Do Female Actresses Mind a Wage Gap?

By Christina Terrell

Watch some of television’s biggest female stars discuss their experiences in Hollywood.

When it comes to Hollywood stars, most people don’t see money as an issue for anyone – male or female. But what some people do not realize is that in today’s celebrity-focused world, women suffer from the biggest wage gape of all. These women come from different cultures and have varying ages and backgrounds, but that doesn’t matter to the entertainment industry.

In Net-A-Porter’s third annual Women in Television issue, four very well-known and talented female actresses gather to discuss why actresses don’t talk about their worth – and to talk about how they can use their voices to empower one another. These four women include Ellen Pompeo, Emma Roberts, Gabrielle Union, and Gina Rodriquez. Each of these women have held very memorable roles on the television screen. For example, you may know Ellen Pompeo from the hit show Gray’s Anatomy. In the YouTube video, she touches on her experiences with co-stars and crew members from the show, and how she found out that they were not getting paid equally, but still putting in the same amount of work as she was. For this very reason, Pompeo witnessed her hairdresser walk off set in the middle of shooting.

“I’m battling every day.”

Ellen Pompeo

This television debate also touches on some other reasons as to why women in the film industry suffer from such a big wage gap. The talented actresses say that they have experienced cultural discrimination, not just gender-based, and have not been paid equally or allowed to participate in certain projects. Gina Rodriguez, for example, speaks from her experiences and tells viewers how she has taken a job before where she later found out that someone before her was offered the same role, but for much more money. Rodriguez went to the directors of the project and asked for that same amount and was told no. She said that the personally felt as though the people working on the project did not see her as valuable and felt that she could easily be replaced.

“Growing up as a Latina in the United States, I didn’t see us portrayed positively on TV.”

Gina Rodriguez

Throughout the Net-A-Porter video, these gifted actresses go on to share many more experiences that they have had in Hollywood. They also debate ways in which this can be overcome, and share valuable tips about how to empower one another as females working in the entertainment industry.

Tips on Discussing Women’s Issues During the Holidays (Without Throwing Dinner Plates)

By Christina Terrell

Avoid familial drama – without feeling like your voice is being silenced.

We all have that not-so-favorite aunt or uncle who has something controversial or annoying to say about women, and how they should not feel dehumanized when it comes to abortion, politics, or gender equality.

It’s just impossible to hold back your opinion, right?

Your mother might have advised you to keep silent about your feminist views. However, no matter what she says, the key to not having to keep silent about your views is to pick your family opponent wisely.

Some of the best ways to get a dad or uncle – who might not understand where you are coming from – to see the light would be to share some of your personal experiences that can persuade them to have a more open mind. After hearing about some of the situations that their own family member has been through, the males in your life will be less likely to blame those experiences on the woman who endures them.

Naturally, this approach may not work when speaking to a male ego. However, this is okay, because you should be prepared to be disappointed by how they react to the information you share with them. Since it seems that women are living in a troublesome sociopolitical climate, we repeatedly hear that our opinions are not valid – which can make us women feel as if our right to speak up is being ignored.

Don’t feel defeated at this stage; there is still a way to rein in the conversation without turkey and mashed potatoes flying across the dinner table. Simply reply to your dubious family member with the facts – there is no better way to prove your point than with the truth. There are so many organizations that advocate for women by providing statistics and research-based information to the public. So, drop some self-knowledge on that family member of yours.

To help you out, we’ve gathered a few statistics that you can memorize:

“Since 2009, 60% of sexual assaults have gone unreported.”

The American Association of University Women

“One in three women are sexually abused at some point in their lifetime.”

VERVE

“Women from around the world aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria.”

Makers

If all else fails, don’t be discouraged. Practice self-care by reminding yourself that your opinions are valid, and leave the conversation knowing that although women’s issues may not mean much to your not-so-favorite uncle, they sure mean something to you. All over the world, women are uniting to bring their voice to the table – even if it is just a holiday meal.

Baby, It’s Cold Outside

By Nina Cherry

Now that Thanksgiving is over, and after the large snowfall, it is time for Christmas music! One Christmas carol has become quite controversial lately; “Baby, It’s Cold Outside.” The song was written in 1944 by Frank Loesser, but was made popular when it appeared in the film Neptune’s Daughter in 1949.

I have been listening to this song for years, but it wasn’t until a couple years ago when I realized unsettling the lyrics were. As the song continues, the male’s “friendly” attempts appear to get more and more insistent – until he is nearly forcing the woman to stay.

