Goodbye Women’s Center!

By: Adriana Miranda

Well, it’s been a long academic year and it’s finally coming to a close! My time at the Women’s Center has definitely passed by too quickly though. There are so many blogs I didn’t get to write, and so much to still be said and done. However I’m so glad I still got to share things like: exploring what performing femininity means in relation the the male gaze and desirability, women of color and their role in being essential workers,  SA awareness, and of course my usual spiel: INTERSECTIONAL FEMINISM!

I hope we’ll all continue thinking about intersectionality in our fight for gender equity. Remember none of us are equal until we are ALL equal. This includes our trans sisters/brothers/siblings, BIPOC, disabled folks, plus size folks, and anyone else who has to fight for equity in this largely cishet, white, male, able-bodied focused world.

I have loved being part of such a wonderful team for yet another semester and being in an environment where i’m comfortable being my loud, colorful, intense Latina lesbian feminist self, and I get to work on things i’m passionate about.

I’ve met so many wonderful new people and strengthened bonds with other Women’s Center staff who will remain friends for life and I’m so grateful for all we’ve done together.

It’s been real Women’s Center, i’ll miss ya, and I will miss writing for all of you lovely folks reading the blogs 🙂 <3

The Importance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By: Adriana Miranda

TW: sexual assault, violence

Did you know that 1 in every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape? But this doesn’t just affect women. Men who are students and 18-24 years old are FIVE times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than men of the same age who are not students. Transgender, genderqueer and nonconforming (TGQN) students are also at higher risk than other college students (source for all of these here). And these are just reported cases; who knows how much larger the number is for people who don’t ever talk about their assault? That being said, SA is something that affects us all. If you have friends who are women or TGQN, there’s a high chance they’ve experienced some form of SA. If you have male friends there is a chance they’ve experienced the same.

This is why SA Awareness Month (SAAM) exists. It’s a time for us to come together to raise awareness and to take action against sexual assault.

The Women’s Center is dedicated to spreading awareness about SA and this SAAM. As part of our programming, we participated in Denim Day on April 26, 2022. Denim Day began as the result of a court case that victim-blamed a woman for her assault. Why? The Italian Supreme Court ruled that her jeans were too tight for her rapist to remove by himself, so she must have helped remove them.  This past Wednesday, we also shared a“What Were They Wearing” display to share the stories of SA victims, heard from a survivor speaker, and finished out the event with healing arts and snacks as a break from the heavy subject matter.

 

Whose Femininity Is It Anyway?

By: Adriana Miranda

Have you ever thought about how, like, femininity is SO strongly tied to men? Hear me out!

Yeah, femininity is traditionally associated with women. BUT! Think about what kind of women are afforded femininity. It tends to be straight women, or white women, orrrr thin women, or just women that fit into the cishet male gaze of desirability in one way or another. So if femininity (at least to a cishet world) means “desirable to men” has it ever really been ours to begin with? And what if our performance of femininity ISN’T for men, what happens then?

Now we all perform gender, right? I personally present very feminine, i’m talking almost-strictly-wears-dresses feminine. I also happen to be a lesbian. And plus-size. And a person of color. This for some reason sometimes confuses (and angers) cisgender heterosexual people.

Either my femininity is called into question or my sexuality is called into question: “Are you sure you’re not at all attracted to men? You dress so cute! I bet you secretly do like us.” Or…“Do you just dress this way because you’re not comfortable being your true self?”

Why does it need to be one way or another? Why does my femininity have to be me trying to attract men or make up for my fatness for men or appear more “soft” for men? What if I just want to present feminine? And even if I was if I was doing it for anyone other than myself, it’s definitely for other lesbians. Femininity can and DOES exist entirely on its own, completely separate from men.

Women of Color in the Essential Workforce

By: Adriana Miranda 

Trivia Question: _______ __ _______ (demographic) are more likely to be doing essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic than anyone else.

Answer: women of color

Did you know women of color are more likely to be doing essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic than anyone else?

“Of the 5.8 million people working healthcare jobs that pay less than $30,000 a year, half are nonwhite and 83 percent are women.” says the New York Times.  Also, according to Think Global Health, “one in every three jobs held by women has been deemed essential, and women of color are more likely to have essential jobs”.

We as an entire global population are relying on healthcare workers and service workers to keep our lives semi-normal and semi-functioning. While these roles have always been important, and we should always treat others with respect regardless of their job being “essential”, these past two years have REALLY shown us that these essential workers are truly the backbone of our everyday lives. They keep our groceries stocked, they keep our public spaces clean, they keep our families alive. They are also more likely to be women of color.

