March: Women’s History Month

By Ann Varner

March has officially arrived and with it comes Women’s History Month! Since 1987 the United States has observed March as Women’s History Month. During the month we recognize the achievements of women throughout history and today. When we remember these women we can become inspired, empowered, and enlightened. History helps us to learn about ourselves and remind us to continue to strive for greatness.

“Each time a girl opens a book and reads about a womanless history, she learns she is worthless” –Myra Pollack Sadker. As women of today we will eventually become women of history, and my personal goal is that no girl in the future opens a womanless history book.

To find out more about the origins of Women’s History Month and why we celebrate check out the National Women’s History Project.

Scholarship Opportunity – National Conference for College Women Student Leaders

By Ann Varner

Are you interested in developing your leadership skills? Are you passionate about taking action in your community and being a change-maker? If so, pick up an application from the Women’s Center for the National Conference for College Women Student Leaders.

The Scholarship

Every year the American Association of University Women (AAUW) provides a scholarship of up to $1,000 to a female student to attend the three-day conference at the University of Maryland. This year, the conference will be held from May 30 to June 2, 2018. The scholarship covers most of the expenses of the trip (including most meals, room accommodations, and travel). The goal of the conference is to “provide a transformative experience for attendees and prepare them to be the next generation of leaders” (AAUW). With over 50 leadership-building sessions, guest speakers, a job fair, and meeting the “fiercest trailblazers” of today, this opportunity is one you don’t want to miss.

NCCWSL History

The AAUW National Conference for College Women Student Leaders (NCCWSL) was founded in 1983. At a time when the gender gap in leadership was not closing fast enough, the AAUW and other organizations organized this conference as a leadership meeting for college women to gain “the skills and confidence they need to make change.” According to their website, past attendees have, “gone on to lead nonprofits, innovate the corporate world, create disruptive technologies, and more.”

To find out more, visit their website:

Deadline to apply is 12:00 p.m., Monday, March 12.

If you have any questions or concerns contact Arzie Umali at or 816-235-5577.

Wanted: Women in Science

By Ann Varner

Every Monday a group of women and I meet for our Women in Science (WiSci) meeting. This group of diverse women have become the highlight of my Mondays. We all have different majors ranging from chemistry to political science, but that doesn’t stop us. We do many activities on campus including volunteering, hosting lunches with women in science, attending science, technology, engineering, and mathematics panel discussions, and talking about Game of Thrones and our lives in general.

If you have any interest in being a part of the UMKC campus life or just getting together with a great group of women, feel free to attend a meeting in the UMKC Women’s Center on Mondays from 2-3. It’s a common fact that the science field is dominated by males, so it’s nice to find other feminists and women to get more involved.

Contact Diamond Anderson for more information.



Women Need Pockets

By Ann Varner

I like to buy men’s clothes, especially coats and shirts. Why? Because they have pockets. And not the pockets that can barely fit your pinky finger, I’m talking about real pockets that can actually hold essential items. Unless I’m wearing jeans (which is never because I don’t like them), I am wearing some sort of sweat pant, yoga pant, or legging. But these items rarely have pockets, and when they do they can only fit one small item.

This isn’t news to women. We become excited when a piece of women’s clothing has nice, big pockets for us to stash our stuff in. In fact, throughout history women’s clothing has never had the equivalent amount of pockets to men’s clothing. Why? Because pockets are “bulky” and don’t align well with the stitching that pulls our waists in. Personally, if you gave me the chance to choose between hauling a purse around all day or having leggings with pockets, I would absolutely choose the latter.

The pocket was introduced to men’s clothing in the 18th century. However, women were only given a small slit in their dress where they could hide their purse. It is theorized that part of the reason why women’s clothing hasn’t had “real” pockets is due to idea that the less women can carry without a purse, the less freedom they have. In the late 1800’s there was a brief period after the war when women’s clothing had pockets. During that time, it stood for independence but was quickly taken away. Now, as women we have grown so accustomed to not having pockets we haven’t stopped to ask why we don’t have them. Why don’t we have breast pockets in our coats to put our most valuable items? Men’s coats have them. Why are we expected to carry our items in a purse instead of having free hands like men do?

I’ve come to the realization that men’s clothes are not only cheaper, but they have more pockets and are better quality for the price. My closet is filled with men’s tops and jackets that I love. Sure, the tag may say “M” but that is the last thing I’m worried about when it’s sub-zero temperatures and my keys, gloves, phone, and hat can all fit in my deep, manly pockets.

Here’s what happened when I stopped wearing makeup

By Ann Varner

I remember a time when I barely recognized my face without makeup. I thought “my eyes and lips look too small. My eyebrows look terrible. My color is so uneven…” on and on and on. I wouldn’t let anyone take a picture of me or even see me without my face made up, unless it was family or close friends. I have probably spent thousands of dollars on top quality makeup over the years. It made me feel beautiful, powerful, invincible, and, most of all, I didn’t have to look at the face I thought had everything wrong with it.

