Baby, It’s Cold Outside

By Nina Cherry

Now that Thanksgiving is over, and after the large snowfall, it is time for Christmas music! One Christmas carol has become quite controversial lately; “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The song was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, but was made popular when it appeared in the film Neptune’s Daughter in 1949.

I have been listening to this song for years, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago when I realized unsettling the lyrics were. As the song continues, the male’s “friendly” attempts appear to get more and more insistent – until he is nearly forcing the woman to stay.

Recently, there has been a large debate on whether or not to retire this song. The lyrics have been analyzed and interpreted in many ways. Some believe that the song is more about the woman being held back from societal norms as an unwed woman in the 1940’s staying at a man’s house. On the other hand, that idea is combatted by troubling lines like “what’s in this drink?” and “what’s the sense in hurting my pride?” Karen Tongson, a gender studies associate professor at the University of Southern California, believes “The song itself is an effort to furnish female sexuality with a set of excuses as opposed to a coercive song.” The song has been getting plenty of buzz. In 2016, a singer-songwriter couple revised the song to create a comical and consensual version that went viral.

The lyrics send a bad message, but I believe this song needs to be preserved, and not forgotten. This song is a depiction of what it was like to be a woman at the time, which is something that needs to be remembered, otherwise history may repeat itself.

What are your thoughts about this popular Christmas carol?

Internalized Misogyny: What does it look like? How do you stop it?

By Nina Cherry

As feminists, we confidently believe that we view everyone equally, but internalized misogyny sits somewhere in most of us. But what is internalized misogyny? What does that even mean? Until recently, I had heard this term before, but I never quite understood it.

Internalized misogyny is when women subconsciously project sexist ideas onto other women and even onto themselves.

We see women being degraded subtly in our everyday lives – especially in the media. This sets an unhealthy precedent and makes it all the more difficult to see ourselves tearing one another down.  

It can be difficult to identify internalized misogyny. As independent as we think we may be, we have many preconceived notions about how a woman should exist that stem from societal expectations and gender norms. It is important to be conscious of this, and to be conscious of your thoughts and ideas not only about other women but also in regards to yourself. Remember – empowered women empower women!

Personally, I find myself projecting this internalized misogyny onto myself more often than I project it onto other women. I am quick to cast judgement on myself. Sometimes I tell myself that I need to reel it in because I’m being too aggressive, when in reality, I am merely being assertive.  

Catch yourself when you feel inferior or when you find yourself judging other women.  Step back and evaluate the situation. Most importantly, be kind. Be kind to yourself and to other women.

“Internalized misogyny does not refer outright to a belief in the inferiority of women. It refers to the byproducts of this societal view that cause women to shame, doubt, and undervalue themselves and others of their gender.” Suzannah Weiss, “7 Sneaky Ways Internalized Misogyny Manifests in Our Everyday Lives”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proves that the future really is #female

By Ann Varner

A few months ago, the name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not a name I knew, especially being in the midwest. A week ago, that name became my hero’s. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a 29-year-old woman who won the primary elections for congress against current Rep. Joe Crowley, who has spent 10 terms in congress – unchallenged for every primary election. Last week, Cortez won the midterm elections, making her the youngest woman to serve in Congress. Why is she my hero? She’s a young, Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx who was making her living bartending a few months ago.  She’s everything you don’t imagine when it comes to politics, and it’s a breath of fresh air.

Ocasio-Cortez grew up about 40 minutes from the Bronx in New York. She said that much of her life was “defined by the 40 minute commute between her school in (Yorktown) and her family in the Bronx.” After graduating high school in 2007, she went on to Boston University. After graduating from Boston University, she worked as a community organizer, but due to financial stress she had to also start working as a bartender at restaurants. Her political experience is limited to working as an organizer for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary election in 2016, and in 2017 she began her campaign for her seat in congress.

According to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign website, she ran for Congress “to create an America that works for all of us, not just a wealthy few.” Some of her platforms include:

  • Medicare for All
  • Federal Jobs Guarantee
  • Abolish ICE
  • Gun Control
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Women’s Rights
  • Support LGBTQIA+
  • Solidarity with Puerto Rico
  • Housing as a Human Right

…And many more. You can find her total platform on https://ocasio2018.com/issues. Ocasio-Cortez wants to see a better America and after the stunning elections, many others do too. As someone who is in process of applying to law school and is seriously considering politics, she is a true inspiration to me. I always despised the thought of being a politician because of the stigma surrounding politics, but to see a young woman who didn’t go to school for politics and has almost no political background become so successful, it shows me that it might be ‘okay’ to be a politician. 

