2011 Gloria Kaufman Memorial Lecture Revisited

Posted on November 17, 2011 by

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Gloria Kaufman was the first faculty member to introduce a Women’s Studies course at IUSB called B250 in the mid-1960s. Not only was it the first course in Women’s Studies at IUSB, but a first for all IU campuses. Today, the Women’s Studies program offers a major and a minor. Yet Kaufman’s lectures were not just for her students. She offered  lessons to the public and many prominent speakers came to campus. Kaufman also founded the Women’s Resource Center on campus and was an affirmative action officer. To read more about Kaufman’s work and a list of previous speakers, visit the Women’s and Gender Studies events page.

Since 2005, IUSB’s Women’s and Gender Studies program hosts the privately funded Gloria Kaufman Memorial Lecture every fall to celebrate her accomplishments. This year, the lecture was another success. Speaker Betty Cockrum, President and CEO of Planned Parenthood of Indiana (PPIN), gave a massive list of facts about the laws and policies that could lead to the defunding of the health care provider. Although Cockrum was speaking on behalf of Planned Parenthood of Indiana, both sides of this issue were represented in the audience during the lecture. There were vast differences between the pro-choice and anti-choice methods of urging voters to take a stance on the issue of defunding PPIN.

I had the wonderful opportunity to spend more time with Betty Cockrum the morning after the Kaufman lecture. She spoke to my Body Politics class in a more intimate setting about the future of reproductive rights for women. She went into great detail about some of the facts and figures she presented the night before. Cockrum knew she would be fighting for abortion rights when she got the job as CEO of PPIN, but never did she realize that she would be fighting for birth control rights. Another topic she spoke briefly on in class was about how the anti-choice supporters stand at the end of her property protesting with large signs while screaming “Betty Cockroach.” I wondered how anyone could sleep at night knowing that  people protesting outside your house hate the job and values you hold. Cockrum responded to questions like this in her interview with Indianapolis Monthly Magazine by explaining,

The only time I considered quitting was when the protesters visited my home the first time. They called me Betty Cockroach.

They must not know that cockroaches survive nuclear war.

The dialogue between pro-choice and anti-choice citizens can get ugly and personal very quickly. Upon exiting Wiekamp Hall after the lecture and Q&A was over, anti-choice activist sported signs that read “Pray for Betty Cockrum.” This caused a few people to quickly speak their piece and walk away. From this, the lecture taught me to find a common ground between those on the opposition. Ask questions that might sound like:

My photo op with Betty Cockrum

  • Do we agree women deserve affordable and safe healthcare?
  • Can we find common ground in believing that females should be free of sexual exploitation?
  • Do we both believe in working to reduce the number of problem pregnancies?

Loads of work needs to be done at all government levels and society as a whole needs to be more educated on this topic. Activism is the best way to take action. To keep up with current events regarding the defunding of services provided by PPIN, set a Google Alert or bookmark Planned Parenthood of Indiana. For another perspective on the information given at the 5th Annual Gloria Kaufman read the IUSB Preface article which gives some more statistics and arguments on the battle of women’s rights to reproductive freedom.

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