Tampon Tax

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

By Adriana Suarez

Why are menstrual hygiene products taxed?

Why are they even being sold instead of being provided free?

Menstruation is not a choice. Menstruation products are in fact a necessity for ALL women.

As a female, I have never had a choice about if I wanted my period. When the time came, I had to be ready for the time of the month to come every single month for the rest of my life. There is nothing I can naturally do to prevent this from happening.

As of July 2019, “menstrual products are subject to sales taxes in 35 states” (As reported by Karen Zraick). Many founders of supporting organizations, including LOLA and Period Equity, support the cause of eliminating the ‘tampon tax.’ According to The New York Times, Canada, Malaysia, India, and Australia have “nixed” the tax. So that raises the question, why hasn’t the United States eliminated the tax as well?

What many states have in question is affordability. Can they afford to eliminate the sales tax? In California alone, the expense of eliminating the tax would be $76 million per year. Other states, like Georgia “allocated funds to provide free menstrual products in schools and community centers in low-income areas” (Zraick).

This debate has caused a Tampon Tax Protest. Any woman can participate in 4 easy steps, as follows.

  1. Buy the product and save your receipt.
  2. Claim for a refund under the grounds of being unconstitutional.
  3. Mail form and receipt to state’s Department of Revenue.
  4. Post about the Tampon Tax Protest through spreading the word.

More information can also be found on the Tax Free. Period. website.

Japanese Women Protest Sexist Ban On Wearing Glasses At Work

By Adriana Suarez

In Japan, there has been much backlash from women in the workplace surrounding their appearance. A part of the Japanese culture is the treatment of women. According to a Georegetown University blog post, “The ideal woman in Japan .. on one hand is the loving housewife but on the opposite it is the beautiful, smart, youthful girl.” Women in Japanese society have been objectified between the 1980s and 90s.

This women specific problem is only part of the reason why Japanese women struggle. The societal norms that have been passed down from generations has formed a normalization of the image of women in society today. This, of course, varies from culture to culture because of the variety of changes in daily life as well as cultural changes that we in the United States view differently.

It has become a large controversy over social media, Where on Twitter the hashtag #メガネ禁止 which in English translates to #GlassesBan. It’s important to raise awareness about this topic that began at the start of the month in November.

The attention that this ban has received has also brought awareness to other restrictions within the corporate dress code within the Japanes culture. For example, there has also been a ban against wearing high heels at the work place and ironically there has also been a requirement in some companies to wear make-up. Campaigners have submitted a petition to the government that call for legislation to declare harassment policies that make up for such treatment towards women in the workplace.

How a 19nth Century Invention helped Liberate Women

By Maggie Pool

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling,” Susan B. Anthony told a reporter in 1896. “I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

In 1897, protests lined the streets at the University of Cambridge to object to a vote that would allow women to attend the all-male university. The crowd launched rockets, threw eggs, and hung a stuffed representation of the “New Woman” from a building, later mutilating it in the streets. The feature acutely defining this “New Woman” was her bicycle.

Globally, the bicycle was a hot commodity in the 1890s. Bikes were cheaper and easier to use than a horse, buggy, or car. For someone making around $10 a week, buying a bicycle was an affordable and easy way to get around. So, how did this affect women?

Before the early 1900s, women’s roles didn’t extend beyond maintaining the domestic sphere. They cooked, cleaned, took care of the children, and generally only left the house when escorted by male, usually by a father or husband. This meant women had no involvement in things like business, politics, and education. However, the bicycle boom allowed women to be themselves without being ignored or easily segregated. With the taste of freedom fresh on their lips, women learned what life was really like outside the home. Thus, a new desire for women’s avocation was born.

Outside the home, the bicycle evolved more than women’s roles. It also revolutionized women’s fashion. Imagine trying to ride a bike outfitted in a corset, bustle, and multi-layer full-length skirts? It didn’t work out so well. Although viewed by many as highly scandalous, bloomers, baggy pants sewed into a big skirt, were the new fashion. For the first time, women were showing off their bare legs.

And, of course, the bicycle allowed quick mobilization for the suffragette movement. Alice Hawkins, a leading English suffragette among the city of Leicester went to prison five times for her acts in the Women’s Social and Political Union campaign. Women’s use of bicycles started with Hawkin’s use her own bicycle. She organized bike clubs that helped spread the word about female emancipation. Being able to travel gave her and other women the ability to do widespread canvassing to get their political point across.

