Meet Our Summer Intern from Mizzou: Allison Anderson

By Allison Anderson

Hello everyone! I’m Allison Anderson.

I am spending the summer interning for the UMKC Women’s Center. I just finished my first year of graduate school at Mizzou. By this time next year, I will have my Master’s of Public Affairs. With this degree I hope to manage or run a nonprofit. I actually did my undergrad degree at Park University, so I wanted to come back to Kansas City. I chose UMKC because I have spent some time here before and always enjoyed it; plus, I have some close friends that just graduated and never had a bad thing to say.

Being a graduate student, research and data collection are something that I spend a lot of time doing. At the Truman School (my master’s program), we get to pick a policy area we are interested in, and that is what we do our research on. At first I wanted to look at sex education in high school, but as I got into it, I realized that researching rape on campus and sexual violence were some things I was much more passionate about. At Mizzou I am a peer educator fort the RSVP center (Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention). When thinking of where I wanted to intern, I knew I wanted something similar to being a peer educator, especially, something that would allow me to spread awareness of social issues. The Women’s Center at UMKC was a very easy choice for me. Not only will I be able to continue my research on sexual violence, but I will also be learning about other issues that affect women.

I have a lot of goals this summer, but the first is to learn as much as I can. I also want to be creative and think of some programs in areas that I may be new to. I am looking forward to all the events and assignments I will be working with, and honestly, looking forward to helping as many women and students as I can.

A Semester in Reflection by the Women’s Center’s Brittany Soto

The end of my last semester at UMKC has finally arrived and my graduation is fast approaching. I can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of emotion when I look back at everything I’ve learned and accomplished during my time as a student at UMKC and as a work-study student at the UMKC Women’s Center. One of the reasons I chose UMKC was because of the diversity and the different types of events that are hosted throughout campus. I remember how much I wanted to be a part of some of these events that were going on, especially the ones that were advocating and raising awareness for something. As a psychology major, one of the things I’m most passionate about, is helping others, or being a part of a community that makes a positive impact on others. This is why I was ecstatic when I first got the job at the Women’s Center as a work-study student.

I joined the UMKC Women’s Center in February of this year. I haven’t worked at the center for very long, but I can already say that working at the Women’s Center has helped me gain knowledge and understanding about the different issues that women face, issues that I never even noticed before. I also gained knowledge and understanding about the accomplishments and contributions that women have made in our society.

When I first joined the UMKC Women’s Center, this was at the time when they were about to do their annual Vagina Monologue event. The Vagina Monologue event was the first event that I assisted with and the one that had the most profound impact on me. I got to listen to women from different backgrounds address topics such as rape, body image, and genital mutilation, along with sexual experiences and various other women-related topics, it was very moving for me. I also enjoyed listening to monologues that made me laugh until my stomach started hurting. It was rewarding for me to know that I contributed to an event that advocated and empowered women.

Another thing I’ve enjoyed, during my time at the Women’s Center was getting to know each and every one of my co-workers on a personal and professional level. I’ve had the pleasure of getting to work with a group of incredible women and I loved that we are able to share that same passion for advocating, educating, and empowering women, while working together to implement that passion into the events and projects we were assigned throughout this semester. So far, being a work-study student at the UMKC Women’s Center has given me the experiences to help me grow as an individual and as a woman, even in the short amount of time that I’ve been here. I will be doing a summer work-study at the UMKC Women’s Center and I’m looking forward to what I will get to learn and experience in the remainder of the time I’m here.

A Semester in Reflection by the Women’s Center’s Christina Terrell

By Christina Terrell

I have been at the Women’s Center since November of 2018 and Spring 2019 was my second semester here and it has been nothing but non- stop excitement all semester long. However, this spring semester has really taught me a lot and allowed me to really get involved with campus life.

I was able to attend about 18 out of the 25 events that we hosted this semester, which gave me the opportunity to witness and experience things that I had not done before. For example, this semester I took on the role of taking pictures for most of the events, which allowed me to see things through a different lens, literally. It really brought me joy being able to capture such great moments of some of our events such as, The Vagina Monologues, The Her Art Women’s Persistent Muse Luncheon, and Denim Day. Being an armature photographer was not something that I pictured myself doing in a million years, however I am glad this new venture was brought to me because it showed me, I have interest in things I would not have thought of on my own.

Reflecting on my semester here at the Women’s Center, another big highlight for me was that I took on some leadership roles this semester, which allowed me to gain skills and confidence in areas that I had not realized I embodied. For instance, this semester I oversaw office information such as managing our Women’s Center Library. Along with I decided to take on the role of organizing the end of the year celebration that we have at the end of each semester, which allows us to come together and reflect on the highlights of the semester.

