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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Navigating the Forbidden Fruit

By Brianna Green

I think anatomy is similar to fruit; it comes in different shapes, sizes, colors, tastes and smells. Someone can like a certain fruit or a variety of them. Furthermore, different places and people have different names for the same fruit. For example, in English we call a spherical, pale yellow shape with a reddish inside a “grapefruit,” but in Spanish it’s a “pomelo” and in Portuguese it’s called a “toranja.” Each place is correct in the way they refer to this fruit.

Whether you’re female, male, trans, intersex, or nonbinary, you might have the external anatomy that’s traditionally referred to as the “female” anatomy, but I’m going to refer to it as the external genital area. As anyone who has this area might know, it’s a little confusing. What are all the parts? What do they do? And what can they be called?

There is sometimes a misconception that the entire external area is referred to as the “vagina,” but this is incorrect. The vagina, also known as the internal genitals, does connect to the outside world, but it’s an internal structure. The external anatomy, according to MedicalNewsToday (MNT), is made up of the mons pubis and the vulva, which consists of the labia majora, labia minora, clitoral hood and clitoris, and the urethral and internal genital openings. You can also refer to this area as the external genital area. I’m going to use a diagram (below) to explore the external genital area and its’ different names and structures.

Starting with the mons pubis, is the fatty area above the external genital area that usually grows public hair. Next are the labias. The labia majora are the outer, fleshy lips on either side of the internal genital opening which usually grow hair (MNT). The labia minora, on the other hand, are the inner lips surrounding the openings; they do not grow hair and can vary in size and color. Their function is to protect the openings to the urethra and internal genitals.

Moving on to the clitoris, which can also be referred to as the erogenous tissue. This structure has a clitoral hood or prepuce. The hood is the fold of skin that surrounds the head of the erogenous tissue and protects it from friction (MNT). The erogenous tissue is pretty complex but, to keep it short, it sits at the top of the external genital area, is roughly the size of a pea, and tends to be sensitive (MNT). Below the erogenous tissue is the urethra, which is where urine comes out. Going south lies the vaginal opening or the opening of the genitals, which leads to the external structures that I’ll talk about another day. Finally, you have the perineum which is the skin between the external genital area and anus.

Although this was a general summary of the external genital area, not everyone’s anatomy is going to look exactly like this. For instance, intersex individuals may have ambiguous genitalia; and trans people who have not had (or don’t want) gender confirmation surgery may refer to their genitals differently. Here (https://massivesci.com/articles/sex-gender-intersex-transgender-identity-discrimination-title-ix/) is an article that explains sex but also what intersex is and how it is expressed. And here (https://youtu.be/Mb5umSACjcw) is a YouTube video, created by an OBGYN, for trans and nonbinary individuals who don’t want to use any of the terms I used for this type of genitalia. I hope this blog was educational and provided some clarity for everyone who has the external genital area!

Resources

http://www.phsa.ca/transcarebc/Documents/HealthProf/Gender_Inclusive_Language_Clinical.pdf

www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/326898.

Diagram created by Brianna Green

Brianna’s Reflection on Fall Semester

By Brianna Green

As my first semester at UMKC and the Women’s Center winds down, there’s a lot of things to reflect on.

The first thing to talk about is the impact the pandemic has had. Unfortunately, as all of us know, this has pushed classes online and has restricted in-person events on campus. Half of my classes were on Zoom and the others were asynchronous. Because of this, I haven’t met my classmates nor have had the chance to really get to know my professors.

For the first part of the semester, I was working on site once a week. Because I was on campus, I got to see how many students were not there. Haag hall was quiet and I felt like I was working in an empty building. Most of our events have been virtual so I wasn’t able to meet and interact with all the awesome people who’ve shown up to them.

As depressing as all of that might sound, I’m really happy and I still feel close to my new school and community. Being at the Women’s Center has allowed me to explore campus and get familiar with its’ layout. I’ve been able to meet the other students who work at the center with me, and I have to say, I’ve worked with some pretty awesome ladies – especially our blog editor April, she’d helped me a lot with my blogs this semester. Not only that but I have had the pleasure of working with the residential halls and on some of our virtual events.

Outside of the Women’s Center, I joined Psychology Club and became their Secretary. At my off-campus job I’ve become very friendly with my coworkers and feel confident in my position. I’ve still been able to go out, social distantly, and explore KC a little bit. I know my way to Walmart without getting lost so that’s an accomplishment in my book.

All that being said, I’m looking forward to spring semester! I can’t wait for all the programs we’re going to do. I’m excited to learn more about UMKC, the Women’s Center, and my major, psychology. And, finally, I’m looking forward to better weather and 2020 to be over.

