The Fetishization of Lesbians and Bisexual Women

by Morgan Paul

            Recently I’ve seen a lot of blogs/arguments/articles saying that lesbians and bisexual women are more accepted than the rest of the queer community, but clearly these are not written by queer women. I find it crucial that we first separate acceptance from fetishization. Their sexuality is not accepted, they are instead seen as objects that are simply putting on a show for the enjoyment of those watching (specifically straight men). Fetishization reduces these women to things that are only wanted for consumption by a privileged group. Of course when I’m talking about lesbians I’m focusing on femme lesbians. Most straight men have no interest in watching masculine women; those are the “real lesbians”.

Image from Creative Commons Search

Image from Creative Commons Search

Femme lesbians on the other hand are seen as a challenge for men to “convert”. I’ve heard many men say things like “She just hasn’t had the good D” or “She’s never even been with a man”. To this I always ask if they’ve been with a man and the men get very defensive and tell me that they don’t need to try it because they know they’re straight. (It’s actually really funny to see how defensive a man gets when he feels like his masculinity is being challenged.)

This illustrates how they don’t see these women as human beings capable of making their own decisions but instead as helpless creatures that need to be taught. And what about the way that femme lesbians and bi-sexual women are ignored within the queer community? I’ve been told by many people that because I’m in a heterosexual relationship then I’m straight; they obviously don’t understand sexuality…at all. Because a woman doesn’t look like the stereotype of a lesbian woman does not mean that she’s any less gay, and if a woman likes men and women, she’s not any less queer. Stop telling people what they “really” are, they’re people and they shouldn’t have to take your shit.

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Denim Day

by Maritza Gordillo

Denim day is coming soon on April 23 and we ask for everyone to make a social statement by wearing jeans that day! This is a visible means of protest against misconceptions surrounding sexual assault. This event is part of our monthly programs for April because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

image provided by denimdayusa.org

image provided by denimdayusa.org

To give you a reason why you should participate, here is a little history of Denim Day: In the late 1990’s, an 18 year old girl was raped by her 45 year old driving instructor in Italy. She pressed charges and the perpetrator was prosecuted and sentenced to jail. Some time later, he appealed the sentence and the case was taken to the Italian Supreme Court. The judge dismissed the case by stating that “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.” Women in Italy were furious about the verdict and wore jeans as means of protest against this case. This movement spread throughout the world and in 1999, the first Denim Day was born in LA and has continued ever since.

Come by our table on April 23, 2014 from 11am-1pm in the Quad (52nd & Rockhill Rd) to make a statement against sexual assault by participating in decorating a pair of jeans and by wearing them that day too. See you there!

Posted in Denim Day, Feminism, Gender Issues, Maritza Gordillo, Sexual Assault, Sexual Assault Awareness | Leave a comment

Are you Ready to Walk!?

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Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® is an event that asks men to walk a mile in women’s high heeled shoes. By doing so, it gives men a better understanding of women’s experiences, decreasing the potential for gender violence.

The Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® organization was created in 2001 by Frank Baird. This international mens march, one that started out as a small group of men “daring to totter” around a park, has grown to become a world-wide movement with tens of thousands of men raising millions of dollars for local rape crisis centers, domestic violence shelters, and other violence education, prevention, and remediation programs.

The 2014 UMKC Walk A Mile in Her Shoes® will be held on Thursday, May 1, at 5:30p.m., at the University Playhouse. All funds raised will  benefit the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project.

To register for the walk, become a sponsor, or make a donation, please click here.

Registration Fees:

  • $15 – Student with own shoes ($5 tax-deductible);
  • $20 – Student with Women’s Center shoes ($0 tax-deductible)
  • $30 – Non-student with own shoes ($20 tax-deductible)
  • $50 – Non-student with Women’s Center shoes ($30 tax-deductible)
  • $ 7 – Meal only ($0 tax-deductible)

(fees for walkers include a t-shirt and meal.)

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Equal Pay Day – April 8th!

In case you haven’t heard, tomorrow is Equal Pay Day! The Women’s Center will be outside of Royall (or inside, if the weather doesn’t allow) giving away pizza. Women will get two slices and men will get one in IMG_8092order to demonstrate the disparity between men and women’s pay. A white woman will make $.77 to a man’s $1.00 (and black and Latina women will make even less).