Recently, there has been a large debate on whether or not to retire this song. The lyrics have been analyzed and interpreted in many ways. Some believe that the song is more about the woman being held back from societal norms as an unwed woman in the 1940’s staying at a man’s house. On the other hand, that idea is combatted by troubling lines like “what’s in this drink?” and “what’s the sense in hurting my pride?” Karen Tongson, a gender studies associate professor at the University of Southern California, believes “The song itself is an effort to furnish female sexuality with a set of excuses as opposed to a coercive song.” The song has been getting plenty of buzz. In 2016, a singer-songwriter couple revised the song to create a comical and consensual version that went viral.

The lyrics send a bad message, but I believe this song needs to be preserved, and not forgotten. This song is a depiction of what it was like to be a woman at the time, which is something that needs to be remembered, otherwise history may repeat itself.

What are your thoughts about this popular Christmas carol?

Internalized Misogyny: What does it look like? How do you stop it?

By Nina Cherry

As feminists, we confidently believe that we view everyone equally, but internalized misogyny sits somewhere in most of us. But what is internalized misogyny? What does that even mean? Until recently, I had heard this term before, but I never quite understood it.

Internalized misogyny is when women subconsciously project sexist ideas onto other women and even onto themselves.

We see women being degraded subtly in our everyday lives – especially in the media. This sets an unhealthy precedent and makes it all the more difficult to see ourselves tearing one another down.  

It can be difficult to identify internalized misogyny. As independent as we think we may be, we have many preconceived notions about how a woman should exist that stem from societal expectations and gender norms. It is important to be conscious of this, and to be conscious of your thoughts and ideas not only about other women but also in regards to yourself. Remember – empowered women empower women!

Personally, I find myself projecting this internalized misogyny onto myself more often than I project it onto other women. I am quick to cast judgement on myself. Sometimes I tell myself that I need to reel it in because I’m being too aggressive, when in reality, I am merely being assertive.  

Catch yourself when you feel inferior or when you find yourself judging other women.  Step back and evaluate the situation. Most importantly, be kind. Be kind to yourself and to other women.

“Internalized misogyny does not refer outright to a belief in the inferiority of women. It refers to the byproducts of this societal view that cause women to shame, doubt, and undervalue themselves and others of their gender.” Suzannah Weiss, “7 Sneaky Ways Internalized Misogyny Manifests in Our Everyday Lives”

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez proves that the future really is #female

By Ann Varner

A few months ago, the name Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez was not a name I knew, especially being in the midwest. A week ago, that name became my hero’s. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is a 29-year-old woman who won the primary elections for congress against current Rep. Joe Crowley, who has spent 10 terms in congress – unchallenged for every primary election. Last week, Cortez won the midterm elections, making her the youngest woman to serve in Congress. Why is she my hero? She’s a young, Puerto Rican woman from the Bronx who was making her living bartending a few months ago.  She’s everything you don’t imagine when it comes to politics, and it’s a breath of fresh air.

Ocasio-Cortez grew up about 40 minutes from the Bronx in New York. She said that much of her life was “defined by the 40 minute commute between her school in (Yorktown) and her family in the Bronx.” After graduating high school in 2007, she went on to Boston University. After graduating from Boston University, she worked as a community organizer, but due to financial stress she had to also start working as a bartender at restaurants. Her political experience is limited to working as an organizer for Bernie Sanders in the Democratic Primary election in 2016, and in 2017 she began her campaign for her seat in congress.

According to Ocasio-Cortez’s campaign website, she ran for Congress “to create an America that works for all of us, not just a wealthy few.” Some of her platforms include:

  • Medicare for All
  • Federal Jobs Guarantee
  • Abolish ICE
  • Gun Control
  • Criminal Justice Reform
  • Women’s Rights
  • Support LGBTQIA+
  • Solidarity with Puerto Rico
  • Housing as a Human Right

…And many more. You can find her total platform on https://ocasio2018.com/issues. Ocasio-Cortez wants to see a better America and after the stunning elections, many others do too. As someone who is in process of applying to law school and is seriously considering politics, she is a true inspiration to me. I always despised the thought of being a politician because of the stigma surrounding politics, but to see a young woman who didn’t go to school for politics and has almost no political background become so successful, it shows me that it might be ‘okay’ to be a politician. 

The future is #female.

Midterm Results: 5 Firsts for Women in Congress

By Samantha Anthony

Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

As election results came pouring in on Tuesday and the days after, one observation soon became clear: it’s a year of firsts for women in Congress. Over 100 women were elected to the House of Representatives, crushing the previous record. According to The Washington Post, “Women have never held more than 84 of the 435 seats in the House. With votes still being counted Thursday, 100 women had officially been declared winners.” The women elected include veterans, teachers, and more. 