The future is #female.

A New Addition

By Christina Terrell

Hi! My name is Christina Terrell, and I am very excited to begin my work experience here at the UMKC Women’s Center.

I am a first-year student here at the university, and I am a pre-nursing major in the hopes to persue a BSN degree from UMKC’s school of nursing. My major happens to be one of the main reasons I chose UMKC. The university has an amazing nursing program. Along with the fact that Kansas City is much like my hometown, St. Louis, Missouri, which is a pretty big, diverse city, I felt as though UMKC and Kansas City could offer me some home comfort along with many new opportunities and get me away from the same scenery of 18 years!

To continue, the Women’s Center here at UMKC was something that captured my attention very quickly. I had seen many flyers around campus, and one day visited the Women’s Center and instantly fell in love. The idea of trying something new and purposeful intrigued me. There are many things I look forward to doing and participating in during my time at the Women’s Center, such as advocating and trying to further educate some of my friends about our mission!

Midterm Results: 5 Firsts for Women in Congress

By Samantha Anthony

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

As election results came pouring in on Tuesday and the days after, one observation soon became clear: it’s a year of firsts for women in Congress. Over 100 women were elected to the House of Representatives, crushing the previous record. According to The Washington Post, “Women have never held more than 84 of the 435 seats in the House. With votes still being counted Thursday, 100 women had officially been declared winners.” The women elected include veterans, teachers, and more. 

Among the groundbreaking victories this week, several women have achieved cultural and religious firsts in Congress. A Vox article claims that two Muslim women were elected to the House of Representatives, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Tlaib won in Michigan and Omar in Minnesota. On Tuesday evening, Omar mentioned Tlaib on Twitter: “I cannot wait to serve with you, inshallah,” she said. 

Sharice Davids

In New York, one woman became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. At 29 years old, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be representing New York’s 14th District. Cortez has been open about her struggles – and triumphs – as an adult. She shared on Wednesday that just last year, she was working as a bartender. Soon she’ll be hunting for apartments in Washington, D.C., but for now she’s focused on bringing attention to housing affordability, something that has impacted her personally.

Women have yet another reason to celebrate firsts: in New Mexico and Kansas, two Native American women were elected to Congress for the first time. “The projected victories for the two Native American women mark a milestone in the US political system,” CNN said in an article this week. Deb Haaland will serve in New Mexico, and Sharice Davids in Kansas. What could be better? We’ll tell you: Davids is also the first openly LGBT+ member of Congress to be elected in Kansas. Intersectionality for the win!

Ayanna Pressley

Victory and equality were celebrated in Massachusetts on Tuesday. According to CNBC, Ayanna Pressley, is the first black woman to be elected to the House of Representatives from the state. In September, Pressley made headlines when an emotional video was released of her finding out that she had won the primary election. Her victory speech was equally charging: “In Congress, I will be focused on lifting up the voices of those in community, partnering with activists and residents, and ensuring that those closest to the pain are closest to the power, driving and informing the policy-making,” Pressley said. 

Regardless of party affiliation, this year’s midterm election results prove that women are ready for equal representation in government.

Susan B. Anthony and the Women’s Right to Vote

By Ann Varner

We are less than a day away from the midterm elections for 2018. It seems that everywhere I turn there are political campaigns, and it’s impossible to escape from it on social media, the radio, the TV, or even signs on cars and in people’s yards. As much as the radio ads annoy me, I must remember and be grateful that I have my right to vote, and that the right for women to vote didn’t come easily. One of the people we can thank for helping move the 19th Amendment of the Constitution along is Susan B. Anthony.

