Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Mea culpa

Serrin Foster, President of Feminists for Life, came to campus yesterday at the invitation of the Pro-Life Vanguard (PLV), the UD pro-life student group. Audrey Dandoy, president of PLV, had tried to get the Women's Studies Program to support Foster's talk. I had made a couple of phone calls myself. Predictably and annoyingly, the Women's Studies Program declined.

Foster's talk offered solutions to the root causes that women have abortions, and told of several universities at which pro-life and pro-choice groups had formed coalitions to make the campus more "pregnancy friendly", practical support for pregnant students to counteract the commonly held notion that pregnancy derails one's education.

The disappointment for me was that very few pro-choice students, and no pro-choice faculty that I could see, came to hear the talk. Foster talked a lot about the polarization of sides around the abortion issue, and how polarization harms and does not help.

Kate Rogers and I had written a letter to The Review, the student newspaper, criticizing the Women's Studies Program for not supporting Foster's talk. As the pre-eminent purveyor of feminism on campus, they should have welcomed a nationally known feminist figure who has worked hard for pro-women legislation that does not directly address abortion but seeks to eliminate root causes that make abortion seem the only choice possible for so many women.

The Review did not print our letter. I heard from one student that the letter was discussed, but that Women's Studies said that they do not sponsor anything on abortion that does not cover both pro-life and pro-choice points of view.

The irony was, Serrin Foster's talk did exactly that.

I have grown bitter, I confess. I feel nothing but anger and disappointment at pro-choice faculty who dominate Women's Studies and the College of Arts and Sciences. I work with these folks, and have been hurt personally by them. I think this has clouded my whole approach. Once upon a time, I had Serrin Foster's attitude that women from all points of view could work together to make abortion unthinkable. She and Feminists for Life have taken that positive attitude and succeeded.

I have lost my innocence as far as trusting in the innate goodness of the other side, which once was my side. Mea culpa, mea culpa, mea maxima culpa. What good fruit can come from my bitterness? Perhaps five years ago, when I tried to bring Serrin Foster on campus, I could have sustained a vision that would have allowed me to approach my colleagues with a belief that they and I shared a mutual care for making things better. That vision of hope is gone within me. The loss of it embitters me. Oremus.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm sorry they disappointed you, again. I'm not familiar with Ms. Foster's work (though I did just read some stuff) -- I'm guessing there's so much suspicion on both sides that it is hard to cross the gulf. Her message is very non-materialist, and these are very materialist, economically threatening times to a lot of folks -- never mind hide-bound, philosophically ossified academics. You are a seeker, and a philosopher and care about the good. Not sure the other turkeys do. Yr friend in Maplewood NJ...