For the majority of students, this November will be their first opportunity to vote for our next commander in chief. And, for the first time in American history we have a female candidate in a major political party.
With perfect timing, Coffee and Culture invited Dr. Kelly Wilz, a women’s studies professor from the University of Wisconsin-Marshfield/Wood County, to speak at their first presentation earlier this month.
The topic of the evening was on sexism in the 2016 election. The sexism in American politics extends beyond how we view and treat women. Men are also set with certain masculine standards.
The turnout was much more than expected, so much so that they ran out of coffee and tables.
Wilz outlined her assessment of this election by using statistics, videos, and anecdotes. Her main points were that women in politics are held at a much higher standard than their male counterparts and men are often forced to be a strong manly leader or else they seem weak.
The media can be critical when Barack Obama cries in a speech or Hillary Clinton starts to get upset. Also the proportion of male to female CEO’s in large companies, as well as in STEM fields, is appalling.
After Wilz’s presentation, I was able to talk to her and ask what, if anything, would help fix the gender gap in leadership roles in America.
“School can be more encouraging to young women and promote leadership roles in the classroom to start emerging interests,” Wilz said. “Just being aware and acknowledging that these issues exist is really important. In the future when all of the college students now have children or with their nieces they can talk politics with them and not just about trivial classically girly talk,”
While some students only came out because their professors offered extra credit, there was still a lot of excitement in the audience. I caught up with Franklin Faleta, freshman political science and psychology major, afterwards to hear what his initial reaction was.
“I was already pretty familiar with the subject, but as always Kelly Wilz presented the subject matter in a deeper and more relevant tone that I don’t think is common enough in our society,” Faleta said. “I believe there is a large sum of individuals, predominantly males, who still don’t recognize issues like rape culture and hyper masculinity as the epidemics they are.”
When asking Franklin what he thinks we can do to make a difference he said, “Say something when you see or hear something. Basically be a part of the solution, not the problem.”
The number one thing promoted by Coffee and Culture was to be there with an open mind and to be willing to hear new ideas and perspectives that might challenge what you already think.
As the election gets closer and closer the topic of sexism will only be at the forefront of discussion.
Samantha Barnum, junior communications major, runs the Coffee and Culture program and was very pleased with the turnout.
Barnum said, “There are many other events this fall that go beyond politics.”
Coming up soon on Wednesday, Oct. 19 at 6 p.m. in the Laird Room is Bryan Richmond. The title of his presentation is “Church, Sex, and Chainsaws: Gender and Religion in Horror Films.”
Other topics include a student panel on disabilities plus more speakers on different cultures. The student body at UW-Stevens Point seems to be thirsty for learning and for a cup of coffee.