International Anti-Street Harassment Week

By Emma Gilham

Content Warning: sexual assault

“Steam from a New York City street” by pchurch92 is licensed under CC BY 2.0

International Anti-Street Harassment Week is April 11-17, 2021. It is important to recognize this time in Sexual Assault Awareness month. According to a national survey in 2014, 65% of all women had experienced street harassment, and among them 23%  had been sexually touched, 20% had been followed, and 9% had been forced to do something sexual (stopstreetharassment.org ).” While women were more often targets of harassment, 25% of men experienced harassment, commonly with homophobic or transphobic slurs. Street harassment can take form as many behaviors and actions in public spaces, and harassers often resort to sexism, racism, transphobia, xenophobia, and/or ableism. 

Stop Street Harassment is a nonprofit that conducts research, campaigns, and documentation of street harassment worldwide. They also provide resources for organizing, allies, and dealing with harassment. To participate in Anti-Street Harassment Week, they suggest sharing your story or supporting others to raise awareness. The UMKC Women’s Center is holding an anti-street harassment program called Meet Us On The Street. We will be sharing messages against harassment by chalking our sidewalks and sharing photos of them on social media. We are using #UMKCMeetUsOnTheStreet and #StopStreetHarassment to share with the wider community. 

Street harassment is unacceptable, but it is an all too common experience for women. It takes everyone standing up to harassers to help create a safer environment for all. 

 

A Reflection on National Women and Girls in Sports Day

By Emma Gilham

“Millie Deegan, AAGPBL, Rockford Peaches. ‘The Babe Ruth of Women’s Softball'” by BullSharkGal is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

February 3, 2021 was National Women and Girls in Sports Day. At first glance, someone may wonder why there would be a national day of recognition for this. However, it is extremely important to understand women’s history and how we have progressed with gender equity in athletics. According to the article “Women’s Sports History”, “…public athletic performance by women and girls that was condemned as immodest, selfish, and attention-seeking, the trinity of bad-girl behaviors,”

in the 19th and early 20th century United States, women were not allowed to compete in the Olympics until the 1920s, and even then, they were inaccessible to many women that resided in poorer communities. Today, the benefits of physical activity and playing sports are undeniable, especially on young minds and bodies. Why are boys getting 1.13 million more sporting opportunities than girls per year (National Federation of State High School Associations 2018-2019)? The Women’s Sports Foundation’s “Keeping Girls in the Game: Factors that Influence Sport Participation”, lists many factors that may deter participation in young women and girls: parental involvement and support, stereotypes, representation, body image, lack of access and costs.

Even in the professional world, women athletes must fight to be paid the same or even closer to the opposite gendered teams of the same sport. In 2019, Forbes reported, “The top WNBA salary was $117,500 last season, compared with $37.4 million in the NBA. The team salary cap for the National Pro Fastpitch softball league is $175,000; the Boston Red Sox will split $227 million in 2019.” Although negotiations are constantly being made, this gap is incredible. Professional athletes should be paid and given the opportunities they are deserving of. Children should be able to enjoy and grow from sports without the hindrances of old-world thinking or inaccess. These issues are entrenched in this country’s history of sexism, and they cannot be fixed by simply doing one thing. Therefore, I’ll continue to push for recognition of National Women and Girls in Sports Day to celebrate pioneers of women’s athletics, and support efforts to encourage girls to be physically active and share in the love of sports. As students, faculty, and community members, we have the power to support our UMKC women student athletes. If you share these sentiments, look out for Roo Up! With the Women’s Center events on our social media pages and RooGroups this semester. 

https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/what-we-do/wsf-research/

https://www.womenssportsfoundation.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/Keeping-Girls-in-the-Game-Executive-Summary-FINAL-web.pdf

https://www.womenshistory.org/articles/womens-sports-history

https://www.forbes.com/sites/oliviaabrams/2019/06/23/why-female-athletes-earn-less-than-men-across-most-sports/?sh=7185015440fb

