Panelists want views of feminism to change



Writer Deborah Siegel and the other panelists of "WomenGirlsLadies" are looking to change the way people view feminism.

"There are many ideas about what feminism is and what feminists want," Siegel said. "Our vision is to have equal political, social and racial opportunities."

The intergenerational panel shared personal experiences and discussed issues important to each of them Monday in Warriner Hall's Plachta Auditorium.

Filmmaker Courtney Martin said she advocates authenticity in feminism and specifically for women voters.

Martin, a supporter of Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama, said women do not necessarily need to support women in politics solely because they are women.

"People should be authentic about who they vote for," she said.

Author Gloria Feldt talked about the importance of planning for the future and how children fit into women's lives. Feldt had a 30-year career with Voices for Planned Parenthood, including serving as president and CEO from 1996 to 2005.

Journalist Kristal Brent Zook said she is passionate about social justice, which she sees as an element of feminism. She highlighted aspects of feminism that sometimes are not seen as typical, such as environmentalism.

The panelists discussed a wide range of issues from politics to celebrities. Zook addressed the issue of balancing different passions.

"You don't have to read everything, you don't have to be involved in everything," she said. "Just find a passion and go with it - follow your heart."

The forum also touched on the issues of abortion and the stereotypical view of feminists being pro-choice. Feldt said abortion is based in women's rights and that reproductive health care encompasses more than just abortions.

"Media love hot-button issues, and it's easier for media to focus on," Martin said.

Feldt also addressed a question from the audience regarding the closing of Voices for Planned Parenthood in Mount Pleasant. She said the consequences will decrease the number of people who will have access to medical help and birth control.

Zook said feminism also is beneficial to men who are becoming increasingly engaged fathers.

Attendees enjoyed the new ideas from the panelists.

"It gave perspectives on feminism and (how it) is not all about sexuality," said Bay City freshman Toni Dicksen.

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