Who would’ve thought that an invention as simple as two turning wheels could’ve liberated women more than anything else before?

Sojourner Truth: A Timeless Women’s Rights Activist

By Skye VanLanduyt

Sojourner Truth escaped from slavery and became a powerful civil and women’s rights activist during the nineteenth century. Truth’s famous speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” will always be one of my favorite woman authored pieces in multi-ethnic literature. Her language is controversial, provocative, and unforgettable. She delivered the speech in 1851 at a Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio.

Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech is meant to be controversial. Her speech criticizes white privilege while calling attention to gender and racial disparity in America. In the second paragraph, Truth exclaims “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted into ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?” Her critique of men’s treatment toward women runs deeper than the issue of men seeing women as submissive. White women may not be treated fairly but black women are not seen by men as women at all. Truth’s writing reveals why it is important to take a step back and realize women’s experience is not entirely universal.

At the end of the same paragraph, Truth compares her worth to a man’s. She boldly exclaims, “I could work as much and eat as much as a man-when I could get it-and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?” I love this line because Truth is challenging her role as a woman comparably with a man. She declares women do not “need to be helped” and should be seen as equal to men because they are able to do the same work. But she also calls attention to racial disparity in a new way. Her assertion, “I could work as much and eat as much as a man” is a powerful punch against the barriers white men put up against her.

As powerful as Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech is, there is a shroud of mystery behind the piece’s publication. Her original speech was transcribed by journalist and audience member, Marius Robinson. Truth and Robinson were “good friends” and reportedly “went over his transcription of her speech before he published it.” A second transcription was published by writer, Frances Gage in 1863 in the New York Independent, a women’s suffrage magazine. Some speculate discrepancies in Gage’s transcription. The phrase, “Ain’t I A Woman” is not found in Robinson’s earlier version of Truth’s speech, nor is there any southern dialect. Although Gage was a feminist, her choice to falsify Truth’s dialect and word choice is counterproductive to the purpose of Truth’s speech. The piece loses its powerful flare and provocative language because Gage’s intended audience is not black. New York’s readership in the 1800’s was predominately white. A powerful black woman’s voice speaking out against white privilege and supremacy would not have received praise before the abolition of slavery.

Despite controversy, Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” continues to reflect America’s history, present, and future. It is a reminder that while so much progress has been made in the fight for women’s equality, so much more still needs to be done.

Walk A Mile®Through Our Graduate Assistant’s Lens

By Indra Mursid

The first time I heard about Walk a Mile in Her Shoes© I was a senior student representative during my undergraduate studies. Student Senate was co-sponsoring the march with our own sexual assault and Title IX program so we weren’t the ones who were making the executive decisions on how to advertise or how to incorporate community outreach into the march. When I first found out about the Women’s Center involvement in hosting UMKC’s annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event – I was thrilled to be one of a handful of people making executive decisions on how to incorporate community resources within the march. Before Walk a Mile©, I assisted in curating the roaster of community organizations for the Resource Fair. Some organizations there were from previous Resource Fairs like MOSCA, League of Women Voters, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and some were new-and-upcoming organizations that I knew about in the Kansas City area through social media like Barrier Babes. To communicate with organizations about Walk a Mile ©, its cause, and how these organizations could help empower others was incredibly powerful to me because we were exposing survivors and advocates to communal resources they might not have even thought to look into. During the march, I got to witness my efforts through another lens – literally.

During the march, I was also in charge of taking photographs from various vantage points in many stages of the event from the Resource Fair tabling to men crossing the finish line. It was amazing to see students, faculty, Greek Letter societies, and UMKC sports teams unabashedly put on high heels and march in awareness of rape, sexual assault, and gender based violence. I could tell through my interactions with many men how passionate they were about the subject, especially in the speeches Dr. Martin, Justice Horn, and Humberto Gonzalez gave. They spoke about how they advocate for the women closest to them and women who cannot speak out due to the fear of retaliation or lack of support to do so. I want to emphasize how much we need men to use their voice as a vehicle for change, especially in women’s issues. Overall, the experience of planning, executing, and sprinting around the route with the participants taking photos was incredible. I hope to be involved in some way during my time at UMKC and beyond.

Perpetuating Gender Stereotypes or Empowering Strong Women?

