Event Preview: “I Am Enough!” Photo Campaign

By Ann Varner

Part of being a feminist is empowering yourself and others and reminding them that they are “enough.” When your friends are feeling down, it’s easy to remind them that they are smart enough, beautiful enough, and strong enough. However, we are our own harshest critics.

This campaign organized by the UMKC Women’s Center, UMKC Counseling Services, and Swinney Recreation Center will help you encourage yourself and others to face your biggest insecurities and realize that you are “good enough.” The goal of this movement is to help students reject the pursuit of what society deems as perfection and realize that all of us are perfect the way we are.

For this event, we will have whiteboards and markers with the words “I Am _______ Enough.” In the middle is where you will write something – for example, I am insecure about my looks and my intelligence. In the middle, I would write “beautiful” and “intelligent.” We’ll then take a picture of you holding your sign. This is to empower students and help them realize that we are all enough in our own way. I encourage you to come and participate in this event with a powerful message!

What: “I Am Enough!” Photo Campaign

Who: UMKC Women’s Center, UMKC Counseling Services, and Swinney Recreation Center

When: Wednesday, October 17, 11:00 a.m. – 1:00 p.m.

Where: Miller Nichols Learning Center Lobby, 800 E. 51st Street

For more information, contact the UMKC Women’s Center at 816-235-1638 or email umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.

See you there!

10 Things I Would Tell my Younger Self

By Ann Varner

I watched a video recently where elderly women give advice to 25-year-old women about their regrets in life. In the video they speak about the pressures of society today and how women are supposed to be “perfect.” After watching this video I started to reflect on my younger self, even if it was only a few years ago. I realized how much I’ve grown and what I wish I could go back and tell myself at 15-21 years old. This is a list of what I would tell myself and many other ladies out there who likely faced the same issues:

  1. Don’t act unintelligent and purposely fail math because you want male attention. I promise you, it’s cool to be smart.
  2. I know that boy broke your heart. I know it hurts. Don’t dwell on it, because you will miss all the good times you have with your friends.
  3. Cherish your friendships. You never know what will happen in the blink of an eye.
  4. Your mom is actually right 99% of the time.
  5. It’s okay to be different from everyone else. You don’t need to be ashamed of your Wal-Mart and thrift shop clothes. In the end, it’s all materialistic. The people who like you for who you are don’t care where you shop.
  6. It’s okay to want a life that others don’t perceive as normal. I know you don’t care about marriage or babies and that seems weird to everyone else. Don’t worry about it, one day you’ll be content with how you feel.
  7. It’s okay to want to live alone. It’s okay to enjoy your solitude.
  8. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
  9. I know you’re humiliated by having to drive an ’89 Ford Topaz that everyone makes fun of you for. One day, you’re going to work hard enough to buy a car you like. Their opinions don’t matter.
  10. The future is now, stop yearning for what is to come and make it happen. No one besides you can create your life.

I know that 20 years from now I’ll look back on this blog and smile as I will have a new list to create. In all, I wish I had trusted myself and what I felt deep down. Most topics on this list are materialistic or about how I was perceived by others. At 25, I’m content with who I am, what I wear, and how I live. It’s a great feeling to have and I wish it for everyone else. I think that the biggest regret I have, which is similar to the ladies’ in the video, is that I had spent too much time caring about what others thought rather than just living my life. Fortunately, I get to do that now.

Free the Nips!

File courtesy of Google Images.By Zaquoya Rogers

Before the 1930s, going topless was illegal for both men and women. It was seen as indecent up until the 1930s when men were permitted to be without garment from the waist up. Women on the oth http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/nipple-double-standard r hand, still had to keep their areolas covered.

Even today, the media is very stern on keeping female areolas off of their platform. Artist and professor, Micol Hebron said of her censored Instagram photo, “The fetishization and censorship of female nipples gets to the point where the body is being seen only as a sexual object.”  Instagram is one social media network that has been adamant and persistent in removing any photo that exposes feminine nips. Their justification states that it’s for “safety reasons.” But really, how harmful can a pair of female nipples be? This goes back to Hebron’s statement about how society sexualize the female anatomy and that’s really the underlying motive Instagram is acting on. Covering female nipples in public and on social media is completely unfair. Especially when the difference between male and female areolas is non-existent. In fact, male areolas and female areolas are EXACTLY the same. According to LiveScience.com, the first few weeks inside the womb, every developing embryo follows a “female blueprint”, which is why men even have nipples. The #FreetheNipple movement have provoked peaceful protests, celebrity support and conversation. This is helping to make more people aware of why we should free the nips

