How a 19nth Century Invention helped Liberate Women

By Maggie Pool

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling,” Susan B. Anthony told a reporter in 1896. “I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

In 1897, protests lined the streets at the University of Cambridge to object to a vote that would allow women to attend the all-male university. The crowd launched rockets, threw eggs, and hung a stuffed representation of the “New Woman” from a building, later mutilating it in the streets. The feature acutely defining this “New Woman” was her bicycle.

Globally, the bicycle was a hot commodity in the 1890s. Bikes were cheaper and easier to use than a horse, buggy, or car. For someone making around $10 a week, buying a bicycle was an affordable and easy way to get around. So, how did this affect women?

Before the early 1900s, women’s roles didn’t extend beyond maintaining the domestic sphere. They cooked, cleaned, took care of the children, and generally only left the house when escorted by male, usually by a father or husband. This meant women had no involvement in things like business, politics, and education. However, the bicycle boom allowed women to be themselves without being ignored or easily segregated. With the taste of freedom fresh on their lips, women learned what life was really like outside the home. Thus, a new desire for women’s avocation was born.

Outside the home, the bicycle evolved more than women’s roles. It also revolutionized women’s fashion. Imagine trying to ride a bike outfitted in a corset, bustle, and multi-layer full-length skirts? It didn’t work out so well. Although viewed by many as highly scandalous, bloomers, baggy pants sewed into a big skirt, were the new fashion. For the first time, women were showing off their bare legs.

And, of course, the bicycle allowed quick mobilization for the suffragette movement. Alice Hawkins, a leading English suffragette among the city of Leicester went to prison five times for her acts in the Women’s Social and Political Union campaign. Women’s use of bicycles started with Hawkin’s use her own bicycle. She organized bike clubs that helped spread the word about female emancipation. Being able to travel gave her and other women the ability to do widespread canvassing to get their political point across.

Who would’ve thought that an invention as simple as two turning wheels could’ve liberated women more than anything else before?

Introducing Elise, The Women Center’s New Staff Member

By Elise Wantling

Hello all! My name is Elise Wantling, and my pronouns are they/them/their. I am a senior here at UMKC studying political science, with the goal of attending grad school next year either here or at the University of Kansas to get my masters in social work/social welfare. My plan is to become educated in non-profit management, and eventually open my own home for homeless LGBTQ+ youth. I transferred here from KU at the beginning of 2019 because, well, out of state tuition gets expensive after a while when you’re a Missourian studying in Kansas. While I enjoyed my time at KU thoroughly, I am also really enjoying studying here at UMKC! I am glad I found a school in Kansas City that has a strong political science program and an LGBTQ+ friendly campus.

I am excited to work with the Women’s Center to promote equity and equality for all genders. While I do not identify as a woman anymore, I have lived as one for about two decades and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the struggles women face. Being nonbinary, I also have the unique perspective of what it is like living outside the gender binary. I hope to use my unique gender related experiences to be able to help people of all genders live a better life. I am looking forward to blogging, working and planning events, and seeing everyone’s beautiful faces at the Women’s Center.

Join The “I Am Enough!” Photo Campaign

By Kiana Mullins

Body image was one of the many things I struggled with in my high school career.
Over the years, I learned the definition of self-love. I had to learn to love myself first and accept the fact that I am beautiful regardless of how I look. I would look at social media and see so many women and believe they were the definition of beauty because of their body image. Today, I look in the mirror and see I am beautiful enough.

The phrase “I am beautiful enough” means I do not have to strive to show my worth, I do not have to change the way I look, I do not have to be self-sufficient, and it does not mean I am the final product. Being enough does not mean you are changing yourself, but you are being yourself.

On October 23, 2019, I will be coordinating the “I Am Enough” Photo Campaign.
This event will inform people on campus on how to love their body. Participants will be able to take a photo with their board describing why they are enough. This will build confidence in the participants to know they are worth it despite their body image. I am very passionate about the development of this event because I want to reach out to the community to help them understand the importance of positive body image to achieve overall health.

Body positivity means feeling comfortable and confident about your body image and accepting oneself concerning body size and appearance. Negative body talk can be linked to negative health issues. I want this event to intervene with the risk of health issues by promoting resources that are available on campus for students.

We hope you will join us on Wednesday!

When: Wednesday, October 23 from 11 a.m. -1p.m
Where: UMKC Student Union, 5100 Cherry St.

