My Last Letter to the Women’s Center: Thank You for Everything!!

I can’t believe the semester is ending–time has flown by so fast!

Anybody who knows me IRL can speak to the fact that I’m a little awkward. I fumble over my words, I stutter,  I lose my train of thought. Because I’m not always in my element speaking, writing has always been where I thrive. I can say what I mean when I write. Writing for UMKC’s Women’s Center has given me the chance to voice my opinion and discuss important feminist topics I can’t articulate as well in person, and I’m so grateful for that. Obviously, this blog isn’t just a soapbox for me–it’s a platform for our whole staff. I like the think of the blog as a sort of graffiti wall for the Women’s Center. Everyone who makes a blog post leaves a mark on the wall writing that they were here, and we have posts going back almost a decade on here. By scrolling through our blog, you can get a glimpse into years of programming, events, memories, and achievements of the Women’s Center. I truly believe our blog is special for that, and I feel blessed to have contributed to it, even though my role was smaller this semester.

One thing I’m incredibly grateful is that this semester, I was able to learn so much more! I was able to help with programming, proposals, and even plan my own event–things I never had time for in the spring semester.  It wasn’t perfect, but I’m proud I was able to put together an event that people actually came to! Basically, my event was a discussion called “Barbie to Buffy: Fictional Characters Who Inspire Us”, where we discussed our favorite female characters, how they’ve shaped our childhood and adult lives, and what constitutes a strong female character.

I’ve also gotten to know our amazing staff this semester. They’re all amazing, motivated, and welcoming people, who I’ll miss dearly! Thank you guys for making this semester so special and fun.  I’m also really grateful towards Arzie, our director. She’s been there to help brainstorm with me,  give feedback, and work with me every step of the way during my internship. I’ve learned so much about feminism, leadership, and keeping a consistent work ethic thanks to her.

As I look to the future, I’m excited, nervous, and a little bit sad. It’ll be hard saying goodbye to this place, and it’ll be weird coming to school next semester and no longer thinking about our next event, what blog post I’ll do next, or what my friends are up to in the center. Moving forward, I want to continue to give my time to organizations and causes that support women’s equity.

I will probably always be a killjoy feminist, and proud of it!

Thanks for everything,

Emma <3

 

Connecting With Staff, Students, and the Community

By: Alison Kendal

And just like that, the fall semester has ended, and we have so much to show for these short four months. My favorite events of the semester include the Ms.behaving! art gallery opening, the mindfulness personal exhibit, and the feminist literature discussion. Just by listing these events, one can see the range of interests the Women’s Center serves. It highlights the creativity and unique perspectives of our staff and challenges me to create more extraordinary events for the coming semester.

When I began my position as a graduate assistant in August, I anticipated gaining event-planning and office-managing experience, which I undoubtedly have. However, I acquired so much more. What I have ultimately found at the Women’s Center is connection. First, I have created such a wonderful bond with each member of our staff of powerful women. Each with their own perspective on feminism, these women have imparted lessons to me that I will carry far beyond this semester. Next, I connected with our students. I have had the pleasure to watch students emerge from their shells at our events and to receive their invaluable feedback that will progress our center for years to come. Lastly, I have connected with the Kansas City community. Local businesses, organizations, and citizens have been instrumental in the success of our events, making me proud to attend a university at the heart of the city.

I am ever so grateful for my experience at the center, and I look forward to continuing to leave my mark on this wonderful school through the implementation of meaningful events. Spring semester, here we come!

The Women’s Center is a Safe Space for all!

By: Anabelle Obermaier

 I’ve been a work study student here at the Women’s Center since October. Working here this past semester has been a new experience that I’ve appreciated very much. I love how the Women’s Center is a safe space where anyone can come to study, grab a coffee, or even just hang out with friends! Overall I love the vibe and comfy-ness of the space. I’ve learned how to work together on projects, post on social media in a professional manner, how to work and office, and how to work and table events. One of my favorite events we do is one of our healing art projects called “Shrink Your Stress”. This is where we use shrinky dinks in a fun and artsy way to bring awareness to different feminist issues.

