Why I Care About Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By Kyra Charles

Trigger Warning: Mentions of sexual assault and rape.

Rape culture scares me senseless. It’s why I don’t go to parties or drink when I do go to them. It’s why I don’t allow my dates to drive me anywhere. It’s why my grandmother bought me a rape whistle for Christmas, and my mother bought me a taser for my birthday. It’s why when I walk around campus at night, a campus that doesn’t allow pepper spray, I hold my key in my fist, ready to jab it in somebody’s eye. It’s why when I met a group of Ukrainian men while abroad, who harassed me and didn’t listen to my definitive NO, I felt extremely angry.

And I’m still angry. Despite everything #MeToo has done, there’s still an unfulfilled need for accountability from the abusers and justice for the abused. Politicians accused of assault and rape are still in public office. Celebrities like James Franco, who claim to support the victims, have committed assault themselves. Within my own circle, somebody I know who works at competitive dance competitions was shamed by an elderly couple for letting a child wear a costume that showed her stomach. “This is why Me Too happened!” they declared, as if what a child chooses to wear defines the actions of somebody who would try to assault her. It doesn’t.

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is relevant, and will remain relevant for every assault victim who feels powerless. Its existence defines the take back of our bodies and our lives. By talking about it we share what consent looks like, why abuse is not okay, and how important it is to believe survivors. So much remains to be done, and we cannot forget that. Decades of hard work and bravery have brought us to a point where we can talk about these issues, and there’s no excuse to back down from it now.

The Women’s Center will be hosting Meet Us On The Street through social media this week. Share our posts and create your own with the hashtag #StopStreetHarassment

We will also be hosting Denim Day online on April 29. Post pictures wearing denim with the hashtag #UMKCDenimDay20 and check our social media to see how you can support the Denim Day movement.

For more information on SAAM, go to: https://www.nsvrc.org/saam

 

 

Meet Us On The Street- What Is It?

By Haley Dean

If you have been attending UMKC for at least a year, I’m sure you have seen the chalking on the sidewalks that happens in April. Did you know that’s actually an international event? Meet Us On The Street is an international program for anti-street harassment. Participants everywhere spread the message about gender-based street harassment and why it needs to stop.

What is gender-based street harassment?
According to stopstreetharassment.org, gender-based street harassment defined is as follows:

“Gender-based street harassment is unwanted comments, gestures, and actions forced on a stranger in a public place without their consent and is directed at them because of their actual or perceived sex, gender, gender expression, or sexual orientation.”

If you’ve ever been catcalled, whistled at, groped, or stalked, you have experienced gender-based street harassment. Gender-based street harassment can make the streets feel unsafe for everybody who walks on them.

Why is the program in April?

Meet Us On The Street is held every year for a week in April, because April is Sexual Assault Awareness month. It is the perfect time to bring awareness to the issue.

How can YOU participate in Meet Us On The Street and help spread the word?

The Women’s Center participates in Meet Us On The Street every year. This year we will be holding it as an online campaign for the entire week of the 20th. Take a look at our social media during that week to see what we are doing to spread the word. We will be chalking and writing messages and posting our creations on our social media with the hashtag #StopStreetHarassment. You can join us in spreading the word, too! Make your own creations and post them with the hashtag, or share our posts on social media. The Meet Us On The Street official website has a list of ideas for messages if you need help creating one.

Harvey Weinstein: A Man Who Went From Greatness to Rapist

By Maggie Pool

Trigger warning: mentions of sexual assault and rape.

Harvey Weinstein is a famous former Hollywood film producer and a convicted sex offender. How did he end up with those two descriptions in the first line of his Wikipedia page?

Harvey and his brother grew up with a passion for films. They didn’t start off in the film business, though. They began by producing rock concerts along with their friend Corky Burger as Harvey & Corky Productions through the 1970s. They brought in top-notch acts like Frank Sinatra, Jackson Browne, and The Rolling Stones. Using the money made from their days as Harvey & Corky Productions, the Weinstein brothers purchased their own independent film distribution company and called it Miramax, a mashup of their parents’ names, Miriam and Max Weinstein.

