5 Tips for Managing Stress During Finals

by Thea Voutiritsas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Okay, maybe not. High stakes and heavy books can be hard to handle, but don’t let finals week get you down! We’ve compiled a quick list of ways to help keep your stress level under control, so you can end your semester with a bang, not a fizzle… or a mental breakdown.

  1. Exercise – Short exercise breaks can relieve stress, help you socialize, and burn off extra sugar you may be consuming. It’ll also help you focus, and release endorphins to improve your mood. It can be hard to make time for it when you’re busy studying, but I like to listen to audiobooks of what I’m studying, or you can rest a book on a bike or a treadmill. If you’re really short on time, even a walk around the block can help clear your head.
  2. Breathe– That should be obvious, but it’s so easy we often forget to do it at all. When you’re feeling especially overwhelmed, just take a deep breath until you can’t fill your lungs anymore, then exhale with gusto! Make a noise! Just let it out. It seems silly, but sometimes just 4-5 seconds to slow the thoughts running through your head can help. Maybe just don’t do this during a test.
  3. Sleep – It’s easier said than done. Studying before bed can help with retention, but staying up all night studying only dulls your short-term memory. You’re better off studying earlier and getting a good night’s rest.
  4. Hydrate – It’s tempting to stick with caffeine when you’re in a rush and short on sleep, but it dehydrates you in the long run. Match what you’re drinking in coffee with water. You may need a lot of bathroom breaks, but your mind will be clearer, and your body will thank you.
  5. Eat nutritious meals and snacks – Don’t just settle for the quickest bite to eat when you’re in a hurry. Stick with healthy snacks with natural sugars to keep your mind clear and your blood sugar even. The last thing you need is a major crash. Plus, Monday, May 8 through Friday, May 12, the Women’s Center will be providing free snacks! You can find our baskets at the Women’s Center in 105 Haag Hall, the 3rd Atrium in Flarsheim Hall, 1st floor lounge of Block Heritage Hall, and the 2nd Floor of the Health Sciences Library on Hospital Hill!

Audrie and Daisy: Let’s talk about rape and the pursuit of justice

By Ann Varner


Audrie and Daisy is a documentary that aired on Netflix. The film examines the ripple effects on families, friends, schools and communities when two underage women find that sexual assault crimes against them have been caught on camera.  Both Audrie and Daisy tried to get justice. Both of them were slut shamed and had backlash so badly that one of the girls, Audrie, committed suicide. Daisy went to the police, and the rapist was arrested and charged.

Suddenly, he was set free. The prosecutor decided that there just “wasn’t enough evidence”. Daisy and her family suffered severe backlash because of it, to the point that they had to move after members of the town burned their house down. When Audrie was sexually assaulted, the boys took a picture of her. That picture was sent around the school and posted on social media. Instead of her peers noticing that something was wrong with the picture, she was called many slut-related names as she tried to find out who had taken the picture. The bullying was so bad she committed suicide only a week later.

Rapes are underreported crimes due to this rape culture and slut shaming. Victims of rape are so scared of the retaliation that could happen that they would rather not seek justice so they don’t end up like Audrie or Daisy. The biggest misconception is the notion that women are raped because of something they did, like wearing jeans too tight, getting drunk at a party, and so on. I wrote about this in my last blog about our upcoming denim day.

Daisy will be coming to UMKC for a discussion panel on Thursday, April 27th at 6:00pm in the Student Union Theater. I encourage anyone and everyone to come and hear her speak and ask questions. The only way to end this cycle of rape culture and shaming is to talk about these issues.


What Normalizes Violence in our Culture?

by Thea Voutiritsas

In the U.S., April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). Though sexual assault seems like a clear no-no, our culture

SAAM 2017

enforces social norms that condone violence and negative power relations. Sexual assault is more than a person jumping out of the bushes; its any type of unwanted sexual contact, ranging from sexist attitudes and actions to rape and murder.

Rape and sexual assault are a consequence of the power differential between men and women. Rape doesn’t happen just because one person chooses to rape another. Rape happens because there are attitudes and norms that allow it to happen. We live in a society that normalizes violence, using power over others, traditional constructs of masculinity, the subjugation of women, and silence about violence and abuse. These normalized behaviors are part of rape culture.