Goodbye to a Feminist Icon: Betty Dodson

By Brianna Green

On October 31st of this year, we lost an amazing woman and feminist icon. Her website, with business partner Carlin Ross says Dodson was an, “artist, author, and PhD sexologist (who) has been one of the principal voices for women’s sexual pleasure and health for over four decades.” She’s received rewards from the Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality
(SSSS) and Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR). Playboy even named her in the top 100 most important people in sex along with Cosmopolitan who named her in the top 10 sexual revolutionaries.

Her incredible work started in the late 60’s after her divorce from husband. Her first book, Liberating Masturbation, was self-published in 1974 and was later republished as Sex for One: The Joy of Self-loving in 1986 (thedailybeast). Although more conservative feminists weren’t on board with her message, this best-selling book has a “simple but powerful message that shame-free masturbation is the foundation of every woman’s sexuality” (thedailybeast). However, Dodson didn’t just write books, she also ran “BodySex” masturbation workshops that taught women how to explore themselves and climax. Although these workshops started in the 1970’s, they got revamped in 2013 because, according to the icon herself, “In the 1970s there was no information for women. With the internet, there is misinformation” (thedailybeast).

I cannot express how important Dodson’s work is in my eyes. In my own blogs I try to spread a similar kind of message she did: de-taboo and normalize female sexuality and pleasure. As sad as it is that we lost such a significant figure, we still have her books (listed below) and videos of her spreading her knowledge and message.

Rest in Peace, Betty Dodson. Thank you for your decades of work and incredible knowledge.

 

Books:

Sex for One: The Joy of Selfloving (1978)

Orgasms for Two: The Joy of Partnersex (2002)

My Romantic Love Wars: A Sexual Memoir (2010)

Sex by Design: The Betty Dodson Story (2016)

BodySex Basics (2017)

Witches Get Stuff Done: The Salem Witch Trials

By Brianna Green

Happy Halloween Roos! Thank you for watching the Witches Get Stuff Done video and for coming to the blog for more information about the Salem Witch Trails!

So, what were the Salem Witch Trails? The Salem Witch Trials were, as the name indicates, witch trails that happened from January 1692 until May 1693. Around 150 people (men, women, and children) were accused of being a witch or using witchcraft. Sadly, 19 people, mainly women, were hanged after being convicted of witchcraft. Outside of the 19 hangings, a man was crushed to death because of his refusal to plead guilty or not guilty, and another 4 people died in prison awaiting trial (Brooks).

What started this mess that lead to 24 people dying? Let’s start with the context of the time. This was the late 1600s. Salem was a rural community that was very religion and had very strict gender roles, especially for women (Hasset-Walker). Not only that, but there had been a smallpox outbreak; they had a rivalry with a nearby community; they had fears about Native American attacks; and they were still dealing with after affects from the British war with France that happened in 1689 (Brooks; Hasset-Walker). They had a lot going on and there was already a lot of tension.

In January of 1692, two young girls (9 and 11) were diagnosed with bewitchment after having “fits” where they would have outbursts of screaming and violent contortions (History.com). After their diagnoses, other girls from the community started experiencing similar fits. Now, the first two girls named who they thought were causing their bewitchment. They named Sarah Good, Sarah Osborn, and a slave named Tituba. Tituba did confess to witchcraft and claimed others were involved; this confession made people go into panic and hysteria (Brooks). Although these were the first people accused, the first trail and execution happened in June of 1962 with the accused Bridget Bishop.

What’s interesting is that these women were considered outcasts before their accusations. For example, Bishop had been accused of witchcraft well before the trails even started (Brooks). Tituba was a slave. Osborn was an elderly widow who remarried a farmhand. And Good was a homeless beggar. These women did not fit the traditional mold women in these communities usually had which would include being proper, religious, married mothers who acted like caregivers (Hasset-Walker).

As you already know, the trails officially ended in May of 1693 after 24 people had perished. Over the course of the year, the panic slowly subsided and the court realized that they shouldn’t rely on spectral evidence, which is testimony in regard to visions and dreams, to convict someone. The court system apologized for what happened and provided financial restitution to the deceased family members in 1711 (History.com). Along with that, they pardoned the people accused of witchcraft and restored their names (History.com). Of course, with something horrific like this, the damage stayed with the community. This tragedy also inspired the play “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller in 1953 (History.com).

Now, what can we learn from this and how can we apply it to today? I would argue that women are still held to high standards today. From the way we look to the way we act. We can’t be fat but also can’t be too skinny. We need to wear makeup but not too much of it. We can’t be too sexual but also cannot be prudes. Working mothers are criticized for using nannies to help raise their children but if they were stay at home mothers, they’d also hear about how they can work and have a family. Although it’s no longer the 1600s, we still need to fight for our rights and our equality. However, we can use terms like “witch” to our advantage and make it liberating and empowering. After all, witches get stuff done.

