from war’s disproportionate impact on women to the white supremacist crusade against bodily autonomy—and hope, highlighting equality-minded guests who envision a more just and peaceful world.

This year, Goodwin brought us lawmakers, scholars and founders of movements and organizations that have defined how we think about fields like reproductive justice, care work and gun violence.

We selected some of the most powerful words heard on the podcast this year to propel us into 2024.

Dr. Michele Bratcher Goodwin, Executive Producer of Ms. Studios speaks at 50 Years of Ms. Magazine presented by the Hammer Conversations series at the Hammer Museum on October 05, 2023 in Los Angeles, California. (Rodin Eckenroth / Getty Images)

Here are our top 10 moments from On the Issues in 2023:

10. Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) talks about how Congress’s strength is in its potential.

“Congress’s greatest strength is its potential. It doesn’t do what you want it do every day, some days it does exactly the opposite of what you do. However, when I spoke to you about my folks said how do you make government? They try to make government work for people. This was local, okay. This is about making government work for people today. Historically, the United States has done this. They did it with Medicare, Medicaid, Equal Rights, a GI Bill, the ability of the sons and daughters of working families to be able to get a college education, healthcare, the Affordable Care Act. 

And so, what we need to do is to look at, if you will, and we can look at, utilizing the strength of this institution to make change in people’s life. And I’ll give you the most recent example for me, something I’ve worked on for, now, almost 20 years that’s the Child Tax Credit. And 18 years before it became part of the American Rescue Plan, it has worked the way no other federal program has worked in lifting kids out of poverty. So, we have that potential, that’s a silver lining. We need to, you know, push the edge of the envelope on what happens here, so that this institution does what it was intended to do. It needs to be an advocate for people to transform people’s lives.”

Rep. Rosa DeLauro

(Listen to “Fifteen Minutes of Feminism: Fighting for Women Workers” to learn more about Rep. DeLauro’s journey to government and how she sees the feminist struggle to tackle the major challenges facing the U.S. today.)

9. Rep. Katie Porter (D-Calif.) speaks about the difficulty of making lasting change.

“Our country has certainly made progress, but we are not done, and I think it’s important not to allow celebrations of the progress to stop us from seeing where we’re falling short. And so I have been part of Congress since 2018, it was a record number of women who were elected into the House, it was the election of the first lesbian mother, for example, the first two Native American women, there were so many firsts in that group, but what has happened since then, which is we have made no progress on increasing the representation of women. And in fact, among Democrats in the Senate, for example, we’ve actually gone backwards.

And so I think we have to focus on making sure that within and built into each celebration of milestones of representation, part and parcel of that celebration is celebrating the work that we have done to get to this point and lifting up and kind of renewing our commitment to continuing that work.”

Rep. Katie Porter

(Listen to “Fifteen Minutes of Feminism: Majority Rule #5, Our Government Represents Us” to learn more about all Rep. Porter has learned while fighting for gender equality on behalf of her constituents.)

8. Aisha Nyandoro urges us to shift how we speak about—and value—care work.

“I had this conversation actually with my 12-year-old last night and we’re talking about one of his friends and I was like, oh, you know, does his mom also work outside the home or whatever the question was, and he said, ‘Oh no, she doesn’t do anything.’ And I was like, ‘Oh, no, no, no, no, no.’ We reframe that and let’s have a conversation about what it actually does look like if you are caring for a home. I said, ‘So you can call her the CEO of her home, you can call her a home worker.’ There are so many different labels, but just to say that, oh, this mom doesn’t do anything, it’s a narrative that is actually very harmful. And you know, that was a conversation with my 12-year-old, but unfortunately that is the mainstream narrative when we think about care.”

Aisha Nyandoro

(Listen to “Fifteen Minutes of Feminism: Majority Rule #4, Our Families Are Supported” to hear Nyandoro’s vision for equitable outcomes in the care economy.)

7. Dr. Julie Suk challenges us to think about how law cements gender inequality for society’s “benefit.”

“[A] function of what it means to have a liberal democracy is we dismantle the exclusion of women from rights and then we expect patriarchy to no longer exist. It appears that what actually happens is you get rid of patriarchy but then you get misogyny. 

Misogyny being the undervaluation of women and it being sanctioned in law even though the official position of law is that women are equal, and the official position of law is related to [the fact] that it’s assumed that if women do not actually have equal outcomes it’s their own fault rather than because there are legal institutions that are undervaluing and systematically benefiting from their invisibility. And so, I see that as not only a violence for which women need to be compensated, it’s that too of course, but a need to really think about all the ways in which society benefits from the disadvantages that women sustain and then to reorganize our infrastructures and legal institutions to give credit where credit is due, and it could mean not only prohibiting discrimination, that is not only saying equal treatment between women and men but ensuring that women are equally represented in all our political institutions.” 

Dr. Julie Suk

(Listen to “Fifteen Minutes of Feminism: How the Law Fails Women” to learn more about Dr. Suk’s lessons from legal feminism in other countries.)

6. Ai-jen Poo calls our attention to the systematic failure to see essential jobs as essential—and the people who hold them.

“Essential jobs are disproportionately minimum wage jobs, and we know that before the pandemic two thirds of all minimum wage jobs were held by women. So when we look at, in our economy, who’s working incredibly hard and still not able to make ends meet, it’s women and disproportionately women of color, and it took a pandemic for us to see that these jobs are actually essential to our safety, to our health, to our well-being as a society, and yet, still we have not raised the wages or adequately compensated the work.”

Ai-jen Poo

(Listen to “Fifteen Minutes of Feminism: Majority Rule #3, Our Work Is Valued” to hear Ai-jen Poo discuss how society makes care work and other essential work invisible and what we can do about it.)

