Ma Vie en Rose

By Mia Lukic

I recently watched a movie entitled “Ma Vie en Rose” or “My Life in Pink”. The 1997 film follows Ludo, a young transgender girl in a time and place where being trans wasPhoto of pink high heels not understood nor accepted. Ludo understands the world and her situation through her favorite children’s show “Le Monde de Pam” or “Pam’s World”. The show takes place in a bright colored fantastical world where people can fly and the magic of imagination controls all. Ludo figures that when God was tossing X and Y chromosomes out of the sky to determine a baby’s gender, the second X that would have given Ludo the female sex at birth must have gotten blown away in the wind. Unfortunately, the adults in Ludo’s life and her peers do not think Ludo’s situation is nearly as simple. She is forced to dress like a boy and labelled as gay, also a huge taboo in the film, when she says she wants to marry a boy in her class. Life for Ludo and her family gets very complicated and difficult as Ludo refuses to stop wearing dresses and expressing herself as the young girl she is. A great movie, available to watch on Amazon, “Ma Vie en Rose” brings up many important conversations.

When the movie was first released in the United States it was given an rating of “R”, for having “adult themes” and IMDB cites “brief strong language” for the rating. All of the streaming services the movie is currently on, have it listed as an R rated movie. I am by no means an expert on the rating process, but as someone who has seen many movies, I can confidently say from my experiences that the movie does not compare to other R rated movies I have seen.

Mental Floss explains that the organization Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has a division called Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) that focuses on giving ratings. These ratings used to be controlled by the Hays Code, a code meant to control the morals of films, created by a Jesuit priest. The code, influenced by the morals of one religion, was used to evaluate films created by and featuring people of all religions and backgrounds. Today, CARA is “funded through fees paid directly to them by producers and production companies to have their films reviewed; their methods have been questioned by industry professionals and movie-lovers alike” (Mental Floss).

Currently the R rating is as follows:

“R—“Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian… May include adult themes, adult activity (author’s note: stuff it’s not legal for kids to do), hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements… Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.”

Ma Vie en Rose has no drugs, no nudity, no intense violence, the language is very brief and is subjectively not “hard”, but that word is very vague and open to interpretation.

PG (formerly M, then GP)—“Parental Guidance Suggested. Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children… The more mature themes in some PG-rated motion pictures may call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity and some depictions of violence or brief nudity… There is no drug use content.”

When we take a look at the PG rating it not only allows for “some profanity”, which matches IMDB’s description and my analysis, it allows for “brief violence and brief nudity”, which the film does not have. I would like to stress that I am not an expert but when comparing the ratings and their breakdowns to the movie, something does not add up. The transphobia and over sexualization of the vary topics of gender identity and sexuality seem to outweigh the written breakdowns of the ratings and logic itself. Children deserve to see films with representation of a variety of people and trans children need to be a topic that we can talk about openly without sexualizing them or making it into a taboo. Trans girls deserve to not only imagine but live their lives in pink.

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/57664/how-do-movies-get-their-ratings

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119590/

 

Caregiving and Mental Health

By Mia Lukic

According to Women’s Health, more than 1 in 5 women in the United States had a mental health condition in the past year. Depression and anxiety are some of the more well-known conditions, but there are many conditions that only (or disproportionately more often) affect women and people who menstruate. These include but are not limited to: caregiver stress, insomnia, menopause, premenstrual dysphoric disorder (PMDD), and premenstrual syndrome (PMS).

A caregiver is someone who provides unpaid care for another adult with an illness or disability. Most caregivers are women, and 60% of caregivers also work a paid job in addition to their caregiving. (Women’s Health). Caregiver stress is a term that encompasses the immense stress and strain being a caregiver has on one’s mental health. Being responsible for another adult, sometimes in addition to children and other family members, work, and yourself can be incredibly difficult. It is important to remember that we put on our own masks before helping others on an airplane, and a similar approach is vital to mental health. We cannot be much help to others if we do not take care of ourselves first.

25% of women have insomnia symptoms, and it is much more common in older women than any other group (Women’s Health). Insomnia can be primary, meaning it is the disorder or problem. It can also be secondary, meaning it is a symptom of other conditions or medications. But why do women experience insomnia at greater proportions? Women’s Health explains it is due to the menstrual cycle.