Rape culture is about the way we collectively think about rape as a society. Evidence of rape culture can be found in popular music, where “blurred lines” are just part of courtship, and no doesn’t really mean no. It is seen when a woman is blamed for getting drunk, or when a woman is asked “What were you wearing?” We see rape culture when women are told to prevent themselves from being raped, but men are not told not to rape. We see it in jokes that equate raping to winning video games or competitions. We see it when men are told to “wear the pants” in a relationship. We see it when men with multiple partners are “Casanovas,” yet women with multiple partners are “sluts.” We see it in entire categories of porn dedicated to harming or defeating women.

SAAM in April is an opportunity for us to check our thinking patterns. Ask yourself: What do I do, say, allow, or ignore that may contribute to rape culture? And what can I do to change that?

Join Us for Denim Day on April 26!

By Ann Varner

Do you have any old denim that you’re ready to get rid of, or that you want to put to a good cause? Because today is the last day to donate! Items can be brought to the Violence Prevention and Response Office in 108B Haag Hall, or to the Oak Street or Hospital Hilly Residence Hall Lobbies. The denim donated will be used to make art for Denim Day, April 26th, 2017. You may be asking yourself what denim day and why it is important. April is sexual violence awareness month, and Denim Day is a campaign about sexual violence prevention and education.

In Rome in 1992, a woman was raped by her driving instructor. The man was convicted and sentenced. However, the Italian Supreme Court overturned the conviction in 1998 because the victim wore tight jeans. In their minds, because her jeans were so tight, clearly she had to have helped the man remove them, which means she must have consented. Visit the Denim Day website for more information on the case, and the activism surrounding it.

This ruling sparked outrage across the world, as it should.  Now, on April 26th, women are encouraged to wear jeans of all kinds to say “Yes, we are wearing jeans. No, that doesn’t mean you can rape me”. There are many misconceptions about rape.

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One of the biggest misconceptions being that a woman is “asking for it” because of the clothes she’s wearing. In the end, NO means NO. It doesn’t matter what a woman is wearing; it doesn’t matter if she’s been flirting with a man all night; it doesn’t matter if she went to a man’s house. If she says no, it means no.

Stand with us on denim day and show that as women, we can wear whatever we please.

Denim Drive is open NOW!

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by Thea Voutiritsas

Stop by the Violence Prevention & Response office (Haag Hall 108B) by April 21st to donate denim to be used as a canvas for artwork! You may also donate denim at the Oak Street Residence Hall and the Hospital Hill Residence hall. On Denim Day USA, April 26th, participants will be able to make art with the donated denim to raise awareness about rape culture and sexual assault.

Denim Day is a rape prevention education campaign. We are asking our UMKC community to wear denim on April 26th to make a social statement against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault. The campaign was originally triggered by a ruling by the Italian Supreme Court. In 1992, a rape conviction was overturned because the justices felt that since the victim was wearing tight jeans, she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. The following day, the women in the Italian Parliament came to work wearing jeans in solidarity with the victim. Peace Over Violence developed the Denim Day campaign in response to this case and the activism surrounding it.

This event is cosponsored by UMKC Violence Prevention & Response, UMKC Women’s Center, and UMKC Residential Life.

Is Google Underpaying Female Employees?

by Thea Voutiritsas

The US Labor Department accused Google of underpaying their female employees compared to males. Silicon Valley isn’t exactly known for its pay equity compliance. Tech company Oracle, data analytics Company Palantir, and Microsoft have all been sued for pay discrepancy issues.

Google has been releasing their own diversity statistics since 2014, though they don’t necessarily prove that the company is diverse. Last year, 31 percent of their workforce were women, 19 percent of tech workers were women, and only 3 percent were Latina and 2 percent were black.

Google denies the charge that there is a gender pay gap in their company, claiming on Twitter that they have “closed the gender pay gap globally, and also provide equal pay across races in the U.S., according to [Google’s] annual compensation analysis.” In response to US Labor Department’s accusation, Google claimed that their remuneration calculations are gender “blind.” Each year, they suggest an amount for every employee’s new compensation based on role, job level, job location and performance.

By Google Inc. (google.com) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Though Google’s systematic approach to paying employees seems blind at face value, pay equity is far more complicated than whether the salary negotiators know the employee’s gender. That fact that Google’s analysis shows no pay gap, while the US Labor Department’s showed an extreme gap proves just how difficult it is to measure the pay gap to begin with.