5. Moira Donegan unpacks the significance of E. Jean Carroll’s win in civil court against former President Donald Trump.

“These signs of violence are just simply not a priority for law enforcement. So, the idea that a conviction or even a civil liability is necessary to establish truth really places believability outside the reach of most women, more victims of this kind of misconduct, and so, I think it’s it’s not necessary to have a jury or any kind of court find somebody responsible in order to believe a woman who says that she was hurt. 

I think that that’s a dangerous precedent, to say that we need this kind of official sanction in order to start to act to correct this cultural pathology we have around sexual abuse. However, courts are places of enormous authority. We have made them these arbiters of legal and illegal, right and wrong, belonging and non-belonging and that a court ruled in favor of Carroll’s claims, that they said no, this woman is right, it happened, it mattered, he doesn’t get to act like that. She deserved better. I think that’s a massive validation for the Me Too movement and for a lot of women who have had to live under the indignity of Trump’s presidency.”

Moira Donegan

(Listen to “Fifteen Minutes of Feminism—The Trump Indictments: Unpacking the E. Jean Carroll Litigation” for more of Donegan’s perspective on the legal system’s recognition of sexual violence—and lack thereof.)

4. Shannon Watts urges new activists to respect and learn from those who have come before and paved the way.

“Well, and to be clear, I mean, it’s really Black women who have been at the forefront of this issue for decades, standing literally on the streets of their communities to stop bullets with their body, and we stand on their shoulders. I think it’s really important that white women understand, when they come to this issue mostly because of a mass shooting, that this work is much more holistic than that, that we have to unlock funding for community violence intervention programs, that we have to make sure we are stopping gun trafficking and that we’re listening to communities and understanding what they need and what they want and that we’re using our privilege and our political power to stand shoulder to shoulder with all women who are suffering from the horrific tragedies inflicted on this country by gun violence.”

Shannon Watts

(Listen to “Fifteen Minutes of Feminism: Majority Rule #1, Our Lives Are Safe” to hear Watts discuss her own journey to anti-gun-violence activism.)

3. Larry Gostin and Michele Goodwin discuss the lack of justice faced by those who deprive civilians of basic healthcare and human rights during times of war.

Larry Gostin: And they do, and the truth is that there really is very little if any accountability. We’ve seen that in Ukraine. In Ukraine there’s been a deliberate destruction of hospitals, humanitarian corridors, patients, health workers have all been attacked. The Russian federation is certainly part of the Geneva conventions. The federation is not a part of the international criminal court but nonetheless the court has already tried to indict President Putin but there’s very little accountability and if you think all the wars that have been going on for a long, long time, many of them, you know, are just really out of our radar but they’re really…

Michele Goodwin: I think about the Congo.

Gostin: The Congo, Ethiopia, Yemen, Syria, Ukraine. It’s happening all over the world and I’m unaware of any single consequence or accountability with respect to any of them.

Goodwin: And that too just makes me bristle. You’re absolutely right. very little at all. 

Gostin: And we’re numb to it. The public becomes numb to it after a while. We’re obviously not numb to the Gaza situation because it’s on our televisions all the time but that will fade probably and so have all the other conflicts that the public barely knows about. 

(Listen to “Collateral Damage: Preserving Health and Humanity During War” to hear Gostin talk about horrors civilians, and often disproportionately women, experience during conflict.)

2. Loretta Ross tells us about the reproductive justice movement’s “winning hand.”

“I actually think that the human rights movement has the winning hand. I think that our opponents think that they’re fighting us but I think they’re actually fighting forces way beyond their control because they’re fighting truth, they’re fighting evidence, they’re fighting history, and most of all, they’re fighting time, and I do not believe that these bozos in these suits that are trying to roll us back to the 19th century are strong enough to defeat truth, evidence, history and time, and so we hold the winning hand, though it doesn’t feel like it right now, and my biggest fear is that we’ll snatch defeat from the jaws of victory by turning on each other instead of turning to each other.”

Loretta Ross

(Listen to “Fifteen Minutes of Feminism: Majority Rule #2, Our Bodies Are Respected” for more on Ross’s intersectional and revolutionary approach to reproductive freedom and her take on the white supremacist fight against bodily autonomy.)

1. Dr. Yael Braudo-Bahat, the co-director of Women Wage Peace, speaks about her and her Palestinian counterparts’ efforts to find peace.

“We have the mothers calling, a joint vision and joint mission that calls Israel and Palestinian women together, calling the leaders to begin negotiations, calling the entire world and both societies, both peoples to support us. We just want to live in peace. We don’t have to love each other. We don’t have to hug each other. I mean, I will gladly hug my sisters, my Palestinian sisters, because I work with them and I love them, but we don’t want this. We just want not to fight. We just want not to have war.

I can, again, and I hear, and we receive information, both from the media and from our Palestinian sister movement, about what’s going on in Gaza about women losing their children, about women dying with their families. We know several Women of the Sun activists from Gaza who were killed during the attacks, and of course, this is as devastating for us as the Israeli women that were killed. And so, again, I said it and I will say it as much as I can, we just want everything to stop. We don’t want any more victims on either side.”

Dr. Yael Braudo-Bahat

(Listen to “Collateral Damage: Women Waging Peace Amid War’s Sexual Violence” to hear Dr. Braudo-Bahat speak about what it means to involve women in peace negotiations.)

Up next:


Morgan Carmen is in her third year at Harvard Law School, where she is the president of the Alliance for Reproductive Justice. She is an intern with Ms. Studios and is based in Cambridge, Mass. Find her on Twitter @morgancarmen_.