I’m Joining the Fat Acceptance Movement

Image credit to http://mightyhealthyquest.tumblr.com/

Image credit to http://mightyhealthyquest.tumblr.com/

By Matiara Huff and Kacie Otto

I have noticed this happing a lot lately, and I think it is time that I blogged about it. Fat Shaming is when a person is made fun of or treated like less of a person because they are overweight. This can range from little comments like, “Wow! You’re having a muffin and a salad for lunch?!” to flat out bullying like “You’re so fat and such a waste of space” on someone’s body positivity blog. But fat shaming doesn’t end there, not in our society! Everywhere you look there is someone telling us what the perfect body “should” look like. Being a fat girl in this society means dealing with some pretty harsh bullying that is still accepted by society. It should no longer be accepted!

That’s why I’ve decided to embrace fat acceptance. The way I do that is by encouraging my fat friends in positive ways. The best way to start is by not making “fat” a bad word, Nowadays, calling someone fat is the same as cussing at them, and it is time we changed that. When someone calls themselves fat, don’t say “No, you’re beautiful.” Instead, say “…plus you’re beautiful”. This way it doesn’t seem like your friend is only allowed to be one or the other. Stop saying things like “As long as you’re healthy!” This can be offensive and condescending, because you wouldn’t say something like this to a skinny person.

We need to start moving toward more realistic and inclusive beauty standards for all body types. I think one way to do that is treat people the way you want to be treated.

Leelah Alcorn

Image found via Google Images on Creative Commons

Image found via Google Images on Creative Commons

By Matiara Huff

On December 28, 2014 Leelah Alcorn was pronounced dead, and her death did exactly what she wanted it to do. At the end of her suicide note she wrote “The only way I will rest in peace is if one day transgender people aren’t treated the way I was, they’re treated like humans, with valid feelings and human rights. Gender needs to be taught about in schools, the earlier the better. My death needs to mean something. My death needs to be counted in the number of transgender people who commit suicide this year. I want someone to look at that number and say ‘that’s f***ed up’ and fix it. Fix society.”

Leelah Alcorn was a 17 year old transgender girl and all she wanted for her 16 birthday was permission to have gender reassignment surgery, and the support of her parents. Instead she was met with hatred and embarrassment. She was verbally abused and denied her surgery. Then, after coming out in school as a stepping stone, her parents took her out of school, cut off all of her social interaction, and put her in conversion therapy for 5 months. When she finally went back to school, she thought that things would get better but all of her friends moved on, and she said this made her feel lonelier than ever.

Leelah was struck by a tractor trailer at 2:00 a.m. on a highway 4 miles from her house, then at 5:30pm the next day her suicide note was set to post on Tumblr. She explained everything that she went through and why she decided to kill herself. She posted a second note to apologize to her siblings and friends. Since then, Leelah’s life and death have gone viral and have sparked a movement that she would have wanted. The only way to keep the movement going is to not forget her.

Leelah’s story is just one of too many tragic stories, and it is time that we change our society so that we don’t have to hear about these stories grounded in such hatred. At the Women’s Center, we recognize these problems, and we take the necessary steps to support everyone, no matter what their gender expression is. We want to make this world a better place for all of us. Until it is a better place for all of us, everyone is always safe and welcome in the Women’s Center.

Fight the Stereotypes: Never Apologize for Who You Are

By Morgan Paul

A cartoon example of how degrading steretypes are. Image found on Google Images through Creative Commons.

A cartoon example of how degrading steretypes are. Image found on Google Images through Creative Commons.

“You throw like a girl.” “Boys don’t cry.” “Be a man.” These are just a few of the phrases that are pounded into young boys’ heads, and they are great examples of how the patriarchy hurts everyone! Why do we feel the need to tell young boys that if they do not conform, they are a girl? And furthermore, what’s so offensive about being a girl? Then girls are told to “be a lady,” and stay pretty and polite. My niece is almost 2 years old and I don’t tell her she’s beautiful. I tell her that she’s smart and she’s funny and that I love her, and I hope that she never bases her self-worth on her looks because she is so much more.

While reading through something on my friend’s Facebook I found a quote that really stuck with me:

“Girls can wear jeans and cut their hair short and wear shirts and boots because it’s okay to be a boy; for girls it’s like promotion. But for a boy to look like a girl is degrading, according to you, because secretly you believe that being a girl is degrading.”—Ian McEwan.

Another cartoon example of how degrading steretypes are. Image found on Google Images through Creative Commons.

Another cartoon example of how degrading steretypes are. Image found on Google Images through Creative Commons.