Among the groundbreaking victories this week, several women have achieved cultural and religious firsts in Congress. A Vox article claims that two Muslim women were elected to the House of Representatives, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar. Tlaib won in Michigan and Omar in Minnesota. On Tuesday evening, Omar mentioned Tlaib on Twitter: “I cannot wait to serve with you, inshallah,” she said. 

Sharice Davids

In New York, one woman became the youngest woman ever elected to Congress. At 29 years old, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez will be representing New York’s 14th District. Cortez has been open about her struggles – and triumphs – as an adult. She shared on Wednesday that just last year, she was working as a bartender. Soon she’ll be hunting for apartments in Washington, D.C., but for now she’s focused on bringing attention to housing affordability, something that has impacted her personally.

Women have yet another reason to celebrate firsts: in New Mexico and Kansas, two Native American women were elected to Congress for the first time. “The projected victories for the two Native American women mark a milestone in the US political system,” CNN said in an article this week. Deb Haaland will serve in New Mexico, and Sharice Davids in Kansas. What could be better? We’ll tell you: Davids is also the first openly LGBT+ member of Congress to be elected in Kansas. Intersectionality for the win!

Ayanna Pressley

Victory and equality were celebrated in Massachusetts on Tuesday. According to CNBC, Ayanna Pressley, is the first black woman to be elected to the House of Representatives from the state. In September, Pressley made headlines when an emotional video was released of her finding out that she had won the primary election. Her victory speech was equally charging: “In Congress, I will be focused on lifting up the voices of those in community, partnering with activists and residents, and ensuring that those closest to the pain are closest to the power, driving and informing the policy-making,” Pressley said. 

Regardless of party affiliation, this year’s midterm election results prove that women are ready for equal representation in government.

Susan B. Anthony and the Women’s Right to Vote

By Ann Varner

We are less than a day away from the midterm elections for 2018. It seems that everywhere I turn there are political campaigns, and it’s impossible to escape from it on social media, the radio, the TV, or even signs on cars and in people’s yards. As much as the radio ads annoy me, I must remember and be grateful that I have my right to vote, and that the right for women to vote didn’t come easily. One of the people we can thank for helping move the 19th Amendment of the Constitution along is Susan B. Anthony.

Susan B. Anthony was “a pioneer crusader for the woman suffrage movement in the United States and president of the National American Woman Suffrage Association.” Susan B. Anthony was born on February 15th, 1820 in Massachusetts. She grew up in a family that was active in politics. She became inspired to fight for women’s rights when she was denied the chance to speak at a convention campaigning against alcohol, because she’s a woman. She realized then that no one would take women seriously unless they had the right to vote. She founded the National Woman Suffrage Association in 1869 with Elizabeth Cady Stanton.

Over the years, the two women traveled around the country to give speeches regarding women’s right to vote. Sadly, she would die in 1906, before the 19th amendment was passed giving all women the right to vote. However, she will always be recognized for her efforts. It would not be until August 26th, 1920 that the senate ratified the 19th amendment and American women gained full voting rights. It was the National Woman Suffrage Association that continued to crusade and helped this right for women to happen. Without her, the NWSA would have not existed and it could have been many more years, if ever, that women were allowed to vote.

I am not only to tell you how to vote or for whom, but please always exercise your right to vote. When you haven’t had to fight for a certain right it is easy to take advantage of it or not use it at all. Without the right to vote the people are voiceless, and as women we must always use our voice and our right to vote to push for progress in this country.

Women in STEM: Why so few and how we’re changing that

This blog was written by a guest author.

Amanda Peterson, Enlightened Digital

Over the past several years, it has become evident that the gender gap in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) related careers is something which needs to be addressed. Though women account for 39 percent of jobs globally, they only account for 28 percent of STEM positions, and even fewer in leadership roles at only 12.2 per cent.

It can be hard to pinpoint where this gap comes from, but there is no denying that it exists. It’s been speculated that it comes back to the traditional gender roles enforced on women from a young age which consists of a general push away from more scientific careers. According to an article by the American Association of University Women (AAUW), the idea that women don’t belong in these careers starts showing up around the age of six and only progresses from there.

In the AAUW study, five-year-old boys and girls were asked whether or not they thought they could be smart, the children surveyed believed that anyone can be “really, really smart,” regardless of gender. The same study however, found that girls six and older believed boys are much more likely to be brilliant. Similarly, a recent gender-science study found that 70 per cent of people associated men with STEM careers and women with the arts.

When it comes to changing these statistics, it doesn’t always come easily. Both the Obama administration and the current Trump administration have recognized the need to close the gender gap and have put programs in place to help do just that.

Our current administration has launched two programs which are aimed at helping to get more women involved in STEM positions – the Inspire Act and the Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act.