Co-Sponsored by: Campus Recreation and UMKC Counseling Services.

Warner Brother’s Dangerous Dame

“My passions were all gathered together like fingers that made a fist. Drive is considered aggression today; I knew it then as purpose.”

By Maggie Pool

Ruth Elizabeth “Bette” Davis was an American actress on film, television, and theater. With a career spanning over 60 years, Davis is known as one of the greatest actresses in Hollywood history, but she didn’t start off that way. Davis’s first few roles flopped at the box office, and the film executives in charge of her were left wondering what to do. Due to what they considered her “unconventional” beauty, Davis was put into a different box compared to most female Hollywood stars. However, her fierceness, boldness, and unwillingness to give in to “the man” led to her victory against the misogynistic moguls running Hollywood. Eventually, Davis’s talent was realized, harnessed, and triumphantly executed.

During her first audition in Hollywood, Davis arrived at Universal Studios with no one waiting to greet her. It was later found out, a studio employee waited for her but left because he didn’t see anyone that “looked like an actress.” Davis was casted in minor roles, all of which didn’t exploit her abilities because she didn’t fit Universal’s beauty standards. After a year, and six unsuccessful movies, Universal chose not to renew her contract.

Davis’s luck changed. Warner Brother’s film maker, George Arliss chose Davis to lead in the Warner Brothers picture, The Man Who Played God (1932). Warner Bros. He signed her to a five-year contract and remained at the studio for the next 18 years. In 1934, Better Davis was loaned out to RKO Pictures to star in Of Human Bondage. Her role garnered so much praise from critics it eventually led to an uproar when she wasn’t nominated for an Academy Award. Due to the circumstances, the Academy president said, “any voter… may write on the ballot his or her personal choice for the winners.”

This was the only time in Academy history where a candidate not officially nominated was considered for the award. Davis followed up Of Human Bondage with another next breakout role in the movie, Dangerous (1935). A reviewer from Picture Post wrote, “I think Bette Davis would probably have been burned as a witch if she had lived two or three hundred years ago. She gives the curious feeling of being charged with power which can find no ordinary outlet.” *This wasn’t just an issue with Davis.

All the praise in the world could not sway President of Warner Brothers, Jack Warner. For years, Bette Davis insisted on bigger and better roles, but Warner always rejected her pleas*. Due to her displeasure, Davis filed a lawsuit in 1937 against Warner and sought to move to England after being offered two movie deals better suited to her talents, even though this would be in direct violation of her contract. She later admitted in an interview, “I knew that only directors and good scripts could give me a career, I couldn’t do it with the junk.”

Davis lost the lawsuit, but won the war. She began to get parts she yearned for and what movie lovers will remember forever. For five years in a row, Bette Davis was nominated for an Academy Award for Best Actress for her roles in Jezebel (1938)**, Dark Victory (1939), The Letter (1940), The Little Foxes (1941), and Now, Voyager (1942). In a 1988 interview, Davis asserted, “unlike many of her fellow actresses, she had forged a career without the benefit of beauty.” She admitted to being terrified during the beginning of her career, but became tough by necessity. In the end, her unruly toughness won her one of the most memorable performance careers in Hollywood history.

 

Sojourner Truth: A Timeless Women’s Rights Activist

By Skye VanLanduyt

Sojourner Truth escaped from slavery and became a powerful civil and women’s rights activist during the nineteenth century. Truth’s famous speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” will always be one of my favorite woman authored pieces in multi-ethnic literature. Her language is controversial, provocative, and unforgettable. She delivered the speech in 1851 at a Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio.

Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech is meant to be controversial. Her speech criticizes white privilege while calling attention to gender and racial disparity in America. In the second paragraph, Truth exclaims “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted into ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?” Her critique of men’s treatment toward women runs deeper than the issue of men seeing women as submissive. White women may not be treated fairly but black women are not seen by men as women at all. Truth’s writing reveals why it is important to take a step back and realize women’s experience is not entirely universal.

At the end of the same paragraph, Truth compares her worth to a man’s. She boldly exclaims, “I could work as much and eat as much as a man-when I could get it-and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?” I love this line because Truth is challenging her role as a woman comparably with a man. She declares women do not “need to be helped” and should be seen as equal to men because they are able to do the same work. But she also calls attention to racial disparity in a new way. Her assertion, “I could work as much and eat as much as a man” is a powerful punch against the barriers white men put up against her.