By: Anonymous

The Netflix movie, Falling Inn Love released on August 29, 2019, follows a young woman who moves to New Zealand to renovate a rundown inn after losing her job and boyfriend. She ends up developing feelings for the contractor she employs. After reading a brief overview of the plot, I was curious if women would be represented in a positive, independent light. After watching the movie, I discovered the main character, Gabriella Diaz played by Christina Milan perpetuates many female stereotypes while breaking others.

After Gabriela experiences cliché post breakup devastation, she is presented as an ignorant, impulsive, superficial person. A perfect example takes place in the first scene. Gabriela ends up stranded on the side of the road, (keep in mind this takes place in a small town in New Zealand) and tries to trek through the mud in heels. She only cared about her cute clothes and refused to admit she needed help. This is incredibly problematic in regards to presenting women in a way that promotes equity. Once again, a female lead is portrayed as being clueless, helpless, and stubborn. While the male lead waits to rescue the incapable woman.

At the cost of women’s equity, this film also puts women against each other. Gabriella finds herself in a competitive power struggle with another female inn owner. The two women find themselves in a personal quest to become the most prominent woman in the town. Once again, women are portrayed as superficial, catty, and ignorant.

Overall, the movie comes off as initially cheesy and as a predictable romantic comedy. There is nothing wrong with that. The larger issue is even in a relatively basic movie, women are still made out to be conceited, stubborn, negative, ditzy, etc. Everyone knows media in all forms plays a significant role in influencing the way that we consider ourselves and others. It is crucial that media outlets are conscious of the messages they are sending to young people, especially young women.

Turning A Man’s World Into Our World

By: Maggie Pool

Since our first American History class, a few names have been imbedded into our minds regarding the history of equality and women’s rights. Names such as, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Tubman are familiar to anyone who received a general education in America. Noticeably, lessons surrounding women’s history is geared towards women’s suffrage, but the fight for equality did not stop once women gained the right to vote in 1920. After this leap toward equality, who continued the fight?

Joan Ruth Bader, known as Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), was born on March 15th, 1933. She attended the Harvard School of Law but transferred to Cornell University after being scolded for pursuing a male dominated career. In 1954, Ginsburg graduated from Cornell in the top of her class. Despite facing gender discrimination, she became the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. Ginsburg continued fighting against gender discrimination, and in 1980 was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the U.S Court of Appeals. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court. She served as Associate Justice until 2010.

On December 25th, 2018, “On the Basis of Sex,” a biopic presenting RGB’s rocky beginnings as a lawyer in a man’s world was released. The film centers around a tax case about a Colorado man who is denied a tax benefit routinely given to women caring for family members. The case triggers a series of arguments about gender, society, and the law. Ginsburg’s ruthless dedication to prove many laws are generated on the basis of sex is catapulted by this one event, and the journey she faces forces her to maneuver longstanding sexist barriers by only using the weapon of law.

It’s hard for audience members to not get riled up about the discriminating figures Ginsburg confronts, especially since the movie sets up her logic behind the case. We are immediately on Ginsburg’s side, rooting for her to finally shed light on equality for those too stubborn to accept reality. “On the Basis of Sex” does its job of introducing Ginsberg and her struggling start as a lawyer but also her unwavering intensity for justice, which immediately grips you, inciting you to continue the fight for future generations.

Ginsburg, now 86-years-old, remains one of women’s fiercest advocates. When President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court, he compared her legal work on women to that of Thurgood Marshall on behalf of African-Americans. Because of her heroic feats, I hope the name Ruth Bader Ginsburg is another woman’s name future students are taught to remember and respect throughout American history.

“We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society, because we fit into a certain mold ― because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination.”
– Ruth Bader Ginsburg

Women in Jazz

By Nina Cherry

The music industry is, and always has been male-dominated, especially in jazz. The vast majority of jazz musicians in the canon are men. The genre was born in raunchy clubs that were considered to be unfit for a lady. Jazz is the ultimate boy’s club. There are a few prolific female vocalists that made their way into the canon such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, and Billie Holiday, but the number of female instrumentalists that have received the recognition they deserve in the genre is even scarcer.

I didn’t realize how large the gap was until I started a unit on the jazz canon in one of my classes. I knew about plenty of female jazz vocalists, but I realized that I could not even name one female jazz instrumentalist. It turns out that UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance has a total of one woman in the jazz studies program – a sizeable and very reputable program. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it – why are female jazz instrumentalists so underrepresented?