Not only are things like racism and misogyny facing women of color every day, but they are also more likely to be putting themselves in danger of getting COVID to keep our communities running, AND very often being overworked and underpaid for it.

It’s time we start acknowledging how crucial women of color are to our workforce and our lives.

Next time we’re out getting groceries, picking up takeout, getting a COVID test, shopping, trying to make our lives feel a little normal during a global pandemic, let’s be grateful for the people who risk their well being every day to keep this country running.

Back to Basics #1: What is Intersectional Feminism?

Image source: marcn, Creative Commons

Editor’s note: Hi, Roos! Welcome to the first installment of… drumroll please… Back to Basics!  In this blog segment, Women’s Center staff take on core feminist ideas, terminology, myths, and more! We hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two!

By: Adriana Miranda

We’re bringing it back to basics this week with: intersectional feminism! What is intersectional feminism you ask? Great question! So let’s say just for example: You’re a white woman. You work with a Latina or Black (or both) woman and a white man. For every dollar this white male coworker makes, you make 82 cents. Unfair, right? But look at your Latina/Black female coworker; she only makes 56-64 cents.  

So you’re thinking, “Wow this is clearly a gender issue! We women make less than men! But why does my other female coworker make even less than me?”

That’s because there are other factors to your coworker’s identity that already add to her oppression. Yes you’re both women, but she is Latina/Black. Taking these different identities and layers of oppression into consideration in our fight for gender equity is intersectional feminism. “Intersectional” means we recognize the issues of all marginalized female-bodied individuals, not just the cis white women.

“But Adriana, why can’t we just advocate for ALL women without highlighting differences? Why can’t we just come together as women?”

I’m so glad you asked! For women of color, trans women, disabled women, etc. we can’t just separate from our identities. Even within women-centered and feminist spaces, non-white, disabled, and LGBT women may still face oppression among other women. It’s like, you can’t pick and choose what parts of you exist right? They all do!

We’re all whole complex beings, and fighting for gender equity means fighting for those with identities different to ours, and acknowledging their experiences unique to their identity. We should be intersectional in our feminism. 

Click here or here for more info!

Welcome Back From Adriana Miranda, Women’s Center Staff Member

By: Adriana Miranda

Hi all! If you don’t recognize me, my name is Adriana Miranda (pronouns are She/Her or They/Them). I started here at the Women’s Center in the middle of our last Fall semester, and I’m back this Spring semester!

Here’s a little refresher on who I am and why I’m here: I’m a 23 year old transfer student from Los Angeles, an artsy Mexican-American lesbian who’s extremely passionate about intersectional feminism and queer liberation (to be honest I’m passionate about literally everything I do) and I’m a psychology major! I love painting, dancing, reggaeton, traveling, cross-stitching, tattooing, singing, and binge watching novelas.

I love my work here at the Women’s Center and hope to bring you all some more posts on intersectionality, queerness, gender equity, gender diversity, uplifting WOC, maybe some media reviews, and who knows what else! I’m so happy to be back another semester and I can’t wait to write for you all soon! Til next time 🙂

See You Soon Women’s Center

By Adriana Miranda

Maybe this is because I literally started at the Women’s Center mid-semester, but WOW does time fly! For me, this is just an until-next-time post because I have SO enjoyed my time here so far and will definitely be back. Now, I know I only got a couple posts out to you wonderful folks, but I’ll be back next semester with a lot more! I’ve met some wonderful people here and I’ve loved being a part of a space that actively works towards and advocates for gender equity. Here, I get the chance to talk about things that matter to me and share them with you all both online and on campus.  

Being at the Women’s Center in a space where I feel supported and involved is so important to me as a woman of color and a lesbian who has been fighting for social causes as long as I can remember. Next semester I hope to continue to advocate for intersectionality in the fight for gender equity, and hopefully bring y’all some more blogs on topics that are important to me. In the meantime, I hope you get some time to relax, have a self care day, watch some empowering movies, etc. Until next time! 

Missing White Woman Syndrome 

By Adriana Miranda

Missing White Woman Syndromea term coined by the late PBS news anchor Gwen Ifill, refers to the mainstream media’s seeming fascination with covering missing or endangered white women, and its seeming disinterest in cases involving missing people of color.”  

