Women's Rights & Trivialities

So, as I think everyone knows by now, Hillary Clinton got a little peeved in the Congo recently and there’s been some debate about whether she was “diplomatic” enough in her response. So far, that seems fair enough (although as plenty of feminists out in the blogosphere have pointed out, she really was in the classic “between a rock and a hard place” position in that situation). This debate is not my point, however.

What is my point is how quickly this conversation went to the lowest possible level by focusing on Clinton’s appearance. Both Andrea Mitchell and Tina Brown attribute Clinton’s response to a “bad hair day” and then Tina Brown claimed that Clinton needs to “go back to the gym.” As Judith Warner points out in the New York Times, what is so depressing about the way this incident has been treated is that it obscures the real, groundbreaking work Clinton is trying to accomplish with her “pledge . . . to make women’s issues ‘central’ to U.S. foreign policy, not ‘adjunct or auxiliary or in any way lesser.’ “
And indeed, while there has been endless speculation in the media about what might have caused Clinton’s “bad temper,” there has been almost no dicussion about the reason for her trip to the Congo, namely, the mass rapes that have been happening there for over a decade. Once again, discussion of a woman’s appearance is overshadowing the real issue at hand, violence against women. And that really is a shame.
Finally, if you want to learn more about what is happening in Congo and what you can do to help, visit V-Day’s site devoted to the Congo. The Women’s Center is also available to present a teach-in to your group. Just contact us to request a teach-in.


When women start having liposuction on their ANKLES to make them more slender, words fail me. Luckily, Lynn Harris at Salon’s Broadsheet blog, and Hortense over at Jezebel did manage to find the words to point out how awful and ridiculous the whole “cankles” nonsense is.

So, go read their pieces and then head back here to tell us what you think in the comments.

Women's Center News

There’s a lot happening at the Women’s Center these days (yes, even though it’s July. Things are NEVER quiet here).

First, we are hiring a half-time Violence Prevention Coordinator. See the job description and apply online: http://ow.ly/hpio
Also, we are working hard to get our fall calendar set and now have updated information on the 2009 Walk a Mile March posted. Check out our page at http://web2.umkc.edu/womenc/walkamile.asp and sign up to walk or raise funds.
Hope you all are having great summers. The posting frequency here will pick up now that I’m back from vacation.

Women's Liberation = Unhappiness?

First, apologies for our lack of posting over the last month. The end of the semester was crazier than usual and the blog got lost in the shuffle, but we’re back. We will likely have a lighter posting scheduled over the summer, but promise to try not to disappear for almost a month again.

The New York Times one of the frequent targets of my ire as regular readers of this blog know) published an op-ed piece today titled “Liberated and Unhappy,” in which NYT columinist Russ Douthat argues that the “achievements of the feminist era may have delivered women to greater unhappiness.” While he does avoid drawing conclusions, ultimately he seems to agree that if women are unhappier now than they were in the 1950s, it is indeed due to feminism.

Personally, I think that is the wrong conclusion and would argue that IF women are indeed unhappier now than they were before (and that’s a big if as self-reporting is always suspect and it’s very possible that women in the 1950s studies said they were happy because they felt they were expected to be), that it’s due to too little feminism rather than too much — while things have changed in regard to women’s workforce participation, things at home still far too often to women. It’s hard to be happy when your liberation is only halfway completed. What do you all think?

Thinness and Women

Via Jezebel, comes an interesting piece from The Daily Mail on thinness and women just in time for equal pay day (since the author argues that the thin obsession is one possible reason for the gender pay gap). While  agree with Jezebel that the body-shaming bits are unfortunate in an otherwise good piece, I also whole-heartedly agree with the premise with that the time wome spend obsessing about our bodies keeps us from doing other great things. Case in point: a while ago, I was at a meeting with a group of accomplished, professional women, but the conversation nonetheless revolved mostly around their collective attempts to lose weight, and the feelings of guilt that come when they don’t achieve their “weight loss goals” (a phrase I seriously hate). And I kept thinking to myself “What could these amzaing women accomplish with all the time they spend worrying about what they’re eating, if they’re exercising enough, if they’re *bad* for having had the cheesecake, etc., etc.?” Truly, it breaks my heart. Healthy is fine, healthy is good — but obsessing is not. I wish we could learn to just let it go and change the world with all the extra time we’d have on our hands.

