Why I Choose Not To Wear Makeup

By Anonymous

After I graduated from high school, I made the decision to stop wearing makeup. I vividly remember looking at myself in the mirror without makeup and being scared to really look at my own reflection. It was only until I had on makeup for the day that I could look at myself without cringing. I knew in the moment, this was not okay. On one hand, I generally enjoyed makeup, but on the other hand, I realized I had been using it as a crutch to keep myself from truly loving my physical appearance. So, I made the choice not to wear makeup for a while. I wanted to get to the place where I would be able to wear makeup in a way that added to what I hoped would become my already existing self-confidence.

Flash forward two years later, and here I am, still not wearing makeup. After getting over the initial hurdle of desperately wanting to cover every imperfection I perceived, I realized I was so much more at peace with my personal confidence when I forgoed makeup altogether. It was amazing to feel truly comfortable in my own skin for the first time in my life. However, I was confronted daily by many feminist issues surrounding the modern conversation about makeup. The first difficult crossroad I came to was whether or not I should wear makeup to a job interview. I was so paranoid if I did not wear any makeup, my potential employer would perceive me as lazy, tired, unkempt, etc. Nearly every woman that wears makeup has experienced the slew of “concerns” people have for their well-being if they go a day without it.

Among other women, I noticed some speculated I choose not to wear makeup as an attack on their freedom to enjoy the artistry and enhancement of makeup. Others envied the freedom I had in my workplace to wear makeup, or not wear it. I had a close friend at the time, who was required to wear a full face of makeup as a part of her dress code. Her male coworkers could wear makeup but it was by no means a requirement. At the heart of the issue, perpetuating all of the trickle-down effects that follow, is the media and many men make something like makeup into a requirement, indication of character, standard of beauty, etc.

My decision to stop wearing makeup was not a politically charged act of defiance. It was a choice made as a personal step toward being at peace with my physical appearance. But those around me, for better or for worse, often box me into having an agenda. All of this has opened my eyes to the larger issues about this topic. I made the conscious choice going into that job interview to not wear makeup and risk the negative opinions someone might have of me. In the interview, I had to ask “Is it okay that I do not wear any makeup?” Their response was ‘Yes, of course” but there was hesitation.

I made the conscious choice to not work anywhere where I might feel pressured to wear makeup. But I still love the artistry of makeup. I love the talent other people have, and I appreciate the passion others have for it. I encourage the women around me to present their face to the world in whatever way makes them feel the most confident.

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.

Event Preview: May the Book Open: Lessons from the Republic of Gilead

By Nina Cherry

Join us this Wednesday, November 7 for a discussion on the book and HULU series The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. This dystopian novel is set in the future in an oppressive, authoritarian state in New England. With the birth rate plummeting due to environmental conditions, fertile women are forced to bear children. These women are at the bottom of the social class structure and are only valued by society for their fertility. The story focuses around one of these women – Offred, who was uprooted from her family and assigned to be a “handmaid” for “the Commander.”

Atwood’s evocative novel, which she began writing in 1984, is her own frightening forecast of the future. The book explores several relevant women’s rights issues that we look forward to discussing.

Lunch will be provided!

Gilead is a tyranny of nostalgia, a rape culture that denounces the previous society — ours — for degrading women with pornography. It controls women by elevating them, fetishizing motherhood, praising femininity, but defining it in terms of service to men and children.”  The New York Times

What: Book Discussion: May the Book Open: Lessons from the Republic of Gilead

Join us for lunch and a discussion on the book and HULU series The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood.

Who: Co-sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center and UMKC University Libraries

When: Wednesday, November 7, 12-1 p.m.

Where: Miller Nichols Library Room 325, 800 E. 51st Street, Kansas City, MO 64110

Admission: Free!

Please RSVP by November 5th. For more information or to RSVP, call the UMKC Women’s Center at 816-235-1638 or email us at umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.

We look forward to seeing you there!

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.

The Women Who Are Redefining Rock

By Nina Cherry

A new wave is taking over the alternative rock world, consisting of uncensored, empowered women assuming control over what has been viewed as the “man’s domain” for decades. This artistic movement could even be described as the second wave of the Riot Grrrl movement – but this time, they are louder are stronger. They have risen from the underground and are finding their way into mainstream circuits.

Lucy Dacus, Margaret Glaspy, Mitski, and Lindsey Jordan are some of the most prominent and representative artists of this movement.  With gravelly voices, distorted guitars, and unapologetic lyrics, these female rockers are redefining indie rock. They are abandoning and shattering stereotypes and societal expectations. Unashamed, vulgar, and loud, these artists aren’t trying to be pretty or ladylike. By tackling taboo topics like sexual orientation, sex, and gender discrimination in their songs, they are paving a new way for the genre.

Mitski, an indie rock singer songwriter who is a part of this collective movement, describes her most recent album, Be the Cowboy, as “inherently feminine.” She explains, “When I say feminine album, immediately the perception is that it must be soft and lovely, but I mean feminine in the violent sense…It’s a lot of pent-up anger or desire without a socially acceptable outlet.”