The United States Department of Labor – Women’s Bureau, AAUW, and UMKC Career Services will be joining us from 11:00AM – 1:00PM, Tuesday, April 7, 2014. Come check out our tables and learn how you can make a difference in this important issue!

And if you have time, be sure to check out the Equal Pay Workshop at the Miller Nichols Learning Center, room 151: Wednesday, April 16, 2014 from 3:00PM – 5:00PM.

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The Vagina Monologues

V-Day is one of many great movements aimed at ending violence against women and girls,

Image from Creative Commons Search.

Image from Creative Commons Search.

 

but the biggest problem with any movement is getting people interested. Of course people recognize that it’s a good cause but they don’t want to just give out money, people want to be engaged. The Vagina Monologues does just that.

I’m not the type of person to watch anything twice, but I have seen UMKC’s benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues the past two years and it affected me different each time. The monologues are so powerful and give insight into lives other than our own. The performers really become the characters and tell (what seems like) their own stories. When I saw the performance last year I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect, I’m not sure anyone knows what to expect their first time. But it exceeded any expectations I thought I had. I was laughing and crying and really feeling for all of the characters. I had never heard people talk so openly about abuse and I certainly never thought I could talk to anyone about mine. Yet in a small basement theatre surrounded by strangers I finally felt safe. This was a turning point in my recovery. Then I saw the monologues again.

A lot had changed in the year between and I honestly didn’t think that seeing the same show would help me anymore, I was so wrong. The experience was an entirely new one. I was now a part of the organization putting on the performance as well as the community attending. I looked around the audience and saw familiar faces and new friends. I walked through the aisles with a confidence that I did not possess the year prior. And when I listened to the monologues I heard different meaning. I didn’t feel sorry for the women who had been abused, I was proud of them. I was grateful that these women were comfortable sharing their stories and I was inspired because if they could survive then so could I.

I plan on seeing The Vagina Monologues every year and I encourage others to do the same. It isn’t some action movie where you get tired of the plot, it is an emotional experience that inspires women and draws the community together. It educates women about their resources and lets them know that they are not alone, and there is nothing more important than knowing that you don’t have to go through it alone. Women are strong and resilient and we will rise.

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What’s your favorite position?

Picture from Google Search through Creative Commons

Picture from Google Search through Creative Commons

by Maritza Gordillo

In this interesting article from the website Elite Daily, it explains how the famous Lauren Conrad was asked during a radio interview what her favorite position was and in turn responded with a 3 letter word, “CEO.” Her response was so empowering because she did not let herself be demeaned as a woman by answering such a question that only perceives woman as objects. Yet she responded in a way that, in my opinion, left the person who asked pretty embarrassed. Conrad challenged the stereotypes of what a woman should act like and be.

 

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A Woman’s Worth

by Ayomide Aruwajoye

“Cause a real man knows a real woman when he sees her
And a real woman knows a real man ain’t afraid to please her
And a real woman knows a real man always comes first
And a real man just can’t deny a woman’s worth”

Alicia Keys – Woman’s Worth

I’m not sure if you have heard this song, but to all women and men, I feel like this is one of those songs that must be heard. This is a song that I grew up knowing. Everybody, especially the girls in my grade during elementary school, knew this song. I’m positive that we didn’t have a clue what this song meant since we were not yet in the dating stage, but since our mothers let us sing it around the house and we didn’t get in trouble at school for singing the song, we concluded that it was a good song.

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As I got older, especially when I was old enough to drive, I blasted this song in my car for months. It was my anthem. I loved the beat, her voice, but most of all the meaning of the song. A woman’s worth is more than two words put together that sounds pretty. A woman’s worth is something that all women are born with, and it places a status on how we should be treated.

Without knowing your worth you lack the motivation to be treated how you should be treated. A woman’s worth reminds you that you should not be getting paid less than men, rape is not something that is asked for regardless of the clothes you wear. Women shouldn’t go through sexual harassment, domestic violence, and basically that women should be treated right.

In the past, women did not know their worth and were told not to go to school and stay home to cook, clean, and take care of kids, they agreed to these things because they didn’t believe in themselves and their abilities. They were constantly being talked down to by men and I’m sure they had very low confidence levels.

This is why I believe all women should KNOW their worth. The way you feel about yourself can take you a long way. If it’s already established that you will not be treated less than a man, or called out your name, it’s more likely that people will respect that about you but also the fact that you won’t accept it makes you such a strong person.

