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MHC Professor: Public Debates Focused on Rape and Abortion Obscure Troubling Downward Trend of Women’s Status in U.S.

Released: 11/1/2012 5:00 PM EDT
Source Newsroom: Mount Holyoke College
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Newswise — The United States has been falling behind in many indicators that measure the status of women in American society, a trend often obscured by the recent controversies about definitions of rape and access to abortion and contraception.

Lynn Morgan, professor of anthropology at Mount Holyoke College, said the women’s issues that have surrounded the 2012 presidential election have largely focused on disputes that would seemingly have been resolved decades ago. The effect, she said, is that people pay less attention to subjects of far more pressing importance, such as infant mortality, women’s representation in electoral politics, and equal pay for equal work.

“We’re not making the advances in health care that we think we are,” Morgan said. “We’re really not doing very well when it comes to the status of women in this country.”

Morgan pointed to data from sources as varied as the U.N. Commission on the Status of Women to the World Economic Forum to support her argument. She cited recently released figures in infant mortality rates which demonstrate that the U.S. is not making the advances "we like to think we are (making).”

“I do think we need to be paying attention to those issues, and to stop kidding ourselves that we’re doing so much better than everyone else, because we’re not,” she added.

Morgan is a specialist in medical anthropology; the anthropology of gender and sexualities; and reproductive governance in Latin America, Central America and the Ecuadorian Andes.

In these videos (right), Morgan discusses a variety of topics surrounding women’s issues and the 2012 presidential election. In them she addresses the status of women in the U.S.; other policies we should be discussing; what’s at stake for women in the outcome of the election; and the issue of access to contraception as it relates to reducing the number of abortions.

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