Fa med civil rights at­tor­ney GLO­RIA ALL RED has been fight­ing on be­half of women for four decades. And fi­nally the world is join­ing her mis­sion

InStyle (USA) - - Directory - by SA R A H CR ISTOBA L pho­tographed by J ER EM Y LIEBM A N

Lawyer and fem­i­nist icon Glo­ria Allred shows no signs of slow­ing down af­ter 42 years of de­fend­ing the rights of women and mi­nori­ties

As Glo­ria Allred makes her way through the lobby of a swanky New York ho­tel, a gen­tle­man stops her. “I’m a cor­po­rate lawyer from Ohio,” he says. “You’re do­ing great work. Can I take a selfie with you?” Primed for the mo­ment in a fit­ted gray Al­tuzarra suit with im­pec­ca­ble hair and makeup, Allred hap­pily obliges. She’s in good spir­its. Just a week ear­lier, 33 of her clients, each of whom had ac­cused Bill Cosby of sex­ual mis­con­duct, saw jus­tice served when he was sen­tenced to prison for three to 10 years for drug­ging and sex­u­ally as­sault­ing An­drea Con­stand, the only woman who was able to bring crim­i­nal charges against the ac­tor. Though Allred did not rep­re­sent Con­stand, she was at the court­house when the ver­dict was de­liv­ered. She was in­vested. Af­ter all, she had re­port­edly been work­ing on the case pro bono for three years.

Not all lawyers could han­dle a case as sen­sa­tional as Cosby’s, but Allred, who has de­fended the rights of women and mi­nori­ties for 42 years, is not eas­ily in­tim­i­dated. At 77, when most peo­ple might con­sider slow­ing down, she is busier than ever. She loathes va­ca­tions and doesn’t have much of a so­cial life be­cause a) she doesn’t want one and b) she is al­ways on call. She likes to get press cov­er­age, which has given her the rep­u­ta­tion of a fame seeker of sorts. In ac­tu­al­ity, she learned early on that be­com­ing an out­spo­ken TV per­son­al­ity was the most ef­fec­tive way to draw at­ten­tion to the is­sues of in­jus­tice she com­bats on a daily ba­sis. By the time this story goes to print, she will have or­ga­nized a press con­fer­ence to shed light on an­other trans­gres­sion: Four Mrs. Amer­ica con­tes­tants claim that the or­ga­ni­za­tion’s CEO and co-founder sub­jected them to racist re­marks. Allred is al­ways ready. While we’re say­ing good­bye af­ter this in­ter­view wraps, she tells me, “You know how to find me. But, hope­fully, you won’t have to.”

As a civil rights lawyer who has seen it all, how are you feel­ing about the cur­rent state of things? It’s won­der­ful to be alive at this time, when women are so em­pow­ered. You’ve seen the women’s marches. That was not a one-day event. We’ve seen the #Metoo mo­ment. We’ve seen women re­fus­ing to suf­fer in si­lence. We’ve seen them speak­ing out— whether it’s Dr. Chris­tine Blasey Ford tes­ti­fy­ing in the Sen­ate Ju­di­ciary Com­mit­tee hear­ing or women speak­ing out in law­suits, like the wit­nesses who tes­ti­fied in the Bill Cosby trial. This move­ment is gather­ing mo­men­tum. What do you make of the #Metoo and Time’s Up move

ments? I have met Miss [Tarana] Burke, who cre­ated the Me Too cam­paign in 2006, and I ad­mire her for what she did. It was very pos­i­tive and con­tin­ues to be. I’ve been do­ing this for a long time, help­ing women speak their truth, so this is noth­ing new to me. We started the Women’s Equal Rights Le­gal De­fense and Ed­u­ca­tion Fund in 1978, which I’m cur­rently the pres­i­dent of. For the most part, celebri­ties have not do­nated to it. They can’t buy me, they can’t rent me, they can’t lease me. All right? They can’t give me money not to sue them. All they can do is give me jus­tice for my clients. Amen to that. In ad­di­tion to women fight­ing to win new rights, which is im­por­tant, we also need to as­sert the rights we have won be­cause they were passed for our and our daugh­ters’ pro­tec­tion. And, yes, some­times I will name and shame men who have hurt women. If they’re wor­ried about it, then maybe they should con­sider treat­ing women with re­spect. Pres­i­dent Trump com­plained about fair­ness to­ward young men. Well, they have noth­ing to worry about if they don’t rape and sex­u­ally as­sault women. I was won­der­ing what you think of those head­lines. I mean, Pres­i­dent Trump’s mock­ing of Dr. Ford was so out­ra­geous. It re­ally is not a state­ment about

her; it’s a state­ment about him. I call him the In­sul­ter in Chief. Is he [sup­posed to be] a role model for young men? It’s dis­gust­ing. Worst of all, it’s harm­ful to vic­tims of sex­ual as­sault. It’s their worst fear be­com­ing a re­al­ity—that if they speak up, they will be at­tacked or dis­cred­ited or not be­lieved. These are very chal­leng­ing times, but no one should be de­pressed. What do you tell women who are feel­ing dis­cour­aged? That’s not an emo­tion we can af­ford. [De­pres­sion is] re­ally anger turned in­ward. Don’t tran­quil­ize your­self out of your anger. Take it and turn it out­ward in a pos­i­tive, con­struc­tive way to win change. Con­trib­ute to those who are run­ning for of­fice whose val­ues you share, or con­sider run­ning for of­fice your­self. In ad­di­tion, you can help vol­un­teer in the cam­paigns. Con­trib­ute time, money, ideas, sup­port. Do what [19th- cen­tury la­bor ac­tivist] Mother Jones said: “Don’t ag­o­nize— or­ga­nize.” That’s what you do.

