Ma Vie en Rose

By Mia Lukic

I recently watched a movie entitled “Ma Vie en Rose” or “My Life in Pink”. The 1997 film follows Ludo, a young transgender girl in a time and place where being trans wasPhoto of pink high heels not understood nor accepted. Ludo understands the world and her situation through her favorite children’s show “Le Monde de Pam” or “Pam’s World”. The show takes place in a bright colored fantastical world where people can fly and the magic of imagination controls all. Ludo figures that when God was tossing X and Y chromosomes out of the sky to determine a baby’s gender, the second X that would have given Ludo the female sex at birth must have gotten blown away in the wind. Unfortunately, the adults in Ludo’s life and her peers do not think Ludo’s situation is nearly as simple. She is forced to dress like a boy and labelled as gay, also a huge taboo in the film, when she says she wants to marry a boy in her class. Life for Ludo and her family gets very complicated and difficult as Ludo refuses to stop wearing dresses and expressing herself as the young girl she is. A great movie, available to watch on Amazon, “Ma Vie en Rose” brings up many important conversations.

When the movie was first released in the United States it was given an rating of “R”, for having “adult themes” and IMDB cites “brief strong language” for the rating. All of the streaming services the movie is currently on, have it listed as an R rated movie. I am by no means an expert on the rating process, but as someone who has seen many movies, I can confidently say from my experiences that the movie does not compare to other R rated movies I have seen.

Mental Floss explains that the organization Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA), has a division called Classification and Ratings Administration (CARA) that focuses on giving ratings. These ratings used to be controlled by the Hays Code, a code meant to control the morals of films, created by a Jesuit priest. The code, influenced by the morals of one religion, was used to evaluate films created by and featuring people of all religions and backgrounds. Today, CARA is “funded through fees paid directly to them by producers and production companies to have their films reviewed; their methods have been questioned by industry professionals and movie-lovers alike” (Mental Floss).

Currently the R rating is as follows:

“R—“Children Under 17 Require Accompanying Parent or Adult Guardian… May include adult themes, adult activity (author’s note: stuff it’s not legal for kids to do), hard language, intense or persistent violence, sexually-oriented nudity, drug abuse or other elements… Generally, it is not appropriate for parents to bring their young children with them to R-rated motion pictures.”

Ma Vie en Rose has no drugs, no nudity, no intense violence, the language is very brief and is subjectively not “hard”, but that word is very vague and open to interpretation.

PG (formerly M, then GP)—“Parental Guidance Suggested. Some Material May Not Be Suitable For Children… The more mature themes in some PG-rated motion pictures may call for parental guidance. There may be some profanity and some depictions of violence or brief nudity… There is no drug use content.”

When we take a look at the PG rating it not only allows for “some profanity”, which matches IMDB’s description and my analysis, it allows for “brief violence and brief nudity”, which the film does not have. I would like to stress that I am not an expert but when comparing the ratings and their breakdowns to the movie, something does not add up. The transphobia and over sexualization of the vary topics of gender identity and sexuality seem to outweigh the written breakdowns of the ratings and logic itself. Children deserve to see films with representation of a variety of people and trans children need to be a topic that we can talk about openly without sexualizing them or making it into a taboo. Trans girls deserve to not only imagine but live their lives in pink.

https://www.mentalfloss.com/article/57664/how-do-movies-get-their-ratings

https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0119590/

 

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. 

 

Equal Pay Day 2021

By Mia Lukic

This year Equal Pay Day fell on March 24, 2021. This date represents how far into 2021 the average of all women must work in order to make what a man made in 2020. If this were a race, with the start line being January 1, 2020, the men’s finish line would be December 31, 2020, or 365 days (or meters for the sake of analogy).

The average of all women have to work 83 more days, or 448 days total. An intersectional perspective is essential in all evaluations so let us consider how it impacts Equal Pay Day. Black Women’s Equal Pay Day is August 3, 2021, 216 days longer than men. Latina Women’s Equal Pay Day is October 21, 2021 or 294 days longer than men. Native Women’s Equal Pay Day is September 8, 2021 or 251 days longer than men. Asian and Pacific Islander Women’s Day is March 9, 2021 or 68 days longer than men. The women’s races would be much longer than the men’s as their finish lines are much further away.