Susan B. Anthony was “a pioneer crusader for the woman suffrage movement in the United States and president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.” Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15th, 1820 in Massachusetts. She grew up in a family that was active in politics. She became inspired to fight for women’s rights when she was denied the chance to speak at a convention campaigning against alcohol, because she’s a woman. She realized then that no one would take women seriously unless they had the right to vote. She founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 with Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Over the years, the two women traveled around the country to give speeches regarding women’s right to vote. Sadly, she would die in 1906, before the 19th amendment was passed giving all women the right to vote. However, she will always be recognized for her efforts. It would not be until August 26th, 1920 that the senate ratified the 19th amendment and American women gained full voting rights. It was the National Woman Suffrage Association that continued to crusade and helped this right for women to happen. Without her, the NWSA would have not existed and it could have been many more years, if ever, that women were allowed to vote.

I am not only to tell you how to vote or for whom, but please always exercise your right to vote. When you haven’t had to fight for a certain right it is easy to take advantage of it or not use it at all. Without the right to vote the people are voiceless, and as women we must always use our voice and our right to vote to push for progress in this country.

Event Preview: May the Book Open: Lessons from the Republic of Gilead

By Nina Cherry

Join us this Wednesday, November 7 for a discussion on the book and HULU series The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This dystopian novel is set in the future in an oppressive, authoritarian state in New England. With the birth rate plummeting due to environmental conditions, fertile women are forced to bear children. These women are at the bottom of the social class structure and are only valued by society for their fertility. The story focuses around one of these women – Offred, who was uprooted from her family and assigned to be a “handmaid” for “the Commander.”

Atwood’s evocative novel, which she began writing in 1984, is her own frightening forecast of the future. The book explores several relevant women’s rights issues that we look forward to discussing.

Lunch will be provided!

Gilead is a tyranny of nostalgia, a rape culture that denounces the previous society — ours — for degrading women with pornography. It controls women by elevating them, fetishizing motherhood, praising femininity, but defining it in terms of service to men and children.”  The New York Times

What: Book Discussion: May the Book Open: Lessons from the Republic of Gilead

Join us for lunch and a discussion on the book and HULU series The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Who: Co-sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center and UMKC University Libraries

When: Wednesday, November 7, 12-1 p.m.

Where: Miller Nichols Library Room 325, 800 E. 51st Street, Kansas City, MO 64110

Admission: Free!

Please RSVP by November 5th. For more information or to RSVP, call the UMKC Women’s Center at 816-235-1638 or email us at umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.

We look forward to seeing you there!

Women in STEM: Why so few and how we’re changing that

This blog was written by a guest author.

Amanda Peterson, Enlightened Digital

Over the past several years, it has become evident that the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related careers is something which needs to be addressed. Though women account for 39 percent of jobs globally, they only account for 28 percent of STEM positions, and even fewer in leadership roles at only 12.2 per cent.

It can be hard to pinpoint where this gap comes from, but there is no denying that it exists. It’s been speculated that it comes back to the traditional gender roles enforced on women from a young age which consists of a general push away from more scientific careers. According to an article by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the idea that women don’t belong in these careers starts showing up around the age of six and only progresses from there.

In the AAUW study, five-year-old boys and girls were asked whether or not they thought they could be smart, the children surveyed believed that anyone can be “really, really smart,” regardless of gender. The same study however, found that girls six and older believed boys are much more likely to be brilliant. Similarly, a recent gender-science study found that 70 per cent of people associated men with STEM careers and women with the arts.

When it comes to changing these statistics, it doesn’t always come easily. Both the Obama administration and the current Trump administration have recognized the need to close the gender gap and have put programs in place to help do just that.

Our current administration has launched two programs which are aimed at helping to get more women involved in STEM positions – the Inspire Act and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.

The Inspire Act is directed specifically toward NASA and letting young girls know that they are smart and capable enough to grow up to have careers in the STEM field. This act specifically directs NASA to connect these young girls with female STEM professionals like their astronauts and engineers. Through this act, we are able to reach girls at the age when their confidence in achieving  a career in a scientific field is faltering. Having female role models to look up to is a vital component of getting young girls to pursue careers in the STEM field and close this gender gap.   

The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act works with women farther along their career paths by authorizing the National Science Foundation to recruit and assist female entrepreneurs in the STEM fields. When congress found that only 26 percent of female STEM degree holders worked in in STEM careers, they addressed the issue through an amendment to the existing Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act. Now, not only are the women given the same opportunity for jobs in their degree fields, but are encouraged to extend their focus into the commercial space.