I’m sure we all remember when Gabby Petito went missing earlier this year, and if you don’t I’ll recap it for you: Gabby went missing while on a road trip with her fiancé, he returned home without her. The internet immediately sensationalized her disappearance and turned this woman’s life into news stories and true-crime tiktoks. Now I’m not saying media attention is a bad thing — people should care about missing women. The issue is that when black women, latina women, indigenous women, and other women of color go missing, they don’t get the same amount of media interest, if any at all.  

Zach Sommers, a lawyer specializing in race, crime, and media coverage, did an entire study on this phenomenon, and he believes it’s influenced by money. “Sommers speculates that there’s also the economic calculus of news coverage to consider: in skewing this type of coverage toward white women, news outlets might be deciding that missing white women are worth more in terms of eyeballs and ad revenue.”   

This means that not only are missing black and brown women’s stories seen as less deserving of coverage, but missing white women’s victimhood is seen as profitable. Even more, sometimes media coverage comes across like true-crime entertainment rather than real genuine care for others’ safety.  

Media coverage may not be the end-all-be-all for finding missing people, but only covering stories of missing white women at the very least contributes to a subconscious societal belief that white women are more valuable. It should be concerning to all of us that (1) women in general are more easily seen as victims and (2) white women are seen this way more easily and their victimhood is considered profitable. 

Mama Ofelia

By Adriana Miranda

When I arrived in Mexico in 2018, I felt like I was meeting my grandma for the first time. I spent the earliest years of my life with her in Mexico, but I never had any memory of her. She remembered me of course, we’ve talked on the phone often, she recognized the toddler that used to spend so much time over there. However things were different now, I was grown up, out as a lesbian to everyone, and scared that maybe I wasn’t who she wanted me to be. Don’t get me wrong, the woman is a powerful, single business woman, a literal bruja, and a feminist in her own way. She has never been a fan of “staying in her place.” But she’s still my grandma from a small town in central Mexico, so I was still nervous.  

The second I arrived, all the fear was gone. She made me feel nothing but unconditional love and support. She started joking that Frida Kahlo was her girlfriend and favorite artist; just trying to show me that she recognized queer Mexican icons and make me feel more comfortable. She also started to compliment my tattoos and ask about them. As intimidated as I was initially, my week back in Mexico brought us so close, and we learned so much about each other. My grandma made me feel like if she, of all people, can love and celebrate who I am, I deserve nothing less. Before arriving, I had told myself, “even if she doesn’t accept me, it’s okay because we’re not that close,” but I underestimated how much of an impact it would have on me to receive her unconditional love and celebration. She truly changed how I view myself and my belonging in the world.  

This story is part of Her Life as Art: Coming Together Through Grandmother Stories, a unique, multi-dimensional, week-long series of events celebrating the wisdom and legacy of the grandmother figures in our lives, taking place Nov. 6 – 12, 2021 at the Kansas City United Church of Christ, 205 W. 65th St. KCMO, 64113. We invite you to view the art exhibit and attend other related events. For details, please visit www.kcucc.org.

 

New Women Center Student Staff: Meet Adriana!

By Adriana Miranda

Hi all! My name is Adriana Miranda (she/her), and this is my first year at UMKC! I am a first-generation Mexican-American transfer student from Los Angeles. There, I attended community college for four long years before transferring to UMKC as a junior psychology major. I was born and raised in East L.A, an almost entirely Latine area of L.A, and chose to come to UMKC for a new environment with new people (and some actual seasons for once)! So far I am loving Kansas City, UMKC, and all the new friends and community I’ve made. 

I want to eventually get a graduate degree in social work or psychology and work with LGBTQ+ Latine youth, providing mental health care, resources, and a safe space for forming community and connections with people who understand their intersectional identity. 

I was initially super interested in joining the Women’s Center because I have been involved in social activism and been advocating for gender equity since I was a pre-teen. Being a lesbian who grew up in a Mexican immigrant household, I had to navigate the struggles of identity and gender inequality within my culture, those same issues outside of my culture, and learning where I fit in in queer spaces, women’s spaces, and Latine spaces. Learning about intersectional feminism was a big part of my formative years and it shaped the friends and chosen family I have to this day. I wanted to be involved in something on campus where I could share these values and passions, and the Women’s Center seemed like it could be that for me. I can’t wait to settle in as part of the team of wonderful people here!  

As far as my hobbies and interests go, I love painting, dancing, 80’s music, cheesy spanish novelas, travelling (I’ve lived in 3 countries so far!), baking, taking care of animals, and watching movies!