Blocking Someone Doesn’t Mean It’s Over – Part II

By Brianna Green

If you caught the first part of this post in October, you’ll remember that one morning at 10 a.m. I blocked the number of a guy I had been seeing. Unfortunately, blocking him didn’t stop him from coming to my apartment later that night.  

It was around 9:30 p.m. and I was wearing an oversized t-shirt, working on homework before heading off to bed. I heard a few knocks at my back door and froze for a minute. There’s no way it’s him, I thought to myself naively.  But it was. I opened the door and let him inside. We talked and, at first, it sounded like he still wanted to get back together. I was confused, I was shaken, and I didn’t understand what was going on. I had texted some friends to tell them that he was at my apartment, and thankfully one of them showed up with their boyfriend. I talked to her outside for a few minutes, and she brought me back down to Earth. The situation was fucked up.  

I told her I was okay and they reluctantly left. After I went back inside, I told him again that we should go separate ways, and things immediately went south. He started getting mean, saying that I was “cruel,” that I “should never be in a relationship,” and that I “have issues.” This was exactly what I feared would happen if I broke up with him in person. After the parade of insults, he claimed that he was happy he came to my apartment that night and he finally left.  

Although he left voluntarily, over the next week I felt incredibly anxious at night. I had to check that all the doors and windows were shut and locked at least twice before going to bed. I was hyper vigilant walking from my door to the building door. I was constantly questioning myself: What did I do wrong? Was this all my fault? 

Obviously, several things bother me about this encounter. First, my reaction: I was scared and I was playing it down. My instinct was to worry that I was being dramatic by telling people the story and taking a mental health day off from work and school after it happened. However, this is an unhealthy perspective; it’s not my (or your) fault if someone else decides to be a dangerous person. And it is not overdramatic to be considerate of your safety and mental health. 

The second thing that really bothers me is the entitlement this man felt that led him to show up to my apartment, my space, and demand my time and attention — especially after I had made it clear that I did not want him there. Why do some people feel like they have the right to break someone’s boundaries and invade their space? This is unfortunately often a gender-equity issue. Keep an eye out for the last part of this series, where I will discuss this phenomenon.  

My Grandfather

By Brianna Green

It seems silly to write about my grandfather as a grandmother figure, but he was the person who came to my mind. My grandfather has been gone for almost decade now. He died suddenly from a heart attack in his early seventies. A week after his funeral, my grandmother found out she had stage four lung cancer and died four months later. My mom likes to say that God took my grandfather first because He knew that my grandfather wouldn’t have been able to handle my grandmother’s death (the year they died, they would’ve celebrated their fiftieth anniversary).  

My grandfather was a funny man. He chain-smoked cigarettes like it was nobody’s business. (Seriously, he’d start a cigarette in one room, leave it there, go to a different room, and immediately light a new one.) He made inappropriate jokes about people’s looks and loved saying “God damn it” at least 20 times a day. But all of his weird quirks are things that we love to reminisce about now and make fun of him for. My dad is great at impersonating my grandfather, it’s almost uncanny. We all love and miss him and my grandmother a lot. 

My grandfather didn’t teach me much about my family history nor about the traditions we might have had. However, he did teach me two things (unintentionally, I think). First, he taught me to love everyone equally. Don’t get me wrong, I love and miss my grandmother, but she had a favorite grandchild, and everyone knew it. She doted on and spoiled my older brother (the only grandson), so my grandfather would show a little extra love to me and my two girl cousins. He made sure that we felt loved too while at their house.  

Secondly, he taught me to live a good life and not be scared of death. I’m still extremely scared to die, but I want to make sure I live a good, fulfilling life so when I am older and closer to death’s door, I’m not scared. I asked my grandfather once if he was scared to die (a year or two before he did), and he said no. He was happy with how his life was and he was ready to go whenever it was his time. His words have always stuck in my mind and I hope I’m as satisfied when it’s my time to go.  

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.

Blocking Someone Doesn’t Mean It’s Over: Part I

By Brianna Green

I have dated a lot of people over the past several years. I’ve had a lot of good experiences… and I’ve had a lot of bad ones. My most recent dating experience was one of the worst. 

I had been seeing someone for almost a month, then we started arguing. We argued for about a week before I decided to end things. We had plans to meet in person to talk, but I decided to end things over the phone instead. I had a feeling it would go badly in person. The phone call took less than 5 minutes and I thought that would be that. But here I am telling this story.  