I am excited for what is to come next semester since I will continue to work here in the spring. I’m excited to  learn even more, gain more experience, and work with new interns/work study students in the future. My advice for future Interns/work study is to be open to learning new things, ask lots of questions, and be ready for such a warm and welcoming working environment!

An End of Semester Reflection

By: Crystal Lum

My time here at the UMKC Women’s Center has come to an end. I have made tons of fun memories during this brief time, whether it was just managing the front desk or organizing a program. I was able to see the work that the Women’s Center puts into the community. I hope to see the impact that I left here through the work that I left behind.

One of my favorite memories of working at the Women’s Center was just being in the office managing the front desk. I would have one other staff member working beside me and we would have these talks about our hobbies and lives in general. It would always be so much fun talking about what we have done in our lives and what we plan to do after we finish school. It’s a bittersweet memory that I will cherish forever.

I really adore my team; they feel like family to me. I also really enjoyed working on the Menstrual Drive. I would like to think it was my most successful program. I saw the hard work pay off when I learned that we received donations far more than the year prior. I feel like that is one of my proudest moments, and I earned respect from the people around me. I have learned about how to create programs and events. It is not easy to create and manage different moving parts of a program. I also believe that my skills in communication through emails and social media marketing have improved.

After graduating, I plan to return home and work for a year. Afterwards, I will come back to school to work on my master’s degree in Health Administration (MHA). But I may aim for a dual degree and get a master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA).

My advice for future interns is to not fear asking questions. The staff are here to help you with your programs and support you in your college career. Also, don’t be worried about having fun, the staff are students as well. The workload may be a lot at first, but it is manageable when you get the hang of it. I will miss my team a lot, but I wish them luck in their future endeavors. I would like to thank Arzie for being a good mentor, she was understanding and made me feel welcomed.

Goodbye, Women’s Center!

By: Anel Sandoval

As an intern who didn’t know any of the staff before starting, I was very nervous about what to expect this semester. I was surprised to find out that I would meet some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. I felt so welcomed and that it was exactly where I was meant to be. I am so thankful to have spent my last semester interning at the Women’s Center, expanding my knowledge on gender equity, and learning new skills that I will carry with me in my future career.

The Women’s Center is a safe place where I was able to express my feelings without any judgement. I’m going to miss the staff so much. I am thankful they understood my sarcastic humor and tolerated my obnoxious laugh – because they made me laugh a lot! I’ll miss discussing the movies we recently watched with Arzie. I will miss discussing our favorite childhood Barbie movies with Emma. I will miss talking about Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, and Tik-Toks with Anabelle. I will miss my “mom”, AKA, our wonderful grad assistant Alison, who we went to for help, to vent, and to laugh with.

I will miss Crystal who has been my other half this semester as we are in the same journey as we complete our last semester at UMKC as health sciences majors. I couldn’t do it without her! Name a better duo, I’ll wait. Last, but not least, I will miss Chelsea, who is the perfect new fit to the Women’s Center as the new Sr. Program Coordinator.

For those who are joining the Women’s Center’s staff in upcoming semesters, just know you are in good hands. Good luck to everyone!

They Mean Business Interview Highlights

By:  Alison Kendall, Emma Sauer

You might not expect it, but Kansas City is a small business hot-spot.  42% of small businesses are woman-owned, and that number is expected to only rise in the future. Check out these highlights from our earlier social media campaign, “They Mean Business”, by our stellar grad student, Alison! These highlights only feature a few of the amazing business-owners interviewed.  To see each post, check out our Instagram. 

Olivia & Madison, Amity & Vine Salon Home | Amity and Vine 

Amity and Vine (located at 1501 St in the West Bottoms) is a salon that promotes inclusivity, realistic beauty ideals, and acceptance for all.

Q: What was the key driving force to starting Amity and Vine? 

The driving forces behind Amity & Vine is accessibility and inclusivity. We want a space where our clients can afford basic hair care services and products as well as enjoying a comfortable and accepting environment where they can relax. Getting a simple haircut or a complete transformations shouldn’t be stressful, and we want to cultivate that experience for our clients.

Q: What are some challenges you face while running your business?

