Pridefest or Protest

Photo credit: Julie Missbutterflies, “LGBTQIA Pride- Rennes-2017” via Flickr

By Caroline Turner

Kansas City celebrated Pridefest during the first week of June, but LGBTQIA+ communities have been continuing the festivities and activism around the nation and around the world throughout the entire month.

In KC, the three day festival at Berkeley Riverfront Park featured headlining musicians Betty Who, Citizen Jane, Well Strung and more. The celebration also featured many local business and vendors, volleyball, workshops, food trucks, and a Ferris wheel.

While reflecting on Pride Month, I came across the article by BuzzFeed questioning, “Should Pride Be A Party Or A Protest?” The article points out both trials and tribulations that the LGBTQIA+ community are going through, focusing on how Pride events have shifted since its beginning in New York 1970, which marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The author points out tension between the rising shift in the Pride movement being, “less explicitly about rising up against oppression and more about joy, visibility, affirmation and celebration in face of that oppression.” For some who feel their battle is not yet won, this presents a conflict. Some want to march to demand their rights and some want a party to celebrate their rights.

Themes of minority and majority come out within the tension, as the movement is made up of many people and groups. In the article, senior director of Casa Ruby, a well-known bilingual multicultural LGBT Organization said, “(There are) lots of folds in the community who don’t feel particularly represented.”

Whether people are protesting or partying, the main consensus seemed to be that as long as people are showing up that’s what matters. Showing representation of the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole is powerful. Get out there and enjoy the rest of pride month everyone!

The Struggle

Photo credit: via Flickr, “Struggle” by photographer: Sam Cox

By Caroline Turner

The 12th Annual Women of Color Leadership Conference at UMKC last Friday sold out. It featured keynote speaker Angela Rye and focused on the theme, “United and Strong: Rising through the struggle”.

“The struggle” is a broad word that can be defined at large as the struggle that we all face day to day, our “daily struggles”. For some, the daily struggle can come from situations at work, school, relationships, clumsy hands, forgetful minds, or malfunctioning technology. But for some, the daily struggle is one that is experienced with people on the subway, institutions, personal narratives, glass ceilings and ol’boy club doors, stemming from a deep rooted history.

I am currently reading, Between the World and Me by Ta-Nehisi Coates, a marvelous book wherein Coates narrates his history to his son, and delves in the mysteries of race. In the book he explains that his son, Samori, was named after Samori Ture, an Emperor of the Wassoulou Empire who resisted the French until his capture. Coates says, “The Struggle is in your name, Samori.” Keeping in mind the experiences and truths of a young black person in the USA that Coates opens up and passes to his son (and to the reader), I can’t help but connect it to this year’s Women of Color Leadership Conference theme.

The struggle that only a woman, a person of color, a woman in leadership, and the combination a woman of color in leadership all face, are unique and real. A diamond in the rough, the flower that breaks through the cold concrete, is what the keynote speaker Angela Rye represents as she rises above and then challenges the struggle as a young black political strategist, activist, and CEO by spreading seeds to others. Understanding what the concrete surrounding us is made of is part of our mission. For women, the cement can begin from being told what we can or cannot do as children, identifying and reacting to injustice as adults, and what lies between and beyond. We are all striving to be our best flower blossoming as big and beautiful as possible, having our diamond light shine bright in the sparkling eyes of all others. This year’s Conference theme reminds us there is strength in numbers and unity, and the help of others is essential and necessary for us to rise through the struggle. As Coates emphasizes in his book, we do not rise alone. There are many along our journey that help us to rise.

This week, if you have a moment to reflect, do not lose sight of your focus. Do not forget what your struggle is for. Remember that, “United and strong, we are rising through the struggle.”

Angela Rye: Modern Day Angela Davis

By Caroline Turner

The keynote speaker for this year’s 12th Annual Women of Color Leadership Conference is Angela Rye, a political powerhouse who is being called “TV’s Wokest Bae.” Named after the legend Angela Davis, she has been living up to the movement of being the change. Angela’s continuous work has been connecting the public with politics, and growing the ever evolving sphere of politics and leadership towards one of equity.

Angela is deeply rooted in political leadership and has a very impressive history with political activism and education. A graduate of University of Washington and Seattle University School of Law, she is now the co-founder, Principal, and CEO of IMPACT Strategies, “an organization that seeks to encourage young professionals in three core areas: economic empowerment, civic engagement, and political involvement.” She has been featured in many publications and outlets as an influential politico, lawyer, and advocate. Angela serves on a number of boards including the Congressional Black Caucus Institute, and the Seattle University School of Law Alumni, and is a member of many groups including the National Bar Association, and has won 21 distinctive awards from 2010-2015. Catch her on CNN as a regular commentator, and read more about her history on her website.

Angela continues to speak at events and on media outlets, reaching local and national audiences. Her conversations are crucial to help new upcoming leaders, and help educate and advocate awareness of the issues that we face in our government and institutions today.

