"On the Issues" with Michele Goodwin is a product of Ms. magazine—where we report, rebel and tell it like it is. On this show, we center your concerns about rebuilding our nation and advancing the promise of equality. Join academic and activist Michele Goodwin in conversation with feminist politicians, thought leaders and change-makers as we tackle the most compelling issues of our times.

New episodes drop every other Tuesday.

Tips, suggestions, pitches? Get in touch with us at ontheissues@msmagazine.com.

Latest Episodes

29. Who’s Telling Our Stories? CNN’s Brooke Baldwin on Women and Media

Brooke Baldwin is a renowned CNN anchor and author of a new book, HUDDLE: How Women Unlock Their Collective Power, out this month. Huddle examines the phenomenon of “huddling,” or what happens when women lean on one another—in the arts, activism, politics, Hollywood and everyday friendships—to lift up each other and to provide empowerment, support, inspiration and the creativity and courage to enact change and solve problems.

28. How Do We Dismantle a Culture of Sexual Violence? (with Terrion Williamson and Carmen Balentine)

Gender-based and sexual violence are pervasive symptoms of a larger violence issue in this country. This reality is exemplified by recent reports that some insurrectionists who stormed the Capitol on January 6 have histories of violence against women, including domestic violence and sexual assault. Of course, we also remain in mourning for the lives lost to gun violence in America—most recently the horrific killings of eight people, including six women of Asian descent, in Atlanta, and 10 people at a supermarket in Boulder, Colorado.

What do these events convey about the U.S. and our culture of sexual violence? What connections can we make from gender-based violence and sexual violence to a broader culture of violence in the U.S.? How does gender-based violence intersect with race and racism? What can we do to begin to disrupt this culture?

27. From Filibuster to Representation: Is the Senate Broken? (with Rick Hasen, Barbara Arnwine and Cynthia Richie Terrell)

The 2020 election revealed the deep fractures in U.S. democracy and its electoral system. Many were already there, but this past election truly pushed our voting system to its limits.

“Many of the familiar procedures for translating the people’s will into the choice of a president depend on norms of behavior, not laws,” guest Rick Hasen put it—evident from the significant efforts undertaken to undermine and interfere with the results of the election.

Part of this dysfunction played out in the Senate, where the institution itself protects arcane rules and undemocratic processes. Is the Senate truly representative? Is the electoral system fair? Is it time to eliminate the electoral college? What other electoral reforms should we be considering? What does contemporary voter suppression look like?

One of the important Senate rules at issue today is the filibuster, which has been weaponized at various times to defeat important legislation. What purpose does the filibuster serve? Is it a barrier to real progress?

26. Why Women’s Rights are Human Rights (with UN Women Director Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka)

“Women’s rights are human rights,” proclaimed then-First Lady Hillary Rodham Clinton in September 1995 at the United Nations’ Fourth World Conference on Women in Beijing. This groundbreaking speech marked a turning point for feminism and international efforts toward gender equality, articulating women’s rights as a basic fundamental concept of civil rights, human rights and dignity. During the conference, 189 countries unanimously adopted the Beijing Declaration and the Platform for Action for women’s equality.

In this show we consider the impact of the U.N. agenda for gender equality and women’s empowerment. Where has there been progress?  What are the setbacks? What comes next in the global agenda on women’s rights?

25. International Women’s Day and a Feminist Foreign Policy (with Karen Greenberg, Gayle Lemmon, Pardis Mahdavi and Lyric Thompson)

As women continue to be hit by job loss, increased home responsibilities, family caretaking, unaccounted for invisible labor, homelessness and domestic violence, it’s clear the COVID-19 pandemic has revealed underlying institutional and infrastructural inequalities in our society.

It’s time to check in on and reimagine the international status of women and girls. What would a feminist foreign policy agenda look like in the United States? How does it look globally? How does it take into account vulnerable women and girls? What hope exists for ending inequality based on race, sex and gender? What differences do women and girls make as social, political and economic motivators for change?

[BONUS] 24. Rest in Power: Sue Ellen Allen, Advocate to the End

In this episode, we remember our friend and advocate for women in prison, Sue Ellen Allen, who died this week on February 24, 2021.  In the latter part of her life, she became an internationally renowned advocate for incarcerated women and girls.  She championed banning the box, promoting reentry, and protecting the integrity and dignity of people tethered to the criminal justice system. She was a reformer.  She spoke with tremendous grace and power about being formerly incarcerated.

Take a listen as we revisit Sue Ellen Allen’s final interview—a wide-ranging and intimate conversation with her long-time friend, Michele Goodwin.

Rest in power, Sue Ellen.

23. Why Does the Death Penalty Still Exist in the U.S.? (with Stephen Rohde)

On January 16, 2021, the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Dustin Higgs became the 13th and final person executed by the Trump administration—just days before Inauguration Day for President Joe Biden, the first sitting president to openly oppose the death penalty.

