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Globe columnist Elizabeth Renzetti waits for a London Underground Train at Tufnell Park Station in July, 2005, at seven months pregnant.Randy Quan/The Globe and Mail

The Globe and Mail’s Elizabeth Renzetti signed off her final column this week with these parting words on the continuing struggle for women’s rights: “I know you’ll continue the fight, and so will I. Don’t make me come back here in 30 years and write this column again.” It was a strong and fitting farewell for someone who doesn’t readily flinch in the face of a challenge.

She joined the newspaper as a copy editor in 1989 and went on to wear many other hats – editing the books section and penning a column called Under 30, focused on the newly labelled Gen X.

As The Globe’s London correspondent from 2004 to 2012, Renzetti wrote features about everything from binge drinking to then-mayor Boris Johnson, whose career she was sure would soon end. She met the Queen and Prince Philip in 2005, remarking wickedly, “It was quite clear that the receiving line is governed by the same etiquette as an orgy: Just do what everyone else does and you’ll fit right in.”

Her columns became a mainstay for the paper in 2011, and she was known as the “heart” of Opinion, grounding the section with her intelligence and insight. She maintained her sense of humour while writing seriously about women and feminism, themes that won her recognition with the Landsberg Award in 2020, and that informed her book, Shrewed: A Wry and Closely Observed Look at the Lives of Women and Girls.

“I stayed because the Globe offered so much. A chance to grow and experiment and try new things with the most astonishingly talented group of people. It gave me a chance to live in cities around the world, make dear friends, and find a husband, too,” Renzetti wrote in her farewell e-mail to colleagues.

“I wrote my first Globe and Mail column in 1993. Almost 30 years is a good run.”

In honour of her stellar contributions, here’s a look back on five of Liz Renzetti’s most memorable columns:

The continuing march for women’s rights

In 2017, the day after Donald Trump’s inauguration, Renzetti joined the hundreds of thousands of people protesting in the Women’s March in Washington, finding “good people” everywhere she looked.

“It was a remarkably peaceful day, and if the crowd sometimes wandered aimlessly rather than marching in any kind of precision order, it was a happy mayhem: People seemed buoyed by a message of uprising and resilience after an interminable election campaign that divided the country.”

The slow but steady decline of abortion access in the U.S.

As a women’s rights advocate, Renzetti signaled in 2018 that abortion rights in the U.S. were already under threat, and Roe v. Wade was at risk of being overturned.

“The threat to abortion access is already in place, as state legislators attempt to pass ever more restrictive laws, clinics are closed and federal legislation threatens to cut off funding for low-income women seeking abortion referrals.”

A message to you, Karen: Stop your messing around

How do you solve a problem such as Karen, Renzetti asked in 2020. She was criticizing Amy Cooper, the Central Park dog walker who called the cops on a Black man who asked her to put her dog on a leash, and the general problem with people’s ignorance when it comes to racial disparities.

“A Karen, for those unfamiliar with the term, is a middle-aged white woman who sails through life on a current of good fortune, pointedly unaware of the ways that her whiteness smooths the waters around her. If you told her, she’d be stunned, because she sees herself as a victim. She is a victim, which is why she’d like to speak to the manager, please. Her time is very important. She would like the police to come, quickly, because she’s seen some people she doesn’t recognize and they won’t listen to her and she just has a funny feeling about them.”

Violent misogyny is a threat to half our population. We need to call it what it is: Terrorism

On the 30th anniversary of the massacre at l’École Polytechnique in Montreal in 2019, “when 14 women were killed because they were women,” Renzetti spoke out against misogyny and the growing incel movement.

“[Incels] share a sense of grievance at a mythical world they’ve constructed, in which good-looking women trade sex for status with equally good-looking – and, crucially, tall – men, while rejecting the ‘gentlemen’ in their midst. The gentlemen, in this piteous scenario, are the incels. Except they are not gentlemen. At their worst, they are deadly; they urge one another to acts of violence.”

An elegy for the office romance

Writing candidly earlier this year about her husband and fellow Globe columnist, Doug Saunders, Renzetti in one of her most popular columns endorsed the office romance (and asked if it’s now dead): “I met him at the old Globe and Mail office, a building so charmless and derelict that one colleague referred to it as ‘a basement in the sky,’” she wrote.

“But it did have that power certain basements have to draw people together. The Globe and Mail, you may be surprised to learn, gave new meaning to the phrase ‘put the paper to bed.’”

Renzetti’s ode to that office building demonstrated once again her respect for history and talent with words. In her final note to the newsroom, she joked, “maybe this is how we should recruit new talent: Globe and Mail matchmaking services.”

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Renzetti makes a splash at Jeppe Hein's water sculpture Appearing Rooms on London's South Bank Centre, in July 2007.Justin Sutcliffe

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