Sources:

Brooks, Rebecca Beatrice, et al. “History of the Salem Witch Trials.” History of Massachusetts Blog, 28 May 2020, historyofmassachusetts.org/the-salem-witch-trials/.

Hassett-Walker, Connie. “Perspective | What the Salem Witches Can Teach Us about How We Treat Women Today.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1 Apr. 2019, www.washingtonpost.com/news/made-by-history/wp/2018/06/10/what-the-salem-witches-can-teach-us-about-how-we-treat-women-today/

History.com Editors. “Salem Witch Trials.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 4 Nov. 2011, www.history.com/topics/colonial-america/salem-witch-trials.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Physical Heath: How often to go to the Doctor, Gynecologist, and Breast Exams

By Brianna Green

If you did not know, September 30th is National Women’s Fitness and Health day. I’ve been talking a lot about the female anatomy, so I think it’s important to acknowledge when it’s time to get it checked out and how often to do so.

Although it’s debatable whether yearly visits to the doctor are actually necessary, it’s still suggested that you see your primary physician for a physical once a year. Afterall, as Dr. Earlexia M. Norwood was quoted in Health.com, “You don’t know what you don’t know.” Although skipping a year might not hurt you it’s important to make sure that you’re doing everything to prevent illness, watching out for early signs of an issue, and having your vitals (like blood pressure) checked. It’s better to catch something small while it’s still not an issue and treatable than dealing with a mess later on. Plus, it’s reassuring to know you’re in good health (especially now).

Like the physical exam, it’s suggested to also see your gynecologist once a year. They can test you for sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and preform pap tests (aka pap smears) to check for cervical cancer. Although, pap smears are not tested every year, but are suggested every 3 years starting around 21 years old. Gynecologists also preform breast exams to check for cancer.

However, they’re not the only ones who can perform breast exams. According to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF), “Adult women of all ages are encouraged to preform breast self-exams at least once a month.” This self-exam should be performed a week after your period, while in the shower, in front of the mirror, and lying down. You should do these exams “with the pads/flats of your 3 middle fingers, check the entire breast and armpit area pressing down with light, medium, and firm pressure. Check both breasts each month feeling for any lump, thickening, hardened knot, or any other breast changes”. Also, make sure that you’re visibly checking your breasts in the mirror to see any discoloring, swelling, dimpling, and/or discharge from the nipples. Like I said before, it’s better to catch something small while it’s still not an issue and treatable than dealing with a mess later on. Please stay on top of your physical and mental health, especially right now in this abnormal world.

COVID-19, Sex Toys and Sexual Dysfunction

By Brianna Green

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of discovery and change. People are using this time to educate themselves in social and political matters. Some are also using this time as a moment for self-reflection. Now that our world came to a stop and is now working on a slower pace, it’s easier to look inside and ask questions of “Are you happy?” “Are you satisfied?” “Where can I get a little spice in my life?”

I cannot answer those questions for everyone, but I can say that some women are reevaluating their current circumstances. Psychology Today says that an astonishing 40% of women feel sexual dysfunction. Thirty years ago, it used to be as high as 78%. Although it has gone down, how is it that almost half of the women population feels sexual dysfunction? Well, according to the Merck Manual, a medical education site, some of the causes of sexual dysfunction in women include depression and anxiety, varies forms of abuse, distractions (such as work, family, finances), and culture. To explore on that last point, a woman might feel guilty or shameful about their sexuality if they come from a society that restricts them (Merck Manual). Unfortunately, living in America is still living in a double bind; or a place where women only have two problematic choices to choose from: being a whore or being a prude.

However, in a time of discovery and change and mainly living behind our closed doors, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, the rise in sex toy sales tells me that this is a good time for women to explore their sexuality and learn more about themselves. According to The New York Times sales have gone up dramatically, up to 200% back in April, for companies like We-Vibe and Womanizer. With sex toy sales through the roof, women are taking this time to find out how to be satisfied and what’s available for them to spice up their life. We should come out of this quarantine with a better understanding of our bodies and less shame in our sexuality.

Hey Stranger, I’m Brianna!

By Brianna Green

Hello fellow Roos! My name is Brianna Green! I am a transfer student and this is my first semester at UMKC. I am originally from the Chicago suburbs and I came out here to finish my Bachelor’s in Psychology! I also plan to move on to a Master’s in Psychology after I complete my current program. I want to specialize in human sexuality and sex trauma. I chose UMKC because of all the opportunities I saw here. I feel like this is the first step and best place to reach my academic and career goals. Kansas City has been great so far and I’m excited to call this place my new home.

Additionally, I am thrilled to be a part of the Women’s Center! Being here feels like a great way to connect with campus, as well as my fellow Roos. It’s also very important to me that I’m a part of a place that is still doing its best to offer services and support to students during these unpredictable times. Pandemic aside, I’m excited to be in a position that allows me to support and empower my college colleagues.