SBCC professors discuss human history of reproductive rights

TOVA KIBAL, Channels Staff

City College professors drew a thought-provoking parallel between the human history of reproductive rights and current issues at the Faculty Colloquium at 5:30 p.m Wednesday in the Administration Building Room 211.

‘‘What we’ve seen in the last 10 years, maybe longer than that, is a real kind of attempt to erode reproductive rights,’’ said History Professor Dr. Danielle Swiontek, one of the two speakers.

There was a feeling of excitement in the air when Philosophy Professor Mark McIntire started the night’s event by ringing a small bell and calling the colloquium to order. The first speaker of the night, Anthropology Professor Dr. Phyllisa Eisentraut, talked about the very ancient history of human beings and the transition from hunting and gathering to agriculture.

Swiontek applies Eisentraut’s lecture to a time much closer; the 19th century. The crowd giggles as she shows pictures of a condom from more than a 100 years ago made out of animal intestines and other ancient techniques of birth control.

Slowly the speech took a more serious turn.

Dr. Swiontek goes on by telling the story of how reproductive rights came in the hands of the state instead of the women and links this to the recent policies and issues discussed in current politics.

Questions like why contraception went from being controlled by women to controlled by the state and the future of personal choice with a clear connection to the recent election were raised, and the engaged audience listened attentively.

‘‘This is an issue that should be individual and biological, but lately it’s been used as a political weapon,’’ said Sofia Stefanovic, president of the Feminist Club.

After Swiontek’s speech, a large part of the audience sought a way to get engaged in the issues brought up. The speech had left a feeling of anger and hopelessness in some as questions arose  about how to help and what you can do as an individual.

The idea for the event was put together by Gianluca Cosentino, a member of the honor society Phi Theta Kappa.

‘‘I chose gender inequality because that is a topic that I haven’t seen being talked about a lot on campus,’’ said Gianluca. He believes in the importance of raising awareness about issues to students.

The night was co-sponsored by the Feminist Club and the Associated Student Government. The colloquiums are a monthly event that occur at 5:30p.m. the first Wednesday of every month, covering various different topics and fields.