The Feministing Five: Martha Plimpton

As an actor, Martha Plimpton has conquered the stage, screen and television. The Emmy Award-winning thespian, has been in over 30 films including, of course, The Goonies, Running on Empty, Pecker, Parenthood (“electric ear cleaner,” anyone?) and I Shot Andy Warhol. As an outspoken activist, Plimpton is taking on misogyny and the attack on our reproductive rights, freedom, choice, health and access. She is one of the founders of A is For, an organization that advocates for and supports organizations protecting abortion and reproductive rights. Recently, she was the keynote speaker at the Physicians for Reproductive Health‘s annual Rashbaum-Tiller Awards Ceremony, which honored Eve Espey, MD, MPH, and Willie Parker, MD, MPH, MSc, two doctors who provide outstanding abortion services. On Thursday Plimpton will be at a New York City fundraiser for A is For at the sex toy boutique Babeland (“electric ear cleaner” call back, anyone?) in Soho, along with A is For co-founder Lizz Winstead. You should “Come for a Cause.”

And now, without further ado, the Feministing Five with Martha Plimpton.

Katie Halper: Can you talk about your relationship with two amazing organizations: Physicians for Reproductive Health and A is For?

Martha Plimpton: A is For came about almost a year and a half ago now during the whole contraceptive mandate hearing on the hill debacle with Sandra Fluke. As I’m sure you were as well, we were all completely gobsmacked by the treatment she received. Is this the 21st century? What? And it threw into real relief something which had been lying dormant in the culture for a long time. As a kid, I was involved as much as I could be with Planned Parenthood, in the early 90s when the clinic bombings were happening. Then we entered this period of relative calm when we weren’t really paying attention to what was going on on the state level. It wasn’t really making national news. And so the fact that abortion access was becoming less and less and less available across the country wasn’t really on people’s radar. And so when Sandra Fluke was horrifyingly excoriated, and we heard this vicious, misogynist, violent language, it inspired a lot of people to take a closer look at what was going on.  It just exposed this gross underbelly that we hadn’t really been paying attention to.

And so, some women friends and I got together in Los Angeles, we wanted to do something, we didn’t now really what. And we noticed on Twitter and elsewhere people were starting to say, “why don’t they just slap a scarlet letter on us and be done with it.” And I thought, hmm that’s not such a bad idea. And we decided we’d come up with a way to utilize that symbol of the Scarlet Letter and change its meaning, and appropriate it, and use it as a symbol of defiance and in recognition that we all, at some point, male and female, have worn this scarlet letter.  And we wanted to use it as way to raise awareness and build some kind of unity and so in doing that we created this organization A is For and basically what we are is an advocacy organization that ‘s there to provide not just financial support but strategic support for other organizations that are working in this field. And one of the organizations we partnered with was the Center for Reproductive Rights (CRR). And then, I had some friends who were connected with Physicians for Reproductive Health and I was invited  to go to their Tiller Awards last year. And then they invited me to be their keynote speaker this year. They’re an incredible organization, obviously.


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