New Summer Intern at Women’s Center

By Caroline Turner

Hello! My name is Caroline Turner and I am the new intern at the UMKC Women’s Center! I am super excited about this opportunity, and am looking forward to the next couple months of taking over the blog and social media for the Women’s Center and sharing with you my fascinating discoveries and new information. I will be a senior this fall majoring in Journalism and minoring in Anthropology. I lived on campus my first year at UMKC and was a Peer Mentor for the Univ. 101 course my sophomore year. I think UMKC is an awesome place to be. Throughout my college experience, I became acquainted with more of the services offered here at UMKC. There are tons of resources and support for students and community here, and I am happy to be a part of the Women’s Center to help shed light and spread awareness on topics relating to women. I was drawn to the Women’s Center’s passionate mission for equality, advocacy, and education for the advancement of women’s lives. I look forward to learning more about different issues that women face and how they/we overcome them, and also interacting with this community of amazing women. Outside of my studies, I have many hobbies such as yoga, physical activity, dancing, veganism, music, art, spirituality, reading, and discovering new thought provoking information. Look out for what the Women’s Center is doing this summer, and stay on top of what’s happening with Women in K.C. and around the world with me!

Two Months of Change

by Ann Varner

Two months ago, I started working at the UMKC Women’s Center. I had no idea how much I was going to learn in such a short period of time. I knew that I supported feminism and I wanted to do more than support. I wanted to become educated and to use that education in my everyday life.

UMKC Women’s Center staff members Ann Varner (left) and Zaquoya Rogers (right). 

One of the first things I learned was to embrace my body and stop being so hard on myself. For the first time in a long time, my confidence slowly built up. When that happened, I started to look forward to getting up in the morning and putting together my outfits, jewelry, and makeup. With positive reinforcement from my friends and coworkers, my confidence continued to climb. I learned I enjoy participating in healing arts projects, even though I consider myself artistically challenged.  During sexual assault awareness month (April), I learned about Denim Day, as well as the documentary Audrie and Daisy. I had heard of rape culture before, but now not only am I educated about it, it’s something I’m passionate to fight against. Most importantly, I am finding myself thinking feminist thoughts and have been surrounding myself with sources to continue to learn. Looking back, these two months have taught me so much and already have started to change me for the better. I can’t wait to find out what will happen in the next semester.


My Favorite Feminist Shows on Netflix

by Matiara Huff

What a time it is to be a feminist! Depressing things are happening

By Netflix Inc. [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

left and right, but at least TV is getting better. If you haven’t been keeping up, here is a current list of my favorite feminist shows on Netflix to spend your summer on.

13 Reasons Why (Trigger warning: suicide, sexual assault, rape) – This is an interesting, but sad story about a girl that committed suicide and left tapes behind detailing all the reasons why she did it. This show humanizes depression and sexual assault; it makes you realize just how close the two could be to you.

Grace and Frankie– This show is a gem! Frankie may be my favorite character ever. This show is about two women whose husbands fall in love with each other and get married later in life. The two women become best friends through the hilarious journey.

The OA– This is a sci-fi series about a group of people that are kidnapped by a scientist and learn how to use magic to escape.

Jessica Jones – This one is a little older than the rest, but if you have yet to watch it, she is a superhero.  Jones is an incredibly strong, complex character and her worst enemy is an interesting character.

Orange is the New Black– Is also an older one, but season 5 comes out on June 9! If you don’t already know, this show is about a women’s prison and the stories of some of the inmates.

Sense 8– This show is perfection to me. The newest season came out on May 5. Though I have yet to watch it, I am sure it’s just as great as the first season. This show is about eight different people in completely different parts of the world who suddenly gain the ability to read each other’s minds and switch bodies.

Chewing Gum– The show follows a 24-year-old shop assistant who is a restricted, religious virgin, who wants to have sex and learn more about the world.

Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt– The series follows 29-year-old Kimmy Schmidt as she adjusts to life in New York City after her rescue from a doomsday cult in Indiana where she and three other women were held by Reverend Richard Wayne Gary Wayne for 15 years. Determined to be seen as something other than a victim and armed only with a positive attitude, Kimmy decides to restart her life by moving to New York City.

Crazy Ex-Girlfriend– This show is a complete deconstruction of the title. It is meant to destroy the crazy ex-girlfriend stereotype, while also addressing some of the stereotypes of mental health, and staying a hilarious sitcom.

Crazyhead– It about two teenage girls that kill vampires. It’s a great show that passes the Bechdel test, but it is meant for a younger audience.

Scandal– This show will always have an honorary place in lists like these. It was one of the pioneers for feminist TV as we know it today.

How to Get Away with Murder – Also has an honorary place on this list for the ceilings it broke.

Thea says Goodbye

Today is my last day at the UMKC Women’s Center, as tomorrow, I will be walking across the stage in my cap and gown. The last four years at UMKC have truly taught me the meaning of a bittersweet goodbye. I couldn’t be more excited for the future, yet saying goodbye to this campus is one of the hardest things I’ve had to do.

