Combating Domestic Violence

By Brooke Davidoff

Unfortunately, “nearly three in ten women and one in ten men in the United States have experienced rape, physical violence, and/or stalking by an intimate partner (or former partner).”  

Domestic Violence Awareness Month began in October 1987 to connect people seeking help with the organizations working to empower victims and educate the public. Progress has come a long way, but there is still much more work to be done. Stigma silences many victims of domestic abuse.    

Domestic violence a heavily gendered crime, (although cis men can very well be the victims of domestic violence, and they can and should seek help). Furthermore, “LGBTQ members fall victim to domestic violence at equal or even higher rates” than their cishet counterparts, and they also experience unique elements of abuse, such as the threat of being outed. Domestic violence is absolutely a gender equity issue, and much work needs to be done to educate about and prevent abusive relationships. For now, knowing what to look out for and how to get help is the best way to keep yourself safe. 

In a victimology class I took recently, we learned that intimate partner violence falls into four categories: stalking, psychological aggression, physical violence, and sexual violence.  People experiencing intimate partner violence don’t always know right away that they are being abused, and abusers tend to be good at manipulation, leaving victims to question themselves when they consider leaving the relationship.    

A few reasons people stay in abusive relationships: 

Some people in abusive relationships want the abuse to end, but the relationship to last, and they find themself waiting for their abuser to change. Financial dependence is another reason some victims feel trapped with their abusers. Shame, guilt, helplessness, embarrassment, and fear are only a few of the emotions that can cloud one’s judgment when trying to decide to stay or go. On top of that, there is still stigma associated with speaking out and admitting you are a victim.   

It is extra important for people to be aware of psychological aggression, because non-physical domestic violence can be difficult to recognize, but it can still cause potentially long-lasting trauma and emotional impacts. How do you know if you’re in an abusive relationship if there is no physical violence? Are you afraid of your partner? Are they extremely jealous? This screening helps you determine if it would be in your best interest to leave your partner for your own mental health and safety.   

If it is possible that you are in an abusive relationship, there are many ways you can seek help:

On campus you can always stop by the RISE office in Haag Hall Room 108. They are open Monday – Friday 8 A.M. to 5 P.M. You can also visit their website. 

Rose Brooks is a 24-hour emergency shelter in Kansas City.   

The Kansas City Anti-Violence Project (KCAVP) is the only LGBTQ-specific domestic violence or sexual assault service in Missouri. KCAVP was created to provide support and services to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, and hate violence.  

For anonymous, confidential help available 24/7, you can also call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 (SAFE) or 1-800-787-3224 (TTY) now  

If you need help, please reach out to one of these resources. There are people who can help you find a safe way out; you are not alone.   

 

Sexism in the Queer Community: Representation 

By Sierra Voorhies

We have all heard of the LGBTQIA+ acronym representing the queer community (this acronym, the identities it represents, and even more terms are explained here), but you might be surprised to know that sexism affects queer people, those of all genders and sexualities. Sexism in this context is the undermining and devaluing of femininity as well as discrimination against femininity (instead of being narrowed to prejudice and discrimination against cis women from cis men). Unfortunately, sexism affects the queer community in a lot of ways, so this will be the first in a series of posts. The first sexist trend we see through the LGBTQIA+ space is queer feminine of center (foc) people not being nearly as represented in media or stories as masculine of center people are.

Take box office hits “Bohemian Rhapsody” about Freddy Mercury and “Rocketman” about Elton John, for example; are there any movies starring queer feminine of center people being made to the same impact, scale or success? GLADD (Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation) found that in 2019 within LGBT representation in movies, only 32% of LGBT characters in mainstream media were women, where 68% were men. GLAAD also noted that “there were zero transgender or non-binary characters counted in mainstream releases this year.” An example from Cleo-Symone Scott of how sapphic relationships are less valued is in the Academy Awards, where Brokeback Mountain and Milk were given Best Picture, but lesbian films (for example Battle of the Sexes featuring a lesbian’s historic tennis win over a straight cis man) are rejected by judges. It’s important to note that bisexuals and transgender characters lag behind in proportional representation to their gay and lesbian counterparts. 

