Women's rights, political importance discussed at Tuesday panel

Bethany Walter/Staff Photographer Joyce Baugh a political science professor at CMU talks about reproductive rights and the upcoming election on Tuesday night in Pearce Hall.

Women’s health and rights are an imperative topic in November election discussions and Tuesday's panel in Pearce Hall made audience members aware of it.

The panel, called "Women and the Election: Our lives, our votes!" consisted of political science professor Joyce Baugh; assistant professor of philosophy Andrew Blom; Chuck Bowden, professor of sociology at Mid-Michigan Community College; and Donna Giuliani, professor of sociology at Delta College. Philosophy professor Joyce Henricks moderated.

Henricks began the discussion by talking about the importance of the issues, and about how the issues that affect women also affect children, men and society as a whole.

"I don't know about other elections, but this election is not tweedle dee and tweedle dum," she said. "There is a clear choice between the issues."

Giuliani shared  statistics to shed some light on the current situation of women in society, including the fact that less than 17 percent of the House of Representatives are women.

Giuliani also discussed the feminization of poverty, the trend of women and children being disproportionately impoverished. This is due largely to the pay inequality in the workforce, as well as the need to balance home and work life, she said.

Baugh read the respective Democratic and Republican official platforms on several issues pertaining to women, including abortion and LGBT marriage rights, letting each party speak for itself on the issues.

Bowden addressed the problem of connecting masculinity to violence and aggression in American culture.

"I was asked, 'Why do women keep going between abusive relationships?,'" he said. "It didn't take long to see that was the wrong question. The question should be, 'Why are there so many abusive men to choose from?'"

Bowden commented that many men just never realize that things are so unequal between the genders, and that's part of the problem.

"What happens when we look at a culture and a society in which the background simply assumes that men have the privilege, a privilege they aren't even aware of...They simply accept it as the way the world is," Bowden said.

Baugh said it is important to know how each candidate stands on issues of women's health, as well as what laws may potentially be changing to affect women's health.

"So many women rely on Planned Parenthood for contraception, also for a variety of other services such as mammograms," Baugh said. "Most Planned Parenthoods do not provide abortion services. They provide contraception. But that's what we've been told by people who don't support (Planned Parenthood)."

Bowden said it is imperative to keep these issues in mind as election day approaches.

"We all need to realize this fall that politics is not what those people do out there, politics is personal," he said.


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