Being a female performer, especially in rock, is hard. These women are frequently belittled and disrespected, and they struggle to get the recognition they deserve. I love that they are turning their angst and oppression into art and writing feminist anthems that we can all relate to.

To read more about these women and their experiences, ideas, and goals, check out this round table discussion from The New York Times.

Marie Curie: The Pioneer for Women in Science

By Ann Varner

Nothing in this world is to be feared…only understood.

Marie Curie not only was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, she was also the first person to win the Nobel Prize twice. Born in Poland on November 7, 1867, she was the youngest of five children. The only university in Warsaw was a men’s only school. However, Curie discovered an underground university for women and studied physics, chemistry, and math. Curie and her husband discovered polonium and radium, which assisted in the development of x-rays. She also discovered radioactivity and was the one to name it as such. When World War I broke out Curie helped to develop portable x-rays so that soldiers could be examined on the field. Curie died in 1934 due to prolonged exposure to radiation. She was a pioneer for women in science and a role model for women everywhere.

You can follow this link to find out more!

Long Live Marielle Franco, the Queer, Afro-Latina Politician, Feminist, and Human Rights Activist

By: Korrien Hopkins

The proudly feminist Afro-Latina politician was a revolutionary public servant and activist. Unbothered by the status quo of politics, Franco quickly rose in political popularity. When elected in 2016, she won the fifth-highest vote count among council members. As a member of the far-left Socialism and Liberty party, Franco ran on a campaign that advocated for the rights of poor Brazilian communities, feminists, and the LGBTQ communities. She led an unapologetic march to freedom, justice, and equity for all Brazilians and continued that mission once in office.

Franco grew up in Maré, a slum in northern Rio de Janeiro. At the age of 11 she began working to help support her family. She gave birth to her first and only child when she was 19-years-old. She then worked as a pre-school teacher, making minimum wage and raising her daughter without the father’s help.

In 2000, after her friend died from a stray bullet, she began working in human right activism. Then, in 2001, she enrolled at the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio Janeiro on a scholarship while she continued to work. She earned a degree in social sciences then went on to earn her masters degree in public administration from the Fluminese Federal University.

Her career in politics began in 2007. She began working as a consultant for state representative Marcelo Freixo. She coordinated the state legislature’s Committee for the Defense of Human Rights and Citizenship. She also worked for civil society organizations, including the Brazil Foundation and the Maré Center for Solidarity Studies and Action. In 2016, she ran for a seat on the Rio de Janeiro city council in the municipal elections. With over 46,500 votes, Franco was one of 51 people elected, receiving the fifth highest vote total out of more than 1,500 candidates. When elected she continued to work hard. She fought tirelessly to empower black Brazilians and other marginalized communities and fought against police brutality. As a queer woman, she supported LGBTQ communities and women’s rights, and was a strong advocate for impoverished Brazilian citizens.

Franco dedicated her life fighting to make her community and the world a better place for those who’ve yet to find peace and equity in it.

On March 14, 2018, Franco spoke out on Twitter against the police violence in Rio de Janeiro: “Another homicide of a young man that could be credited to the police. Matheus Melo was leaving church when he was killed. How many others will have to die for this war to end?” she wrote. The next day, Franco attended a round-table discussion titled “Young Black Women Moving Power Structures”. Leaving the event, Franco and her driver were shot and killed on March 14, in a targeted assassination. This unleashed a wave of anger across Brazil, and provoked urgent debate on the country’s racism, violence, and impunity. As pressure grows on the authorities in Brazil to find her murderers, and open discussion on the global issues of hate crimes rise, supporters continue to  fight on her behalf. An open letter by international activists, writers, journalists, film-makers, politicians, and actors has called for an investigation of her murder by an independent commission.

Though Franco is gone, her work has forever changed her country and will continue to influence activists and revolutionaries around the world. As a black, bisexual feminist who was able to reach government official status, Franco’s death is not in vain. Her memory should continue to serve as an example of why serving others is so important. Her name and legacy will continue to motivate us to continue fighting for a greater world.

Upcoming Event: Denim Drive

By Megan Schwindler

The UMKC Women’s Center is asking for donations of gently used denim to be used as the canvas for artwork for others to witness during UMKC Denim Day in April. We’re collecting denim from April 9-20. Drop off locations include the UMKC Women’s Center, Miller Nichols Library, Oak Street Residence Hall Lobby, and the Office of Student Involvement.

What is Denim Day USA?

It is a rape prevention education campaign where community members, elected officials, businesses, and students are asked to make a social statement with their wardrobe by wearing jeans as a visible protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault.

Denim Day stems from the 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction because they believed that because the victim wore tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. Enraged by the verdict, the women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans to work. This action motivated the California Senate and Assembly to do the same. It then spread nationally, and wearing jeans on Denim Day became an international symbol of protest against the destructive attitudes and myths surrounding sexual assault.