During the Obama administration, The White House Council on Women and Girls launched a campaign to urge the entertainment industry to portray more female STEM professionals. One of the most important factors in combatting this gender gap comes in the form of representation. Not only in a professional sense, as demonstrated in the previous two acts, but in cultural and entertainment representation.

Young girls put a large amount of stock in the kinds of role models they are exposed to through the entertainment industry. In making an effort to portray more women in these positions, girls are learning that not only can they pursue these STEM roles but they have females in the TV shows and movies they are watching every day. From movies like Hidden Figures and Gravity to prominent female characters in TV shows like The Fosters and Reverie, there is a search of media that is giving young girls positive influences that show them it’s okay and it’s possible to pursue a STEM career.  

Your New Favorite Feminist Anthems

By Nina Cherry

Musician Joni Mitchell

Check out the Women’s Center’s new Spotify account and listen to our Fall 2018 Woman Power Playlist! Click here to jam out to this mix and support these women and the fall of the patriarchy!

Celebrate your womanhood with these empowering anthems this fall.

“Woman” – Kesha After a long, bitter battle to get out of a record deal with a sexually and emotionally abusive producer, Kesha made a strong comeback in 2017 with her most recent album, Rainbow. This is my favorite track from this album, and I especially enjoy the first verse: I buy my own things, I pay my own bills/ These diamond rings, my automobiles/ Everything I got, I bought it/ Boys can’t buy my love.”

“Seashore” – The Regrettes This song defines mansplaining with the opening lyrics, You’re talkin’ to me like a child/Hey I’ve got news, I’m not a little girl.” Although all women can relate to this, I think young women can especially relate to this as we are frequently questioned because of our age and “inexperience.”

“A Case of You” – Joni Mitchell Aside from being an amazing musician and lyricist, Joni Mitchell is a feminist committed to social justice. She has paved the way for many female artists, and has helped make female sexuality not taboo. She takes control of her sexuality so poetically, and inspires women to free their sexuality and take pride in it to this day, and I believe this song is a great representation of this.

“Pins and Needles” – Margaret Glaspy I like to describe this song as unfiltered feminist rage, and Glaspy’s gravelly voice definitely adds to this idea. When the song ends, the chorus still sticks with me: But I don’t wanna watch my mouth/ No, I don’t wanna act like/ I can’t figure it out/ I don’t wanna hold you till I’m good and ready to.”

Event Preview: Crafty Feminist Friday & The Clothesline Project

By Ann Varner

This Friday, November 2, we will once again have a Crafty Feminist Friday from 12-1 p.m. in the UMKC Women’s Center. This time, we will be decorating t-shirts for an event that Violence Prevention and Response is hosting, the Clothesline Project. The Clothesline Project is an annual project that brings awareness to the issue of gender-based violence. People around the world decorate blank t-shirts with their feelings about gender-based violence. According to The Clothesline Project’s website, “The Clothesline Project began in October 1990 in Hyannis, Massachusetts.  There were 31 shirts displayed on the village green as part of an annual Take Back the Night March and Rally. Throughout the day, women came forward to create new shirts and the line kept growing.”

Today, the clothesline project has grown to include nearly 500 projects worldwide. The purpose is to bear witness to survivors as well as victims. Using the clothesline, we air society’s “dirty laundry” in a form that was once “women’s work.” It is not only to help others learn about the statistics, but also to educate people on the magnitude of impact these experiences have on everyone’s lives. The Clothesline Project works to reverse and transform harmful effects of this violence on a global scale. By proclaiming the joy of healing and the agony of pain, we cut through some of the alienating aspects of this culture.

The t-shirts will be displayed during 16 Days of Activism, which is an international campaign against gender-based violence. It runs from November 25th (The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10th (Human Rights Day). This campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.

I encourage you, regardless if you are a survivor or not, to come and participate in creating the t-shirts. If you are not a survivor, you probably know someone who is, whether you are aware of it or not. I hope to see you there!

What: Crafty Feminist Friday (for The Clothesline Project)

Who: Sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center, in support of The Clothesline Project

When: Friday, November 2, 12-1 p.m.

Where: UMKC Women’s Center, 105 Haag Hall