Someone’s Gotta Say It: The Word “Girlboss” Needs to Die 

By: Emma Sauer 

It’s been some time since I wrote one of these blogs, but I’m coming in hot today with an irritating trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. 

When’s the last time you walked into Target, TJ Maxx, Kohls, or any one of those conglomerate department stores? Have you noticed all those mass-produced t-shirts, tumblers, bags, book-ends, blankets, pillows, posters, and planners have one particular word plastered across them? Something like this:

Source: Amazon

Ugh. Girl Boss. Just typing that out feels like I’m manifesting the worst kind of cutesy faux feminism. Anyway, let me tell you why I hate this word so much. 

The word “girl boss” is a word ascribed to any woman in a position of leadership. It’s vague enough that it can mean a lot of different things, whether it’s a female CEO, business owner, or a middle aged white woman at home selling her Lularoe leggings. I also see it from time to time in Instagram bios or other places on social media. 

So, my main problem with cutesy phrases like “girl boss”, “boss lady”, or “she-eo” is that they’re infantilizing. (And also make for hideous interior design.) A woman in a leadership role shouldn’t be made into a huge deal— at least, not in a way that doesn’t recognize her accomplishments for what they are. When a man is in a leadership role, we don’t call him a “boy boss”, right? That just sounds silly and dumb. Same thing for “girl boss.” It’s dumb, and it makes me roll my eyes. I’m all for lifting up women, but instead of vaguely virtue-signaling with a sparkly pink “GIRL BOSS” plaque on your desk, do the work to focus on specific gender inequity issues.

And you know what? I find this whole “girl boss” thing totally disingenuous. It’s become a way for corporations to create merchandise and market themselves as being feminist, when in reality they’re destroying the environment, using child labor, and under-paying their employees.

Support Women’s Athletics at UMKC at Roo Up! With the Women’s Center

By: Crystal Lum

Hi Roos! UMKC Women’s Center is back with Roo Up! with the Women’s Center! The Women’s Center is a huge supporter of women’s athletics, and we want to hype up and show our pride to our athletes. It’s important to show our support to strive for gender equality in sports! According to the National Women’s Law Center, women who participated in sports were reported to have higher grades, score higher on exams, were more likely to graduate and improve in science classes. There is a dire need to stop perpetuating harmful stereotypes and myths that discourage girls’ participation in sports. We should not undermine their ability to feel supported, comfortable and equally respected while doing something they love to do. The lack of support from their fellow peers can drastically affect their morale. The current disparity between men and women’s sports must be addressed. Women’s games need to be publicized by the student body to recognize their hard work and to encourage them to keep playing.

If you want to join us, check out the following dates to support our women’s soccer and volleyball teams by attending the games and visiting our information table at the event. You can get a really cool pin and other awesome merch to show off! We will be attending these dates:

Roo Up! With the Women’s Center at Bark in the Park

Friday, September 16 at 6 p.m. at Swinney Recreation Center (Game begins at 7 p.m.)

Ticket information here

Roo Up! With the Women’s Center

Tuesday, September 27 at 6pm at Swinney Recreation Center (Game begins at 7 p.m.)

Ticket information here

Hope to see you all there!

Why Work at the Women’s Center?

By: Emma Sauer

At UMKC’s Women’s Center, we run a tight ship.  Between the five of us, we currently have three interns, a graduate assistant, and Arzie, our director. We’re looking for another work study student to add to our team this fall and spring, and it could be you!

If you’re a person who is passionate about helping and educating others and someone who is always open to learning new things, you will flourish at the Women’s Center. Through our events and programs, you’ll have to opportunity to educate and advocate for women’s equity on campus.  Our office is also a safe space for everyone, but especially anyone who feels marginalized.  You will help keep the office running by keeping the area tidy, answering phone calls, and providing resources from our brochures or resource list to those who need it. You’ll also help organize and staff events with your coworkers, along with posting regularly to our social media…and the blog of course! This is a great opportunity for teamwork, as you’ll be working alongside your fellow staff to create programs, campaigns, and to make sure events go without a hitch.

Working with the Women’s Center is an incredible opportunity to gain experience in an office setting while also advocating for gender equity.  Plus, it’s lots of fun!  Many of the programs we run involve art activities, meeting new students, and getting involved on campus! Speaking from experience, working here is a great way to gain experience on campus if you haven’t had the chance yet.  All majors are welcome to apply, and as a work study student, you’ll even get paid!

Application Steps:

  1. Complete the Women’s Center Work-Study Application here.
  2. Send your current resume and class schedule to umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.
  3. Questions? Please contact 816-235-1638 or
    umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.