He calls me a week later hoping that I had realized I made a mistake and that we could get back together. I told him I needed some time to think about it. Two days go by and he calls me again.  Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it much and I wanted to talk to my therapist about it later that week, but his phone calls were making me upset and confused, so I decided to stick to my decision about ending things.  

Several days later I go to therapy. My therapist helps me work out my feelings and I feel a lot better about the situation. I was sad and angry that things had ended the way they did, but it was time to move on. After therapy, I made a Facebook post about the feelings I had been having and how grateful I was to be in therapy. And, of course, he reached out to me about the post that same day. We talked and decided to meet up that night (because I make “good” decisions). The meet up actually went pretty well and we decided to start talking again and plan a date for the following week.  

But over the next two days I realized the reconciliation was not a good idea. I ended things in the first place for a reason, and I was disappointed in myself for getting back together with him. It felt like I was letting myself down and throwing away whatever progress I had made in therapy. So I message him the next morning saying I was sorry but that talking to him again was bad for my mental health and not a good idea. After I sent the message, I blocked him. The back-and-forth needed to stop.  

Unfortunately, blocking someone doesn’t mean it’s over. Come back for Part 2 to learn what happened after I blocked him.  

Harassment and domestic violence disproportionately affect women and other gender minorities. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, but as we move into November, remember: “each day, members of our community miss class or work because they are facing domestic violence.”  

Something I’m Thankful For 

By Brianna Green

I’m 24 years old and I’ve been in therapy two different times. The first time, I was still living in the Chicago suburbs and my therapist was (surprisingly) a 3-minute drive from my house. She was a nice older woman and I saw her for over a year. I initially saw her because I was sobbing on a regular basis for no “real” reason. However, I only stayed with her out of convenience. Talking to her sometimes helped, but sometimes it just felt like I was boring her. 

This summer, after being out of therapy for over a year, I decided I wanted and needed to get back into it. Since my first stint in therapy, a lot of things had happenedfor example, moving to Kansas City and starting UMKC—and I felt like I needed help. My therapist is, once again, an older woman but now it’s forty-five minutes away. Although at times this is inconvenient, I find the drive to be a blessing in disguise. While driving to her office, I use that time to think about what I want to talk about. Reversely, on the way back, I use that time to digest our session and reflect.  

Unlike with my first therapist, I cry a lot more often at my sessions now, and I do not like crying. That might sound silly, but I take it as a sign that I’ve found someone I’m comfortable being vulnerable with. For me, therapy isn’t easy, but it isn’t supposed to be. It’s hard trying to work on yourself. I’m incredibly thankful I’m able to be in therapy, because not everyone has the opportunity. Likewise, looking at gender, 15% of cis women seek mental health treatment compared to 9% of cis men. I believe this is because cis men are often socialized from a young age to be “tough” and to repress or not show their emotions. This is so unfortunate; a person’s gender should not be a reason why they don’t seek the help they need. Everyone experiences hardships and poor mental health at some point in their livesFurthermore, gender non-conforming individuals are at a higher risk of experiencing mental health conditions as a result of cissexism and discrimination, and they could benefit greatly from therapy, if they have access. For these reasons, we need to cultivate an environment where people of all genders, ages, and backgrounds feel comfortable showing their emotions and seeking help, and where therapy is more accessible.

Finally, finding a therapist you can connect with can be difficult. There are some great general tips out there on how to find one, but don’t forget about your comfort level; it’s okay to specifically seek a therapist who has the same gender and/or background as you do. Even if you find someone who looks good on paper, sometimes you have to see a few therapists before finding one that’s a good match for you. As someone who wants to be in the mental health profession one day, I truly believe that therapy is something everyone should try and should not be ashamed of. After all, our minds deserve the same respect as our body does when it comes to being healthy.   

 

My Experience with Menstrual Cups

By Brianna Green

I started my morning by boiling my menstrual products. You might be wondering, “Brianna, why would you do that? Most menstrual products are made from cotton (or whatever).” You would be correct, products like tampons and pads are made from “a combination of absorbent fibers, both natural and synthetic, including cotton and rayon.” Boiling those would probably lead to a gross, soggy mess.  

However, I use menstrual cups. Menstrual cups are an eco-friendly alternative to one-use products such as tampons and pads. The menstrual cups I use are made from silicone—I paid $25 for four cups that should each last roughly 3-5 years. I boil my cups before and after every cycle to sanitize them. While menstruating, I clean them by running them under steaming hot water for one minute with odor-free soap. (HealthLine has some great cleaning tips for beginners and those on the road.) Unlike tampons and pads, I can keep my cups in for 12 hours a day without needing to switch them out every time I use the bathroom.  