As powerful as Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech is, there is a shroud of mystery behind the piece’s publication. Her original speech was transcribed by journalist and audience member, Marius Robinson. Truth and Robinson were “good friends” and reportedly “went over his transcription of her speech before he published it.” A second transcription was published by writer, Frances Gage in 1863 in the New York Independent, a women’s suffrage magazine. Some speculate discrepancies in Gage’s transcription. The phrase, “Ain’t I A Woman” is not found in Robinson’s earlier version of Truth’s speech, nor is there any southern dialect. Although Gage was a feminist, her choice to falsify Truth’s dialect and word choice is counterproductive to the purpose of Truth’s speech. The piece loses its powerful flare and provocative language because Gage’s intended audience is not black. New York’s readership in the 1800’s was predominately white. A powerful black woman’s voice speaking out against white privilege and supremacy would not have received praise before the abolition of slavery.

Despite controversy, Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” continues to reflect America’s history, present, and future. It is a reminder that while so much progress has been made in the fight for women’s equality, so much more still needs to be done.

Pre-Dental Hygiene Student Joins The Women’s Center

By Kiara Coleman

Hi, my name is Kiara Coleman. I am third year Pre-Dental Hygiene student.  I choose UMKC because of its diversity, low cost and commitment to student success.  Along with becoming a Dental Hygienist I would also like to become a business owner. I can be quoted, “I don’t want to be a woman of one career but of many.”  My passion for women’s rights and the injustice against women is what interested me in joining the UMKC Womens Center. Maya Angelou said it best: “each time a woman stands up for herself, she stands up for all women”.

In my free time, I enjoy watching HGTV and hanging out with friends. I am new to Kansas City and am excited to try new things!

Dorothy Arzer : Hollywood’s Most Prominent Woman Director

By Maggie Pool

Director, editor, and screenwriter, Dorothy Arzner is one of the most prolific woman studio directors in the history of American cinema. She was the only woman directing feature-length studio films in Hollywood in the 1930s. Her career spanned from 1919 to 1943. Arzner was one of the few directors to successfully continue their career from the silent era into the era of sound in film.  She worked on a total of 25 films, many of which have received significant attention from feminist film critics and queer theorists. Arzner began her career in the film industry typing scripts for the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, later known as Paramount. After six months, she became the chief editor in charge of film cutting and editing. This led to Arzner’s first “big picture,” cutting and editing Blood and Sand (1922). This was the first film for which she undertook some of the filming.

Eventually, Arzner was entrusted with directing feature films at Paramount, all of which garnered much success. Some of these silent films include: Fashions for Women (1927), Ten Modern Commandments (1927), Get Your Man (1927), and Manhattan Cocktail (1928). Because of her triumphs, Paramount bestowed upon Arzner the directing role for the studio’s first sound film, The Wild Party (1929) starring Clara Bow.

Arzner left Hollywood in the 1940s and was all but forgotten until the 1970s, when feminist film theorists dug up her work, and she was brought to new recognition. Much of Arzner’s legacy lies in feminist critics analyzing her work such as Christopher Strong (1933) and Dance, Girl, Dance (1940). Christopher Strong is about female aviator, Lady Cynthia Darrington (Katharine Hepburn) and Parliament member, Sir Christopher Strong (Colin Clive). The two characters meet at a party and become instantly attracted to one another. Azrner’s direction leads you to believe Lady Darrington is willing to tie down her free spirit for love, but this dramatically changes. Rather than sacrifice her independence for a man, Lady Darrington broke the world record for height achieved in air, and removed her oxygen mask, causing her to lose consciousness and send the plane into a deathly nosedive.

In Dance, Girl, Dance, Arzner explores female stereotypes, such as women being just a “spectacle” for men and are either wrapped up in sexuality, grace, or innocence. The movie centers around two good friends, Judy and Bubbles who are both dancers. While Bubbles uses her good looks and sassy personality (sexuality) to get jobs, Judy is a dedicated ballerina (grace and innocence) and finds it more difficult to succeed in her chosen profession. Arzner’s Christopher Strong and Dance, Girl, Dance showcase the challenges women face while pursuing their passions and careers.  It is for this reason, that Arzner’s work as a female pioneer in the early ages of Hollywood has become an important area of film.