This past summer something changed in me. Maybe it’s that I entered my middle twenties and looks just didn’t matter. Maybe it was that I just stopped caring about dating and when that happened, all of the sudden I didn’t feel like I had to put makeup on. Maybe it was that I was so busy that I slowly started to care more about sleeping in than putting my face on. I’m not really sure to be honest. But something changed in me and now I never wear makeup.
Since June, I can think of three times I’ve applied makeup. Once to be in a wedding, once for the rehearsal dinner, and once because I couldn’t sleep and decided to cure boredom at 5 a.m. That’s it. All of the sudden I was sleeping in an extra 45 minutes and going bare-faced everywhere. My small eyes and lips, my eyebrows, and my uneven color dissipated before me and my face that was completely natural became beautiful to me.
I’m not advocating for you to not use makeup if you like it, because I still love makeup. I still love how I feel when I put it on. I’m saying if, at night, after you wash your makeup off, you can barely stand to look at your face because you believe you can not be gorgeous without the makeup, give your face a chance. Try not wearing makeup for a week and maybe you will learn to love both of your faces. It’s truly freeing to feel comfortable with how I look, whether I wear makeup or not, and I want that for you, too.
Believe in your beauty. It’s there, I promise.

Home– and single– for the holidays

By Ann Varner

Oh, the holidays. Most people look forward to the break from school, the cheerfulness, the food, and spending time with loved ones– I know I certainly am.

Yet as a chronically single woman at 24, an age where most of my friends are married or in a serious relationship, there is always the inevitable question of “Are you dating anyone, Ann?” This is where I respond like Snape from Harry Potter, saying “ahhhbbvvvioouusslllyyy” in the most obnoxious, sarcastic voice possible because I am so tired of hearing that question.

Then, they ask, “Well, are you trying to date and put yourself out there?”

I reply with a “No, I don’t feel like it,” and then I am told my 20’s are the “prime time” to find someone, because it only goes downhill from here.

The advertisements everywhere you look feature a happy family or couple snuggled up in winter gear reminding you of your singledom. On Facebook and Instagram, I’m sure that at least ten couples will get engaged, as they have been steadily doing for the past few years. Your cousins will bring their significant others to family dinners as you talk about your pet dog (and pig in my case) and when you bring up your pet, your family will lose interest, because it’s not a person you’re dating who they can go stalk on Facebook.

Being single during the holidays is extraordinarily annoying, but not because I feel lonely or wish I was dating someone. Rather, it’s annoying to be constantly shamed and have people make you feel like there’s something wrong with you for not caring about dating. Listen ladies and gents, there is NOTHING WRONG WITH YOU for being single! Don’t let the societal pressures of not having a significant other for the next three months get you down. Own your singleness. Be proud. I know I sure am.

UMKC gears up for Transgender Awareness Month

By Ann Varner

It was recently brought to my attention that November is Transgender Awareness Month. In particular, November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day dedicated to remembering transgender people who have lost their lives due to anti-trans violence.

This month is so important because it brings attention to a group of people who have significant struggles in terms of equality and acceptance in the United States. According to Marie Claire, there are an estimated 700,000 people who identify as transgender in the United States. 41% of this population has attempted or committed suicide.

19% of transgender people have experienced violence or abuse from a family member, with only 18 states having clear laws protecting transgender people.

In order to help improve these issues and reflect a more positive trans experience, UMKC LGBTQIA Programs & Services is hosting many events this week and next week for trans awareness. Their website also lists university resources for trans and non-binary students, faculty and staff. Check them out!

Gyno doesn’t have to mean “oh no”

By Ann Varner

Over the years,  I’ve often mentioned having to go to my gynecologist to my friends and, much to my surprise, found my friends were not seeing a gyno even though they were either A. over 21 or B. under 21 but sexually active.

I was alarmed that they didn’t know it’s necessary to go to the gynecologist for much more than birth control or STD testing. Most didn’t know that it’s incredibly important to go for women wellness checkups, where the gynecologist will screen for breast cancer and do a pap smear to check for cervical cancer.

No, it doesn’t sound fun to have your most intimate parts poked and prodded by a doctor, but it is necessary. Screening for any issues that we may not be able to find ourselves is of the utmost importance to ensure we, as women, are taking care of ourselves.

We don’t need to go to the doctor only to cure an illness, preventative care can help to catch an illness early or keep it from happening at all. According to The American Cancer Society, 93 percent of women who become aware of cervical cancer in its earliest stage have a five-year survival rate, as compared to 16 percent who realize cancer at its most advanced stage.  Even more encouraging, when people detect breast cancer early on, this survival rate jumps to nearly 100 percent. With numbers like these, the significance of checkups can’t be overestimated.

There are many gynecologists out there, so you can have your preference of men or women. If you don’t have insurance, there free health clinics and Planned Parenthood offer these checkups.

I promise, it isn’t that bad. It definitely isn’t as bad as finding out you have cervical, ovarian, uterine, or breast cancer in the later stages. Take charge of your health.

