Women and Fair Housing: Rights You Should Know

fair-housingBy Melissa Myers

The Fair Housing Act makes it illegal for landlords to refuse to rent to credit-worthy women because they have children or plan to have them. However, quite often, women are still denied housing and told the reason is because she has children, or because she is pregnant, or because she is single and doesn’t have a husband to co-sign for her.  Sadly, many women who receive this treatment feel that they have no control over the situation and don’t understand that what has happened is illegal and discriminatory. Not long ago, I was one of those women.

A little over three years ago I was searching for a home to rent for my three kids and me. After touring a house with the landlord, we returned to the kitchen where the application was sitting on the counter top. I told him that I’d like to fill it out while I was there. His reaction was one that I was not expecting. He picked up the application and held it while asking me a series of very personal questions:  “Where is your husband…When will he be signing the application… Why a three bedroom house?” The landlord also made some extremely presumptuous comments that included: “The tenants are responsible for mowing the front and back lawns, and I think that’s going to be too much for you…” and “I don’t know how I feel about a single mom living here…”

I was a bit surprised by the landlord’s line of questioning and comments, but I politely answered his questions and concerns and expressed to him that if he were to run the background check, credit score, and call my references, he would see that there’s no need for concern. He said he’d have to think about it and escorted me to the door.

Needless to say, after this experience I brushed up on some need-to-know information. But it’s unfortunate to think that I’m not the only woman who has had to experience this kind of discrimination. We can’t really control a landlord who is going to be a sexist jerk, but we can educate ourselves about the Fair Housing Act so that we know beforehand what our rights are. Here are some resources that can help:




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Student and Active Mom Joins Women’s Center Staff

Melissa MBy Melissa Myers

Hello, everyone! My name is Melissa Myers, I am a proud mommy of three loving children and entering into my last year here at UMKC. I grew up in a small farming community outside of Strasburg, MO with my younger sister and Grandparents. My children and I spend a lot of time together, playing at home, at the park, and taking random mini field trips. We’re very active in sports with baseball being our main focus. They enjoy coming to campus with me to see what mommy is doing, and to see people of all ages and nationalities working towards their personal educational goals. I really think it helps them to visualize themselves attending college too.

I am in my last year here at UMKC, working on a Liberal Arts degree, with a minor in Environmental Sustainability, and plan on continuing my education further in Environmental Science & Biology. I look forward to helping improve our community’s well-being, helping others improve themselves, and providing the best for my family.

The Women’s Center is a wonderful place to visit, be supported, and be a part of their advocacy in anti-violence and gender equality. The staff here are warm, inviting, and fun! They offer a lot of helpful information and resources for UMKC as well as our community. I feel lucky to be part of the team!

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New Student Assistant Brings Diverse Interests to the Women’s Center

Riham MBy Riham Mohammed

Hello everyone! My name is Riham Mohammed, but I go by Rama because it is easier to pronounce. I am a junior double major student in Electrical and Computer Engineering at University of Missouri – Kansas City. I am Middle Eastern, from Bagdad the capital of Iraq. I speak Arabic, Kurdish and a little bit of Turkish in addition to English of course. I was born in Iraq but was raised in Syria. I moved to the United States in 2011 and I started my journey at UMKC 2 months after I arrived.

Why Engineering and why UMKC? Well, I have always been told that I am great at solving math and physics problems and since I like technology and computers, why not computer engineering? But it happened to be a double major because UMKC didn’t really have a major in computer engineering and hardware, just computer science which focused more on software, which isn’t my interest. So the advisors allowed me to create my own path merging two majors in one, Electrical and Computer engineering.  Unfortunately, this meant double the coursework, so I’ve had to take 6 classes every semester and 3 classes every summer semester for the past 3 years to arrive to where I am right now – Proud!