In the end my semester here at UMKC’s Women’s Center has been nothing short of exciting, and fulfilling, being a work-study student here has really allowed me to get involved, experience new things, and embody roles that I would not have imagined of doing before becoming a part of such an empowering team like this one.

A Semester in Reflection from the Women’s Center’s Caitlin Easter

By Caitlin Easter

As the semester draws to a close, inevitably so does my time here at the Women’s Center. As sad as this is, it provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on what I have done and the things I have learned from working here.

While I have always had a passion for the helping the advancement of women, I never thought I would one day be lucky enough to work at a place devoted to advocating for the equity of women. Coming to Kansas City from a small town, I never realized the opportunities and experiences that would be afforded to me in college just because I was in a space with more people and ideas.

When I first saw the “hiring” poster last semester in Haag Hall, I expected all the positions to be filled at that point in the semester, and was incredibly surprised when there was room for me on staff. That interview was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’d ever done. What if they told me I wasn’t a good enough feminist? More than just being turned down for a job, the fear of being told that I wasn’t fitting the feminist side of myself as much as I had always believed was terrifying for me; the possibility of not being what I had always labeled myself as was such an odd thought. What if I didn’t fit into position and environment because I was a fake feminist? Being accepted for that position helped me to achieve some of the most defining moments of my life through this job.

Getting to wear so many hats in the Women’s Center was also very beneficial! I got to play different roles such as secretary, event organizer, and blog writer! Never being stuck doing the same thing every day was such a change from traditional jobs, and was a nice experience in multitasking for me.

My favorite experiences during my time at the Women’s Center were the Vagina Monologues production and the Healing Arts Corners. The Vagina Monologues was very similar in theme to a production I had done in high school, and was something I was very much looking forward to. Watching other women perform and display our experiences in an open and raw way really deeply touched me. The Healing Arts corners were something I took over near the beginning of this semester, and they have been such a satisfying thing to manage. Beyond just the satisfaction of getting to play with sculpey clay at work, it was also a incredible to see that impact that something so small could make on someone’s day and life.

This semester, I have learned that though my time at the Women’s Center may come to an end, my feminist spirit will never, and it is just about finding new ways to advocate and express this feminism. At the center I have learned about women who use their art to advance women, and if art can spur social change, what else could do the same?

One of the biggest things that inspired me was the culture around feminism in the center. Coming from a place where the title feminist was synonymous with “crazy liberal” to a place where people understood that wanting to be equal was NOT too much to ask, was such an important shift for me. It was nice to be in a healthy place where I could grow, away from people telling me that I was asking too much for wanting the same as everyone else.

The biggest think I will take with me, is that we all have a part to play in the advancement of women in our society, and that doubting how good I am of a feminist is not doing anything for me.

Celebrating Jedidah Isler, Ph.D.: A Woman in STEM

By Ann Varner

I stumbled upon an article titled “5 Powerful Women in STEM You Need to Know” (http://news.janegoodall.org/2018/03/08/5-powerful-women-stem-need-know/ ) and while reading it came across someone I found incredibly interesting and wanted to write about. Her name is Dr. Jedidah isler and she is the first African American woman to earn a PhD in Astrophysics from Yale.

According to jedidahislerphd.com, “Dr. Isler is an outspoken advocate of inclusion and empowerment in STEM fields and is the creator and host of “Vanguard: Conversations with Women of Color in STEM.”. Her non-profit organization, The STEM en Route to Change (SeRCH) Foundation, Inc., is dedicated to using STEM as a pathway for social justice and has developed a variety of initiatives including the #VanguardSTEM online platform and web series. Brief CV.”

In the STEM field women are vastly underrepresented, especially African American women. Women such as Dr. Isler are very much needed to advocate for inclusion and empowerment in the STEM field as well as represent themselves. Great work, Dr. Isler!

Photo credit: http://jedidahislerphd.com/about/

Time Magazines Top 100

By Caitlin Easter

Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the year came out recently, and it’s one of the most diverse and intersectional issues ever. The list also features the most women ever awarded, at almost half of the list being female. There are 48 women featured in this year’s list, which is up from the 45 who were featured last year. The list is made up of pioneers, artists, leaders, icons and titans, and women are representing in each category.

The list is selected every year from a list of candidates who made the largest impacts in the world, good or bad.  Nominated by list alumni and voted on by the public, the list embodies the changes that happened throughout the beginning of each year.

This year’s list is made up of strong, groundbreaking women from all walks of life: activists, chefs, athletes, authors, scientists, actresses, singers, models, painters, directors, designers, politicians, a first lady, survivors, journalists, business women, and architects. We see big names such as Sandra Oh, Taylor Swift, Michelle Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ariana Grande, but also have the pleasure to learn names that we’re not all familiar with such as Greta Thunberg, Vera Jourova, Jeanne Gang, and Jennifer Hyman.  Women are finally starting to be equally represented in different aspects of life, and we’re ready for it!