Like you did for the Cosby case.

In my Net­flix doc­u­men­tary, See­ing Allred, you see many of the women who al­lege they are sur­vivors of Bill Cosby, but it was too late for them to sue or even have their cases pros­e­cuted. And that was if the district at­tor­ney felt there was suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to prove a case beyond a rea­son­able doubt. Rather than get­ting de­pressed, we worked in three states to change the laws. Many of the women tes­ti­fied. We ex­tended the time pe­riod for the statute of lim­i­ta­tions in Ne­vada and Colorado. We com­pletely elim­i­nated the statute of lim­i­ta­tions for crim­i­nal pros­e­cu­tion of rape and sex­ual as­sault in Cal­i­for­nia—and at the be­gin­ning so many peo­ple said, “Oh, you’ll never be able to do that.” In terms of that case, it is amaz­ing how you were able to gal­va­nize all those women—33 out of the 50- plus ac­cusers. I didn’t gal­va­nize them; they gal­va­nized them­selves. For most of them the statute of lim­i­ta­tions had run out. But it’s never too late to speak out in the court of pub­lic opin­ion. I felt that even though there was no law­suit I could file for them, I could help them have their voice. Courage is con­ta­gious. When they saw the courage of oth­ers, they started find­ing their own.

What is the tough­est part of your job?

No­body comes to me with a case that’s easy. Let’s start there. If it were easy, they prob­a­bly would have some­body down the street do it. I do feel a great re­spon­si­bil­ity for those who con­tact me seek­ing jus­tice. We can’t help ev­ery­body, but we do help as many peo­ple as we can and try to re­fer them if we can’t. How many cases does your firm [Allred, Maroko & Gold­berg] take on? I don’t re­ally have the num­ber. We just do the best we can. I feel very blessed to be able to do this every day. I feel very hon­ored as a per­son who grew up in a ru­ral house with par­ents who had an eighth-grade ed­u­ca­tion. We had no car. We had no money. I feel it is my duty to do this. I do it with every ounce of en­ergy I have. I love what I do.

Do you keep in touch with your for-

mer clients? Yes, for many years. For ex­am­ple, I’m still in touch with Am­ber Frey [the for­mer girl­friend of con­victed mur­derer Scott Peter­son]. A lot of them call me Mama Glo­ria or Aun­tie Glo­ria. Yes­ter­day I got an email from some­body say­ing, “My Mama Bear is pro­tect­ing me.” It’s very sweet. I don’t see them be­cause I don’t have that much of a so­cial life. I’m al­ways work­ing.

Do you ever take time for your­self?

Work­ing is time for my­self. It’s not like I have to get away from it. For me, cruel and un­usual pun­ish­ment would be tak­ing a va­ca­tion and not hav­ing my com­put­ers or phones.

How do you keep up your en­ergy?

Are you into fit­ness at all? My daugh­ter used to say, “Mom, you need to ex­er­cise.” I’d say, “Well, I talk a lot. Does ex­er­cis­ing my mouth count?” Once in a while I work out on an el­lip­ti­cal, but not as much as I should. I feel guilty. I could do bet­ter. I run through air­ports. I’m hop­ing that counts. Is there any­thing that scares you? No, not re­ally. I don’t think fear is use­ful. I think fear is a weapon that has been used to deny women their rights. En­ergy is a very valu­able, fi­nite re­source and as­set that we each have. I al­ways like to think of how we can use our en­ergy in the most pos­i­tive and pro­duc­tive way.

Where do we go from here, Glo­ria?

On­ward and up­ward. We’re not go­ing back; we’re go­ing for­ward. That’s the way we’re go­ing to have to fight to win our rights. Did any of us ever pre­dict the women’s marches? Not only in the United States but around the world? Women who were never in­volved in pol­i­tics, or any is­sue- ori­ented move­ment, are now in­volved. They’ll never be un­in­volved again. A lot of times their hus­bands and sig­nif­i­cant oth­ers and lit­tle chil­dren are see­ing their wife and mama stand­ing up for equal rights. It’s beau­ti­ful. You’re this is­sue’s Badass Woman. Who is badass to you? I would say those who dare to chal­lenge power and the stereo­types, myths, and mis­con­cep­tions about women. Those who won’t stay in their place, which is at the bot­tom of the lad­der with some­one’s shoe on their neck. That’s why we love Ruth Bader Gins­burg, aka the No­to­ri­ous RBG. She speaks her mind. I speak my mind too. Q

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