Details:

Aid Term: Fall/Spring

Job Title: Office & Events Assistant

Pay Range: $13.00 to $14.00

Weekly Hours: 12

Weekly Work Schedule: Mon – Thurs, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Fridays, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (Some evening and weekend hours during special events)

Job Category: Administrative/Customer Service

Essential Duties May Include: Identify needs of individual and appropriately assist with questions or concerns at front desk. Politely greet students and guests to provide quality customer service; Answer phones. Assess questions; offer solutions or additional resources such as a manager to assist. Demonstrate professionalism in a confidential setting. Implement existing/new tasks, projects and/or ideas with accuracy and enthusiasm. Promote services by serving as an representative through conversations with fellow students. Data entry, mailing and other clerical duties as assigned. Open/close office as needed.

Back to Basics #6: Can Men Be Feminists?

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 By: Anel Sandoval

We are bringing it Back to Basics this week! In this blog segment, we explain feminist terminology, myths, concepts and more! Today’s question is…

“Does a feminist have to be female?” 

Being a feminist means believing that women and men are equal and deserve equal rights. If you agree with that, then you’re a feminist. With that being said, all genders can be a feminist! True feminism is intersectional. Feminism spans across any and all genders, sexual preferences, or ethnic identities. And yes, men can be feminist allies too! 

“Why are men important in advocating for gender equity?”  

Men can be important allies to women in fighting for gender equity and promoting violence prevention. Women have been fighting for women’s equality for hundreds of years, but men also have a role to join in the fight as they’re not the problem, but part of the solution. One example of a self identified male feminist is former President Barack Obama. In August of 2016, President Obama penned his famous This is What A Feminist Looks Like where he reminded us that “it is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too.” His administration also took big steps to combat campus sexual assault and violence against women, improve equal pay protections, and actively promote women’s issues. 

“What can I, as a man, do to become an ally for women’s human rights?”  

 Great question! Here is a list of ways:  

  • Support women’s organizations such as the Women’s Center here on campus. We have many events you can attend this semester!  
  • Educate yourself on the history of women’s fight for equality as well as current issues.  
  • Start a conversation with women in your life. Listen to women who are fighting for their rights and ask them questions on how you can support them. 
  • Do not be a bystander to women’s violence. If you see it in your home, workplace, campus, or any public place, do not be silent, report it.  
  • Do not share sexist content that belittles or discriminates against women in any way. 
  • Advocate and educate others. Men can challenge other men in a way that women can’t, and if you use that opportunity to try to educate other guys, or just send the message that sexist attitudes are not okay, that can go a long way. It can feel awkward, but it’s worth it and very appreciated. 

Remember that absolutely anyone can be a feminist regardless of their gender and it is our duty, as society, to change the fact that women aren’t equal to men. To learn more click here

Break the Cisnormative Status Quo with These Five Tips! 

By: Emma Sauer

An important part of being an intersectional feminist is advocating equality for all genders, including people who identify as genderqueer, nonbinary, intersex, or otherwise gender non-conforming. If you try to be a “good feminist”  like me, you probably know this, but sometimes it can be hard training our brains to not ignore this issue. We’re raised in a society (cue Joker voice) that aggressively pigeon-holes men and women into their respective roles, leaving little room for anything in between. It’s important we recognize, accommodate, and advocate for not just cis women, but also people outside the gender binary. These groups of people face increased discrimination through discriminatory laws, policies, and in their everyday lives. Here are five ways you can break that cycle in your own small way. 

1. Help normalize stating your pronouns: Include your preferred pronouns on places like your instagram or twitter bios, your email signatures, or face to face introductions when necessary. 

 This might feel awkward and unnatural at first, but saying your pronouns isn’t all that weird when you think about it. It’s just an extension of saying your name or any other personal characteristic. Once you get used to introducing yourself with your pronouns, it’ll come much easier. 

2. Use gender neutral language. 

By making minor tweaks to the way we speak, we can easily be more accommodating to all genders. Ex: “Hello, everyone!” instead of “Hello, ladies and gents!”. Again, this may feel forced at first, but you get used to it quick. To those wondering, you can absolutely use “their” or “theirs” in place of “his/hers” or “he/she”. It’s not grammatically incorrect, either

3. For god’s sake, let people whatever restroom they need. Trans or nonbinary people should be allowed to use whatever bathroom they’re most comfortable with, end of story.

 It’s a popular myth that predators will use flexible restroom policies to sneak into the “ladies” or “men’s” room, and it’s been debunked over and over. If you hear someone spreading misinformation about this issue, you can politely educate them on the actual facts about this supposed phenomenon. We need to let this myth die.

4. Make an effort to support LGBTQ+ owned businesses and artists. 

Uplifting female business owners and entrepreneurs will always be important! Let’s not exclude those who don’t fall in the gender binary, though! Here are some super neat businesses I found to get you started: Steer Queer Ya’ll (those They/Them earrings are a MUST), Queer Candle Co., and Peau De Loup.