In the future we will discuss why this imbalance exists and how it’s tied to sexism, but for now let’s address the problem: we need to see queer women as more than the main character’s side kick or the straight man’s eye candy, but how do do that? How do we validate queer foc individuals in their sexualities? Well, of course, we can create and support the representation we want to see. If you are in a story-telling position, advocate and create feminine of center love stories. For us consumers out here, find and engage with queer foc stories by streaming movies, buying books, reviewing or sharing on social media, etc. We can vote with our dollar for the kinds of stories we want to see. 

If you’d like to see some foc queer relationships, there is some representation out there: check out the Legend of Korra comics, listen to Haley Kiyoko’s “Girls like Girls,” watch She-Ra and the Princesses of Power, or read Sappho or the people she inspired like Gertrude Stein. There is also information to find online like this article about critically acclaimed Women who Love Women movies and this website that lists books that represent queer relationships.

Clarifying Gender: Using Multiple Sets of Pronouns

By Ace Garrett

Right now as you read, gender is evolving into the fun, expressive, and validating construct that it always should have been. People here in America finally have the language to understand and express their gender, and many are beginning to step outside of traditional gender expectations and live as their most authentic selves—which is all any of us want, right? If you want to continue being supportive of gender non‑conforming people, a good place to start is understanding pronouns. 

This week, Sierra skillfully informed us about pronouns and their independence from gender, which I am following up with this little series of additions to help you understand the niche aspects of pronouns and gender. Today, we’ll be covering the use of multiple pronouns.

You might be surprised, but many people actually use multiple sets of pronouns. For some, a mixture of pronouns might best reflect them. For others, they might simply be comfortable with more than one set and allow their friends and family to choose whichever they want to use. There are some people that are even comfortable using any pronouns! 

You probably know that pronouns come in sets of three (e.g., she/her/hers), but all three parts is pretty redundant, so pronouns have already been commonly abbreviated to the first two parts: she/her; they/them; he/him; etc. And these sets get abbreviated even more when someone uses multiple pronouns. People who are comfortable with more than one set of pronoun often abbreviate their pronouns like this: 

  • she/they
  • they/he
  • he/they/she

For some, this represents a catalogue of the pronouns they are comfortable with. However, some people have a preference, and they will put the pronoun set they are most comfortable with at the beginning. For example, non‑binary people who prefer they/them pronouns may also be comfortable with the pronouns tied to their sex assigned at birth—especially if (1) they are just discovering their gender identity or (2) they present in a very feminine or masculine way.

But remember what Sierra covered on Monday: pronouns and gender are independent parts of our identity, which is also independent from gender presentation. Someone could, for example, present very feminine while only using they/them pronouns and being agender.

To wrap this post up, I want to remind you that all people are different. We don’t have labels and “rules” in order to box people in; we have them to help people express themselves and find community. Each person is an authority over their own identity, and we should all take care to listen and be open to people falling outside our expectations.

Keep an eye out for part two!

Sex, Gender, Pronouns, Oh My!

 

By Sierra Voorhies

When someone uses she/her pronouns, you might assume she’s a woman, but pronouns and gender do not always match. Sharing and asking for someone’s pronouns is becoming more common, so it’s a good time to address the common misconception that gender and pronouns are synonymous. I’ll start with explaining sex versus gender. 

Sex is determined by a combination of all sexual characteristics: chromosomes, hormones, and internal and external sex organs (for example ovaries, penis, vulva). If one were to ask what your sex is, they would be referring to your physical sex makeup, and one would respond female, intersex, or male. Check out Aurora’s last blog to learn about what it means to be intersex!

Sex is connected to gender, but they are not the same. Someone’s gender is how they fit into the socialized perceptions of femininity and masculinity. Genders include but are not limited to:

  • cisgender (or cis): when one’s gender identity aligns with the sex they were assigned at birth (e.g., a woman who was assigned female at birth).
  • transgender (or trans): when one’s gender identity does not align with the sex they were assigned at birth (e.g., a man who was assigned female at birth).
  • non-binary or genderqueer: when one’s gender identity is not only or completely either a woman or a man. Someone who is non-binary or genderqueer may be in between a man and a woman, complete outside of those two genders, or some combination of the two.
  • genderfluid: when one’s gender identity or presentation changes over time. Some genderfluid people flip between genders day to day, others shift gradually from one to another. There are no rules!
  • agender: when one does not identify with any gender.