Now you might be wondering, “Brianna, these menstrual cups sound really cool, but what’s the catch?” In all honestly, that’s a great question to ask. Menstrual cups can be pretty pricy up front. I bought cheap cups, but name-brand cups like the DivaCup can cost up to $32 for one cup. Not only that, but they’re a little messier to clean up. When you take one out that’s covered in blood, you have to carry it to the stink to wash it off instead of immediately tossing it in the trash. Similarly, if you’re like me, you set the bloody cup down on a surface (for me it’s my bathtub) while putting in a clean cup. Having to clean up a bloody cup and surface might sound unappealing to some.

The last downside I can think of is the learning curve. Putting in and taking out a cup is not as easy as a tampon. Since the top of the cup is wide, you have to fold it to insert it. This diagram shows the easiest way to fold a cup. Once the cup has been inserted, you have to make sure that it unfolds completely so it doesn’t leak. I’m almost a year into using period cups and I still have days where I end up leaking. Similarly, taking out the cup can be painful if you don’t partially fold the cup up first.

Despite these downsides, I really enjoy using my menstrual cups. For me, I enjoy that they’re eco-friendly, reusable, will last for years, that they’re cheaper than other products over time, and that I don’t have to worry about them for a whole 12 hours. If this this product sounds like something you’d want to try, I would highly suggest it! Maybe start by buying one cup to see how you like it, and, if you do, slowly make the transition from there.  

However, not everyone has access to period cups or common menstrual products like tampons and pads. If you’re a person who menstruates and you need access to these common products, remember that you can get FREE pads and tampons at the Women’s Center at 105 Haag Hall OR at the Hospital Hill Library. Happy menstruating!   

 

Safer Sex Practices: Protection and Testing

By Brianna Green 

In my last blog I talked about the importance of getting tested and practicing safe sex. But what is safe sex? And what does it mean to be sexually responsible? In this blog I’m going to explore these questions and suggest when to get tested for specific STIs and where on campus and in the Kansas City area you can get tested and treated.  

So, what is safe sex? Well, according to Johns Hopkins Medicine, safe sex might not even be a real thing because all forms of sexual interaction have some kind of risk associated with it. However, there are guidelines on how to practice safer sex. 

Their list includes 10 items, but here are a few of them: 

  • “Think twice before beginning sexual relations with a new partner. First, discuss past partners, history of STIs, and drug use. 
  • For oral sex, help protect your mouth by having your partner use a condom [or dental dam]. 
  • Be aware of your [and your partner’s] body. Look for signs of a sore, blister, rash, or discharge. 
  • Have regular Pap tests, pelvic exams, and periodic tests for STIs.” 

So, if you know about these safer sex guidelines, does that automatically mean you’re sexually responsible? Not necessarily. Being sexually responsible means knowing safer sex practices and actually practicing them. Choma adds that, “Responsible sexual behavior also means that you know more about sex such as:treating your sexual partners equally, making sure your sexual encounters are consensual, and knowing how to use protection properly.” 

In a nutshell—using protection and getting tested is crucial to sexual health.  As I mentioned in my previous blog, STIs don’t show up immediately after a sexual encounter. So, to get accurate test results back, you should wait some time before getting tested. I made this handy timeframe graphic using information from Medical News Today: 

 

Finally, here is a list of some places you can go to get tested:

  •  Student Health & Wellness 
    • STI Testing  
      • Gonorrhea & Chlamydia ($27)
      • Rapid HIV (Free/yearly)
      • Serum Syphilis Testing ($12)
    • Immunizations  
      • 18 different kinds (prices vary) 
    • Appointment for Information  
  • Kansas City Health Department  
    • FREE STI Testing and Treatment 
    • Appointments need to be scheduled! 
      • 816-516-6379
      • Mon–Fri, 8 a.m.–5 p.m. 
      • 2400 Troost Avenue, Suit 2000 
  • KC Care Health Center (LGBTQ+ Friendly) 
    • STI Testing
    • Medication Therapy (PreP/PEP)
    • Safe Sex Kits   
    • For appointments or questions 

STIs and What You Need to Know

By Brianna Green

Picture this: you’re eighteen, you just moved to college, and you didn’t have much sex education in high school because you live in America. As the first semester starts and progresses, you start talking to a really cute classmate. At the end of the semester, you celebrate passing your shared class by having a fun, unprotected night together. However, shortly after this night, winter break starts and you both go back to your hometowns. While you’re home you notice that you’re urinating more frequently and it’s painful. At the same time, you experience urethral discharge that you’ve never had before. You tell your parents, and they take you to the doctor…  

The doctor tells you that you have an STI. Gonorrhea, to be specific.  