The changes in hormones that women and other people who menstruate experience can cause insomnia. Menopause, pregnancy, and PMS/PMDD all cause physical and emotional pain and mood swings which make sleep difficult if not impossible. Sleep is crucial to mental health and the brain’s ability to rest and rejuvenate.

PMS is a series of symptoms that occur before a person’s menstrual cycle, that causes physical pain in addition to :

  • Feeling tired
  • Irritability or hostile behavior
  • Sleep problems (sleeping too much or too little)
  • Trouble with concentration or memory
  • Tension or anxiety
  • Depression, feelings of sadness, or crying spells
  • Mood swings
  • Less interest in sex

PMDD is a more severe form of PMS can in addition to physical pain causes:

  • Lasting irritability or anger that may affect other people
  • Feelings of sadness or despair, or even thoughts of suicide
  • Feelings of tension or anxiety
  • Panic attacks
  • Mood swings or crying often
  • Lack of interest in daily activities and relationships
  • Trouble thinking or focusing
  • Tiredness or low energy
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Feeling out of control

Panic attacks, anxiety, depression, and thoughts of suicide are all listed as symptoms of these menstrual cycle conditions. They are all mental health issues that may require and deserve attention by a professional. While seeking help can be difficult, it is incredibly important. It might be a comfort that most people who menstruate also are going through similar things, you are far from alone.

All of the information from this post, including more info and resources can be found here : https://www.womenshealth.gov/mental-health

Mental Health Resources:

https://info.umkc.edu/womenc/services/campus-and-community-resources/mental-health/

Counseling Resources:

https://info.umkc.edu/womenc/services/campus-and-community-resources/counseling/

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Hours: Available 24 hours. Languages: English, Spanish.

800-273-8255

5 Women-Owned Businesses in Kansas City

By Morgan Clark

Kansas City has quite a few local businesses that one can check out, especially with the weather warming up. Here are 5 women-owned businesses that caught my eye and that I wanted to share with others.

  1. Café Cà Phê- Owned by Jackie Nguyen, a Vietnamese- American. Born and raised in California, Jackie moved to New York City to pursue her career in broadway. Ten years after she relocated here in Kansas City. That’s when she built Café Cà Phê, a mobile café specialized in authentic Vietnamese coffee. Serving classic coffee with a twist, like their Paris By Night Latte. Which includes rose syrup, mocha sauce, Vietnamese espresso, milk and mocha. Located at Firebrand Collective 1101 Mulberry St Kansas City, MO 64101. Their hours are 9am- 4pm Tuesday- Friday and 10am- 4pm Saturdays.
  2. The Mixx– is Kansas City’s first fresh fast casual restaurant, located in the Country Club Plaza and Hawthorne Plaza. Owned by Jo Marie Scagila, a daughter of local restaurateurs. Growing  up in an Italian family she was surrounded by food made from scratch. She moved to San Francisco where she got her influences from the farmer’s market and the health consciousness of the people of San Francisco. She moved back to Kansas City and worked at a flower shop while catering from her house. During that time she created a business plan for her restaurant. Now after 11 years you can visit and possible get their famous salads and bowls.
  3. Elevate Esthetics Parlor– is owned by Sara Ivancic- Rieman, where she offers various service to enhance your body aesthetics. She has been in the business for ten years and focus on quality experiences for her clients. You can go there for facials, lash tent or waxes. They are open Tuesday – Friday, located in downtown Kansas City.
  4. Bodyscape Boudoir This is a space to embrace your body and sexuality. Jessica Elizabeth is the #1 boudoir photographer here in Kansas City. Struggling to find her own confidence she became passionate in photography and found her confident in boudoir. Soon body positivity has become very important to her. One can see that from the varies of body type she had shoot. Giving a space for women to feel beautiful, embracing and accepting their body no matter what size. Bodyscape Boudoir has won several awards for their studio. The are full for this year but have opening for 2022.
  5. Sisterhood Subscription Box– When one signs up for a Sisterhood Box they will receive products from minority business women owners from Kansas City. Products can vary from candies, skincare products or a sweet snack. Created by Tristie she wanted to find a way to empower women and decide to create this. Where she can help expand their clientele and give them a platform to share their products. Even her boxes are from an all-women company.

