Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Some Tuesday night debate from the Durick Mezzanine

I was going to write my blog post today about Free Cone Day at Ben and Jerry's, and post some lovely pictures of my friends and I making goofy faces in line, but after my study session with a boy from my American National Politics Class, I've had a change of heart. The political environment in this country at present absolutely disgusts me, and I usually post my criticisms on my other blog, but I feel like this topic is relevant to prospective students just to give an idea of the intellectual atmosphere on campus. Saint Michael's is a Catholic college, but we are also a very accepting and politically diverse campus. It is this diversity which allows for discussion to arise between two students studying together for an exam the following morning. The discussion of which I speak has inspired in me a desire to present my case here.

As I sat with the male in question, our discussion of interest groups such as Planned Parenthood developed into a friendly debate over women's rights to healthcare, particularly those to prevent and alleviate unwanted pregnancy. I feel very strongly about this topic, as I once was a naive high school girl and remember clearly the pressures placed on me by society and my personal relationships. What infuriates me is that the people making decisions for teenage girls like myself are affluent politicians, dominantly male, who have never and will never understand what it's like to be a fifteen year old girl. The pressures are immense, and the support systems are inconsistent.
One of the arguments that my counterpart made was that as a taxpayer he should not have to pay for a girl who made a poor decision to receive a treatment that he believes to be unethical (I believe here he referenced a vacuum and made the coinciding sound effect- charming). I had a similar discussion with my mom this weekend, who (less graphically) argued that decisions should be made in concordance with the family or support system. I see her point, and agree that for some girls this is an option.
To a demographic of upper class politicians, it may be hard to conceive that these support systems are lacking. If Sarah Palin had her way, our public schools wouldn't educate young women about safe, self-respecting decisions. Instead, society would leave it up to the parents, who often (not always) don't have these important discussions with their daughters. To a girl who doesn't have access to this information at home or school, options like Planned Parenthood are the only places to go. Associating this organization with abortion as the only method of birth control is not accurate or fair. Centers like these work to educate the public about safe sex and provide the necessary resources.
You may not ethically agree with your tax dollars funding an abortion for a fourteen year old girl who was manipulated into an emotionally abusive relationship by her older boyfriend, but would you rather have those tax dollars funding the protection of that girl when she's kicked out of her house, and supporting her and her child when her baby's father won't pay child support and she has to rely on welfare because she never graduated high school? How many lives could have been saved, socially, if that girl had received the education and support that her situation couldn't provide for her after one simple mistake?
My study buddy stated that avoiding those kind of mistakes is common sense, and if a girl falls victim to such folly then she is clearly stupid. I argued passionately that teenage girls are not stupid, merely naive and often insecure, and apt to fall into difficult situations in an attempt to feel loved; He condescendingly referenced Taylor Swift as one of these malleable teenage girls, and he's exactly right. One of the reasons her music is so wildly popular is because young women can relate to her struggles and desires and tragedies, however trivial. To them, these pressures are not as easily resisted as a twenty year old male might imagine.

This topic is obviously much more heated than Free Cone Day, but its an important discussion that needs to, and does, take place here. If I were to write about how much fun I'm having here, I would be telling the truth- but that's not all I do. I'm engaging every day in intellectual discussions with people who have different beliefs, and at the end of the night I can still say that I respect my counterpart (and I apologize for making him the antagonist of this post- let me instead label him the inspiration). Is St. Mike's a fun place to go to school? Absolutely. It's also a brilliant place to pursue an education, contribute to the community, and learn how to be a student of life.

Good night reader.

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