Upon first glance, we can see that Asian and Pacific Islander Women’s Day is earlier in the year, coming even before the average of all women. The AAUW stresses the importance of further examining the why. “Asian women’s experiences differ greatly depending on their subgroup. A previous analysis has shown that while women who report Indian or Chinese ethnicity or ancestry earn nearly as much as white men, women who identify as Filipina, Vietnamese and Korean are paid much less and all are subjected to the model minority myth, which erases ethnic subgroups’ diverse experiences as well as racism against Asian Americans as a whole” (AAUW).

The AAUW explores many factors that contribute to the gender pay gap such as the undervaluing of women’s work and discrimination of women for being mothers. They explain that women dominated fields are generally paid less than male dominated fields that require almost the exact same education and experience. Hairdressers make less than barbers and maids less than janitors, even though they are often seemingly synonymous professions. Women are also still disproportionately the caretakers and often take time out of their careers to focus on children and/or independent seniors. Time out of the workforce greatly impacts overall salary. The COVID19 pandemic has only heightened these issues as many schools shut down, eliminating that childcare and forcing women to stay home with children.

https://www.aauw.org/app/uploads/2020/12/SimpleTruth_2.1.pdf

Women’s History Month: Inez Millholand, American Suffragist

By Katia Miazzo

Inez Millholand is known for her passionate and some might say aggressive activism for women’s rights. She led the Woman Suffrage Procession. But before she could lead the revolution let’s dive into her early years. Inez was born in 1886 in Brooklyn, New York. She was born into a wealthy family which gave her many opportunities to receive a great education. Her father was a news reporter and editorial writer for the New York Tribune. Her father also supported many progressive movements such as world peace, civil rights, and women’s suffrage. This helped spark her passion for these movements as well. Inez attended Vassar College, her time in Vassar consisted of protests and organizing women’s rights meetings. She was actually suspended for organizing such meetings. Inez organized protests and petitions that gathered a lot of support and attention. These acts were forbidden in Vassar. After she graduated from Vassar, she tried applying to Yale University, Harvard University and Cambridge but they denied her acceptance because she was a woman. She later got accepted into New York University School of Law. She became a great lawyer who fought for prison reform and equality for African Americans. She was involved in several organizations such as; the National American Woman Suffrage Association and the Women’s Trade Union League. An inspiring fact about Inez is that she was so determined to uncover the cruel conditions in prisons that she handcuffed herself to one only for her to see the true experiences that inmates suffered.

Millholand’s first suffrage event was in 1911. After that event, she quickly became the face of the women’s suffrage movement. She led several of those events/parades. There’s an image of her riding a horse in a white cape leading the procession a day before President Woodrow Wilson’s inauguration. She worked closely with the Suffrage leader Alice Paul. One of Inez’s missions was to gain support for women’s right to vote. In her speeches, she was a strong advocate for this and that women could help lead the country toward a better path by having the right to vote on important issues. In her personal life, it was reported that Inez proposed to Eugen Boissevain in 1913. They later ended their marriage due to her husband not being an American citizen. In the last years of her life, she got sick from pernicious anemia. She didn’t let that stop her from traveling and spreading the word. She decided to tour around the West in 1916 to advocate for women’s rights but she collapsed during a speech in California and died a month later.

Her final words she spoke were, “Mr. President, how long must women wait for liberty?”

Women in Agriculture

By Lara Castillo

This month’s influential figure in agriculture is Momee Pegu from India, who started RIGBO from a local tribe meaning, community volunteering for a cause. Pegu created a sustainable practice that converts 11,000 kg of water hyacinth into organic compost to address sustainability concerns. Pegu was able to observe the issues that this invasive plant was causing such, as water pollution, irrigation blockage for farming, oxygen reduction for aquatic species. She also started an initiative that fosters a safe and expressive place for young women in the village. In 2016, she collaborated with 32 other women in the community to empower and engage them in creating a shift in farming.

Pegu connected with these women by creating organic pesticides, sustainable activity, and organic farming that gives them the freedom to make decisions. The women in this committee turned the invasive plant of the community into an organic compost that helps. The income from this compost was distributed equally among the women, Pegu taking none herself. Interestingly according to the American Association of University Women (AAUW), women make 82% of what men earn, and nothing has changed. Pegu is a figure empowering women in her community striving for equality. Overall, these women have changed the perception of farming.