The Women’s Center has played an integral role in my development here at UMKC. Working here has shown me how much I can learn being surrounded by smart and dedicated women. I’ve been able to learn by the examples of my superiors and my peers. Just being here exposed me to new feminist literature, new ideas, and new ways of imposing gender equity in the world around me. I plan to use feminism as a tool for success in the future. I’ve learned to use my voice, to lean in, and to never underestimate my worth. I’ve learned not to scale back my goals to make other people comfortable. I’ve learned making other people uncomfortable is necessary for change.

To anyone who is considering working or volunteering for the Women’s Center, do it. You’ll learn more than you think you could, even if you already believe you’re an expert. You’ll make friends. You’ll have fun. You’ll make a difference.

If you attend UMKC and receive federal work-study, apply here through the Roo Career Network.

If you would like to volunteer, apply here.

Your Summer Body

by Thea Voutiritsas

Summer is just around the corner. In KC, that means the sweltering, dog breath days of summer are upon us. For some, that means breaking out the daisy dukes and spaghetti straps; and for others, it means doing laundry three times a day and sticking with light fabrics and colors. No matter how you choose to beat the heat, remember that your summer body is simply your body in the summer.

Summertime doesn’t mean you, or anyone else should to shed a few pounds. You don’t have to wear skin bearing clothes if you don’t want to. The most important thing is to wear what makes you comfortable, and what makes you feel confident. Here’s a list of things you should actually worry about this summer:

  1. Sun protection: Protecting your skin from damaging rays can curb your chances at cancer. Wearing sunscreen higher than SPF 15, or wearing hats to protect your face from the sun can help. Wearing lightweight clothing that covers your forearms or legs can be helpful too. Plus keeping your skin shaded will help keep you cool.
  2. Hydration: If your spending long spans of time out in the heat, you’ll need to replenish your body. Staying hydrated by drinking plenty of water can help prevent heatstroke.
  3. Bug prevention: avoiding mosquitoes seems to be easier for some than others. If you find yourself getting bit frequently, wear a bug spray or repellent to protect yourself from excess itching and even disease. Additionally, avoid sweet and flowery perfumes that may actually attract bees and other bugs.
  4. Water safety: When venturing into deep waters, wear a life jacket with the right fit. Whether out on a lake or in the ocean, even the best of swimmers can get cramps or fatigue. When in shallow water, be sure to take breaks and have ample wait time after eating before reentering the water.

Regardless of what you choose to wear, protecting your body year-round will help keep you happy. We hope you find these tips helpful, and have a wonderful and safe summer!

Hot Girls [still] Wanted

by Thea Voutiritsas

Actress, author, producer, singer and screenwriter Rashida Jones is back at it with her crew on another Hot Girls Wanted, but this time, it’s a series. In 2015, Jones produced the documentary film, which examines the role of teenage girls in pornographic films. Film was picked up by Netflix after it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in May 2015. The film was reviewed as

“…an intimate and ultimately harrowing peek inside the world of amateur porn…” – Geoff Berkshire, Variety

The new Hot Girls Wanted is a six-part documentary series titled Hot Girls Wanted: Turned On, which was released April 21 of this year. Over the course of six episodes, the filmmakers demystify deep corners of the porn industry, as well as take a broader look at how technology plays a role in sex and relationships. The docu-series avoids passing judgement on sex workers and porn consumers (something that viewers were heavily critical of in the previous film). It’s more of a candid look at technology and sex. Technology has heightened our access and ability to watch, or even engage in sex, but it has not helped to progress our national conversation around sex.

In an interview with Refinery 29, Jones stated,

“…I think it’s dangerous to declare anything as the road to female empowerment, period. Some girls are really self-possessed, and they know what they’re doing, and they love sex, and they’ve always wanted to do it, and they’re camming and they have control over what they’re doing. And then some girls are just not built for it. But I think there’s a pressure to feel like you should be empowered by it. And not everybody is. It’s different for everyone.”

In the end, what Jones wants to accomplish with the docu-series is to show people that there is room for discussion, conversation and representation with your partner, your friends, and with yourself. She says for women, there are a lot of themes about empowerment, and asking yourself: What makes you feel comfortable? What makes you feel power?

The documentary and the series are both available on Netflix now.

Reflecting on Rape Culture

by Matiara Huff

Last week, we celebrated Denim Day by raising awareness about rape culture at UMKC, complete with a denim display and information about rape culture. But if this topic is new to you or you just don’t know how to talk about it

March Against Rape Culture and Gender Inequality – 2

yet, here is a video by Kat Blaque explaining what rape culture is. #StayWoke

When I first learned about rape culture, I was so overwhelmed. Though I knew that sexual violence was a very important aspect of feminism, I didn’t quite realize the severity of this situation until I learned about rape culture. At first, I kind of felt like it was all just a waste of time. That rape culture was too deeply embedded into the global society, that there was no way to change it. But there is. It’s as simple as educating yourself. Because the discussion about sexual violence is changing, people are realizing how often offenders are getting away with their crimes, and that begins with educating ourselves. Rape Culture is not a necessary part of our society. We can and we will change it.