Stealthing

By Morgan Clark

It was recently in the news that California might be the first state to declare stealthing as illegal. A bill was introduced by Cristina Garcia in Febraury to make stealthing an act of sexual battery, allowing victims to take legal actions if needed. Stealthing is the act of removing one’s condom without consent during intercourse. When I learned about this bill, I was happy and upset at the same time. I’m happy because we are moving in the right step to acknowledge that this is an act of sexual assault and those who are victims should be able to take legal actions. I’m upset because there is a chance that this bill will not be pass. Also, there are 49 states that have not recognized stealthing as an act of sexual assault which allows assaulters to continue this act with little to no consequences.

There are also those who do not see this as violation, but more of a misunderstanding. This is not true. As a victim of stealthing, I know this. If you make it clear that you want to use protection during intercourse and the other person chose otherwise is violating. It takes away your agency of your body. It also puts you in risk of unwanted pregnancy and STI. So why do they do this?  According to gynecologist Dr. Sumayya Ebrahim and their research in 2019, they believe their victim’s body is their possession. They also stated it feels better without protection, to spread their seed and the thrill of degradation. Yet, many people believe that stealthing is the “grey area” of sex, which in my opinion does not exist. Even if someone were able to convince me there was a grey area (doubt it), stealthing would not fall in that category! I hope the officials in California pass the bill so they can be an example for the other 49 states.

Sources: https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/why-stealthing-is-a-violation-of-consent/12639172

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-02-08/california-bill-classify-non-consensual-condom-removal-sexual-battery

International Anti-Street Harassment Week

By Emma Gilham

Content Warning: sexual assault

“Steam from a New York City street” by pchurch92 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

International Anti-Street Harassment Week is April 11-17, 2021. It is important to recognize this time in Sexual Assault Awareness month. According to a national survey in 2014, 65% of all women had experienced street harassment, and among them 23%  had been sexually touched, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual (stopstreetharassment.org ).” While women were more often targets of harassment, 25% of men experienced harassment, commonly with homophobic or transphobic slurs. Street harassment can take form as many behaviors and actions in public spaces, and harassers often resort to sexism, racism, transphobia, xenophobia, and/or ableism. 

Stop Street Harassment is a nonprofit that conducts research, campaigns, and documentation of street harassment worldwide. They also provide resources for organizing, allies, and dealing with harassment. To participate in Anti-Street Harassment Week, they suggest sharing your story or supporting others to raise awareness. The UMKC Women’s Center is holding an anti-street harassment program called Meet Us On The Street. We will be sharing messages against harassment by chalking our sidewalks and sharing photos of them on social media. We are using #UMKCMeetUsOnTheStreet and #StopStreetHarassment to share with the wider community. 

Street harassment is unacceptable, but it is an all too common experience for women. It takes everyone standing up to harassers to help create a safer environment for all. 

 

Equal Pay Day 2021

By Mia Lukic

This year Equal Pay Day fell on March 24, 2021. This date represents how far into 2021 the average of all women must work in order to make what a man made in 2020. If this were a race, with the start line being January 1, 2020, the men’s finish line would be December 31, 2020, or 365 days (or meters for the sake of analogy).

The average of all women have to work 83 more days, or 448 days total. An intersectional perspective is essential in all evaluations so let us consider how it impacts Equal Pay Day. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is August 3, 2021, 216 days longer than men. Latina Women’s Equal Pay Day is October 21, 2021 or 294 days longer than men. Native Women’s Equal Pay Day is September 8, 2021 or 251 days longer than men. Asian and Pacific Islander Women’s Day is March 9, 2021 or 68 days longer than men. The women’s races would be much longer than the men’s as their finish lines are much further away.

Upon first glance, we can see that Asian and Pacific Islander Women’s Day is earlier in the year, coming even before the average of all women. The AAUW stresses the importance of further examining the why. “Asian women’s experiences differ greatly depending on their subgroup. A previous analysis has shown that while women who report Indian or Chinese ethnicity or ancestry earn nearly as much as white men, women who identify as Filipina, Vietnamese and Korean are paid much less and all are subjected to the model minority myth, which erases ethnic subgroups’ diverse experiences as well as racism against Asian Americans as a whole” (AAUW).