A full list of this year’s recipients can be viewed at: http://time.com/collection/100-most-influential-people-2019/.

 

The Vanity Myth of Makeup

By Christina Terrell

There should be no shame in doing something that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. One of the latest trends that has taken the beauty community by storm has been the development of all the possibilities that makeup offers. The only issues are women have started to get backlash for exploring all these makeup possibilities, for instance women are being told that since they wear makeup, that they are trying to wear a mask that hides their true self from the world, rather than this is something women do to empower themselves. Sha’Condria, also known as “i’Con” is a female poetry empowerment speaker and at the 2015 Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival, Condria presented a poetry piece titled “In My Skin”. In this poetry piece Condria speaks about her personal experience with being shamed for wearing makeup and how it is almost as if people treat the word makeup as if it were a curse word.

From my personal stand point I feel as though a woman should not be told what defines her as beautiful, because beauty should not be what anyone else’s definition of it is but should be whatever your own personal definition is. Self-love is a concept that is already hard to acquire and find in one’s self and when you add the negative opinions of others it can make things much harder on a woman who may deal with insecurities.

There is an issue that stands in the way of women who choose to wear makeup and then the people who disagree with wearing makeup. That issue being that typically someone who says you shouldn’t paint your face to be pretty or that natural beauty is the best beauty. Would be that those individuals do not understand, is that in a harsh world when women find peace and something that aids their happiness then they must do all they can to continue to empower and up lift themselves.

To watch Sha’Condria’s powerful piece, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_kkbKs9pY4

 

Catcalling is not a Compliment, it’s Harassment

By Brittany Soto

Since our center has been promoting the “Meet us on The Street” event all throughout this week, focusing on the issues of gender-based street harassment, I wanted to turn my attention to one of my biggest pet peeves; catcalling. Catcalling is when an individual whistles, shouts, or makes sexual comments toward another individual as they are walking by. Women are often the ones faced with having to deal with this ridiculous issue. The fact that I get a little nervous when I decide to get dressed up because I don’t feel like getting harassed, is a problem. Women shouldn’t have to feel self-conscious or nervous every time they get dressed to head out the door or every time they pass by men on the street.

The most common defense that men have against this issue is that catcalls are their way of “complimenting” a woman’s looks. Going up to a woman and telling her she’s beautiful is one thing, but shouting “damn!” “hey sexy!” or whistling and honking the car horn as a woman walks by is a different story. Catcalling can even get to the point of being dangerous if women decide defend themselves or ignore the cat-callers, because often they will get offended causing them to act in an aggressive or intimidating manner by name calling or going as far as assaulting women. THIS is harassment.

What men need to understand is that catcalling is not cute, funny, or complimenting. It’s degrading, demeaning, and disgusting. It lets women know they are being objectified and looked at as nothing more than a piece of meat. It makes women feel as though they have no rights or values. Women are not dogs to be whistled at and they are not sexual objects. Women are more than their looks. Women have the right to be treated with as much respect and dignity when walking down the street as any man. Women deserve to feel safe.

For additional information on how women are fighting cat-calling visit: http://www.womensmediacenter.com/fbomb/how-i-took-a-stand-against-catcalling

A Few Quick Additions for your Summer Playlist!

By Caitlin Easter

With summer quickly approaching, it’s time to update your playlists, and here at the Women’s Center we have you covered! Here are some new MUST ADDS for your “Summer Evenings 2019” playlists! However, this isn’t your typical playlist. Instead of picking the anthems we already love, I decided that I would show some love to female artists with their unique sounds. While this may not be your idea of a windows-down-music-up playlist, these are songs that embody women’s strength, and will be what I am blasting this summer (yes, with my windows rolled down).

Let’s begin with Billie Eilish’s “you should see me in a crown” from her new album “WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”. Billie is an artist with a different sound than what you would expect to see appear on one of these lists, but if you’re down for an odd, but iconic, vibe then this could very well be your summer anthem. The specific lyric I’m liking right now is: “You say/ Come over baby/ I think you’re pretty/ I’m okay/ I’m not your baby/ If you think I’m pretty/ You should see me in a crown.” Interested yet? Now go listen to it with the all the production!

Kehlani at the minor stage during Stavernfestivalen in Stavern on 09. July 2016. Lineup: Kehlani Parrish (vocal)

Next up is a personal favorite artist of mine, Kehlani. If you haven’t heard her new song “Nunya” from her 2019 album, “While We Wait,” then I’ll patiently wait for you to go listen. Okay, I’ll apologize for the pun (does that count as a pun?), but a song about not needing a man? We’re in. The line to look out for in this one is: “You put on a show/ ‘Cause you don’t want the world to know/ That you lost a girl who got it on her own/ It’d be good for you to let it go, let it go, let it go/ Ain’t nunya business (Nunya).”