Now, Miramax is a renowned company for producing many of America’s prized independent films, like  Sex, Lies, and Videotape (1989), The Crying Game (1992), Pulp Fiction (1994), Heavenly Creatures (1994), Flirting with Disaster (1996), and Shakespeare in Love (1998). Weinstein won many awards for these films, including an Academy Award for producing Shakespeare in Love. He also went on to succeed in producing arthouse cinema and more independent film. Miramax had so much success that in 1993 Disney offered to purchase the company from Weinstein for $80 million dollars. So where did it all go wrong?

In 2017, a new movement set the nation on fire. The #MeToo Movement united women in telling their stories of sexual harassment. Over a dozen women accused Harvey Weinstein of sexual harassment and rape. Once these accusations took hold of the media, Weinstein was fired from his production company, expelled from the Academy, suspended from the British Academy, and denounced by several political figures who previously supported him.

Weinstein was formally charged by New York police with “rape, criminal sex act, sex abuse and sexual misconduct for incidents involving two separate women” on May 25, 2018. A jury convicted Weinstein on February 24, 2020 of criminal sexual assault in the first degree and one count of rape in the third degree. Weinstein faces between 5 to 29 years of prison.

Mimi Haleyi, who testified at the weeks-long trial that Weinstein forced oral sex on her in 2006, was in a coffee shop when she heard the verdict. She said to Good Morning America, “I just sat down, and I started crying, and I had to go out into the street because I didn’t want to be crying in a coffee shop,” she said. “It was just a huge sense of relief – relief that the jury got it; that they believed me and that I was heard.”

Here are some statements from other victims of Harvey Weinstein, and supporters of those victims, after his conviction:

“He will forever be guilty.”

-Tarana Burke

“This is what he has created for himself, prison, lack of remorse, lack of accountability.”

-Ashley Judd

“Every day that I live and enjoy my life is a victory over Harvey.”

-Rowena Chiu

“I did it for all of us. I did it for the women who couldn’t testify. I couldn’t not do it.”

-Dawn Dunning

“It’s time for men who witness bad behavior to have the courage to step up and bear witness to it.”

-Irwin Reiter

“Hopefully this gives more women the strength to come forward.”

-Lucia Evans

Domestic Violence Awarness Month

By Skye VanLanduyt

Domestic Violence Awareness Month originated from “Day Of Unity” created by the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) in 1981. The hope was to engage people in conversation on ways to end violence against women and children. Day of Unity expanded to a weeklong event of activities held by local, state, and national organizations. In 1987, the first National Domestic Violence toll-free hotline was established in the U.S and in 1989, Congress passed Public Law 101-112 making the month of October officially known as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

The United States Department of Justice defines domestic violence as “a serious violent crime that includes both physical and emotional abuse. Many victims suffer in silence, afraid to seek help, or not knowing where to turn.” To seek help or learn more about what the Department of Justice is doing to ensure protections are being put into place.

This month, the UMKC Women’s Center and the UMKC Violence Prevention & Response Program is hosting several events on campus to promote domestic violence awareness. On Wednesday, the UMKC Women’s Center hosted a socially engaged art project, I Can We Can, Day Of Action. Students created shrink art to help expand efforts to end violence around UMKC’s campus. The event was co-sponsored by A Window Between Worlds and UMKC Violence Prevention & Response Program. If you missed out on Wednesday’s empowering event or want to get more involved in the fight against domestic violence, the UMKC Violence Prevention & Response Program is hosting several events this month…