Many non-binary, genderqueer, and genderfluid people identify themselves as trans (under the trans umbrella) because their gender does not fully align with their sex assigned at birth. The non-binary identity is also considered an umbrella under which other, more specific identities may fall. And keep in mind that gender labels are a tool for people to communicate their own identities: listen to gender non-conforming people, they may deviate from these definitions or labels and that’s okay. 

Finally, why are we all here, pronouns! Pronouns are the gendered terms we use to refer to people when not using their name (e.g., he/him, she/her, they/them). Pronouns are connected to gender, but are also not the same. Most importantly, pronouns don’t dictate gender and vice versa. This means that no matter what someone’s pronouns are, you can’t use them to assume their gender; and you can’t use someone’s gender to assume their pronouns. For example, a non-binary person might use he/him pronouns because they are not ready to come out, because they are comfortable with them, or for many other reasons. A woman I know goes by both she/her and they/them (yes, people can use multiple!) so their pronouns are she/they. 

As we continue to ask for people’s pronouns, it’s important to note that it’s not appropriate to use that information to assume someone’s gender or sex. It’s always polite and appropriate to ask for pronouns at the beginning of a new conversation with someone, and if you have known someone a long time, it’s good to check in and ask now as well! I hope this blog is helpful, and we can continue to make mistakes, grow, and learn together.

No is a Complete Sentence

By Ace Garrett

Two weeks ago, Brooke told you the story of her discomfort around a man who she struggled to say no to. Today I’d like to ask the question: Why do women—why might anyone—struggle to say no? 

Let’s start with cisgender women and girls. According to sociologist professor, Kathryn Lively, Ph.D, “As young children, girls are socialized to be nice and to be more in touch with their own and other people’s feelings than are boys. [ . . . ] Boys, on the other hand, are socialized to be less attuned to people’s feelings, and to win.”

Other gender minorities may receive this socialization from being born female, from wanting to be perceived as a woman, or from experiencing excessive desire to be likeable or to be accepted due to their gender identity, among a myriad of other reasons. 

This socialization leads gender minorities to go along with things we would rather say no to. This is a hard-to-explain effect of the patriarchy, but it definitely affects many of us and is an unnecessary weight on our shoulders.

I have personally felt the impacts of this socialization: I feel guilt when my wants or needs get in the way of even the smallest whim of someone else. As a young girl, I was led to believe that a good person should be aware of and very considerate of others’ emotions. And since no two people have the same wants or needs, it has always been hard for me to advocate for myself—I have always been worried about everyone else. Today, I am still putting in a lot of conscious effort to try and undo this harmful habit. 

It is important to be considerate of others, but not to the detriment of our needs. Many women, trans people, and non-binary people need to reevaluate their line: at what point do you believe your wants and needs are worth speaking up for? 

Saying no is a crucial skill and a habit you need a healthy relationship with. Saying no is self-care. I hope you all find at least one little way to advocate for yourself this week. Never forget that you matter!

Other resources on this topic:

Saying no and advocating for the things you want is an important tool for all people, in all contexts. However, one of the most important skills people need to have is knowing how to say no to unwanted sexual contact. Due to all sorts of pressure and expectations surrounding sex, this is one of the hardest ways to say no. 

Angie Greaves, a radio presenter and blogger in the UK, has a great post that goes deeper into the specifics of women struggling to say no, including how to say no: “Stop with the ‘I’m sorry’ always attached to the end of saying ‘NO’.”

Book Recommendation:
Earlier this year, I read Untamed by Glennon Doyle, a memoir in response to her realization that she was gay, and even more importantly, her discovery of her own timidity with disappointing others. This novel was ground shattering for me, and it has some fascinating insights about gender and the ways in which women are socialized to act. Caveat: Doyle’s perspective is that of a middle-class white Christian woman, and although she makes some efforts at inclusion, there are parts of this book where her perspective is obviously narrow. You can find the synopsis, reviews, content warnings, and other information at the link above.

