Lecture addresses women in politics

Mariah Anderson

Michelle Bernard, an attorney, author and political analyst, touched on bipartisanship, the importance of women’s voices in government, the possibility of Hillary Clinton running for president and other issues in her lecture at the Memorial Union on Tuesday night.

Bernard, who often serves as a legal and political analyst on MSNBC, continually stressed the importance of women continuing to run for public office and run until they win.

“We need more women’s voices and we need them running at the national level,” Bernard said.

Bernard also addressed sexism in the media, especially as it is related to female politicians. She touched on body shaming, fashion policing and stereotyping in the media. Bernard suggested that anyone who disagrees with how women are portrayed in the media should first “vote with their remote control,” or refuse to give viewership to programs that portray women in a way they find sexist, and second, always call out instances of sexism.

With the 2016 presidential race approaching, Hillary Clinton, who is expected to announce her candidacy, was a hot topic, both in Bernard’s speech and in the following question and answer session. Bernard expects Clinton to run, and said she believes Clinton should announce her campaign in Iowa. While Bernard said she does not consider herself to be on the “Hillary bandwagon,” she said she felt Clinton is ready to run.

Megan Danielson, junior in advertising and communications studies, expressed appreciation for Bernard addressing campus rape, an issue Danielson said she believes to be very important to ISU students. Bernard said campus rape was a “horrific crime.”

Kat Hemken, junior in public service and administration in agriculture, said she was glad Bernard brought up how women govern differently than men, but wished she would have gone more in-depth.

Bernard mentioned how women in Washington have recently been doing a lot of bipartisan work, especially on the topics of military rape and immigration rights, by reaching across the aisle and finding common ground. Hemken said she’d done a lot of reading on the subject, and thinks Bernard missed some important points.

Bernard remained optimistic about the present and future of women in politics and said she “[chooses] to look at it as the glass half-full.”

“We are moving forward and not looking back, Bernard said.”

Bernard’s lecture was part of the Carrie Chapman Catt Center’s Mary Louise Smith Chair, which brings prominent women leaders to the university once or twice a year to speak about politics.