There’s a saying, “it’s not what you are called it’s what you answer to!” this quote has a lot to do with the “knowing your worth” phenomenon. Young females today address themselves as Bitches and other disrespectful words. They sing along to songs that emotionally and physical attack females in a disgraceful way and think it is okay. For me, being a young adult in college is figuring out what my worth is and requiring to be treated that way or better, especially in my relationships.

The first step is figuring out what your worth is and how you want to be treated. Second step will be actually requiring to be treated exactly how you want to be. Third and final step would be realizing that your worth as a woman is undefinable, you are beautiful, smart, strong intelligent woman and nobody should treat you less than that because like Alicia Keys said, “You will lose if you choose to refuse to put her first. She will and she can find a man who knows her worth!”

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Skirts or Pants? How About Both

by Mara Gibson

When I first considered writing on the topic of gender in “classical” composition, I wondered how I could possibly have anything new to say. Then, my colleagues challenged me. Why not? As a consequence, I have read about the role of gender in popular music, punk misogyny, and photography and discussed analogies between film and composition with a number of friends and colleagues. I have conversed with my closest collaborators, both male and female. I have started asking deeper questions, and in doing so, confronting why this issue is so challenging for me.

In graduate school, I consciously disassociated being female with being a composer. In fact, I took that even further and came to the conclusion that being a composer was in direct conflict with what I knew as a teacher, as a student, and as an artist. While I was coming to realize that my work coupled with my teaching style reflected a theme of synergy and convergence, I perceived a dichotomy in trying to fuse my various roles. I am sure some of this can be simply attributed to youth, but also, I believe we have been part of a transformation, where our generation is realizing a gradual shift in the way we view the artist.

Generally, we are coming to accept a more multidimensional role for an artist in the 21st century. Being an entrepreneur, musician, and teacher (and/or any number of other occupations) are all equally important. As Claire Chase said in her 2013 Bienen School of Music convocation address, “You can’t really separate the act of creating music, even very old music, from entrepreneurship.” She examined how entrepreneurship manifests in our time by providing countless examples of how we assume multiple roles: the artist as collaborator, the artist as producer, the artist as organizer, the artist as educator, and the list goes on. The resounding message delivered is that there is no clear roadmap. She inspires her young audience to “blow the ceiling off anything resembling a limitation.” I try to remind myself of this mantra every day; however, it is not always easy.

From my vantage point, the “guru” mentality is an accurate snapshot of the history of the composer/composition teacher relationship. In graduate school, I was encouraged to ignore the gender bias, which at the time was probably for the best in order to preserve my identity; however, this is not the same advice I offer to my students. I want to talk openly and non-judgmentally with them about the inherent challenges of being female and a composer alongside being a composition teacher and entrepreneur. More importantly, I want begin to identify why and how we have fallen into patterns of behavior that support the status quo. We have far too many resources at hand in the 21st century for female composers/teachers/organizers not to have more visible role models.

As women, by and large, we have been taught to view ourselves as made up of independent spheres, separating our profession from our gender, and from our craft. One challenge is to allow and encourage our various roles to operate and shape us in tandem, rather than in silos. For me, this involves accepting that being a good composer is being a good teacher, and that composing is my lifelong lesson. These two essential parts of who I am should not, and cannot, be in conflict. Whether it is teaching and composing, or composing and being a mother, or doing any number of things that we as composers in the 21st century must do to survive, we all deserve the opportunity to merge our identities and define ourselves in our own unique way. Granted, I am primarily coming from the perspective of a female in academia, but I suspect that the challenge of balancing multiple and often simultaneously demanding roles is consistent for female composers in general.

Recent publications about the relationship of women to the field of composition present numerous heartening viewpoints. Amy Beth Kirsten’s “The Woman Composer is Dead” (2012) offers many valuable observations. Kristin Kuster’s “Taking Off My Pants” challenges us to embrace who we are, while maintaining respect for our craft. And Ellen McSweeny’s “The Power List” offers concrete solutions to incite change. These three articles in particular illustrate exactly how much we need to talk about this pervasive issue, so I assigned these articles to students. Their reactions ranged from, “I’m saddened” to “…a women could never have composed Beethoven’s Ninth or Rachmaninoff’s Second Piano Concerto…women need to stop having hissy fits about it.”

