On January 8, 2019 PBS will feature a story about Sonia Johnson, on their show, “We’ll Meet Again”. The Fight for Women’s Rights | NEW Tuesday, Jan 8 at 8pm
Watch the preview of the upcoming show HERE
Read below a profile the PRT did on Johnson in March 2017. There are incredible people in this community, and Johnson has had an exceptionally inspiring life.
Portrait of A Feminist
By Patra Kelly
Sonia Johnson, a long-time resident of Sonoita, marched with the Patagonia/Sonoita contingent of the Global Women’s March in Tucson on January 21. In the Washington, D.C. March that same day, Sonia’s name was chanted several times along with those of other “strong women who went before us,” including Eleanor Roosevelt, Margaret Mead, and Gloria Steinem.
Sonia was born into the Mormon Church. In the mid 1970s, Mormon leaders in Virginia, where she was living at the time, began organizing members to defeat the passage of the Equal Rights Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment was designed to guarantee equal rights for women. Sonia was outraged, and for 18 months, while the church struggled desperately to stop her, she maintained “almost daily contact with the Washington Post, reporting the latest Mormon illegalities across the country.”
This enraged church leaders so much that they finally, and very unwisely, held trials and excommunicated her, behavior that received international coverage and made Sonia famous. “Best of all,” she explained, “it gave me a platform from which to tell far and wide all the church’s carefully-guarded political secrets.” Doubleday published, From Housewife to Heretic, in 1961, the first of her several books.
For nearly 20 years she spoke all over the country—at universities, conferences, festivals, venues of every description— encouraging women to rise, find their courage and power, and change the world. She became a well-known spokeswoman for Radical Feminism which she describes as “an internal change at the roots of women’s souls that emboldens and frees us from fear. In its comprehensiveness and overarching vision, Radical Feminism is very different from Women’s Rights Feminism—a weak, reformist position that seeks only to ‘tweak’ a little the thoroughly rotten patriarchal system.”
In 1984, she was the presidential candidate for what is now the Green Party, as well as two other parties. The constituents of these parties realized that Radical Feminism included all their issues. She came in fifth in the popular vote, the only alternative candidate in U.S. history to win federal primary matching funds.
After years of civil disobedience, fasting, and resistance of all kinds in the effort to get the Equal Rights Amendment into the constitution, Sonia came to believe that Eleanor Roosevelt was right on and unconsciously very radical when she advised women to do something every day that scares them. She still agrees with her sister, Eleanor, that only when women love enough to take risks for ourselves and our sisters, perhaps beginning with very small ones, will we ever meet— face-to-face—the courageous, powerful, world-building women we are.
Sonia says, “This is women’s time. To save our own lives, and by doing so to save all life, this is what we are on the earth now to do. As the only alternative to patriarchy, our values and ways in the world—empathetic, nonviolent, cooperative, and caring—these are the hope for the world.”
Are we ready with other women to make a whole world? Since the Global Women’s March, we have all been asking, “What’s next?” Sonia has agreed to talk about some possibilities.