The AAUW explores many factors that contribute to the gender pay gap such as the undervaluing of women’s work and discrimination of women for being mothers. They explain that women dominated fields are generally paid less than male dominated fields that require almost the exact same education and experience. Hairdressers make less than barbers and maids less than janitors, even though they are often seemingly synonymous professions. Women are also still disproportionately the caretakers and often take time out of their careers to focus on children and/or independent seniors. Time out of the workforce greatly impacts overall salary. The COVID19 pandemic has only heightened these issues as many schools shut down, eliminating that childcare and forcing women to stay home with children.

https://www.aauw.org/app/uploads/2020/12/SimpleTruth_2.1.pdf

Women’s History Month: Wilhelmina Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett

By Brianna Green

When you think of American suffragists, who comes to mind? Susan B. Anthony? Jane Addams? Sojourner Truth? Along with several other influential woman, you probably think of them, right? When the Women’s Suffrage Movement started, Hawai’i wasn’t a U.S. state or territory yet. In fact, it was the Kingdom of Hawai’i! Within this kingdom, a suffragist you might not know about was born and did some pretty incredible work there.

Wilhelmina Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett was born on March 28, 1861 in Lihue, Hawai’i. She was born to a native Hawaiian mother and a German immigrant father. Her father worked with the last monarch of Hawai’i, Queen Lili’uokalani. Amazingly, Queen Lili’uokalani came to Widemann Dowsett’s wedding in 1888 to celebrate her marriage to John McKibbin Dowsett (Wikipedia). Unfortunately, besides these facts, there isn’t that much known about Widemann Dowsett’s childhood and early adulthood.

So, what do we know about this suffragist? Well, she started the first suffrage organization in Hawaii! In 1912! Widemann Dowsett established the National Women’s Equal Suffrage Association of Hawaii (WESAH) (LWV). According to League of Women Voters, WESHA was formally affiliated with the National American Woman Suffrage Association a year later in 1913. Widemann Dowsett started this organization after Hawai’i was annexed by the U.S. in 1983 and the National American Woman’s Suffrage Association attempted the “Hawaiian Appeal” in 1899 (LWV).

Several years later Widemann Dowsett started WESHA, she organized over 500 women to march a parade to the House floor demanding votes for women and lobbied directly to Congress (LWV). She tried hard to get woman the right to vote in Hawai’i during her lifetime, but that would not occur until it became a state in 1959. Widemann Dowsett died on December 10, 1929 and is buried at Oahu Cemetery. She may not have seen the women in her state get the right to vote, but her actions and dedication helped them get that right.

Resources

“Suffragists You Need to Meet: Wilhelmina Dowsett (1861-1929).” MyLO, 1 Aug. 2020, my.lwv.org/california/diablo-valley/article/suffragists-you-need-meet-wilhelmina-dowsett-1861-1929.

“Wilhelmine Kekelaokalaninui Widemann Dowsett.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 12 Dec. 2020, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wilhelmine_Kekelaokalaninui_Widemann_Dowsett.

 

Women’s History Month: Inez Millholand, American Suffragist

By Katia Miazzo

Inez Millholand is known for her passionate and some might say aggressive activism for women’s rights. She led the Woman Suffrage Procession. But before she could lead the revolution let’s dive into her early years. Inez was born in 1886 in Brooklyn, New York. She was born into a wealthy family which gave her many opportunities to receive a great education. Her father was a news reporter and editorial writer for the New York Tribune. Her father also supported many progressive movements such as world peace, civil rights, and women’s suffrage. This helped spark her passion for these movements as well. Inez attended Vassar College, her time in Vassar consisted of protests and organizing women’s rights meetings. She was actually suspended for organizing such meetings. Inez organized protests and petitions that gathered a lot of support and attention. These acts were forbidden in Vassar. After she graduated from Vassar, she tried applying to Yale University, Harvard University and Cambridge but they denied her acceptance because she was a woman. She later got accepted into New York University School of Law. She became a great lawyer who fought for prison reform and equality for African Americans. She was involved in several organizations such as; the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the Women’s Trade Union League. An inspiring fact about Inez is that she was so determined to uncover the cruel conditions in prisons that she handcuffed herself to one only for her to see the true experiences that inmates suffered.