President Trump’s spate of executions began six months before Biden’s inauguration, with six executions occurring in the period after he lost the election. Overall, the former president oversaw “the most consecutive civilian executions by the federal government or any state in the 244-year history of the United States” and “ended a 17-year bipartisan federal moratorium” on executions, according to this week’s guest Stephen Rohde.
What purpose does the death penalty serve? How have race and racism marked the implementation of the death penalty? Is there ever a humane way to kill another person? With public support for the death penalty waning in the U.S. and across the world, how can the U.S. continue to justify it, both federally and in individual states?

22. Mass Incarceration: Don’t Forget About the Women (with Piper Kerman, Kamilah Newton and Sue Ellen Allen)

Women make up the fastest growing incarcerated population in the U.S—yet, politicians and the media frequently frame incarceration as an issue that affects only boys and men.  Why is so little attention paid to women and mass incarceration?  What does the failure to include women in the analysis on mass incarceration mean for communities, families and the women themselves? What are the unique challenges women and girls face behind bars and after they are released?

21. Taking Politics Out of Women’s Health: Biden’s First 100 Days (with Carrie Baker, Joia Crear-Perry, Leah Litman and Julia Kaye)

Friday, January 22 marked the 48th anniversary of Roe v. Wade, the Supreme Court’s landmark decision affirming a constitutional right to abortion. Yet, decades later, reproductive health care access remains illusory for many women and people of birthing capacity.  
Is the constitutional right to abortion a reality today? If so, for whom? How has the COVID-19 pandemic impacted women’s health and exacerbated existing disparities? What can we expect from the first 100 days of the Biden-Harris administration? What is the status of reproductive health, rights and justice—48 years after Roe?

20. Meet the New Feminists in Congress (with Jennifer Steinhauer + Reps. Carolyn Bourdeaux, Teresa Leger Fernandez and Marie Newman)

On today’s show, we planned to introduce listeners to the new feminists in Congress—and we do.  But, in the period since our team at Ms. curated the design and content of this episode, another shoe has dropped in American politics: the insurrection.

We examine what the Jan. 6 riot and insurrection at the U.S. Capitol signify for our nation, including what we can learn from it. Why did it happen? Will the president be impeached?  And what does this atmosphere mean for the new feminists in Congress?

19. Year in Review: Looking Ahead to 2021 and Beyond (with Russ Feingold, Deirdre Fishel, Stephen Vladeck and Andrea Young)

This year has been defined by the COVID-19 pandemic, a reckoning on racism and policing in America, the 2020 election, and the ongoing fight for justice.   
What does the 2020 election and the Biden/Harris win mean for our democracy? How important is the outcome of the Georgia runoff for the incoming administration? Where are we on immigration? How are we to undo the damage to our federal courts and address the legitimacy of the U.S. Supreme Court? How do we reckon with the racial unrest that exists in our country—especially when it comes to police violence? What hope lies ahead in the realm of reproductive health, rights and justice?

18. How Does the U.S. Rebuild Global Relationships? (with Penelope Andrews, David Kaye, Gregory Shaffer and Lyric Thompson)

Government leaders worldwide met the election of President-Elect Joe Biden with a collective sigh of relief. But while many celebrate Biden’s win, many still wonder if the possibility of another presidency that devalues global treaties and relationships related to protecting global health, the environment, and stemming nuclear proliferation is in America’s future.

How is the U.S. viewed abroad? What are the opportunities and challenges ahead for the next administration? Where are the biggest tensions in U.S. foreign relationships and diplomacy? Does the U.S. have an international legitimacy problem? The world has witnessed amazing leadership from women in other nations, especially during COVID—so what can the U.S. learn from that?

17. Rebuilding America: A Woman’s Economy (with Sandra Finley, Dr. Patricia Jones Blessman, Jennifer Justice and Rachel Payne)

COVID-19 has had an undeniable negative impact on the economy—an impact felt most deeply by women, especially women of color. Women are being pushed out of their jobs and there are significant barriers to pursuing new ones—from an imbalance in the division of household responsibilities, to stagnancy and job loss in women-dominated industries like retail, dining and the government sector.
What should be at the top of the economic agenda for the Biden-Harris administration? How should women fend for themselves in a COVID economy?  What are the keys to negotiating for what women deserve?

16. Post-Election Analysis: Did We Have a Fair Election? (with Vanita Gupta)

On Saturday, Nov. 7, 2020, Joseph Robinette Biden, Jr. was elected the 46th president of the United States. Vice President-Elect Kamala Devi Harris made history becoming the first woman, the first Black person, and the first South Asian person to ever hold the office. This news resulted in widespread celebrations throughout the country and all across the world. Additionally, a significant number of down-ballot victories also mark historic milestones in U.S. politics—including countless firsts for people of color, LGBTQ+ candidates and women.

But while there is cause for celebration, there is more work to be done and more questions to be asked. Was the election free and fair across the nation? What did we learn from this election? Where and how did democracy flourish? What does the 2020 election mean for our democracy, our courts, and our state and federal agencies?

15. Keep Calm and Count Every Vote (with Sen. Russ Feingold, Lizz Winstead and Sandra Bernhard)

Dr. Goodwin and her guests answer some of your pressing election questions—and have a bit of fun. Let them keep you company (and keep you calm!) while you wait for results.