A large part of jazz are the solos, and that’s how we are remembered as instrumentalists – that is our statement of expression and our time to show off. Aspects of jazz such as “trading fours” (definition: http://people.virginia.edu/~skd9r/MUSI212_new/materials/definitions2.html#tradingfours) are about asserting dominance on the bandstand – something often viewed as “masculine”. Improvisation and soloing are other major aspects of jazz which require leadership, so that role is almost always filled by a man.

Although there has been plenty of racial integration in the history of jazz, there remains a huge margin to be filled in terms of gender inclusion. I firmly believe that out of all of the genres of music, jazz has the furthest to go in terms of gender equity.

This is a fantastic article for more on this topic: http://theconversation.com/why-is-there-so-little-space-for-women-in-jazz-music-79181

A Woman’s Place

By Caitlin Easter

An important reminder to us all in today’s rough political climate: “A Woman’s Place is in the House…and the Senate.”

As I was browsing around the internet a while back, I came across a piece of artwork by Mike Luckovich that depicted the women of the 116th Congress entering the Capital Building below the statement, “A Women’s Place is in the House”. The illustration got me thinking about the cleverness and irony of the statement that was being made. I was seeing a statement that had been used as a means of oppression throughout the centuries beautifully interpreted and illustrated into artwork.

And if I’m being honest, I hope that all of the women stay in the House. Okay, admittedly we’re talking about two different houses here.

While statements like “women belong in the house” used to irritate me (relevancy check: a statement that was made to my face less than two months ago), I fully support Luckovich’s rendering of the statement to exemplify the start of the rise of women. A message that seemed to perpetuate itself in the mouths of people who don’t know what they’re talking about is now turned into a piece of artwork honoring the women who have fought the odds to get to where they are.

Dubbed “The Year of the Woman,” 2018 led us into a 2019 that has started off with a bang. A record number of 127 women are currently holding seats in Congress, a number comprised of 102 women in the House of Representatives and 25 women in the U.S. Senate.

While this is obviously an amazing feat, it isn’t for everybody, and women should be able to choose what they want to be and do. If you want to be a stay-at-home mother, that is great!  But for some of us, staying at home would be maddening, and the idea of motherhood is something a little less-than attractive. Regardless, my gender shouldn’t play into the scope of my options in life.

A woman’s place…is wherever she decides it is.

If you want to view Mike Luckovich’s piece of work entitled “Household”, it can be viewed at https://on-ajc.com/2BXCPPY.

Marge in Charge

By Margaret Wight

Well, hey there.

My name is Margaret Wight, but friends call me Marge so feel free to do the same. I am the new graduate assistant at the UMKC Women’s Center. I am originally from the small town of New Market, Virginia. I received my Bachelor of Science from James Madison University (go Dukes!) in Communication Sciences and Disorders with a minor in Geriatric Study. I realized that this was not the career I wanted to advance in around my senior year of college. I just spent the last four years getting a degree in a field I no longer wanted to work in – so, now what?

I decided I wanted to continue my education, but this time I wanted to be sure about what career field I wanted to end up in. Since I was still uncertain about what I wanted to do, I could not enroll in grad school just yet, but I could not remain idle either – this lead me to apply to AmeriCorps. I ended up applying, interviewing, and landing a position as a Corps Member in a program called City Year-Kansas City: an education non-profit that focuses on closing the graduation gap created by the economic, academic, and supportive disparities low-income students face every day.

Through working with City Year and reflecting on my time at JMU, I realized I wanted to work on college campuses and focus on creating new programs and practices to increase the number of underrepresented students in postsecondary education. Now here we are, I am currently studying Higher Education Administration with a focus in Student Affairs at UMKC. When I saw the GA position at the Women’s Center become available, I knew that was the perfect next step for me.

The reason I was automatically attracted to the Women’s Center is because all kinds of #equity is a passion of mine. The Women’s Center’s mission is “to advocate, educate, and provide support services for the advancement of women’s equity on campus and within the community at large,” and girl, I can get down with that! Let’s talk wage gap, feminism, body positivity, and human rights. I am so excited to be a part of this amazing team and work toward a common goal. Everybody, get hype for the awesome programs we have planned for you this upcoming semester and most importantly – come visit us in the Women’s Center!