Women’s History Month: Dr. Mabel Ping Hua-Lee

By Morgan Clark

When we think of women’s suffrage leaders we usually think of Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and maybe Ida B. Wells. But no one speaks about Dr. Mabel Ping Hua-Lee, who had the same amount of influence in the movement. Born in Hong Kong, Mabel Lee and her family moved to America in 1905 after she won a scholarship that provided her and her family visas. They settled in Chinatown in New York City where she attended Erasmus Hall Academy in Brooklyn.

At the age of 15, Mabel Lee was a figure in the New York City suffragist movement. She helped lead a parade for women’s rights, attended by up to ten thousand people. In 1912 she began her studies at Barnard College, an all-women’s school. She began to write essays on feminism for The Chinese Students’ Monthly.  One of her popular essays was “The Meaning of Woman Suffrage” in which she argued that suffrage would lead to a successful democracy. In 1915 Lee was invited to give a speech at the Women’s Political Union. In her speech “The Submerged Hall” she advocated for education for girls and civic participation from women in the Chinese community. The 19th Amendment passed in 1917 allowing women to vote— white women. Mabel Lee and others were not able to vote because of the color of their skin and laws that stopped women of color from voting.

After graduating from Barnard College, Lee pursued her Ph.D. in economics at the Columbia University, becoming the first Chinese woman to do so. After school Dr. Mabel Lee published her research in book form, naming it The Economic History of China. Dr. Mabel Lee became the director of the First Chinese Baptist Church of New York City after the passing of her father. She founded the Chinese Christian Center a little bit after, providing classes for English and health clinics. She dedicated her life to the Chinese Community until her death in 1966.

Women’s History Month: Zitkala-Ša

By Mia Lukic

“Gertrude Kasebier Photo of Zitkala Sa, Sioux Indian and activist” by National Museum of American History is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Zitkala-Ša was an empowering activist who fought for native rights and played a role in the fight for suffrage. She was born on February 22, 1876 on the Yankton Indian Reservation in South Dakota. At only eight years old Zitkala-Ša was taken from her home and placed in White’s Indiana Manual Labor Institute, a residential school that, like many others across the country, forced assimilation on native children. Here, Zitkala-Ša was given the name Gertrude Simmons, her beautiful and meaningful long hair was chopped off and her personal beliefs dismissed as she was forced to pray as a Quaker.

The school impacted Zitkala-Ša greatly, in positive and negative ways. She loved school and learning, especially learning to play music and she went on to become a music teacher at the Carlisle Indian Industrial School. Carlisle was an assimilation school like Zitkala-Ša had attended herself, a place where native children were taken to after being ripped away from their homes and forced to accept and act in ways that were favorable to the white teachers. The founder of Carlisle is quoted to have said “kill the Indian in him, and save the man”, in reference to what they did at the school.

The assimilation attempts and disconnect from her culture and heritage left her feeling stuck in a limbo between worlds. She tried multiple times to return to the reservation she was from, but was too upset by both the personal separation the school had made and the state of the reservation after years of white settlers occupying the land and the negative results of those actions.

A talented writer, Zitkala-Ša started writing for magazines about her experiences and her heritage. She wrote out against assimilation and boarding schools that tore children away from their families and communities. She even wrote down many stories from her tribe and culture to share with the white communities as means to humanize and share the rich cultures native people have, in an attempt to slow the push for assimilation. Zitkala-Ša even wrote the first native written opera, based on a sacred Sioux dance that was illegal in the eyes of the United States Government. The opera was a piece of art that expressed her feeling of being caught between two worlds, and her desire to connect the two.

She eventually went on to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Society of American Indians where she fought hard for native rights, against assimilation, and lobbied for American citizenship. She argued that as the original people of America, indigenous people had a right to be citizens and be represented in government with the right to vote. Zitkala-Ša moved to Washington DC and fought for what she believed in even after the 1924 Indian Citizenship Act passed. While this act granted citizenship it did not prevent states from deciding who had a right to vote and who did not. Zitkala-Ša devoted her entire life to fighting for native rights and was incredibly passionate about suffrage, creating voting registration drives and working to make voting accessible for all natives. She died in 1928 and the last state granted natives the right to vote thirty-four years later in 1962. Even then, much like the Jim Crow laws that were used against Black voters, natives faced literacy tests and taxes and general discouragement.