5. Always be open to what the gender-nonconforming people in your life have to say. 

If you mess up and say the wrong pronoun to someone, don’t sweat it: rather than overreacting and begging for forgiveness, apologize, move on, and make a mental note to do better. When someone from the LGBTQ+ community points out something that you’re doing is cisnormative or transphobic, listen. Being defensive will get you nowhere. 

I hope this list was informative for you, or if you already know this stuff, I hope it was a good refresher! Thanks for reading this far, and check out the rest of our blog for more info on feminist topics! 

Back to Basics #5: What is the Women’s Center?

By: Emma Sauer 

Something I get asked a lot, whether at events, in the office, or just when talking about my job is…

What do you actually do at the Women’s Center?”

I’ll tell you! 

The Women’s Center at UMKC serves several purposes. Our office houses a wide array of resources available to the community, such as information on housing assistance, local shelters, and LGBTQIA+ resources. These are available either as brochures or links collected on our Campus and Community Resources tab. We also have a library, a lactation/self-care space, and a kitchen, all available to faculty and students. Of course, we’re also just open as a safe space for any marginalized students, and students are welcome to come in and just hang out. 

Another huge thing our staff does at the Women’s Center is our programming– if you are a student at UMKC, you may have spotted us at one of the many events we host, co-sponsor, or attend. Examples of programs we’ve run in the past include running a menstrual product drive to spread awareness about the Pink Tax, promoting body positivity during Every Body is Beautiful Week, and the Their/Her Art Project, which exhibits and uplifts local female and nonbinary artists. Throughout the semester, the student staff are constantly planning new events like these to promote awareness of gender equity issues with the help of Arzie, our awesome director.

There’s even more to the Women’s Center I could go on and on about, but that’s another post for another time.

“So what’s the point of having a Women’s Center and doing all these programs?” 

 Well, speaking as a woman and outspoken feminist, the Women’s Center matters to me personally because it allows feminism to have a physical, vocal presence at UMKC. The Women’s Center is also important because it provides a safe space for marginalized groups on campus, and our programming throughout the school year means gender equity always has a voice. In other words, we want UMKC– and Kansas City in general– to be more feminist! 

“Feminist? What’s that?” 

… Oh boy. That’s a question for a previous B2B blog, my friend. And if you want to learn more about why women’s centers are so important to have at universities,  you can check out this great article from WIHE (Women in Higher Education). 

Unbothered. In my lane. Focused. Flourishing.

By: Emma Sauer

Hey Roos! I’m back for another round at the Women’s Center this semester, repeating my role as the Blog Editor. Over the summer, I interned at AltCap, a CDFI here in Kansas City. In case you didn’t know what a CDFI is (I didn’t), it stands for Community Development Financial Institution. A large part of what CDFIS such as AltCap do is lend capital to underserved and marginalized communities in Kansas City. Even though my time there was short, it gave me an increased awareness of the very real institutional barriers female business-owners and entrepreneurs face. Those barriers are even more present for women of color. This semester, we’re going to be promotig female business owners and entrepreneurs over social media, blogs, and our display board, so stay tuned!  

I’m so glad to be back with the Women’s Center in a space promoting gender equity and intersectionality. If there’s anything I learned over the summer, it’s that I always have more to learn about feminism, and I’m going to continue to educate myself further this fall!  

Talk soon, guys! <3 

Meet our new Intern, Crystal!

By: Crystal Lum

Hello! My name is Crystal Lum, and I am one of the BHS undergraduate interns at the UMKC Women’s Center. I am a senior here at UMKC and I am about to graduate this upcoming fall. I am majoring in Health Science with a minor in Exercise Science. I chose UMKC because I really liked the environment and the amount of diversity that the campus offers. Through my years at UMKC, I have made so many friends and experienced a lot of college life here at this institution. I have learned a lot about different cultures and met many people with different identities. Interacting with others and helping people in need is one of my passions. I love meeting new people, either through events or just through mutual friends.

I was interested in interning for the Women’s Center because their focus and goals aligned with my own personal values. The organization is inclusive to people regardless of their personal identity. I support their mission values, which are to advocate, educate and provide support services for women’s and gender equity. I am looking forward to planning fun and new events for not only the students and faculty, but for the entire Kansas City community to take part in. I hope for people to learn about what the Women’s Center offers, and for people to feel welcomed in this space.

My personal favorite things to do in my free time are hanging out with friends, attending concerts and visiting different coffee shops!

Welcome our new Women’s Center Intern, Anel!

By: Anel Sandoval

Hello everyone! My name is Anel Sandoval. I am a senior at UMKC and will be graduating in December 2022 with a bachelors degree in Health Sciences! I am a Mexican-American woman who grew up in Kansas City. I have three brothers, who all graduated from UMKC. Although I took a three year break for traveling and work experience, I decided to return to school and earn my degree. My mother moved to the United States from Mexico to give her children a better life and for that reason I want to graduate, because she didn’t have the opportunity to attend college. Attending UMKC has allowed me to stay close to my family and friends in Kansas City who have supported me through this educational journey.