While Google’s efforts seem to be transparent, an important thing to note is whether both studies take into account the amount of women in high-paying positions. Just because there may be no pay discrepancy between a woman and her coworker, doesn’t mean that there isn’t a discrepancy between what it takes for a woman to get promoted versus her male counterpart. If men are moving up the chain of command faster than women, then a pay discrepancy cannot be accurately measured against her counterparts.

At the same time, the numbers of women in STEAM careers is relatively low compared to men, which may account for other aspects of the wage gap measured at Google, and all over Silicon Valley. So, while Google may be paying the women that actually do work there the same wages as their male counterparts, they may not be hiring nearly as many women as they do men. This could be due to unconscious biases, or due to a lack of women in STEAM in general.

It’s highly unlikely that Google, as a company, has explicitly decided to promote men more than women, or to pay men more than women. Rather, this may be a symptom of the more insidious was that gender biases can penetrate the workplace. It is easier to perceive men as qualified leaders and innovators because it is what many people in the US are just used to seeing. Whether employers know that they may carry these biases is another story. What we should realize here is that Google isn’t necessarily the bad guy, but the inequities they may incubate are a symptom of a larger cultural problem of inequality.

British Singer NAO brings ‘Wonky Funk’ to life

by Zaquoya Rogers

Talk about #blackWOMANmagic! Nao, a black British singer raised in East London, has been all the buzz in her hometown. She started singing in high school, training the choir with their harmonies. Later, she attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study vocal jazz. She then become a backup singer, but opportunity arose one night at a nightclub. A manager discovered her that night and she later released her first song in October 2014.

Since then, many labels have reach out to Nao to get her to sign, but this queen chose to start her own record label called Little Tokyo. Her unique sound blends with off-center pop-funk, electronic and R&B. Many say her “silvery voice glimmers like tinsel but lands like steel.” Nao calls her own sound “wonky-funk,” coining the term. Her debut album, For All We Know, was released in July 2016 and earned a Brit Nomination for Best Female Solo Artist.

The Grapevine talks Black Feminism

by Zaquoya Rogers

Many African Americans identify themselves as feminist, but what does that mean without intersectionality? Not only are black women fighting against sexism, but racism as well. Often the the two bleed into one another.  Feminism tends to leave out issues that are also affect women with different races, religions and sexualities. The Grapevine is a discussion panel that talks about various issues in the black community and I came across their two part discussion on Black Feminism. You can find the rest of their videos on YouTube, tackling topics like relationships, politics, and the Oscars.

Don’t Miss Dress for Success!

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by Thea Voutiritsas

Dressing for interviews can be a daunting task. Before you even say a word to the interviewer, you’ve already made an impression through your clothing. We’re just one week away from Dress for Success! Join us April 13th from 12 – 1 p.m. in the Miller Nichols Library, Room 325. Learn what to wear and what not to wear in the office and for interviews at this discussion. We will also talk about sources for low or no-cost interview wear. Lunch will be provided. Please RSVP by April 7, to 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu. Sponsored by the Women in STEAM program.

LGBTQIA Pride Month Lecture featuring Angelica Ross

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by Thea Voutiritsas

Join us Wednesday, April 12th at 6pm in the UMKC Pierson Auditorium for the LGBTQIA Pride Month Lecture featuring Angelica Ross!  Miss Ross is a leading figure of success and strength in the movement for trans and racial equality. She is the founder of TransTech Social Enterprises, a company that empowers trans and gender nonconforming people through on-the-job training in leadership and workplace skills. TransTech helps people lift themselves out of poverty and brings economic empowerment to marginalized communities. She was awarded the 2016 Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award for her work. She is also played a breakout role as Paige in the Emmy nominated 2015 film Her Story, which provides a look at the successful women who have been overturning conventions in their surroundings.

This lecture is free of charge. RSVP at http://umkclgbtqia.eventbrite.com

Cosponsored in partnership with the Division of Diversity & Inclusion; UMKC Women’s Center; UMKC Multicultural Student Affairs; UMKC LGBTQUIA Programs and Services; UMKC Pride Alliance; UMKC LGBTQIA Affairs Council; UMKC Trans+