Slowing down a bit for this one, “Warrior” by Avril Lavigne is such a different sound than I think of when I hear ‘Avril.’ Nevertheless, this song from her new album “Head Above Water” is such a refreshing piece! And let’s just say that the rain pouring in the background is surprisingly well placed for such an encouraging tune. I had trouble summarizing this song into a couple of well-spoken lyrics, if I’m honest, but I doubted that pasting the whole song would be appropriate (or legal). So instead you get to hear my commentary! My favorite lines: “Oh, you can’t shoot me down/ You can’t stop me now/ I got a whole…army/ Oh, they tried to break me down/ They tried to take me out/ You can’t cut a scar on me.”

But, it’s the song “Dynamite,” off of the album “Sucker Punch” by Sigrid that is really the underappreciated song of 2019. This great song to get you in your feels, and yet manages to be strangely empowering. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to give the acoustic version a listen as well! The lyrics to appreciate in this song are: “I miss you, but I’ve got things to do…/ I’m the same, but I’m bolder…/ You’re as safe as a mountain/ But know that I am dynamite.” While on the topic of Sigrid, I thought I would throw another good one off her album into the mix. “Don’t Kill My Vibe” is probably the most upbeat song on this list, and it’s also the one that gives me the strongest urge to tweet #YouThought! Embodying empowerment, the line I chose for this song is: “You shut me down, you like the control/ You speak to me like I’m a child/ Try to hold it down, I know the answer/ I can shake it off and you feel threatened by me/ I tried to play it nice but/ Don’t kill my vibe/ Don’t break my stride/ You think you’re so important to me, don’t you?”

To end this list, I’ve decided to take a song that was dropped in 2018 in order to get some #GirlGroup representation on this list! “Women’s World” as it appeared on Little Mix’s fifth studio album “LM5” is

social advocacy set to music. The lyrics speak for themselves, and the artistry in the song itself is stunning. Let’s end this blog with what are objectively the best lyrics of all: “Every day she tells her daughter/ “Baby, you’re not just a pretty face”/ She says “you gotta work much harder/ Than every single man, that’s just the way”/ But she goes to the same job everyday/ She’s overworked and underpaid/ Just ’cause the way her body’s made/ Ain’t that insane?/ If you never been told how you gotta be/ What you gotta wear, how you gotta speak/ If you never shouted to be heard/ You ain’t lived in a woman’s world.”

Faculty Highlight: Dr. Theresa L. Torres

By Brittany Soto

Dr. Theresa L. Torres is an interdisciplinary scholar who teaches and writes about gender, race, class, and immigration. She is an associate professor at UMKC for Latinx and Latin American Studies and Sociology. She is also an affiliated faculty member for Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and is currently teaching feminist studies.

Dr. Torres was my former professor for my Sociology-Society and Community Service course. Her course was one of the things that further peaked my interest in Sociology and helped me become more aware and knowledgeable about the history of different issues that have happened within our society as well as those that are happening currently in our society today. This included women and gender related issues. She was very good about emphasizing the importance of race, class, gender, and immigration while explaining why each of these things play a pivotal role in how we view and treat others, as well as how we view and treat ourselves. One thing I’ve always remembered about Dr. Torres was how passionate she was when she was teaching each of these topics. She was not only passionate about what she taught, but she also made sure to encourage us students to serve our community by having each of us do an internship project by volunteering at a non-profit organization in order to observe the status of that organization in terms of race, class, and gender, then having us present our findings to the class.

Aside from teaching, Dr. Torres also regularly volunteers her time and work with the Latinx community (as seen in her picture). This picture shows Torres with her Latinx students who presented their research at the 2016 National Association for Chicana/Chicano Conference. She also collaborated with former doctoral students and is in the process of publishing an article from their research titled “Marx, Dea, Theresa Torres, and Leah Panther. “‘This class changed my life:’ Using Culturally Sustaining Pedagogues to Frame Undergraduate Research with Students of Color.” CUR Quarterly: Council on Undergraduate Research.” This article is based on research using Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy for teaching Latinx and Black students. Currently, Dr. Torres is in the process of publishing a book on Latina activists and the spirituality and resistance of their leadership. Her first publication on this topic is: “Transformational Resistant Leadership in Kansas City: A Case of Chicana Activism, Racial Discourse, and White Privilege,” Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas En Letras y Cambio Social.” This article is about the leadership of Rita Valenciano, a local Chicana Activist and her leadership to remove and ardent anti-immigrant leader.

One of Dr. Torres’ greatest joys is seeing her former students advancing in their careers and contacting her to share their news and ask for advice. Students are the central reason why she does the research and work she is doing. She is dedicating her new book to her students.