  • Domestic Violence Awareness Month Information Table. Wed, Oct. 9, 11:00a.m.-1:00p.m., Atterbury Student Success Center, 5000 Holmes St. Stop by our table to learn about the history of Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Raise your hand to take a stand by tracing your hand to show your support for ending violence against women. The hands will be used on display boards to exhibit that UMKC stands with victims of domestic violence. Co-sponsored by UMKC Counseling Services.
  • I’m Anti-Violence Campaign. Mon, Oct. 14, 11:00 a.m.-1:00p.m., Miller Nichols Learning Center Lobby, 800 E. 51st St. This program is a photo campaign to show support for ending violence against LGBTQ+ individuals and coincides with LGBT History Month. Individuals on campus will be asked to take a stand against violence. This is displayed by taking a picture of the individual with a white board that states, “I’m Anti Violence and pro…” Each individual writes what they are pro. Photos will then be used on social media sites and on display boards to demonstrate that UMKC is anti-violence. Co-sponsored by LGBTQIA Programs and Services.
  • Empty Chair Campaign during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Mon, Oct. 14 – Fri, Nov. 1, Miller Nichols Library, 800 E. 51st St.; Atterbury Student Success Center, 5000 Holmes St.; Oak Residence Hall, 5051 Oak St.; Administrative Center, 5115 Oak St.; Student Union, 5100 Cherry St. Each day, members of our community miss class or work because they are facing domestic violence. Check out the displays in the above locations to see how violence affects our campus community.
  • Red Flag Day. Tues, Oct. 22, 11:00 a.m.-5:00p.m., Information table from 11:00am-1:00p.m., The Quad, 52nd and Rockhill Rd. Stop by our table and learn what red flags in abusive relationships look like. Then, create a red flag to stick in the grass on the quad so others also learn to recognize red flags in abusive relationships.
  • White Ribbon Day during Domestic Violence Awareness Month. Wed, Oct. 30, 11:00 a.m.-1:00p.m., Royall Hall – First Floor Lobby, 800 E. 52nd St. Stop by our table to sign a large white ribbon to show solidarity with victims of violence against women and to show public support for ending violence against women.Then spread the word on social media by using #umkcwhiteribbon. Co-sponsored by UMKC Counseling Services.

“The University of Missouri – Kansas City is committed to affording equal employment and educational opportunities to all members of our campus community and to creating an environment free from discrimination, including sex discrimination in all its forms: Sexual Harassment, Sexual Misconduct, Stalking on the Basis of Sex, Domestic/Intimate Partner Violence, and Sexual Exploitation.”

To find help for you or a loved one, please visit:

National Domestic Violence Hotline
UMKC Counseling
UMC Counseling Phone Number: 816) 235-1635
UMKC Campus Police: (816) 235-5501
UMKC  Violence Prevention & Response
UMKC Title IX

 

Walk A Mile®Through Our Graduate Assistant’s Lens

By Indra Mursid

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

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

Abusive Relationships

By Christina Terrell

Domestic Abuse: When Love Turns Violent

Heartbreaking stories of domestic abuse are revealed when Adrienne shares her traumatic experiences at the hands of Jada's father, the life-threatening event that finally made her leave him and the effect it had on Jada. Willow sits down with a 14-year-old girl who witnessed her mother’s abuse.

Posted by Red Table Talk on Thursday, November 15, 2018
Log into Facebook to watch Jada Pinkett Smith’s episode of “Red Table Talk” that deals with domestic violence at the hands of a romantic partner or family member.

It’s finally December, one of the most magical times of the year. Everyone wants to be cuddled up with their sweetheart, but have you ever stopped to take the time and realize just how sour that sweetheart of yours may be?

It is proven that 1 in 3 women have experienced physical violence at the hands of an intimate partner. Whether the abuse is emotional or physical, most women do not see it coming. A partner who starts off seeming too good to be true can sooner or later allow their real colors to show.

In Jada Pinkett Smith’s new online Facebook series called “Red Table Talk,” her latest show focuses on domestic violence and abusive relationships – and just how hard it is for women to tell if they are really in love or just being controlled. Smith even shares personal stories that detail abuse at the hands of her father, which shaped how she sought romantic relationships as a young woman.