Zitkala-Ša was a driven and passionate woman who fought for native rights and the right to vote for all. Her role in the suffrage movement is not nearly as covered by the media nor textbooks but it was and is incredibly important and powerful.

Sources

https://www.history.com/news/native-american-voting-rights-citizenship

https://www.nps.gov/people/zitkala-sa.htm

 

 

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

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

Looking Deeper at our Phenomenal Feminist: Laverne Cox

 

By Morgan Clark

Laverne Cox caught the public’s eye in her brilliant performance as Sophia Burset in the hit Netflix TV show Orange is the New Black. Cox’s character was a trans woman in prison fighting for the right to receive her hormones medication. For many of us, that character was the first open door into learning about trans women and the obstacles that they face daily. Cox’s role as Sophia was a very important piece of popular culture that allowed people, especially young adults, to become aware of and educated on trans women. But how did Laverne Cox get to Orange is the New Black?

Laverne started as a dancer at Marymount Manhattan College, but soon turned to acting. She started her career doing plays and appearing in small films during her senior year of college. While in college, Laverne started her transition and went from being gender conforming to being more femme, eventually beginning her medical transition and identifying as female. During this time, Cox was performing in drag clubs although she never truly identified as a drag queen.

Orange is the New Black was Cox’s big break, and it was really  big.  Her role earned her 3 Emmy nominations, a first in history for transgender women. Since the beginning of the Netflix show, Cox has gone on to acquire many other firsts. Such as actually winning and Emmy award for a film she executively produced called Laverne Cox presents: The T Word. And finally in 2017 she went on to become the first transgender person to play a transgender series regular on broadcast TV in her new role on CBS’s show Doubt.

But beyond TV and acting, Cox is also known for her advocacy for trans rights; speaking on the issues trans women have faced, particularly trans women of color. Cox works hard to highlight the narrative that Trans Women are systematic pushed into crime, homelessness and sex work. In 2017 Cox spoke against certain actions that the Trump administration had taken to disenfranchise trans women. Cox has also advocated for the HIV/AIDS community, making herself the first spokeswoman for Johnson and Johnson’s Band-Aid Red campaign. In an interview that Cox did with Johnson and Johnson she explains why advocating for the HIV/AIDS community and relief efforts are so important to her: “It’s about all of the friends in my life whom I have lost to HIV/AIDS over the years. It’s about the folks in my life who are currently living with HIV and the stigma they face. It’s about being in that fight, in partnership with them. It’s a tribute to them—and I love actionable things that people can do to make a difference.” Now you can find her actively on social media still speaking out against the injustice trans women face.

The Shadow Pandemic

By Mia Lukic

November 30th was White Ribbon Day, a part of the United Nations ongoing 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence which runs from the 25th of November to the 10th of December. This was a day to show solidarity with those who have experienced gender-based violence through signing a white ribbon and sharing the message on social media. Gender based violence is defined as “harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms” (UNHCR) and is considered “a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue” by the United Nations Refugee Agency.

While the COVID 19 pandemic changed the circumstances of the event, it also has had a detrimental impact on gender-based violence worldwide. Even before the pandemic, 1 in 3 women experienced physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner (UN Women). The numbers are only increasing due to a multitude of COVID caused changes. The factors include: security, health, and money worries, cramped living conditions, isolation with abusers, movement restrictions, and deserted public places (UN Women)

Statistically, less than 40% of women who experience violence seek help, and during the pandemic calls to helplines in certain countries increased by 5 times (UN Women). What does that mean about the number of cases?

The United Nations has deemed this the Shadow Pandemic. The Coronavirus is without question one of the most difficult things the world has experienced in past years, and the increase in violence against women seems to be a symptom left out of the fact sheets.

PPE or Personal Protective Equipment, takes on a whole new meaning. The CDC recommends wearing a mask and social distancing, but a mask cannot protect from violence, and distance from abusers can be impossible during stay at home orders. So how do we combat this Shadow Pandemic?

The UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said:

 

“I would like to call on your government to make visible at the highest level your commitment to addressing violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19 by issuing a short statement on social media, in the form of a video message or a short text at the highest possible level, ideally at the level of Head of State/Government, highlighting:

  • Tangible actions undertaken to address violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19;
  • Future planning policies and actions to implement in this context;
  • Your Government’s commitment to raise awareness on the issue at the national and international levels.” (UN Women)

UN Women stresses the importance of the following during this Shadow Pandemic.