Support the Women's Center — Buy Raffle Tickets!

During the month of April, which is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the UMKC Women’s Center will be selling raffle tickets to benefit the UMKC Violence Prevention & Response Project. Tickets will be $1 each or six for $5and can be purchased at one of our Sexual Assault Awareness Month information tables throughout the month, or at the Women’s Center during the hours of 9 – 4. The drawing will be held on Thursday, April 30th and winners will be notified by email or phone. 

Prizes include a one-year family membership to the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, a Vera Bradley “Kensington” Travel Set, original framed art by a UMKC student, gift baskets from Three Dog Bakery, a Creative Coaching session, a book and CD gift set, and knitted hats from a UMKC student. 

The UMKC Violence Prevention & Response Project provides anti-violence programs such as Take Back the Night, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, and V-Day to the UMKC and Kansas City communities. The mission of the Violence Prevention and Response Project at the University of Missouri-Kansas City is to strengthen the University and community response to gender-based and sexual violence through victim support services, advocacy, training and education/outreach to the campus and community. In support of this mission, the VPR Project has the following goals:

  • to unify campus resources through the coordination of existing services which address the issues of sexual violence,
  • to provide a safe place, referrals and information to those affected by sexual violence;
  • to assess campus needs for information and activities addressing sexual violence and;
  • to participate in the creation and coordination of educational prevention programs about sexual violence.

The project is a collaboration between various campus and community offices.

Buy your tickets now!

More Sexual Assault Awareness Month Activities

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month and the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project, along with the UMKC Women’s Center, and our campus and community co-sponsors will be hosting several events next week to mark the month. Please plan to join us at the following events:

SAAM Informational Tables. Monday, April 20; Time: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Location: University Center walkway (Volker campus) and Wednesday, April 22; Time: 11 a.m. – 2 p.m.; Location: Health Sciences Building (Hospital Hill campus). The UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project will host informational tables at various locations throughout April. There will also be items for sale to raise awareness for sexual assault. Proceeds will benefit the Violence Prevention and Response Project.

Breaking the Silence: A Community’s Response to Domestic Violence. Thursday, April 23; Time: 7:30 a.m.- noon; Location: UMKC University Center, Pierson Auditorium, Holmes Street. $10 for Students, $20 for Professionals (Training hours available and CNEs pending approval). Keynote Speaker: Sandy Barnett, Executive Director, Kansas Coalition Against Sexual & Domestic Violence. For more information, contact Kimberly Paul at 913-378-1545 or kpaul@safehome-ks.org. Co-sponsored by the Metropolitan Family Violence Coalition.

Denim Day. Thursday, April 23; Time: 12 p.m.; Location: UMKC Quad by the Women’s Center. On Thursday, April 23, the UMKC and Kansas City communities are invited to wear jeans in honor of Denim Day. Denim Day ishonored to protest an Italian High Court ruling that overturned a rape conviction because the victim was wearing jeans. Enraged by the verdict, women of the Italian Legislature protested the decision by wearing jeans to work. For more information on Denim Day, visit http://www.supportdenimday.com/. Join us for a celebration of Denim Day at noon at the UMKC Quad!

Speaking Out: Empowerment Through Spoken Word. Wednesday, April 29.Time: 7:30 p.m.; Location:YWCA of Greater KC, 1017 N 6th Street, Kansas City, KSCo-sponsored by the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault (MOCSA) and YWCA of Greater KC. For more information, visit www.ywca.org/kansascity

President Obama Recognizes Sexual Assault Awareness Month

In a first, President Obama has released a presdiential proclamation recognizing April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While activists and advocates have been promoting April as SAAM for quite a while now, this is the first time that the President of the U.S. has released an official proclamtion (you can read it here).

While this is purely symbolic, symbols are important, so it’s a big step.