The Inspire Act is directed specifically toward NASA and letting young girls know that they are smart and capable enough to grow up to have careers in the STEM field. This act specifically directs NASA to connect these young girls with female STEM professionals like their astronauts and engineers. Through this act, we are able to reach girls at the age when their confidence in achieving  a career in a scientific field is faltering. Having female role models to look up to is a vital component of getting young girls to pursue careers in the STEM field and close this gender gap.   

The Promoting Women in Entrepreneurship Act works with women farther along their career paths by authorizing the National Science Foundation to recruit and assist female entrepreneurs in the STEM fields. When congress found that only 26 percent of female STEM degree holders worked in in STEM careers, they addressed the issue through an amendment to the existing Science and Engineering Equal Opportunities Act. Now, not only are the women given the same opportunity for jobs in their degree fields, but are encouraged to extend their focus into the commercial space.

During the Obama administration, The White House Council on Women and Girls launched a campaign to urge the entertainment industry to portray more female STEM professionals. One of the most important factors in combatting this gender gap comes in the form of representation. Not only in a professional sense, as demonstrated in the previous two acts, but in cultural and entertainment representation.

Young girls put a large amount of stock in the kinds of role models they are exposed to through the entertainment industry. In making an effort to portray more women in these positions, girls are learning that not only can they pursue these STEM roles but they have females in the TV shows and movies they are watching every day. From movies like Hidden Figures and Gravity to prominent female characters in TV shows like The Fosters and Reverie, there is a search of media that is giving young girls positive influences that show them it’s okay and it’s possible to pursue a STEM career.  

Event Preview: Crafty Feminist Friday & The Clothesline Project

By Ann Varner

This Friday, November 2, we will once again have a Crafty Feminist Friday from 12-1 p.m. in the UMKC Women’s Center. This time, we will be decorating t-shirts for an event that Violence Prevention and Response is hosting, the Clothesline Project. The Clothesline Project is an annual project that brings awareness to the issue of gender-based violence. People around the world decorate blank t-shirts with their feelings about gender-based violence. According to The Clothesline Project’s website, “The Clothesline Project began in October 1990 in Hyannis, Massachusetts.  There were 31 shirts displayed on the village green as part of an annual Take Back the Night March and Rally. Throughout the day, women came forward to create new shirts and the line kept growing.”

Today, the clothesline project has grown to include nearly 500 projects worldwide. The purpose is to bear witness to survivors as well as victims. Using the clothesline, we air society’s “dirty laundry” in a form that was once “women’s work.” It is not only to help others learn about the statistics, but also to educate people on the magnitude of impact these experiences have on everyone’s lives. The Clothesline Project works to reverse and transform harmful effects of this violence on a global scale. By proclaiming the joy of healing and the agony of pain, we cut through some of the alienating aspects of this culture.

The t-shirts will be displayed during 16 Days of Activism, which is an international campaign against gender-based violence. It runs from November 25th (The International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women) to December 10th (Human Rights Day). This campaign originated from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute coordinated by the Center for Women’s Global Leadership in 1991.

I encourage you, regardless if you are a survivor or not, to come and participate in creating the t-shirts. If you are not a survivor, you probably know someone who is, whether you are aware of it or not. I hope to see you there!

What: Crafty Feminist Friday (for The Clothesline Project)

Who: Sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center, in support of The Clothesline Project

When: Friday, November 2, 12-1 p.m.

Where: UMKC Women’s Center, 105 Haag Hall

It’s a “scary time,” indeed. But for whom?

By Nina Cherry

Do you know when it’s a scary time to be a woman? When you have to be extra careful while walking yourself home at night. When you’re afraid to go for a jog, even in broad daylight. Fear is everywhere. Concerts. Parties. First dates. It is seldom that you can let your guard down.

In light of recent of events, I have heard men (and women) talk about how it is such a frightening time to be a man. I have heard parents express that they are fearful for their sons – fearful that his whole life could be ruined by an illegitimate sexual assault claim.

I pose so many questions every time I hear something like that.

Why are we so quick to assume that the victim is deceitful? Why are we so quick back up the perpetrators, who are often people we don’t know personally? Why do we try so hard to fabricate excuses for the perpetrator? Why do we have to ask what they were wearing or if they were sober? And most importantly, why are we still like this?

Why are we still victim-blaming?

We need to stop taking the side of the predator. We need to stop forgiving unacceptable actions, as minuscule as we think they may be. Letting the little things slide sends a big message. Boys are going to be men someday – men that have to understand and respect consent.

We have to stop perpetuating rape culture.

We must start holding boys and men to a higher standard. Respect is mandatory. We need to start teaching boys and girls about consent and boundaries earlier. Why do we lower the standards for boys? We have to start holding everyone accountable for their actions.

This article was inspired by a song that has recently gone viral by Lynzy Lab. Listen to it here.