The More You Know… The More You Won’t Misgender Your Friends

By Sierra Voorhies

When I started at UMKC, I had taken Women’s Studies in Junior College, and thought I was at least minorly educated in the gender issues of the day. Boy, was I wrong. (Trigger warning: misgendering.)

In my first semester or two at UMKC, I made a small group of friends that included a non-binary person. We had some classes together, and after one class, they told me they were irritated: a professor had discussed differences in brain and behavior in the brains of men and women, but hadn’t bothered to do any research about where non-binary or transgender brains might differ or how they are affected. Later in the semester, they were having some turmoil about how to tell professors to address them by their pronouns (they/them). I asked them, “how is someone supposed to know someone uses they/them pronouns when they present as masculine or feminine?” They replied that non-binary people don’t all dress one way, there’s no androgynous dress code of monochromatic-oversized-Jaden-Smithian wardrobe for identifying as nonbinary. 

 That friend helped me learn a lot about identifying as non-binary, stuff that we should all know. People who identify as non-binary, women, or men don’t have to dress a certain way to present their gender because you literally cannot tell someone’s gender by looking at them. This is very different than every subliminal message I have received about performing gender for my whole life, like, I thought it was radical for women to have shaved heads, because they weren’t performing their gender. But guess what? No one, no matter their pronouns or gender, has to look any certain way.

So, that was a big wake up call for me; I have been making assumptions about people and misgendering them, and I didn’t even know I was doing anything wrong. Looking at a person with a soft face shape and long hair, I would refer to them using she/her pronouns without asking or thinking. Then I took a Psychology of Gender class and learned that gender, like sexual orientation, is not a binary. And just like there is a spectrum of sexuality (pansexual, gay, asexual, straight, queer, etc.), there is a spectrum of gender. The options aren’t A) Boy or B) Girl; they include non-binary, genderfluid, cisgender, transgender, and more. 

In the future, I hope to share more of my follies in learning about gender and to explore topics like gender congruence, the different sub-categories of non-binary identities, the history of gender, gender dysphoria, pronouns, and more. I have made mistakes in understanding and applying gender and sexuality to myself and the people around me. Even though it’s embarrassing and I am ashamed that I might have hurt some of my friends, it’s ok for people to make mistakes. What’s important is that we are compassionate towards others and try our best to educate ourselves on gender and sexuality. 

Stealthing

By Morgan Clark

It was recently in the news that California might be the first state to declare stealthing as illegal. A bill was introduced by Cristina Garcia in Febraury to make stealthing an act of sexual battery, allowing victims to take legal actions if needed. Stealthing is the act of removing one’s condom without consent during intercourse. When I learned about this bill, I was happy and upset at the same time. I’m happy because we are moving in the right step to acknowledge that this is an act of sexual assault and those who are victims should be able to take legal actions. I’m upset because there is a chance that this bill will not be pass. Also, there are 49 states that have not recognized stealthing as an act of sexual assault which allows assaulters to continue this act with little to no consequences.

There are also those who do not see this as violation, but more of a misunderstanding. This is not true. As a victim of stealthing, I know this. If you make it clear that you want to use protection during intercourse and the other person chose otherwise is violating. It takes away your agency of your body. It also puts you in risk of unwanted pregnancy and STI. So why do they do this?  According to gynecologist Dr. Sumayya Ebrahim and their research in 2019, they believe their victim’s body is their possession. They also stated it feels better without protection, to spread their seed and the thrill of degradation. Yet, many people believe that stealthing is the “grey area” of sex, which in my opinion does not exist. Even if someone were able to convince me there was a grey area (doubt it), stealthing would not fall in that category! I hope the officials in California pass the bill so they can be an example for the other 49 states.

Sources: https://www.abc.net.au/everyday/why-stealthing-is-a-violation-of-consent/12639172

https://www.latimes.com/california/story/2021-02-08/california-bill-classify-non-consensual-condom-removal-sexual-battery

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?”