Biden-Harris Gender Policy Council

By Emma Gilham

On the eve of the inauguration, President Biden and Vice President Harris announced that their administration was instating a Gender Policy Council to guide the government in uplifting women, especially the most marginalized. It is no secret that women have economically suffered during the pandemic. Jenny Singer wrote in Glamour’s “ The Biden-Harris White House Plans to ‘Restore America as a Champion for Women and Girls”: “American women lost more than 5 million jobs in 2020. Mothers of small children were three times more likely to have lost jobs during this time than their male counterparts, Pew Research found.”

Hopefully, this council will help to close the intense gap between men and women that has been widening for years. Co-chairing the council is Jennifer Klein and Julissa Reynoso. Many remember the TIME’S UP movement against sexual assault and harassment that swept Hollywood in 2018, but few may know that Klein was a chief strategy and policy officer for the movement. Reynoso is chief of staff for First Lady Dr. Biden, and assistant to the President. It seems that the council has committed to a comprehensive understanding of achieving gender equity. The press release explained that the council will “guide and coordinate government policy that impacts women and girls, across a wide range of issues such as economic security, health care, racial justice, gender-based violence, and foreign policy, working in cooperation with the other White House policy councils.” Some may consider this council unnecessary in this day and age, but that couldn’t be farther from the truth. If the council is effective, the policy changes could help minimize the pay gap between men and women, specifically between white men and Black and Latinx women. It could create more safe, well-paying jobs for women and prioritize women’s health in the government’s scope of issues. President Biden stated,“Too many women are struggling to make ends meet and support their families, and too many are lying awake at night worried about their children’s economic future. This was true before the COVID-19 pandemic, but the current global public health crisis has made these burdens infinitely heavier for women all over this country.” 

References

https://19thnews.org/2021/01/white-house-gender-policy-council-jennifer-klein-julissa-reynoso/

https://www.glamour.com/story/the-biden-harris-white-house-plans-to-restore-america-as-a-champion-for-women-and-girls

Fall Semester At The Women’s Center

By Emma Gilham

This semester at the Women’s Center has been full of new experiences, program planning, and learning how to navigate a virtual environment. The first program I worked on with several other staff members was Walk a Mile in Her Shoes®: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence. It is a staple event for the Women’s Center, and it had to be significantly modified to accommodate COVID-19 safety protocols. For example, we rebranded the walk as a socially-distanced, contemplative walk instead of a march. However, with ample planning, teamwork, and many enthusiastic co-sponsors and volunteers we were able to put on a successful event that engaged students on-campus and/or virtually. After a brief break, I started working on an event called Grow Your Resilience. This event was aimed to help participants acknowledge and increase their resilience. Resilience is known as the capacity to recover from difficulties. I was very excited to work on this event and extremely grateful for the donation of mums we acquired from Suburban Lawn & Garden with the help of April Brown. Indeed, we have all confronted a need for flexibility this year, and I was not exempt from that. The day before the event, the location needed to be changed from the Women’s Center to another spot on campus. I was very thankful for the Director of the Student Union Jody Jeffries for accommodating us in moving the event to Jazzman’s Stage. We had great turnout for Grow Your Resilience and we gave away all our supplies for the program on the first day! I worked on a couple projects after Walk A Mile and Grow Your Resilience, but I was most involved in those two. I am so happy to have learned so much from my supervisors, Arzie Umali and Brenda Bethman. I could not be more pleased with my fall semester at the Women’s Center. I look forward to engaging students in our spring activities!