You ask, “What’s an STI? How can I have one if I’ve only had sex one time, with one person?”

Unfortunately for the student, STIs do not care about how many times or people you’ve had sex with. The student’s confusion makes sense though, because, according to the Guttmacher Institutenot every state mandates sex education: 39 states and DC do, but only 18 states require the information to be medically accurate. When less than half the states mandate medically accurate sex education, my fictional student may be remarkably relatable to some actual college students throughout the United States.  

So, what are STIs? “STI” stands for a sexually transmitted infection: infections that are passed from one person to another during sexual activity. According to the World Health Organization, STIs range from curable infections such as “the clap” (gonorrhea) to permanent diseases such as the Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) and Acquired Immune Deficiency Syndrome (AIDS).  

Office on Women’s Health indicates that STIs are (typically) transmitted through sexual contact involving the mouth, genitals, and/or anus; they can pass through bodily fluids such as semen, vaginal secretions, and blood. If someone is not wearing protection, such as a condom or dental dam, they are more likely to become infected. Not only that, the more unprotected partners you have, the higher the risk of becoming infected. However, as mentioned earlier, STIs do not care about how many times or people you’ve had sex with. Similar to pregnancy, you can still catch an STI (or get pregnant) even if it’s your first time.  

Although, if you get an STI, it’s not the end of the world. According to the Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention, 1 in 5 Americans have an STI and almost half of the infections are from individuals between the ages of 15 to 24Summit Health says that gonorrhea, chlamydia, and syphilis are curable STIs with assistance from a doctor’s visit. One of the best ways to protect yourself is by getting frequently tested for STIs. Multiple sources have stated that some STIs can be asymptomatic and you can be infected without having any symptoms. PrioritySTD suggests how often to get tested; for example, if you’re single and causally dating, every few months is ideal, and even if you’re in a relationship, you should get tested yearly, since some STIs can take months or years to show up.   

In my next blog post, I’ll talk about how to practice safe sex, when to get tested for specific STIs and where on campus and in the Kansas City area you can get tested and treated. Until then, don’t forget to practice safe sex and get tested! 

Hello Again! Returning Women’s Center Student Staff: Brianna Green

By Brianna Green

Hello, my name is Brianna Green! I am a UMKC senior and I’m majoring in Psychology and minoring in Women, Gender, and Sexuality Studies. This is my second year on campus and working at the Women’s Center. I am originally from the Chicago suburbs and transferred from a local community college. I initially decided to come to UMKC because of my minor but, over the year since I’ve moved here, I’ve grown to really love Kansas City and the Roo community.

I came to the Women’s Center for a second year because of how much I enjoyed it last year! Although last year was great – it was virtual. I was inspired me seeing how much we were able to do while being virtual, but I’m excited to see how much more we can accomplish now that the Center is fully open and can have in-person events. I’m so happy to be a part of a place that tries to offer so much to UMKC students and greater community as a whole.

Outside of the Women’s Center, I am also a RISE intern (fall semester), and the Psychology Club President and Psi Chi Service Chair. Outside of UMKC, I am an AmeriCorps Member at Harvesters – The Community Food Network. I love going on walks and hikes, car rides, traveling, and spending time with my friends and family. After I graduate this spring, I plan to go to graduate school! Which school and which program exactly is TBD for the time being. 😊

Women’s History Month: Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez

By Brianna Green

It’s astonishing how many people, how many women, get left out of history and important movements. Throughout high school and some college courses, I’ve learned about the Women’s Suffrage Movement. However, I have never heard of Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez until I was assigned to write a blog about her. I’m so happy I was assigned to her though. De Lopez was an incredible woman in the Women’s Suffrage Movement, especially within the Hispanic and Spanish communities.

According to the National Women’s History Museum, de Lopez was born in Los Angeles, California in 1881. She was born to immigrant parents; her father having been born in Mexico (Brandman). Being that one of her parents came from Mexico, de Lopez grew up bilingual. This fact is very important because it later assists her suffrage work, but it also influenced her career choice. She attended college to become a teacher. After college, de Lopez taught English as a second language and later, with her sister, ran her own Spanish-language school out of her home (Brandman). In addition to this, de Lopez was also doing translation work on the side and eventually became an instructor at the University of California (Brandman).