The episode, which is titled “Domestic Abuse: When Love Turns Violent,” focuses on the topic of what most women experience when they are in an abusive relationship. It advises women how to tell when their significant other is trying to harm them and create a toxic environment by being overprotective, controlling, and manipulative. I feel as though this is important and something that not only older women deal with, but women of all ages. It is important to offer women the correct tools and resources to help themselves out of these situations.

However, even when offering women all of the resources that they may need, people not in an abusive relationship have trouble understanding that sometimes the only way a woman will walk about from domestic violence is if she is ready to do so. Most women do not reach this point until they are completely fed up emotionally – after all, the mental strain that an abusive relationship can put on you is probably the hardest thing to deal with as a woman. That is why it is extremely important that as sisters and women, we all stand and lend support to one another (especially when fighting against domestic violence).

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.

How Listening Led to Speaking Up

By Chris Howard-Williams

In my last blog, I started exploring the lessons I need to remember as I learn what it is to be a male feminist. My first lesson was a reminder to avoid mansplaining. In an effort to practice that by keeping quiet and choosing to listen, I decided to ask my female Facebook friends for their opinions. I wanted to know what they felt were the important things that men need to know or learn in order to support and promote feminism. Interestingly enough, the one answer that caught my attention the most was a simple bit of advice from my good friend and “adopted” sister – speak up!

We live in the age of the #MeToo movement. I’m sure there are blogs on this website that explain it more eloquently than I could, but in case you need a refresher, here is the Wikipedia article about that movement. In response to the women who raised their voices under that movement, Benjamin Law, a Sydney-based writer, started his own movement – #HowIWillChange  “Guys, it’s our turn,” he tweeted out to his followers. “After yesterday’s endless #MeToo stories of women being abused, assaulted and harassed, today we say #HowIWillChange.” What followed were personal commitments to the changes he would make in order to step up and speak against all forms of sexual assault and harassment he personally encountered as well as a charge for other men to follow suit.

So, what can we do?  According to Michael S. Kimmel in an article for the Harvard Business Review, many men engage in sexual harassment and assault simply because they feel they can get away with it. He argues that this presumed support, especially tacit support in the form of not calling other men out, is a reason the problem persists. “When men remain silent, it can be taken as a sign that we agree with the harasser, that we think the behavior is OK, and that we won’t intervene,” Kimmel says. “Men are complicit in a culture that enables sexual harassment, so it is up to us to actively, volubly speak up and let the perpetrators know that we are not OK with what they do.”

So, right after learning that I need to keep quiet and stop “mansplaining”, I’ve learned that raising my voice at the right time is just as necessary. As another online article puts it, I need to speak up swiftly against any man who practices sexual harassment/assault as well as against anyone who tries to retaliate or victim-blame when a woman reports it. It is not enough to ignore it any longer, and calling it out needs to happen at the earliest signs of harassment as well. Lewd comments about and derogatory comments against women will not be tolerated anymore. I am going to speak up, and that’s #HowIWillChange.

V-Day UMKC presents benefit screenings of Until the Violence Stops

vday-2014-450x232pxV-Day UMKC 2017 will be presenting benefit screenings of Until the Violence Stops. The film documents the start and success of V-Day and The Vagina Monologues Join us this Tuesday, January 31 from 5:00 p.m. – 6:30 p.m. in the Oak Street Residence Hall basement, 5051 Oak St.; or on Saturday, February 4, 2:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m. at the Kansas City Public Library, Plaza Branch, 4801 main St., KCMO. Donations accepted. Proceeds from all activities benefit the UMKC Women’s Center and V-Day 2017’s spotlight campaign. Co-sponsored by the UMKC Violence Prevention & Response Program, UMKC Masters of Social Work Student Organization, UMKC Residence Life, and Kansas City Public Library.