FUND

  • Prioritize funding for a minimum package of essential services and include violence against women prevention in COVID-19 fiscal stimulus packages.
  • Make urgent and flexible funding available for women’s rights organizations working at the nexus of COVID-19 and addressing violence against women

PREVENT

  • Declare national zero tolerance policy for violence against women and girls with a concrete action plan in place
  • Launch a COVID-19 behavior change social mobilization campaign

RESPOND

  • Undertake explicit measures so that services for survivors of violence are maintained as essential
  • Ensure continuum of adequate criminal justice system response.

COLLECT

  • Collect data for improvement of services and programs” (UN Women)

Whether you are calling your representatives to demand they address the Shadow Pandemic, checking in on your loved ones, or fighting your own battle, know you are not alone. For hotline numbers and resources in our area check out the link below:

Domestic and Sexual Violence Resources

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.

 

It’s a Celebration!

By Morgan Clark

November 7th, 2020 was an historic day for many people, including me. It was the day that a woman, a BLACK woman, was elected as the next Vice President of The United States. Kamala Harris has made history, not only by being a woman in the office, but being a woman of color elected by America. That statement alone feels so powerful to me. When I sat down and analyzed her win and what it means, it moved me to tears. America has not always been kind to people who look like Kamala Harris or who are darker than she is. Just a few months ago we were in the streets protesting to arrest the police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor, which is not the first unarmed black woman who has been killed by the police. During slavery, we were not even considered humans. We were forced to breed children instead of creating them. Children were taken from mothers and mothers were forced to breastfeed children that weren’t theirs. After emancipation, slaves were considered freed, but still faced oppression. During the 1800s women were not even able to vote. Many women fought against that law until the 19th amendment was passed. Women were able to vote, they just had to be white. Even during the fight for women’s rights Black women were over looked. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act was passed in the 60s that Black women were able to vote. This was also the time of the Civil Rights Movement. African Americans were advocating for the end of Jim Crow laws and equality. When it came to the important decisions the Black women were pushed aside, even though they were putting in as much work as their male counter-part. Even those in our communities have pushed us aside and tried to silence us. And although America has made progress in treating Black women better there is still a lot of work to be done.

So, you can see why having a Black woman in the Office moves a Black woman like me to tears. America has always tried to put women in a corner. Overlooking and overshadowing us, especially those of us with color. We are told that we are not capable of leadership roles because we are too emotional. And when they are in leadership positions, some play safe so they won’t come off as a b*tch. For black women, we are considered angry when we speak up in the work field. We must be the best versions of ourselves and live up to other people’s standards to get some of the same opportunities that those more privileged and sometimes even less qualified than us get handed. And that’s exactly what Kamala Harris did. She fought and worked hard and got all the way to the top. Her becoming the first Black Vice President in America sends a message to others out there. It tells young women that there is room for us at the table. It tells young Black girls that they are worthy and capable, no matter what she looks like. It tells me that there is some hope in America and the progression we have made over the past few years. Today I celebrate all Black women in America and let them know that I do see you.

So What Is Feminism Anyway?

By Abbie Lewis

Friday October 30th, our amazing staff member Morgan Clark kicked off our new program Phenomenal Feminist Friday, dedicating every Friday to a feminist of our choosing and posting why he or she is important to know about. I was doing my research for my feminist figure and got to thinking, what exactly is feminism? I know I’ve always considered myself one, but do I even know what exactly I’m claiming to be? I decided to do a little reading and figure out exactly what people think it is, what the actual description is, and to share it so that everyone can be on board.

The definition of feminism is “the advocacy of women’s rights on the basis of the equality of the sexes”. A lot of people are under the impression, I think, that feminism is a movement to make females elite or maybe to take away men’s rights. Feminism is only trying to put females on an equal playing field as men, and it’s ludicrous that that is something that isn’t already real in society. There’s a lot of people who genuinely think that woman already are equal to men and there’s no need for this movement or mindset whatsoever. I hate to say it, but that is probably their privilege talking and they probably haven’t ever had to work extra hard to prove themselves just because they are a different gender.

The wonderful thing about feminism is, you don’t just have to identify as a woman to be one. Lots of men, as well as non-binary people, out there consider themselves feminists and this is a wonderful thing, as everyone should be fighting for equal rights. Just because there is a negative impression of it sometimes, does not mean it is a negative thing whatsoever. Feminism is for all and being one can only move things forward.