The main challenge we face with owning a small business would have to be the learning curve. Of course the costs and marketing were difficult too; but without the specific knowledge and background in finances and entrepreneurship, we have to learn as we go and reach out for help in those areas every now and then.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to college students and recent graduates who are interested in entrepreneurship?

Our advice for recent graduates and college students interested in entrepreneurship would be that it is normal to go through failures. As corny as that sounds, falling short in certain aspects of your business allows you to understand when to ask for help from those around you. As well as recognizing when to ask for help, always network and meet the other small businesses in your area because being a part of the community will be such an amazing tool for your business’ success.

 

Cori Smith, Blk+Brwn Bookstore 

BLK and BRWN is a bookstore that amplifies the works of POC authors and storytelling.

Q: What was the key driving force to starting BLK and BRWN?

. The biggest driving forces for me could be summed up into three sources — (1) my ecosystem — my mother has been my biggest supporter, my friends and family have been some of the loudest cheerleaders for me and the work that this space stands for; (2) the passing of my older brother, Cody — he was the free-spirited rebel of the two of us and I wanted to find a way to honor him and following my passion was something that he stood for unapologetically; and (3) the need was greater than the risk — this was not just about me or the money — this community needs to know that our stories matter and that we are not the sum total of just our traumatic histories.

Q: What are some challenges you face while running your business?

As a Black woman, it definitely seems that a lot of people have things to say or “advice” to give about what I should be doing. So on a deeper level, I run into constant challenges or micro aggressions that would not exist if I were not a Black woman. Whether it’s people who believe they are being helpful but overstepping the boundaries because of my age, gender, or my racial make-up or people who outright believe that I couldn’t be an expert in my lane. Very annoying.

The other challenge is just dealing with the ebbs and flows of small business. Trying to make sure there’s enough inventory, being the person behind the counter, shipping and tending to social media, as well as, being customer service. I am currently a one-woman show, and so being all things at once can be difficult and burnout is very real.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to college students and recent graduates who are interested in entrepreneurship?

1. Make three plans for the same goal. You can never be over prepared but you can certainly be underprepared.

2. The ability to have a completely balanced work/life is a myth. Balance is not 50/50. Sometimes it’s 70/30 or 60/40 and that’s okay.

3. You have to be able to show up as YOU. The thing that makes the product/service you provide is that it’s YOURS. So do not ever feel like you have to compromise that to be successful. Take breaks and also be mindful of your capacity. You are your brand no matter how much you like or dislike that. If you are not taking care of you then the product/service will inevitably suffer, as well. The work you put out into the world is reflective to who you are.

 

 

Top 3 Feminist Shows

By: Annabelle Obermaier

In today’s age, we have a vast amount of feminist media to watch, read, listen to. Today I will be
going over the options you have for what to watch, specifically my top three feminist shows and movies
I’m going to be sharing!

Dickinson

Dickinson is a show that is an Apple TV original series. It is a comedy that focuses around the
poet Emily Dickinson. If you don’t know who Emily Dickinson was, she was a writer in the mid-1800s.
Since she was a woman her writings were never fully accepted or published until after her death.
This series stars Hailee Steinfield, who plays Emily. She is one of my favorite actresses, and I think she
plays the character well. Since this is a comedy, this isn’t your typical historical show, so if period pieces
usually bore you, give this show a try!

The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit is a Netflix original limited series that came out during quarantine. It was
very popular at the time, but if you haven’t heard of it, here’s the rundown: Our main character Beth is an
orphan living at this orphanage. She discovers a man that works there playing chess by himself. She wanted
to play, but the man was reluctant to teach her since she was a girl, but he eventually decided to. They find out she’s a prodigy and
from then on there we get to watch her life after this. This is overall one of my favorite series!

Enola Holmes

Enola Holmes is another Netflix original that is just utterly a great representation of a young girl
that won’t just align herself with what society wants her to be. The movie starts out with Enola waking up
to discover her mother missing. She knows she has to find her, she has to become a detective, (like her
older brother Sherlock holmes.) On her adventure to find her mother, she runs into Tewkesbury, a young
boy who is running away from home as well. What is special about this movie is that they don’t force a
love story out of the two of them, which I feel was very unique to these types of shows.
Enola Holmes 2 just came out on Netflix, I have not seen it yet, (solely due to the fact of waiting
to watch it with my bestie) but I am so excited to watch it!

