Unapologetically is a Yahoo Life series in which women and men from all walks of life get the chance to share how they live their best life — out loud and in living color, without fear or regret — looking back at the past with a smile and embracing the future with excited anticipation.
Jane Fonda has a message for the those who have rolled back abortion rights for people who can get pregnant.
"The issue of women being able to control their bodies — it's about power. It's the ultimate power," the longtime activist, 84, tells Yahoo Life. "I view the patriarchy, interestingly enough, like a wounded dragon. A wounded beast is the most dangerous flailing about, but they're wounded and that's why the patriarchy is scared. And we mustn't forget that this is all a result of fear on the part of the men and women who are patriarchal."
The Grace & Frankie star, who next lends her voice to a benevolent dragon in Apple TV+'s animated film Luck, knows what it's like to fight for abortion rights. In 1992, she was protesting the ahead of the Supreme Court's decision in the Planned Parenthood of Southeastern Pennsylvania v. Casey case.
At the time, many were concerned that the Supreme Court would choose to overturn Roe v. Wade, which guaranteed abortion would remain legal in all 50 states. It didn't happen then — but 30 years after Casey, the Supreme Court overturned the landmark 1973 decision in June.
"We cannot give up, and we won't, because we have 50 years of absorbing this right into our bodies, into our DNA, into our hearts and minds," Fonda explains. "We know what it feels like to have agency now over our bodily decisions. We're not ever going to get rid of that. We're not going back."
Fonda, who has long been open about her sexuality, says she has since "closed up shop" — and it was entirely her choice to do so.
"I have ridden my sexuality along into my older age and very happily so, and I'm grateful for that," she says. "It takes courage and a willingness. What's important is to know that you don't have to stay sexually active, [but] you can stay sexual. We always have those vibrators that are getting more and more sophisticated every year. And, um, boy — do I get sent a lot of vibrators."
She adds that it's important not to assume that once women hit a "certain age, we have to stop being sexual."
"It can continue if you choose — it's all a question of choice," Fonda explains. "We should have a choice if we want to remain sexual into our 70s, 80s, 90s."
While Fonda may be an empowered woman, she says "powerful" isn't the first adjective she would use to describe herself.
"I'm becoming whole. I think that's all that we can do," she explains. "That's the goal in life, because that's when we become powerful — when we can access all aspects of ourselves. You know, so many of us, for all kinds of reasons — we weren't loved when we were young, we were sexually abused or raped, whatever it is — we split off. And the interesting, strong idiosyncratic, maybe not perfect parts of ourselves, kind of stay out on the front porch. What you bring into your bedroom or your home is the, is what you think everybody wants. That's what happens to a lot of girls, and what they carry into adulthood. But what should happen is, you take the best part of yourself off the front porch and incorporate that into your whole being."
Fonda's new film Luck has also reminded her of the importance of persevering.
"Don't give up," she says. "The bad things that happen can make you stronger if you let them, if you don't let them destroy you, but you let them build your muscles."
– Video produced by Olivia Schneider
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