The teacher in me desperately wanted to understand these reactions, so I researched and looked to the visual art community for answers. As Linda Nochlin probes in her famous 1971 essay, “Why Have There Been No Great Women Artists?”:

“Why have there been no great women artists?” …like so many other so-called questions involved in the feminist “controversy,” it falsifies the nature of the issue at the same time that it insidiously supplies its own answer: “There are no great women artists because women are incapable of greatness.”

Power structures have long operated along gendered presumptions like the one above. Certainly, all artists struggle to balance both creative and personal life challenges—this has become part of the romantic “plight” of being an artist—but I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that for me, this quandary was further complicated by sex and gender. As women, we are pulled in directions that are conflicted, both due to social pressures and the biological constraints of childbearing during key career-building years. Culturally, we are expected to respond in “feminine,” frequently subservient ways, but to follow the modernist trend, as composers we are expected to provide answers.

repetition-nineteen-iii-1968

Repetition Nineteen III by Eva Hesse.

I agree with Eva Hesse that “excellence has no gender.” But how exactly do we begin to tell that story? Visibility is imperative for role models to succeed.

I also relate to Lucy Lippard, who writes, “Of course art has no gender, but artists do.”

So then, the question is: does being a “female” composer make a difference to being a good composer?

In confronting the question solely in the realm of being a good composer, the answer is inequitably no. There are countless examples of superb, successful, living female composers. However, when confronted with being a good composer, alongside being a good mother, and (for me) a good teacher, it becomes more difficult to quantify.

Nochlin answers the women-artist question sensibly:

What is important is that women face up to the reality of their history and of their present situation, without making excuses or puffing mediocrity. Disadvantage may indeed be an excuse; it is not, however, an intellectual position. Rather, using as a vantage point their situation as underdogs in the realm of grandeur, and outsiders in that of ideology, women can reveal institutional and intellectual weaknesses in general, and, at the same time that they destroy false consciousness, take part in the creation of institutions in which clear thought—and true greatness—are challenges open to anyone, man or woman, courageous enough to take the necessary risk, the leap into the unknown.

As creative artists, we are students forever; otherwise, we would not have chosen such an infinite language to study. And frequently we have to act like a teacher, student, and artist simultaneously. Whether it is building music, art collaborations, schools, teaching, or learning, we create materials, build forms architecturally, and communicate those ideas creatively. Remember, maestro, male or female, as artists, we are inherently collaborators.

Gaining a broad perspective through all of the roles we must play has provided a critical lesson for me. Beyond social construction and convention, judgment, joy and anger, we must confront the abyss and challenge, question, and listen. And, above all, we should celebrate being female, and choose to wear pants or skirts as we see fit.


This blog was originally posted to New Music Box.–

Composer Mara Gibson is originally from Charlottesville, Virginia, graduated from Bennington College and completed her Ph.D. at SUNY Buffalo. She attended London College of Music; L’Ecole des Beaux-Arts, Fontainebleau, France; and the International Music Institute at Darmstadt, Germany. She has received grants and honors from the American Composers Forum, the Banff Center, Louisiana Division of the Arts, ArtsKC, Meet the Composer, the Kansas Arts Commission, the National Endowment for the Arts, the International Bass Society, ASCAP, and the John Henrick Memorial Foundation.

Internationally renowned ensembles and soloists have performed her music throughout the United States, Canada, South America, Asia, and Europe. Recent projects include a world premiere of D(u)o in three movements, a residency in Norway funded through the Trondheim Arts Council including a premiere performance of Fanfare, and a premiere of E:Tip with Madeleine Shapiro made possible through an Encore Award. During Summer 2009, Mara was an Artist-in-Residence at Silpakorn University, Bangkok, Thailand where she returned again during Summer 2011 in Chiang Mai.

Recent and upcoming projects include a new work for duo Contour based in Freiburg, Germany, as well as several newly commissioned works for the Pangea Piano Project, and Chicago-based violist Michael Hall which was premiered in conjunction with the installation of Roxy Paine’s FERMENT at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in April 2010. In 2011-12, she will complete these projects while teaching at the UMKC Conservatory and leading the Conservatory’s Community Music and Dance Academy as director. She is also founder, UMKC Composition Workshop for Young Composers and co-director/founder of ArtSounds.

Email Dr. Mara Gibson at gibsonmb@umkc.edu.

