In the article “Reactions to ‘Lies Feminists Tell’ Counter Free Speech,” published by The Heights Editorial Board on March 18, 2019, the authors wrote that it is essential for Boston College to have “eloquent debate based on respect and empathy.” As one of the organizers of the event’s “protest,” I invite The Heights and the rest of the BC community to critique the talk “Lies Feminists Tell” with Kristan Hawkins, sponsored by the Pro-Life club, on the grounds of “respect and empathy.”
Hawkins opened her speech by admitting that, when she was a college student like us, she “wanted choices” for her life. For her, that entailed an education and a career, as well as marriage and children. But, as an opponent of “your body, your choice,” Hawkins advocates for denying women like me and you, including survivors of sexual assault, the privilege of choice that she has enjoyed. That, to me, is less than respectful.
By arguing against the options of contraception and abortion, she suggests that women are incapable of making choices for ourselves. But, as adults, we must respect the choices others make that we might not, because they have the freedom to choose differently. As a “mainstream feminist,” I’m pro-motherhood (biological and adoptive) and pro-legal abortion, whilst Hawkins is anti-choice.
Making abortion illegal in the U.S., as Hawkins desires, would not eliminate the choice of abortion. It would only make it dangerous and illegal. Hawkins brought a fetal model to her talk, but where were the pictures of the women who have died undergoing an illegal abortion? Where is the empathy for those women?
Hawkins went on to deride Planned Parenthood, a legitimate healthcare provider, that, among other services, provides abortions. Here’s my Planned Parenthood story. A little over a year ago, I went to Planned Parenthood for a regular checkup. The care that I received from my doctor brought me to tears. Not only did she appropriately refer me to see a counsellor, as I was greatly affected by the death of a family friend, she also recommended that I visit a skincare specialist to have some darkened moles checked out. After a biopsy, it was found that one removed had melanomic (i.e. cancerous) tendencies.
Hell yes I’m a feminist, and these are my personal views. As one student at Boston College, I created the Facebook “protest” event for the “Lies Feminists Tell” talk to raise awareness of something happening on my campus to other students that could share some of my concerns. In my opinion, the event did not promote “respect and empathy” for middle-class, abled, and heterosexual Catholic white women, let alone those of different(/no) genders, races, ethnicities, sexualities, religions, abilities, and socioeconomic backgrounds.
But that is just my view. Members of the BC community, please take the time to leave comments, including about to what extent the event was based upon “respect and empathy,” on the “Lies Feminists Tell” feedback form (responses will be presented to the Dean of Students): https://forms.gle/BJwj9739aBqdXB5W9.
Hollie Watts, MCAS ’21