Millholand’s first suffrage event was in 1911. After that event, she quickly became the face of the women’s suffrage movement. She led several of those events/parades. There’s an image of her riding a horse in a white cape leading the procession a day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. She worked closely with the Suffrage leader Alice Paul. One of Inez’s missions was to gain support for women’s right to vote. In her speeches, she was a strong advocate for this and that women could help lead the country toward a better path by having the right to vote on important issues. In her personal life, it was reported that Inez proposed to Eugen Boissevain in 1913. They later ended their marriage due to her husband not being an American citizen. In the last years of her life, she got sick from pernicious anemia. She didn’t let that stop her from traveling and spreading the word. She decided to tour around the West in 1916 to advocate for women’s rights but she collapsed during a speech in California and died a month later.

Her final words she spoke were, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”

Women in Agriculture

By Lara Castillo

This month’s influential figure in agriculture is Momee Pegu from India, who started RIGBO from a local tribe meaning, community volunteering for a cause. Pegu created a sustainable practice that converts 11,000 kg of water hyacinth into organic compost to address sustainability concerns. Pegu was able to observe the issues that this invasive plant was causing such, as water pollution, irrigation blockage for farming, oxygen reduction for aquatic species. She also started an initiative that fosters a safe and expressive place for young women in the village. In 2016, she collaborated with 32 other women in the community to empower and engage them in creating a shift in farming.

Pegu connected with these women by creating organic pesticides, sustainable activity, and organic farming that gives them the freedom to make decisions. The women in this committee turned the invasive plant of the community into an organic compost that helps. The income from this compost was distributed equally among the women, Pegu taking none herself. Interestingly according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women make 82% of what men earn, and nothing has changed. Pegu is a figure empowering women in her community striving for equality. Overall, these women have changed the perception of farming.

The message of this initiative is to spread awareness of sustainable farming. In this instance, women experienced engaging with other women in a safe space while practicing agriculture sustainably. The community also produced a positive response which created employment for villagers and creating a better livelihood for the future. Momee Pegu was able to produce something out of nothing. One thing to think about is our future generation of women having the equality that Momee displays and changes we can make ourselves to make that possible.

Learn more here: https://www.thebetterindia.com/250121/momee-pegu-organic-farmer-majuli-assam-brahmaputra-river-rigbo-ngo-water-hyacinth-organic-compost-women-empowerment-him16/ 

Women’s History Month: Sojourner Truth

By Morgan Clark

Sojourner Truth is known for her work as an abolitionist and her work in the Civil War that caught the attention of President Abraham Lincoln. Born Isabella Baumfree in 1797, she was born into slavery in New York and was sold to her first slave master at the age of 9. He was known to beat and abuse his slaves regularly. At the age of 13, she was sold again to her second slave master. Around 1815, Isabella was forced to marry a slave and bore five children, after being forced apart from the man she loved.

In 1827 she ran away to freedom, after her master did not honor his promise to free her and the other slaves. She ended up in New Paltz, New York, with her newborn daughter. There, she was taken in by the Wagenens, who eventually paid for her freedom for $20. Isabella then sued her previous slave master for illegally selling her son, Peter. She was the first black woman to sue a white man and win. In 1829, she moved her family to New York City,  where she became a Christian and became heavily involved in the Church. She worked closely with two preachers. In 1843 she renamed herself Sojourner Truth because she believed it was her religious obligation to go out and speak the truth. The year after she joined a Massachusetts abolitionist group, where she metFredrick Douglas who had a great influence on her career as an abolitionist.

In 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Right Convention Sojourner Truth gave her famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” which addressed the intersection of being a woman and black in that time period. During the convention, she met women’s activists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Lady Stanton.

During the Civil War, Sojourner Truth was an advocate for young men to join the Union. She was able to organize supplies for the young men. Because of her work, she was invited to the White House and recruited to be involved with the Freedmen’s Bureau. She was able to find jobs for freed slaves. During this time, she tried to lobby against segregation and fought to give land to freed slaves. Sojourner Truth was a woman ahead of her time, speaking of intersectionality before it was a term and knowing that segregation was wrong. She died at her home on November 26, 1883. Her tombstone stating, “Is God Dead?” refers to a question she asked her colleague Fredrick Douglas to remind him to stay faithful.