According to the article “Suffragists You Need to Meet: Maria Guadalupe Evangelina Lopez,” in 1911, de Lopez was active in Los Angeles Votes for Women Club; she organized rallies and spoke about women’s right to vote in English and in Spanish. Also according to this article, de Lopez is typically accredited with “being the first in the state to deliver suffrage speeches in Spanish” (MyLO). In October of 1922, the suffrage proposition passed in California and de Lopez was considered a leading suffragist in Los Angeles (Brandman).

However, this incredible woman didn’t just help during the Women’s Suffrage Movement, but also during the first World War! Noted in “Suffragists You Need to Meet: Maria Guadalupe Evangelina Lopez,” when the US entered the war, she became an ambulance driver In New York City and traveled to France to do the same. Over a decade later, from 1937 until 1938, she became the president of the UCLA’s Faculty Women’s Club (Brandman). De Lopez died in 1977 on November 20 and is buried at San Gabriel Christian Church in Los Angeles (Brandman).

I hope you enjoyed learning about this wonderful woman in history, I know I did!

Resources

Brandman, By: Mariana. “Maria Guadalupe Evangelina De Lopez.” National Women’s History Museum, www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/maria-guadalupe-evangelina-de-lopez. 

“Suffragists You Need to Meet: Maria Guadalupe Evangelina Lopéz.” MyLO, 30 Apr. 2020, my.lwv.org/california/diablo-valley/article/suffragists-you-need-meet-maria-guadalupe-evangelina-lop%C3%A9z. 

 

The Devil’s Doorbell

By Brianna Green

In my previous blog, Navigating the Forbidden Fruit, I talked about the external genital area. Remember this area includes the (two) libias, urethra, and the opening of the genitals. However, one of the key parts of this area is the clitoris, which is also known as the erogenous tissue. Remember, this organ sits on top of the external genital area, is roughly the size of a pea, and tends to be sensitive (MedicalNewsToday).

But don’t be mistaken, this tiny organ is more than what it seems. And, in fact, it’s not actually the size of a pea. It’s actually much bigger than that and the “pea” portion is referred to as the glands clitoris, the only visible part of the organ (MedicalNewsToday). In the diagram, below, it includes the corpus cavernosum, which are sponge-like pair of erectile tissue which contains most of the blood during erogenous tissue erection (Wikipedia). Similarly, you have “the two crura, which extend, like brackets, down from the glans clitoris and deep into the tissue [on either side] of the vulva” (MedicalNewsToday). Finally, you have the two bulbs that are on either side of the external genital opening. The whole structure can be as long as seven centimeters (MedicalNewsToday).

From the research I’ve done, the only function the erogenous tissue seems to have is pleasure. It’s hypothesized that once upon a time a person with this organ might’ve needed to orgasm to reproduce but that is currently not the case. Sadly, there isn’t really that much knowledge about this pleasure treasure chest. Feminine sexuality and pleasure aren’t usually at the forefront of inquiry since muliebrous people have been seen as reproductive machines in the past. However, I don’t agree with that thinking. Pleasure for all kinds of individuals should be looked into, explored, and talked about. So, in another blog, I’m going to continue to break that taboo and talk about another puzzling phenomenon: the organism (which we might be able to thank our friend, the erogenous tissue, for).

Although I’m talking about the erogenous tissue, keep in mind that not everyone’s anatomy looks this way. If someone is transgender or intersex they might experience or have different anatomical features. For instance, intersex individuals may have ambiguous genitalia which look similar to this but might not include this erogenous tissue; and transgender people who have not had (or don’t want) gender confirmation surgery may refer to their genitals differently. Here (https://www.urologyhealth.org/urology-a-z/a_/ambiguous-(uncertain)-genitalia) is an article from the Urology Care Foundation which further explains intersex. I will also feature this (https://youtu.be/Mb5umSACjcw) video again that shows how transgender and nonbinary individuals can refer to their genitalia if they don’t want to use this terminology.

Resources

“Corpus Cavernosum of Clitoris.” Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, 1 Oct. 2019, en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corpus_cavernosum_of_clitoris.

“Five Things You Should Know about the Clitoris.” Medical News Today, MediLexicon International, www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/322235.

Mangaldas, Leeza, director. What Is the Clitoris? | Leeza Mangaldas. YouTube, 4 Feb. 2020, www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q7v7n2H3Nfs&t=183s.