Brief Analysis of Chapter VI of A Vindication of the Rights of Women

By Emma Gilham

Mary Wollstonecraft’s A Vindication of the Rights of Women, written in 1791, questions societal norms placed on women in that time from a philosophical perspective. Chapter VI “The Effect Which an Early Association of Ideas Has on Character” focuses on the concept that women would never be able to experience true love and intimacy unless they were educated equally as men. She claims, as things were, that women had false ideas of what love would be as they couldn’t connect on an intellectual level with their potential partner, hence chasing charming but undesirable “rakes”. Wollstonecraft asks, “And how can they [men] expect women, who are only taught to observe behavior, and acquire manners rather than morals, to despise what they have been all their lives laboring to attain?” (126). In the 18th century, young, middle-class, white women’s education consisted mostly of learning manners, politeness and creating a demure, inoffensive persona. Therefore, that aspect of a partner was inherently valued more heavily Wollstonecraft argues. In the end, this hindered the ability of these women to experience real love and adequately navigate suitors. She laments, “…women are captivated by easy manners; a gentlemen-like man seldom fails to please them and their thirsty ears eagerly drink the insinuating nothings of politeness…” (127).

In the beginning of Wollstonecraft’s work, the reader may assume most of her points are outdated, as education systems have drastically changed and been standardized. Yet, her observations are still applicable to issues many of us encounter when seeking a relationship today. Consistently, people are charmed by someone only to later realize this person is not who they had thought. Are these simply mistakes that anyone would make or are womxn still conditioned to value surface level traits more in a partner? This chapter brings up many feminist ideological and philosophical questions. I recognize that Wollstonecraft’s work is probably the furthest thing from intersectional. However, it is important to ponder how the societal norms and constructs we grow up in influence our preferences in a partner, views on romanticism, or even our ability to love. For instance, many of the movies I watched as a child revolved around a marriage or a romantic relationship. Did this give me the impression that romantic love is more important or valuable than familial or platonic? We may never know, but asking these questions can help us better understand the things we do and the people we choose.

 

Works Cited

                    Reed, Ross. The Liberating Art of Philosophy: An Introduction. Cognella, Inc., 2020

Forced Sterilizations and Targeting Marginalized Communities

By Emma Gilham

Earlier this fall, whistleblower allegations at an ICE detention center in Georgia of forced sterilizations swept news headlines. Dawn Wooten, the whistleblower and former nurse at the center, claimed consent was not obtained for these procedures, the patients were not informed of what was happening, and those that objected were placed in solitary confinement. An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security has been opened into the misconduct at Irwin County Detention Center after significant urging from federal elected officials, as ethical questions such as obtaining informed consent and negligence have been raised. While the investigation is a start, it cannot be ignored that consistent complaints of misconduct have emerged from these detention centers and that the government has an unsavory history with forced sterilizations. The first eugenics law was passed in 1907 in Indiana, inspiring 31 other states to follow. In the CNN article, “In a horrifying history of forced sterilizations, some fear the US is beginning a new chapter”, “The laws, which led to officials ordering sterilizations of people they deemed ‘feeble-minded’ or ‘mentally defective,’” later became models for Nazi Germany.” Throughout the 20th century other government-backed forced sterilizations occurred, which unsurprisingly targeted BIPOC womxn. Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer had a non-consensual hysterectomy while she was having surgery for another health issue in 1961. She brought attention to the issue in her activism. Even into the 2000s, sterilizations were illegally funded by the state of California on incarcerated womxn. Time and time again vulnerable groups have been sterilized at increasing rates. To clarify, hysterectomies and tubal ligation are irreversible and valid forms of birth control. However, the aforementioned instances of forced sterilization often included preying on, coercing, or misinforming womxn into having these procedures. In the end, the investigation into the Irwin County Detention Center is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Stethoscope” by surroundsound5000 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

What is Feminist Psychotherapy?

“Sister, I believe you”

By Emma Gilham

Living in a violent, patriarchal world is taxing on the mind and body. How can womxn heal from trauma, build resilience, and understand societal factors that contribute to their struggles? One answer may be feminist psychotherapy. Psychology Today describes feminist therapy as, “…an integrative approach to psychotherapy that focuses on gender and the particular challenges and stressors that women face as a result of bias, stereotyping, oppression, discrimination, and other factors that threaten their mental health.” It is also described as establishing an equal relationship between provider and patient. Indeed, feminist psychotherapy should not only be for womxn. It has the potential to help those affected by toxic masculinity, rigid gender norms, and gender dysphoria.