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Pens for Her

By Maritza Gordillo

As I was browsing through upworthy.com, I came across a video from Ellen DeGeneres. I love her show because it is humorous, but I especially love her sarcasm when it came to standing up for women as she talks about the new product the company BIC came out with; Pens for Her. She criticizes the fact that this company wanted her to promote a product that is totally sexist; c’mon, Ellen is a feminist! The product describes that these pens are made to fit a woman’s hand and they come in woman colors like pink and purple and because of this they are more expensive (even double the price). Watch the video and laugh at this absurd, sexist product, but more importantly share it with others to bring consciousness of how ridiculous our society has become.

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Top 10 Scholarship Opportunities for Women Returning to College

by Robert Morris

The great goals in life are not usually achieved by following a straight path. As far as educational dreams are concerned, many people have decided to drop out of college due to various reasons. Luckily, everyone can return to school and get a scholarship that will help them get on the right track without the need to spend a small fortune on education. In the continuation, we will list 10 available scholarships for women who have decided to return to college.

1. AARP Foundation Women’s Scholarship Program

This foundation is a known and trusted resource that provides many opportunities for women over the age of 50. The goal of this scholarship is to open the doors to employment for low-income women. AARP’s program funds skills upgrades, training, and education that increase women’s financial security.

2. Soroptimist Women’s Opportunity awards

This program is meant to offer assistance to women who are providing the main financial support for their families. The organization provides three $10,000 awards on international level; region-level awards of $5,000 or $3,000; and local-level awards with varying award amounts. Women who are interested in this program must apply through this organization’s local branch.

3. Shirley Holden Helberg Grants for the Mature Women

This program is provided by the National League of American Pen Women (NLAPW), which provides three scholarships of $1,000 to inspire women to continue their education in the creative fields of Letters, Art, and Music. This scholarship is intended for women at and above 35 years of age.

4. SWE Scholarships

The Society of Women Engineers provides scholarships for women interested in pursuing an engineering degree. Two of these scholarships are specifically aimed at women who are returning to college. The BK Krenzer Memorial and the Olive Lynn Salembier scholarship support women who are re-entering school to complete their degrees in engineering, and offer $2,000 and $1,500 respectively.

5. EWI Adult Students in Scholastic Transition (ASIST) Scholarship

Executive Women International (EWI) provides twelve annual scholarships of $2,000 for non-traditional students who are facing physical, social, or economic challenges. The students interested in the scholarship need to be at least 18 years old, and are required to apply through a local chapter of EWI.

6. Linda Lael Miller Scholarship

Besides pleasing many women with her contemporary and historical romance novels, the bestselling author Linda Lael Miller also provides them with encouragement to pursue their educational goals. This scholarship awards a total of $10,000 for applicants at or above 25 years of age.

7. Emerge Scholarships

This organization’s goal is to empower women through education. Its mission is specifically targeted at women whose education was somehow interrupted, but have overcome the obstacles and are giving in return to their communities. Emerge awards ten different annual scholarships, ranging from $2,000 to $5,000. The program is also intended for women of at least 25 years of age.

8. Jeannette Rankin Scholarship for Women

Jeannette Rankin was the first women elected to serve in the Congress of the United States. This scholarship is provided in her honor, celebrating women with a positive vision of the improvements they can make for the community, their family and themselves by educating themselves. The program is aimed at low-income women who are at least 35 years old.

9. P.E.O. Program for Continuing Education

The Philanthropic Educational Organization provides one-time grants of maximum $3,000 to outstanding women whose lives can be greatly improved by returning to school. In order to be eligible for the scholarship, the applicant must have been a non-student for a minimum of 24 consecutive months. The applicants are also required to be sponsored by a P.E.O.chapter.

10. Talbots Women’s Scholarship Program

Talbots provides one Nancy Talbots Scholarship Award of $30,000, as well as thirty awards of $5,000. The program in honor of Nancy Talbot has an aim to celebrate women who demonstrate entrepreneurial spirit.

Conclusion

With so many opportunities supporting women who wish to return to school, there are no more excuses for pursuing educational goals. These scholarships can completely change your life, so don’t hold back and make sure to send your applications in time!

Robert Morris is writer and researcher based in New York. Now he works as professional dissertation writer at NinjaEssays.com, custom writing service. Robert focuses on social and economic policy as part of the Economic Growth Program at the New America Foundation. In the three years he partnered with numerous publishers and universities and grew business globally. You can find NinjaEssays on FacebookGoogle+ and Twitter!

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