While on one hand this was seen as progress for women, it was really telling them that if they wanted to be better then they must be like men. Yet if a man wants to wear a skirt he’s ridiculed, because who would want to be like a woman? (and don’t tell me that men wouldn’t want to wear skirts because they are comfortable!) So the best insults people can come up with are not about their intelligence but they’re poor attacks on their expression or unrelated insults calling them a “pussy” or “faggot” because being a girl or being gay is the worst possible thing they can think of. Then there are quite possibly the easiest insults: attacks on one’s appearance. In a society that already tells us that no matter what we do we’ll never be pretty enough, the last thing we need are our peers using our insecurities against us. Do you honestly think that I don’t know I’m “fat?” I am well aware. And you want to call me a “cunt” or “gay?” I won’t get offended. If you want to offend me then insult my intellect! But I will never apologize for who I am.

Rutgers Coaches and Administrator Fired After Multiple Incidents

By Andrea Fowler.

Mike Rice, head coach of men’s basketball at Rutgers University, was fired Wednesday after video was broadcast on ESPN documenting Rice’s abuse of his players. Debate about Rice’s future at the university has surrounded the program since his behavior was first reviewed in December of last year. According to a written statement from Tim Pernetti, Director of Intercollegiate Activities, “Dismissal and corrective action were debated in December and I thought it was in the best interest of everyone to rehabilitate, but I was wrong.” In the last five days, Pernetti and assistant coach, Jimmy Martelli, have also been fired. Several dozen faculty members called on the administration to oust all those with knowledge of this abusive behavior.

Not only was Rice’s behavior (hurling basketballs from close range at players, grabbing and shoving players) under investigation, but he was also cited for inappropriate language, including sexist and homophobic slurs. According to the report by Don van Natta Jr. on ESPN’s website, Rice called Rutgers players “f—-ts,” “m—–f—–s,” “p—–s,” “sissy b—–s,” and “c—s,” to name just a few. At least three players have recently transferred from the team. A report from the Newark Star-Ledger reported earlier this week that two additional players planned to leave at the end of the semester.

This type of behavior by coaches is certainly nothing new. And this behavior exists to varying degrees at levels. Is it necessary to tear players down in order to build them up to greatness? And is every player destined to go professional? How many young athletes quit because they cannot handle this kind of “leadership?” And do these coaches realize that they are encouraging an environment of hate by using sexist and bigoted language? Players who do not measure up physically are considered effeminate. It’s a safe assumption that a men’s coach probably hasn’t watched a collegiate women’s basketball game recently. These women are tough, dedicated, and just as physically capable. Universities are showing that this behavior will be tolerated, especially when it gets the desired winning record. Those wins did not come for Rutgers under Rice’s tenure.

There is no excuse or justification for sexist and bigoted language and violence in any situation, let alone an environment that is supposed to be educational. It would be naïve to think that college athletes are attending classes just earn a degree and that they just happen to play a sport on the side. The phrase “student athlete” is a misnomer. Colleges and universities driven by the economic impact of their athletic programs are beholden to the tried and true adage “the ends justify the means.”

This is not the first time that Rutgers has found itself at the center of a media storm regarding homophobic behavior. In September 2009, freshman Tyler Clementi committed suicide after being harassed by his roommate and other students. Upon the discovery that Clementi was gay, his roommate, Dharun Ravi, shared video of an intimate encounter between Clementi and another man. Ravi was ultimately sentenced to 30 days in jail, but was not held legally responsible for Clementi’s death.

Tyler Clementi inspired New Jersey’s “Anti-Bullying Bill of Rights” and helped state lawmakers pass the toughest anti-bullying law in the nation, which Governer Chris Christie signed into law in January 2011. U.S. Senator Frank Lautenberg (D-N.J.) and U.S. Representative Rush Holt (D-12th Dist.) have renewed their efforts in Congress to pass the “Tyler Clementi Higher Education Anti-Harassment Act.” This bill is designed to prohibit the harassment of enrolled students by other students, faculty, and staff.

Recently, ESPN Films 30 for 30 aired “Survive and Advance,” directed by Jonathan Hock, documenting Jim Valvano’s incredible 1983 championship run with NC State. On clear display throughout the entire film was Valvano’s ability to reach his players and inspire greatness and teamwork through the family environment he created. Valvano may only have one championship to his name, but he left behind a legacy that a coach like Mike Rice could never even dream of. Mike Krzyzewski and Phil Jackson have frequently demonstrated that the highest goals can be met through hard work, dedication, and the right approach to the game – not through calling players names and physically assaulting them.