The message of this initiative is to spread awareness of sustainable farming. In this instance, women experienced engaging with other women in a safe space while practicing agriculture sustainably. The community also produced a positive response which created employment for villagers and creating a better livelihood for the future. Momee Pegu was able to produce something out of nothing. One thing to think about is our future generation of women having the equality that Momee displays and changes we can make ourselves to make that possible.

Learn more here: https://www.thebetterindia.com/250121/momee-pegu-organic-farmer-majuli-assam-brahmaputra-river-rigbo-ngo-water-hyacinth-organic-compost-women-empowerment-him16/ 

Women’s History Month: Sojourner Truth

By Morgan Clark

Sojourner Truth is known for her work as an abolitionist and her work in the Civil War that caught the attention of President Abraham Lincoln. Born Isabella Baumfree in 1797, she was born into slavery in New York and was sold to her first slave master at the age of 9. He was known to beat and abuse his slaves regularly. At the age of 13, she was sold again to her second slave master. Around 1815, Isabella was forced to marry a slave and bore five children, after being forced apart from the man she loved.

In 1827 she ran away to freedom, after her master did not honor his promise to free her and the other slaves. She ended up in New Paltz, New York, with her newborn daughter. There, she was taken in by the Wagenens, who eventually paid for her freedom for $20. Isabella then sued her previous slave master for illegally selling her son, Peter. She was the first black woman to sue a white man and win. In 1829, she moved her family to New York City,  where she became a Christian and became heavily involved in the Church. She worked closely with two preachers. In 1843 she renamed herself Sojourner Truth because she believed it was her religious obligation to go out and speak the truth. The year after she joined a Massachusetts abolitionist group, where she metFredrick Douglas who had a great influence on her career as an abolitionist.

In 1851, at the Ohio Women’s Right Convention Sojourner Truth gave her famous speech “Ain’t I a Woman?” which addressed the intersection of being a woman and black in that time period. During the convention, she met women’s activists Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Lady Stanton.

During the Civil War, Sojourner Truth was an advocate for young men to join the Union. She was able to organize supplies for the young men. Because of her work, she was invited to the White House and recruited to be involved with the Freedmen’s Bureau. She was able to find jobs for freed slaves. During this time, she tried to lobby against segregation and fought to give land to freed slaves. Sojourner Truth was a woman ahead of her time, speaking of intersectionality before it was a term and knowing that segregation was wrong. She died at her home on November 26, 1883. Her tombstone stating, “Is God Dead?” refers to a question she asked her colleague Fredrick Douglas to remind him to stay faithful.

Women’s History Month: Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez

By Brianna Green

It’s astonishing how many people, how many women, get left out of history and important movements. Throughout high school and some college courses, I’ve learned about the Women’s Suffrage Movement. However, I have never heard of Maria Guadalupe Evangelina de Lopez until I was assigned to write a blog about her. I’m so happy I was assigned to her though. De Lopez was an incredible woman in the Women’s Suffrage Movement, especially within the Hispanic and Spanish communities.

According to the National Women’s History Museum, de Lopez was born in Los Angeles, California in 1881. She was born to immigrant parents; her father having been born in Mexico (Brandman). Being that one of her parents came from Mexico, de Lopez grew up bilingual. This fact is very important because it later assists her suffrage work, but it also influenced her career choice. She attended college to become a teacher. After college, de Lopez taught English as a second language and later, with her sister, ran her own Spanish-language school out of her home (Brandman). In addition to this, de Lopez was also doing translation work on the side and eventually became an instructor at the University of California (Brandman).

According to the article “Suffragists You Need to Meet: Maria Guadalupe Evangelina Lopez,” in 1911, de Lopez was active in Los Angeles Votes for Women Club; she organized rallies and spoke about women’s right to vote in English and in Spanish. Also according to this article, de Lopez is typically accredited with “being the first in the state to deliver suffrage speeches in Spanish” (MyLO). In October of 1922, the suffrage proposition passed in California and de Lopez was considered a leading suffragist in Los Angeles (Brandman).