 

Domestic Violence Awarness Month

By Skye VanLanduyt

Domestic Violence Awareness Month originated from “Day Of Unity” created by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) in 1981. The hope was to engage people in conversation on ways to end violence against women and children. Day of Unity expanded to a weeklong event of activities held by local, state, and national organizations. In 1987, the first National Domestic Violence toll-free hotline was established in the U.S and in 1989, Congress passed Public Law 101-112 mak ing the month of October officially known as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The United States Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a serious violent crime that includes both physical and emotional abuse. Many victims suffer in silence, afraid to seek help, or not knowing where to turn.” To seek help or learn more about what the Department of Justice is doing to ensure protections are being put into place, please visit https://www.justice.gov/ovw/blog/october-domestic-violence-awareness-month.

This month, the UMKC Women’s Center and the UMKC Violence Prevention & Response Program is hosting several events on campus to promote domestic violence awareness. On Wednesday, the UMKC Women’s Center hosted a socially engaged art project, I Can We Can, Day Of Action. Students created shrink art to help expand efforts to end violence around UMKC’s campus. The event was co-sponsored by A Window Between Worlds and UMKC Violence Prevention & Response Program. If you missed out on Wednesday’s empowering event or want to get more involved in the fight against domestic violence, the UMKC ViolencePrevention & Response Program is hosting several events this month…

  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month Information Table. Wed, Oct. 9, 11:00a.m.-1:00p.m., Atterbury Student Success Center, 5000 Holmes St. Stop by our table to learn about the history of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Raise your hand to take a stand by tracing your hand to show your support for ending violence against women. The hands will be used on display boards to exhibit that UMKC stands with victims of domestic violence. Co-sponsored by UMKC Counseling Services.
  • I’m Anti-Violence Campaign. Mon, Oct. 14, 11:00 a.m.-1:00p.m., Miller Nichols Learning Center Lobby, 800 E. 51st St. This program is a photo campaign to show support for ending violence against LGBTQ+ individuals and coincides with LGBT History Month. Individuals on campus will be asked to take a stand against violence. This is displayed by taking a picture of the individual with a white board that states, “I’m Anti Violence and pro…” Each individual writes what they are pro. Photos will then be used on social media sites and on display boards to demonstrate that UMKC is anti-violence. Co-sponsored by LGBTQIA Programs and Services.
  • Empty Chair Campaign during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Mon, Oct. 14 – Fri, Nov. 1, Miller Nichols Library, 800 E. 51st St.; Atterbury Student Success Center, 5000 Holmes St.; Oak Residence Hall, 5051 Oak St.; Administrative Center, 5115 Oak St.; Student Union, 5100 Cherry St. Each day, members of our community miss class or work because they are facing domestic violence. Check out the displays in the above locations to see how violence affects our campus community.
  • Red Flag Day. Tues, Oct. 22, 11:00 a.m.-5:00p.m., Information table from 11:00am-1:00p.m., The Quad, 52nd and Rockhill Rd. Stop by our table and learn what red flags in abusive relationships look like. Then, create a red flag to stick in the grass on the quad so others also learn to recognize red flags in abusive relationships.
  • White Ribbon Day during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Wed, Oct. 30, 11:00 a.m.-1:00p.m., Royall Hall – First Floor Lobby, 800 E. 52nd St. Stop by our table to sign a large white ribbon to show solidarity with victims of violence against women and to show public support for ending violence against women.Then spread the word on social media by using #umkcwhiteribbon. Co-sponsored by UMKC Counseling Services.

“The University of Missouri – Kansas City is committed to affording equal employment and educational opportunities to all members of our campus community and to creating an environment free from discrimination, including sex discrimination in all its forms: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking on the Basis of Sex, Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence, and Sexual Exploitation.”

To find help for you or a loved one, please visit:

National Hotline: 1-800-799-7233
UMKC Counseling: (816) 235-1635
UMKC Campus Police: (816) 235-5501
UMKC Title IX

 

The First Woman to Make Feminism Fashionable

By Maggie Pool

“If you always do what interests you, at least one person is pleased.”
-Katharine Hepburn

Hollywood Actress, Katharine Hepburn will always be remembered for her fierce and fiery performances in film. After all, she still holds the record for the most Academy Awards (in either gender) for acting*. However, Hepburn is not solely known for her ability to perform. She curated what is considered the “modern woman” of the 20th century by separating herself from several of society’s conformities, like evading the Hollywood publicity machine, wearing trousers before it was fashionable or acceptable for women, and living independently for the rest of her life after being married for six years.