Things to know about Rama: 1) I am a very enthusiastic family person, my family comes before everything and I love them so much;  2) I have some crazy hobbies like fixing computers or program coding to make our lives easier; 3) I love swimming, listening to music, and everything related to something FUN; 4) I like fashion and make-up, which it might seems hard with my full loaded school schedule and work but I always mange to dress up and feel pretty;  5) I love Italian food and I try as many Italian restaurants as I can when I travel; and 6) I love car racing in my SRT charger!

This is my first week of work at the Women’s Center and it is also my first experience with the work-study program, and it has been fun and exciting so far. I am looking forward to attend events and seeing how the Women’s Center helps women in school and guides them through their journeys.

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Throwback Thursday-

With the already blooming talk of the next presidential candidates, let’s look back to an article written in 2008 during the presidential primary. Hillary Clinton was a top contender against Obama for the democratic nomination- but many contend that media based sexism killed her campaign.

As we gear up for another long and drawn out election fight that is likely to include female prospects- like Hillary Clinton- let’s start these discussions about the treatment of woman in politics- and the treatment of women in the media.

Every night, the news found new individuals to interview over whether or not this country was “ready for a woman president.” What does that even mean?

Jessica Wake of the Huffington Post took a stab at the incredulity of the media coverage during the Clinton Campaign in 2008- coverage that eventually prompted a law suit. http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jessica-wakeman/on-sexist-media-coverage_b_98869.html

Further than Clinton, the coverage over Sarah Palin is also a clear indicator of the lack of the media’s ability to produce quality and equitable news.

At the very least- both Clinton and Palin helped show the American people women in politics, since apparently we have to get used to the idea.

Personally, I am gearing up for the nauseating sexism that will run rampant during the 2016 election. Where Facebook groups like- Hillary Clinton Stop Running For President and Make Me a Sandwich- gain nearly 50,000 followers- 20% who are women. I am gearing up for an election that will continually throw my sex into my face and question my ability to function as a human being because I have a vagina.

I am gearing up for America to show me how little we truly have progressed as a nation.

Maybe I will be pleasantly surprised- but I am not holding out hope.

Am I wrong? Have things changed?

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Was it good for you?

In today’s world, we are swimming in a hook-up culture. Between popular media and busy schedules, this type of “relationship” (also known as casual sex) has replaced traditional dating for today’s generation. Now that 91% pf college students have said they practice this style of dating, it begs some questions. Is this healthy? Is it mutually beneficial?

When the big screen depicts the traditional heterosexual “hook-up” both the male and female rush together in a fit of heated lust and then onlookers see them depicted in post-coital bliss. Is this reality though?

Studies show that a mere 40% of women orgasm during casual sex.

Is this because of the traditional belief that women need emotional connection with an intimate partner in order to feel turned-on?

Looking at the prevalence of “hook-up culture” this idea seems most unlikely.

Writer Danica Johnson at Everyday Feminism offers some insight on this phenomena. She argues that the enveloping culture surrounding hook-ups offers a male-centered view of sex that often leaves women less than thrilled. Is there still a benefit to hooking-up for women? Read the complete article here for more:


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Throwback Thursday

Crossing the Line cover

In November of 2011, the American Association of University Women conducted a comprehensive survey with a national sample of students grades 7-12. The report offers the most comprehensive research on sexual harassment to date in these ages and reveals some sobering statistics about the prevalence of sexual harassment and the negative impact it has on students’ education.

The report concludes with concrete recommendations and promising practices for preventing sexual harassment. The recommendations are directed at school administrators, educators, parents, students, and community members. The AAUW hopes to inspire readers to take action to help stop this unfortunate epidemic.

Click the link here to download the full report or executive summary as well as additional resources.



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The dating world is a tough feat for singles out there. Online dating can be a web of falsehoods, while meeting others at work- or in a bar doesn’t offer much success either. The world is a tough feat for cis, able-bodied heterosexuals. But what if you don’t meet that mold?

In a world where identities outside the “norm” already face an uphill battle against society, the dating realm can leave many asking the question: am I loveworthy?

Read the story of Andy, a trans woman trying to find love. She offers the candid truth about the heartbreak, but she also shows us how everyone deserves a happy ending.