The article “In Mexico, Therapy Rooted in Feminism Is a Healing Pathway for Many Women” by Chantal Flores, explains how many womxn in Mexico use feminist psychotherapy as a means to reclaim agency and understand gender-based violence from a political perspective. For context, Mexico has high rates of femicide and gender-based violence, with at least 11 women killed daily. Bianca Pérez, a psychologist interviewed for the article said, “From the feminist perspective, we’re reclaiming our body, which has been a territory colonized, raped, and long attacked by men” (Flores). Misogyny within healthcare, employment, and even other psychotherapies is also addressed. Flores writes that women experience mistreatment, judgement, coercion, and non-consensual treatments in the country’s healthcare system. These acts of violence could have long-lasting effects on the victims, in which therapy is necessary. By focusing on the premise of “the personal is political”, patients have the opportunity to learn how systemic patriarchy and societal norms have shaped their experiences.

Feminism has the power to heal, empower, and bring people together. It is a disservice to not utilize it in spaces of gender-based trauma. We deserve healthcare committed to and invested in destroying the patriarchy, and feminist psychotherapy is just the beginning.

 

The People’s City – Reclaiming Kansas City

Protestors at City Hall on October 4, 2020. // Photo by Jim Nimmo

By Emma Gilham

People mill around the statue of Lincoln. A burst of laughter here and there cuts through the murmur of conversation. Megaphones await their champions on concrete benches. Cars slow to read the signs and take in the city of tents that sits on green government grass. The People’s City has planted itself on the front lawn of City Hall in Jackson County Kansas City, until its demands are met.

After the assault on a Black womxn named Deja, outrage spread through the already rightfully angry Black Lives Matter movement of Kansas City. Video shows the young mother being forced to the ground by a police officer onto her pregnant midsection. The officer, Officer Newton, then places his knee on Deja’s back as he handcuffs her. It can only be described as gruesome to watch. After this incident, local organizers decided to stage an occupation protest at City Hall until their demands are met by the local government. Starting on October 2, the protest has seen some opposition to its continuance and demands. The list of demands are as follows:

  • Remove Police Chief Rick Smith from his position and Officer Newton from the force
  • Remove all officers who have killed Black victims from the force.
  • Divest 50% from the KCPD budget
  • Reinvest the KCPD budget into resources that support the black community including education, healthcare, and housing.

Mayor Lucas has said the removal of Rick Smith from his position would be “superficial”. Although Lucas is very well versed in the reforms he has passed, considered radical, he fails to capture what radical change actually is. According to Merriam-Webster, radical is defined as “a root part”. The removal of an incompetent leader is the critical first step in a long road to bringing racial equity to Kansas City. The Student Government Association panel discussion on “The future of policing in Kansas City: A Conversation with Mayor Quinton Lucas” brought up the very compelling point in that the culture of KCPD must shift from a fraternity-like environment, of protecting one’s own, before any real and lasting change can happen. This starts at the top with leadership. This position change would be a promise to doing better for the Black community.

While occupying the People’s City, I have been approached and asked “Why are you here?” or “What is your goal of being here?”- it is a fair question for anyone at the People’s City as an activist to answer. The goal is to uplift, cherish, and protect Black womxn, men, and children in Kansas City. It is to not allow ourselves to accept half measures and meaningless reforms. It is sticking around for the long haul, knowing the end game, and pursuing that until you have achieved it or you are incapable. It’s knowing that there cannot be another Deja, Cameron Lamb, Ryan Stokes, Breonna Hill, Terence Bridges, Donnie Sanders, or MR until we are angry again. KCPD’s reign of terror must be ended with urgency, and we will stay dedicated, fierce, and diligent to the movement until it does.