It’s very important for us all to keep our eyes out for feminist shows, it’s easy for us all just to
watch what’s popular, even if it isn’t necessarily feminist. This is fine as long as we recognize what we’re
watching and take the time to appreciate some get feminist shows and movies!

Self Care Flash Guide

By: Crystal Lum

Check out this video based our new display board up by the Women’s Center! Walk by our office in 105 Haag Hall to learn more about self-care. In the meantime, enjoy this quick video to get some inspo on some self-care ideas! Have a great fall break, Roos!

Teaching Kids Feminism

 By: Anabelle Obermaier 

Teaching our future generations feminism is very important for our growth in society. This is because improving our mindset on gender equity is one set closer to a peaceful and kind world. I am going to be talking about ways we can teach our children feminism in ways like books and movies, our own personal values and teaching, and current events in media.

One way to introduce the concept of feminism to children is through the books and movies they consume. When picking a book to read to your kid, think does this represent women in a positive light without harsh stereotypes? When picking a movie, try to watch one with strong diverse female leads. Introducing your good values to kids is a very important ideal. This can be in ways just by simply changing your language; for example, you can discourage the use of stereotypical phrases of offensive language. Another example is to not put our children in boxes based on their gender. Instead let them express their gender through clothing, their hair, the toys they play with, as they wish.

Lastly, keeping your kids updated on age-appropriate current events in the media is crucial. To keep them educated on what gender issues are going on in the world is crucial. This can be for older kids in their early teens as a way to introduce them to current gender issues in media, government, and internationally. Overall, raising kids with the information to become a future feminist can be tricky, but these simple ways can be an easy way to introduce feminism in a safe and fun way!

Reflecting on 50 Years of Service to the University of Kansas City-Missouri

 

“Attention” by Summer Brooks, medium: black clay, spray foam, underglaze, luster, butterfly clips

By: Emma Sauer

Since its establishment by Alumni and former Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes in 1971, UMKC’s Women’s Center has been a proud voice for gender equity on campus. Through 50 years of continuous education, advocacy, and support services, the Women’s Center has diligently worked to cultivate a feminist-friendly community at UMKC. Most recently, our programming has revolved around supporting UMKC’s female athletes, our healing arts corners, and increasing our menstrual product supply available to the public. Our office is and always will be a safe space for every marginalized student, faculty member, or community member who walks through our doors.

To celebrate half a century’s worth of service, the Women’s Center is proud to unveil “Ms. behaving!”, an art exhibit co-curated by Women’s Center Director Arzie Umali and Sonie Ruffin. The exhibit will feature artwork showcasing acts of gender empowerment. In the words of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “well-behaved women seldom make history”. In other words, to enact real change, we must refuse to silence our voices. Activism demands determination and resilience in the fight for equity. Even the smallest act of courage, resilience, or rebellion can create lasting impact. 

During our opening night on Friday,  November 4, we saw an incredible turnout, despite the heavy rain! Now that I’ve been with the Women’s Center for two semesters, I can confidently say our art exhibits hosted through “Her Art Project” are my favorite events.  During a brief speech at the event,  our director Arzie emphasized the importance of giving female artists a platform.  She pointed out that if you ask someone to name male artists,  nobody ever has an issue listing off a whole list of them–but ask for female artists, and people will struggle to name even one. That’s a problem.  There are a plethora of female artists out there just as, if not more, talented than their male counterparts, but art communities often fail to recognize them. At least now, after someone sees in the exhibit, they’ll be able to name more than a dozen right in KC.

The UMKC Women’s Center Anniversary Exhibit will be up for viewing at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in the Crossroads Arts District until January 28. We invite you to stop by, enjoy the art, and reflect on what you find there. 

We hope this exhibit inspires you to walk in the footsteps of other trailblazers throughout history: abolitionists, suffragists, and feminists who misbehaved!