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Throwback Thursday

In case you missed this fantastic video from 2011 for International Women’s Day, take a look! You may never think of James Bond the same again.


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Fat Shaming

By: Amanda Johnson

This country is fanatic over diets and weight-loss schemes. Sure, health and fitness are important. But, how far do we allow this image of the ‘ideal’ body affect not only our views of others, but our views of ourselves?

For me, personally, gaining weight added an entirely new dimension in my life that I wasn’t prepared for:

Fewer clothing options. I can’t shop at most mainline stores. As far as the department stores that carry plus, rest assured it will be made with spandex and have no shape.

Whether I am eating something healthy or something fattening- my choices are scrutinized. “That’s why she’s fat. Look at her eat that burger.” “Salad- are you dieting? I wasn’t prepared for the rude waitress to roll her eyes at me when I requested more sauce, but didn’t do anything when my thin friend requested the same thing.

I was most unprepared for how my health would be perceived and my health care would change. Did you know every symptom, including sinus problems, can somehow be attributed to weight? (sarcasm). I can go to the doctor for a strep test and then be required to do blood work to make sure my blood sugar and cholesterol is acceptable- and the doctors look surprised when my tests come back normal. Nurses look at me in surprise when they find perfect blood pressure.

Skinny does not equal health.

I’ll say it again.

Skinny does not equal health.

We have let our obsessions with weight loss dismantle our values of health and well-being. My body is mine. Don’t make assumptions about my health. Or my fitness level. Or my diet. Don’t assume I am trying to lose weight. Don’t assume I have no confidence in myself. Don’t make assumptions about me.

Stop fat shaming. Stop shaming women’s bodies. Period.

Check out these other great blogs and articles about fat shaming/ body image. They offer a wealth of perspectives that are not often represented. The blog, This Is Thin Privilege offers a multitude of voices from around the world- a definite must read.








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Mind the Gap

By: Amanda Johnson

Since the early 2000′s, many states have been chipping away at the right of choice, creating almost an “underground railroad,”

More abortion restrictions have been passed in the last three years than in the last decade, according to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization.

From 2011 to 2013, a total of 205 abortion restrictions were enacted in the United States. By comparison, only 189 state abortion restrictions went into effect between 2001 and 2010. The report found that now 27 states are “hostile” to abortion, meaning that they have at least four kinds of major restrictions to legal abortion.

About half of the new abortion restrictions enacted in the last three years fall into four categories: targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP), restrictions on abortion coverage in health insurance plans, bans on abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy and limitations on medication abortion. States also passed mandatory ultrasound requirements, mandatory waiting periods before abortions, parental consent laws and requirements that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The recent laws create severe burdens on the ability of clinics to keep their doors open. As of this past August, at least 54 abortion clinics have closed or stopped offering the procedure across the country since 2010 according to The Huffington Post’s nationwide survey of state health departments, abortion clinics and local abortion-focused advocacy groups.

This is widening the already existing gap for low-income women trying to legally access the procedure. 1/3 of women seeking abortion services must travel more than 25 miles. Additionally, abortion can cost as much as one month’s rent. Maybe more. New hurdles such as mandatory waiting periods and additional (and unnecessary) medical procedures pile on more costs for women who already face economic challenges. Now, a “medical abortion,” which requires two doses of a pill, requires a second appointment to be able to take the second pill when in the past women were allowed to do this at home. Abortions, a safe a simple medical procedure, can now require up to four separate appointments. This costs more time and money for individuals, who are unlikely to be able to afford it.

Fortunately for many individuals, volunteers and nonprofit organizations are stepping in to help overcome these new hurdles. In some cases, this involves giving women rides to clinics or putting them in hotels for the duration of their appointments. Unfortunately, more hurdles are yet to come. These newest restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg on a broader assault on a woman’s right to choose. It will take the help of more volunteers to ensure that women still have access to a right protected by the 14th amendment.

See how you can help by checking out these links:




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