However, this incredible woman didn’t just help during the Women’s Suffrage Movement, but also during the first World War! Noted in “Suffragists You Need to Meet: Maria Guadalupe Evangelina Lopez,” when the US entered the war, she became an ambulance driver In New York City and traveled to France to do the same. Over a decade later, from 1937 until 1938, she became the president of the UCLA’s Faculty Women’s Club (Brandman). De Lopez died in 1977 on November 20 and is buried at San Gabriel Christian Church in Los Angeles (Brandman).

I hope you enjoyed learning about this wonderful woman in history, I know I did!

Resources

Brandman, By: Mariana. “Maria Guadalupe Evangelina De Lopez.” National Women’s History Museum, www.womenshistory.org/education-resources/biographies/maria-guadalupe-evangelina-de-lopez. 

“Suffragists You Need to Meet: Maria Guadalupe Evangelina Lopéz.” MyLO, 30 Apr. 2020, my.lwv.org/california/diablo-valley/article/suffragists-you-need-meet-maria-guadalupe-evangelina-lop%C3%A9z. 

 

Women’s History Month: Maria Stewart, Groundbreaking Activist

By Katia Milazzo

Maria Stewart is well known for her work as a women’s rights activist. In her early years, she lost her parents at a young age. She was forced to become a servant for a white household. She didn’t have the opportunity to have a proper education, but she did learn from the books in the household in which she was living. After several years there, she left and married to James Stewart, a veteran of the War of 1812. He died and left money for Maria. After her husband died, this resulted in her going back to being a household servant.

In 1831, Stewart wrote several essays for William Garrison to publish in the Liberator. Stewart’s twelve-page essay called Religion and the Pure Principles of Morality called African Americans to rally against slavery and resist the cruel actions that were inflicted on them. One of her famous quotes, “How long, shall the fair daughters of Africa be compelled to bury their minds and talents beneath a load of iron pots and kettles?” Stewart was a woman of faith and she encouraged other women to be faithful, but she also called for them to stand up for their rights. It’s refreshing to hear that a woman of faith not only valued her faith, but she didn’t let that stop her from supporting women’s rights. Stewart started to make public appearances, giving speeches that would carry on for decades. She was the first woman to ever speak in public places about women’s rights and politics. She joins powerful women such as Susan B. Anthony and Sojourner Truth in advocating for what’s right. Stewart later used some of the money from her husband’s pension to publish new editions of her essays and writings. Stewart died at the hospital she worked at in 1879. Her legacy proves that her work would last years and years later. In reference to words of Hamilton the Musical, she planted seeds in a garden of freedom and equality that not only grew then but continues to grow now and the years to come.

 

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.

Angela Davis The Figurehead

By Morgan Clark

If you have looked up or read anything about the Black Panthers, then you have seen her before. Angela Davis has been an activist since she was young. She was born and raised in Brigham, Alabama. Davis knew about racism and discrimination at a young age. Her neighborhood was called “Dynamite Hill” due to the Ku Klux Klan continuously targeting their homes.  She was friends with one of the victims in the 16th Baptist Church Bombing. At the age of 15, Davis moved to New York for high school. She then studied abroad in Germany at the Frankfurt school, a school focusing on social theory and critical thinking. She came back and became active in the Communist Party and the Black Panthers

In 1970, Jonathan Jackson stormed the Marin County Courthouse taking hostages of the judge and three jurors in an attempt to demand the release of the Soledad Brothers, a group of African American inmates who were charged with killing a white prison guard. As a result, both Jackson and the judge were killed. Unfortunately, it was Davis’ shotgun that was used for the invasion. She was soon charged with first degree murder and aggravated kidnapping. She fled to New York but was caught and served 18 months in prison. She gained attention from many famous people such as Aretha Franklin who paid for her bail and the Rolling Stones who wrote a song about her, turning her into a figurehead for political activism. In 1981, she wrote her first book “Women, Race and Class”. She continues to be a champion for activism, being recently interviewed about Breonna Taylor, pointing out that it’s often unacknowledged that black women were also both victims of lynching and also activists working to end lynching.

Davis is currently at the University of California Santa Cruz, where she teaches courses on feminism and  the prison abolition movement. Davis is an inspiration for many women. She has always been a voice against oppression. Her powerful interviews have been included in documentaries. Angela Davis has made a pathway for women all around and will continue to do so.