When exploring the different options for internships, I learned about the Women’s Center and knew that I wanted to intern here and work alongside other people that work towards empowering women and advancing women’s equity. During my time at the Women’s Center I hope to gain more knowledge about gender equity and help educate, advocate, and raise awareness to these issues in our community.

When I’m not on campus I enjoy traveling, watching movies, hanging out with my family and friends, and cuddles with my elderly cat. I am so excited to work at the Women’s Center and take this experience with me to my next endeavors and I hope to meet many of you soon

Engaging Students Through Healing Arts at UMKC

Image Credit: A Window Between Worlds, https://awbw.org/engaging-students-at-umkc/

By: Arzie Umali

The following blog was written by the director of the Women’s Center, Arzie Umali, and was originally posted on the A Window Between Worlds blog at awbw.org/blog/umkc. Arzie is a certified healing arts facilitator and has been offering workshops at UMKC since 2013.

The Women’s Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) has had the honor of hosting A Window Between Worlds healing arts workshops since 2013. As an artist and survivor of trauma, I knew firsthand the healing power of art; now, for almost 10 years, I have been sharing that knowledge and empowering our students to use art to heal not just from trauma, but also navigate through the daily stressors of college life.

Through our art program, we are giving students the tools they need for self-preservation so they can find success not just in college, but in life.

Bringing an AWBW program to the Women’s Center was a perfect fit. It was African American feminist writer, Audre Lorde, who said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Our students are often overwhelmed and juggling multiple responsibilities, never having enough time for themselves. Being a college student today is hard, and many of our students we support are not just college students. They are also care-givers, and parents, and self-supporting individuals with jobs and families. They are also dealing with different traumas and stressors like debt, illness, loneliness, family violence, and/or a global pandemic. For many of our students, college is also the first time they have felt safe to come to terms with their own identity. For most students, college comes first and everything else comes last – especially themselves. I often find myself telling students that self-care is just as important as showing up for class, studying hard, and acing their finals. And that’s where our AWBW program comes in.

From the first time our students come to campus during summer orientation, we engage them with healing arts. During orientation, we offer students the opportunity to create Stepping Stones. This art activity allows them to ground themselves as college students and see their journey as a series of steps leading them towards graduation. This activity guides them in keeping focused on their end goal, and if they should stumble along the way, their Stepping Stone is there to remind them to keep taking steps forward.

Throughout the academic year, students can engage with our AWBW program through multiple avenues. Whether they need support dealing with trauma, managing their anxiety, coping with stress, or just a timeout, our healing arts workshops are available to them all year round. During Welcome Week, we offer Journey Charms workshops using shrink art where students can visualize college as one of life’s journeys that may be full of good and bad surprises. We also offer Touchstones workshops where students create art that ties them to the larger UMKC community and reminds them that we are there for them, no matter what. Finally, at the end of each semester, we host Shrink Your Stress. This signature program takes place during our campus Stress Less Fest and gives our students a window of time during finals week to step away from their studies to do some self-care and stress relief by creating fun and meaningful shrink art.

Image Credit: A Window Between Worlds, https://awbw.org/engaging-students-at-umkc/

Our most successful and fastest growing art workshops are our Healing Arts Corners. These self-managed healing arts stations are set up in various locations across campus to reach as many different populations as possible. In 2015 we started these workshops with just four locations and this past semester we were in twelve spaces on campus including the Women’s Center, International Student Affairs, the LGBTQIA Rainbow Lounge, the MindBody Connection (a collaborative space of our Counseling Center and Student Health and Wellness), the At Ease Zone in Student Veterans’ Services, the Student Advising Office, the Writing Studio, the Health Sciences Library, the Village in Multicultural Student Affairs, and our three residence halls. These stations provide students an outlet and resource for doing self-care on their time and on their terms. Students learn quickly where the stations are, and they return time and again when they need a little art to get them through the day.

Since 2013, our AWBW program has engaged students across campus, from classrooms in Arts and Sciences, to lounges in our medical school, to the sidelines of our basketball court. Our program has grown from serving 245 participants through 17 workshops during our first year, to serving 1800 participants at 67 workshops during the 2018-2019 academic year. With the COVID-19 pandemic came an even greater need for our workshops. We pivoted several times in order to continue offering art to students in the safest way possible.

The AWBW program at the Women’s Center is vital to the overall health of our campus. I am confident that through our art program, we are giving students the tools they need for self-preservation so they can find success not just in college, but in life.

Arzie Umali, MPA
Windows Facilitator
University of Missouri-Kansas City