Strong woman takes back her life

By Ann Varner

Meet Destiny. People all over the U.S. and the world know her as the woman who lost her husband and 15 month old son to a drunk driver when she was only 21 years old. Her story was published all over news outlets, magazines, and trended on social media.

I’ve known her as my beautiful, amazing, and incredibly strong friend since our sophomore year of high school. On September 20, 2014, Destiny, her husband Corey and their 15 month old son, Parker, were driving to an appointment. They were struck head on by a drunk driver.

Parker died immediately and Corey fought for his life for the next 12 hours, but ultimately succumbed to his injuries on September 21st. Destiny went from being a mother and a wife to a widow and an angel mom in one day.

No one who knew Destiny would have blamed her for giving up. However, Destiny didn’t do that. I asked her what was going through her head the moment she decided that she wasn’t going to give up and that she was going to take charge of her life.

“I was driving around in the dark trying to find some sort of hope,” Destiny shared. “Tears went down my face and I thought every bad day and every bad moment is a moment and day that woman (drunk driver) is stealing from me. I refused to allow her to take anything else. From that moment on, I chose to accept my reality. Tears and anger weren’t bringing them back. It was time to carry on their legacy and try to live out the life they wanted.”

 Three years later Destiny is a businesswoman through ItWorks. She and her now husband make over six figures a year working from their phones. She does this so she doesn’t have to go into a job and take away cherished moments from her loved ones.

Destiny is also the biggest advocate I know against drunk driving. Every year for Parker and Corey’s birthdays she organizes drives for “random acts of kindness.” She told me it’s “her way of still celebrating with them and making them known to the world and spreading their love”. She uses social media and visits schools to speak against drunk driving.

Destiny is a woman who could have ended her life or drowned her sorrows. Instead her bravery and strength endured and she now travels the world, owns a home, owns her business, works from home, and has saved many lives by advocating against drunk driving, all by the age of 24. To me, she exemplifies strong womanhood.


Roofies and rape culture

By Ann Varner

As a woman, I have always heard about date rape drugs, the most popular being Rohypnol (or “roofies”). It is ingrained in women to never leave our drinks alone, to never let someone else buy them for us, and to never turn our backs.

Date rape drugs cause amnesia, blacking out, or loss of memory. Depending on the amount of alcohol ingested, the more aggressive the drug becomes. The person who was drugged appears to be very intoxicated, which is why this drug is so scary.

How do you know if you’re drunk or have been drugged? Depending on one’s tolerance, it takes more than a few drinks to get to the point of intoxication where one is vomiting, passed out, and having trouble moving or speaking. If you have only had one or two drinks in a matter of a few hours and suddenly feel very drunk or have any of the above symptoms, you may have been drugged. I know from experience.

It was supposed to be a fun night. My friend, her boyfriend, and his friend (we will call him A) and I all went out to Westport. I was barely 21 and I thought A was cute, so I made sure to have a big dinner and to only have a few drinks over four hours with water in between. I didn’t want to drink too much and embarrass myself in front of A.

I had one drink, vodka and sprite, at the beginning of the night and then drank water for a few hours. We were having a blast talking and dancing.

I decided to have my second drink and as I went to the bar to order it, I was approached by a man who was interested in me, but I did not reciprocate his interest (we will call him B). While I was ordering my vodka sprite, he hit on me. I once again told him I wasn’t interested. He thought I was alone, which is something men who drug women look for.

I went to the opposite end of the club with my drink to talk to my friends. I wanted to dance and not spill my drink on myself, so I set the drink on the table behind me– and turned my back. It was only for a few minutes, but that’s all it takes to slip a drug into a drink.

I nursed my drink for about 10 minutes. I hadn’t even finished my drink– and mind you this was only my second drink in a period of 4 hours— and I suddenly felt very drunk. The room started to spin, and everything around me was muffled. I told A that I needed to sit down.

The last thing I remember is thinking, How can I be this drunk? There is something wrong. Wait. I turned my back on my drink. B is here, and he’s not a good guy. Oh my gosh, I think I’ve been drugged.

What happened next is what my friends told me. I told them that I had been drugged and I needed to make myself throw up. I went to the bathroom, but never got a chance to force the drug out. I was found unconscious, face down on the floor with a cut on my forehead from passing out and hitting the toilet.

My friends said that the bouncer became angry and demanded we leave. They kept telling the bouncer that 30 minutes before I was completely sober, and that something had to be wrong. The bouncer didn’t believe them. I’m told I was unable to move and had to be carried out of the bathroom and laid on the sidewalk while they hailed a cab.

You see, B didn’t know I was with friends and had assumed that when the drug kicked in, I would be alone and helpless. He was wrong. My friends took care of me. I woke up the next morning with no memory of what had happened and I felt like death. I needed to go to the hospital, but I couldn’t even make it to my front door.

My friend called and told me what happened. She said that she had seen B following me around the club and waiting outside when we were kicked out.

Let this be a lesson to all women out there. You think it won’t happen to you—I certainly didn’t. Unfortunately, in our unequal society, it’s still important to be vigilant.