For more information on the case you can visit The New York Times’ coverage or visit the Peace Over Violence website.

For more information concerning the denim drive and event, contact: hehkw4@mail.umkc.edu or 816-235-1638.

Upcoming Event: The March For Our Lives Kansas City

About the author: M.M. Barron is a creative writing major and first-year student at UMKC. She graduated from Paseo Academy of Fine & Performing Arts in Kansas City, Missouri in 2017. She participates frequently in events at the Women’s Center and meetings with Pride Alliance. This is her first post for the UMKC Women’s Center blog.

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of UMKC or the UMKC Women’s Center.

The March For Our Lives Kansas City – 12 p.m. March 24, 2018, at Theis Park, 533 Emmanuel Cleaver II Blvd.

“We are marching so that those who have lost their lives to gun violence aren’t forgotten. We are marching to get legislators to support gun-regulation bills. We are marching to inform and empower our community to support our lives with their votes. We are marching for our lives.” – Student Committee’s Mission Statement for the March For Our Lives Kansas City 2018.

The March for Our Lives Kansas City starts at 12 p.m. on March 24. The first three hours of the event will contain speeches, poems, music, and dance. The UMKC Conservatory Dancers will be performing a piece at the rally. The event will also feature a performance by The Greeting Committee, a band from Kansas City, performing their song “Hands Down.” All acts auditioned and were selected by the student committee organizing the march, of which I am a member. PeaceWorksKC will be speaking at the event as well.

100 volunteers from the grassroots organization Moms Demand Action will be assisting at the event, plus many student volunteers. Organizers encourage people to bring picnics or snack and a blanket to sit on. There will also be booths throughout the event with information about voter registration, gun policy in Kansas and Missouri, how to contact your legislators, and other pertinent topics. After the program at the park, there will be a memorial march to the Plaza area and back to the park to honor the victims of gun violence.

#MarchForOurLivesKC supports the survivors of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida, in their demands for background checks on all gun sales, and more restrictions or bans on semi-automatic guns and large-capacity clips. No civilian needs an AR-15 style weapon.

1. If you want to write to urge action in our country to reduce gun violence, please submit your letters to be displayed at the rally at Theis Park. Use this link.

2. If you would like to volunteer as an individual, or as a family, or as a group of friends, or if you represent an organization that would like to get involved and take on a task as needed by the March, then we want you! Please let us know through the form at this link.

3. The event can be found on social media.

Facebook: March For Our Lives – Greater Kansas City (Follow this link)

Instagram: mfolkansascity

Twitter: @mfolkansascity

The Legacy of Berta Càceres

By Korrien Hopkins

Berta Isabel Cáceres Flores was a Honduran activist of the Lenca people. 

She was born March 4, 1973 and grew up witnessing the violence that swept through Central America in the 1980’s. Her mother, Austra Bertha Flores Lopez, was a great role model for humanitarianism. She was a midwife and social activist who took in and cared for refugees from El Salvador, teaching her young children the value of standing up for disenfranchised people. Austra Flores served as two-term mayor of their hometown of La Esperanza, as a congressional representative, and as a governor of the Department of Intibucá

With the great influence of her mother, Cáceres grew up to become a student activist and in 1993, at the age of 19, she cofounded the National Council of Popular and Indigenous Organizations of Honduras (COPINH) to address the growing threats posed to Lenca communities by illegal logging. This organization fought for their territorial rights and to improve their livelihoods.

In 2006, community members from Rio Blanco came to COPINH asking for help. They had witnessed an influx of machinery and construction equipment coming into their town. They had no idea what the construction was for or who was behind the project and asked Cáceres to investigate. What they did know was that there was a threat against the Gualcarque river which was a place of spiritual importance to the Lenca people and viewed as sacred land.

Cáceres responded to this threat by filing complaints with government authorities, the Inter-American Commission on Human Rights, and by appealing to businesses that were funding the dam to withdraw support. Those efforts proved unsuccessful, however, and in 2013 Cáceres organized a human blockade of the road to access the construction site. The blockade stayed in place for more than a year, and protests continued to take place thereafter. Criminal charges were filed against Cáceres, and she and other activists were routinely threatened with kidnap and murder. After one protest leader was killed in 2013, Sinohydro, the Chinese partner of the Honduran company building the Agua Zarca Dam, withdrew from the project, and the International Finance Corporation later withdrew its support. Cáceres was later murdered in her home due to a fatal gunshot wound.

Despite her tragic death, Cáceres continues to be a great inspiration to many. She was a prominent figure in a very strong movement. Looking at current events like the protest at Standing Rock, we can see the attacks against indigenous tribal lands continue to rise. The fight that indigenous people continually face is a reminder that Cáceres was one person who has moved thousands, a single life turned into countless calls for justice.

Berta no murió. Se multiplicó. Berta didn’t die. She multiplied.