Trump vs. Biden Debate and Double Standards

By Emma Gilham 

The night of September 29, 2020, America witnessed the presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Candidate Vice President Joe Biden. Like many, I was a part of the population watching from my living room. Cozy in a blanket, I had little to no expectations for information or entertainment. Indeed, I would have rather re-watched NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” for the millionth time. Alas, the debate began, and I was tuned in. I won’t go into too much detail about the debate itself, as that has been widely addressed. With frequent interruptions, name-calling, and talking over one another, the candidates have been widely criticized for their breaking of standard debate decorum. In the end, I wondered how a womxn would have been treated had she been breaking as many rules as either debate candidates.

For this analysis, we can investigate into the not so distant past, to the 2016 election, Candidate Hillary Clinton. Tweets have revealed to us that Clinton often wanted to tell her opponent to “shut up”, as Biden did in his debate on the 29th. Clinton was assaulted with slews of nicknames and defamatory speech during her campaign, labeled “crazy”, “crooked”, and “heartless” just to name a few of the adjectives assigned to her by her opposition. It isn’t difficult to speculate how much worse these jibes could have been had she not held herself to a certain standard of conduct during public appearances.

I’m frustrated with the double standards womxn and minorities often face in the public’s eye. The pressure we place on the minority groups, of any arena, to be the absolute model is a tired trope. We must recognize that the traits, revered in our white, straight, men, are just as natural in our womxn. Leadership, dedication, boldness, anger, and frustration are traits all genders exhibit. No matter how you lean politically, it’s necessary that we acknowledge and amend the double standards placed on public figures, especially in politics.

Music and Mental Health

By Emma Gilham

The effects of COVID-19 have shaken the world. It is easier than ever to fall into a spiral of pessimism and apathy. While we shouldn’t hold ourselves to the same standards as we hold ourselves during a non-pandemic, it is disorienting to look in the mirror and not recognize who is looking back. The World Health Organization reports, women are at a higher risk of having mental disorders. Not to mention, “The high prevalence of sexual violence to which women are exposed and the correspondingly high rate of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) following such violence, renders women the largest single group of people affected by this disorder.” With that in mind, the isolation we are experiencing due to COVID-19 may escalate risk factors or amplify existing psychological struggles. Listening to music has always been a path to inspiration, solace, and focus for me. In fact, listening to music can be beneficial in multiple psychological aspects. Research has suggested that it could improve cognitive performance, decrease symptoms of depression, improve sleeping patterns, and help manage pain. To clarify, I am not saying listening to music will cure mental illnesses or replace any form of professional treatment. However, music could help bring relaxation and reminders of strength to day-to-day tasks.

Have you been needing to clean for the past week, but haven’t had any motivation? Throw on your favorite grooves and get going! Do you need workout inspiration? Look for tracks with 125-140 beats per minute! Are you feeling down? A 2014 study found “overall sad music can evoke positive feelings such as peacefulness, harmony, and kindness.” Go ahead and blast those sad songs, and maybe get a good cry in. You might just come out of it, in a better mood. As we’ve all heard a million times since April, “This is a trying time for all of us.” Don’t forget the simple joys that could help each day be a little better. My personal quarantine favorites by womxn are listed below:

 

Songs

· Gold Dust Woman -Fleetwood Mac

· I Put A Spell on You – Nina Simone

· Savage (Remix) -Megan Thee Stallion (ft. Beyoncé)

· Midnight Sky -Miley Cyrus

· Here You Come Again -Dolly Parton

· Still -Seinabo Sey

· Heart of Glass -Blondie

· Flowers- WILLOW

Albums

· It Was Good Until It Wasn’t -Kehlani

· Folklore -Taylor Swift

· ANTI -Rihanna

· Rare -Selena Gomez

· Cheap Queen -King Princess

· Chilombo -Jhene Aiko

· The Seven Deadly Sins – Shreya