Hepburn was born in Hartford, Connecticut in 1907 to Thomas Norval Hepburn and Katharine Martha Houghton. Her famous rebellious spirit was inevitable. Her father established the New England Social Hygiene Association, which worked to enlighten the public on venereal disease while her mother advocated for women’s rights. Hepburn joined her mother for many women’s suffrage demonstrations, and for a time, dressed as a tomboy, cut her hair short, and called herself “Jimmy.” From a young age, Hepburn frequented the movies every Saturday night and put on plays for her neighbors, friends, and siblings for 50 cents a ticket**. Katharine continued acting in college and found success on Broadway. Raving reviews led to her led to her recognition in Hollywood. When Katharine hit the big screen, she didn’t shed her revolutionary values to please anybody. She remained uninterested in publicity (for most of her life). On one occasion, she snatched a camera out of a reporter’s hand for taking pictures without permission.

Her never-ending aggressive energy wasn’t subverted when it came to the standards of women’s fashion. In the 1930s, women’s fashion had not felt the effects of World War II. It was still possible for a woman to be arrested and detained on the charge of “masquerading as men” if they were caught wearing slacks in public. In an attempt to force Hepburn to wear a skirt, RKO Pictures stole her blue jeans from her dressing room while she was on set. However, instead of succumbing, Hepburn paraded around in her underwear. Her jeans were soon returned. She went on to star in, Christopher Strong (1933), The Philadelphia Story (1939), Women of the Year (1942), and Adam’s Rib (1949).

Despite the backlash and oppression Hepburn faced, she lived out her beliefs never altering to conformity. To this day, she is an important cultural icon of American history who continues to influence and empower women.

Many paid tribute to Hepburn when the actress passed away in 2003:

“Confident, intelligent and witty, four-time Oscar winner Katharine Hepburn defied convention throughout her professional and personal life … Hepburn provided an image of an assertive woman whom [females] could watch and learn from.” – Horton and Simmons

“What she brought us was a new kind of heroin—modern and independent. She was beautiful, but she did not rely on that.” – Jeanine Basinger

 

Why I Choose Not To Wear Makeup

By Anonymous

After I graduated from high school, I made the decision to stop wearing makeup. I vividly remember looking at myself in the mirror without makeup and being scared to really look at my own reflection. It was only until I had on makeup for the day that I could look at myself without cringing. I knew in the moment, this was not okay. On one hand, I generally enjoyed makeup, but on the other hand, I realized I had been using it as a crutch to keep myself from truly loving my physical appearance. So, I made the choice not to wear makeup for a while. I wanted to get to the place where I would be able to wear makeup in a way that added to what I hoped would become my already existing self-confidence.

Flash forward two years later, and here I am, still not wearing makeup. After getting over the initial hurdle of desperately wanting to cover every imperfection I perceived, I realized I was so much more at peace with my personal confidence when I forgoed makeup altogether. It was amazing to feel truly comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life. However, I was confronted daily by many feminist issues surrounding the modern conversation about makeup. The first difficult crossroad I came to was whether or not I should wear makeup to a job interview. I was so paranoid if I did not wear any makeup, my potential employer would perceive me as lazy, tired, unkempt, etc. Nearly every woman that wears makeup has experienced the slew of “concerns” people have for their well-being if they go a day without it.

Among other women, I noticed some speculated I choose not to wear makeup as an attack on their freedom to enjoy the artistry and enhancement of makeup. Others envied the freedom I had in my workplace to wear makeup, or not wear it. I had a close friend at the time, who was required to wear a full face of makeup as a part of her dress code. Her male coworkers could wear makeup but it was by no means a requirement. At the heart of the issue, perpetuating all of the trickle-down effects that follow, is the media and many men make something like makeup into a requirement, indication of character, standard of beauty, etc.

My decision to stop wearing makeup was not a politically charged act of defiance. It was a choice made as a personal step toward being at peace with my physical appearance. But those around me, for better or for worse, often box me into having an agenda. All of this has opened my eyes to the larger issues about this topic. I made the conscious choice going into that job interview to not wear makeup and risk the negative opinions someone might have of me. In the interview, I had to ask “Is it okay that I do not wear any makeup?” Their response was ‘Yes, of course” but there was hesitation.

I made the conscious choice to not work anywhere where I might feel pressured to wear makeup. But I still love the artistry of makeup. I love the talent other people have, and I appreciate the passion others have for it. I encourage the women around me to present their face to the world in whatever way makes them feel the most confident.