The Importance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By: Adriana Miranda

TW: sexual assault, violence

Did you know that 1 in every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape? But this doesn’t just affect women. Men who are students and 18-24 years old are FIVE times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than men of the same age who are not students. Transgender, genderqueer and nonconforming (TGQN) students are also at higher risk than other college students (source for all of these here). And these are just reported cases; who knows how much larger the number is for people who don’t ever talk about their assault? That being said, SA is something that affects us all. If you have friends who are women or TGQN, there’s a high chance they’ve experienced some form of SA. If you have male friends there is a chance they’ve experienced the same.

This is why SA Awareness Month (SAAM) exists. It’s a time for us to come together to raise awareness and to take action against sexual assault.

The Women’s Center is dedicated to spreading awareness about SA and this SAAM. As part of our programming, we participated in Denim Day on April 26, 2022. Denim Day began as the result of a court case that victim-blamed a woman for her assault. Why? The Italian Supreme Court ruled that her jeans were too tight for her rapist to remove by himself, so she must have helped remove them.  This past Wednesday, we also shared a“What Were They Wearing” display to share the stories of SA victims, heard from a survivor speaker, and finished out the event with healing arts and snacks as a break from the heavy subject matter.


Cosplay is for Everyone!

Harley Quinn (Batman) at Phoenix Comicon 2011, Kevin Dooley, Creative Commons

By: Emma Sauer

Over last weekend, I attended Planet Comicon. I had a blast, and it reminded me of a topic I’ve always felt strongly about. Cosplay.

If you need a definition for cosplay, just think of it like dressing up at Halloween, but instead you’re doing it at a public event. Some people even do it for a living! What’s wonderful about cosplay is that it’s a craft for anyone and everyone. There are dedicated cosplayers who dedicate days, weeks, or even years, into creating their own hand-made costumes, but there are also others who take a more relaxed approach with a store-bought costume. Both, in my opinion, are great! 

Some people care a lot about making sure they look exactly like the character they portray, but others just want to cosplay a character because they like them–and that’s completely valid. Unfortunately, a real risk cosplayers face is judgement from other fans. This judgement is often  centered on the cosplayer’s physique, gender and body type.

When I was in middle school, a good friend of mine posted her cosplay of an anime character online. She looked adorable, and she worked hard on both her cosplay and the photo shoot! The comments were awful, saying she was “too fat” to cosplay as the character. She got other nasty remarks too, all from strangers on the internet who felt like they somehow had the right to police how this teenage girl chose to portray a character she loved. 

As someone active in many online fandoms, I’ve seen many, many awful comments directed towards cosplayers just minding their own business, and more often than not, they’ve been women. Even in the realm of fandom, women still have their appearances policed by neckbeards who think it’s okay to bully others just because a cosplay doesn’t look “right”. This is so silly, it infuriates me! Why are these guys so invested in how a stranger chooses to portray a character? What makes them think they have the right to tear down teenage girls like my friend? 

Cosplay is about expressing your love or passion for a character. Just because someone doesn’t have the same cup size, weight, or appearance of a character doesn’t mean they don’t have the right to dress up as them. And by the way, if you do like a cosplayer’s outfit, that never means it’s okay to touch them or make inappropriate comments without their consent. 

To make a long story short: 

Shut up and let people have fun.

Blocking Someone Doesn’t Mean It’s Over – Part III

By Brianna Green

I ended the second part of this trilogy by saying, “The second thing that really bothers me is the entitlement this man felt that led him to show up to my apartment, my space, and demand my time and attention — especially after I had made it clear that I did not want him there. Why do some people feel like they have the right to break someone’s boundaries and invade their space?”  

 One explanation for someone (a man, specifically) feeling this entitlement to other people’s space, time, or bodies, is the socialization of boys. 

The way boys see themselves fitting into society can give them the feeling that they have an inherent right to certain things without needing to do anything to earn it. SaferResources says, “In the Western world, many men are taught from birth they have an inherent right to power… little boys see these lessons play out in the books they read and the movies they watch and the media constantly feeding into their subconscious.”  

SaferResources gives examples of male entitlement which includes: 

  • “Having an attitude of superiority, of being better and smarter than one’s partner and other women in general; 
  • Insisting on [unearned] respect or treatment entitled to as a man; 
  • Dismissing the opinions, ideas, and feedback of others; 
  • Acting above criticism; 
  • Possessing a strong need to be right and to win; and 
  • Expecting sex from their spouse as a duty or a demand.” 

Male entitlement is an issue that can be harmful to many people. Look at my story as an example: because this guy felt entitled enough to come to my place, I feel more anxious and like I have to be hyper vigilant at night now.  

When someone feels they deserve something inherently, being denied that thing can make them angry or even violent. The World Health Organization lists “ideologies of male sexual entitlement” as a factor “specifically associated with sexual violence perpetration.” Definitely check out this article to learn more about entitlement leading to violence against women.  

To avoid leaving you on a sad note, one thing we can do to combat this issue, according to SaferResources, is “take responsibility for behavior that we know is harmful to others. If you see others acting in destructive ways, point this out. Never collude with disrespectful behavior.” 

Blocking Someone Doesn’t Mean It’s Over – Part II

By Brianna Green

If you caught the first part of this post in October, you’ll remember that one morning at 10 a.m. I blocked the number of a guy I had been seeing. Unfortunately, blocking him didn’t stop him from coming to my apartment later that night.  

It was around 9:30 p.m. and I was wearing an oversized t-shirt, working on homework before heading off to bed. I heard a few knocks at my back door and froze for a minute. There’s no way it’s him, I thought to myself naively.  But it was. I opened the door and let him inside. We talked and, at first, it sounded like he still wanted to get back together. I was confused, I was shaken, and I didn’t understand what was going on. I had texted some friends to tell them that he was at my apartment, and thankfully one of them showed up with their boyfriend. I talked to her outside for a few minutes, and she brought me back down to Earth. The situation was fucked up.  

I told her I was okay and they reluctantly left. After I went back inside, I told him again that we should go separate ways, and things immediately went south. He started getting mean, saying that I was “cruel,” that I “should never be in a relationship,” and that I “have issues.” This was exactly what I feared would happen if I broke up with him in person. After the parade of insults, he claimed that he was happy he came to my apartment that night and he finally left.  

Although he left voluntarily, over the next week I felt incredibly anxious at night. I had to check that all the doors and windows were shut and locked at least twice before going to bed. I was hyper vigilant walking from my door to the building door. I was constantly questioning myself: What did I do wrong? Was this all my fault? 

Obviously, several things bother me about this encounter. First, my reaction: I was scared and I was playing it down. My instinct was to worry that I was being dramatic by telling people the story and taking a mental health day off from work and school after it happened. However, this is an unhealthy perspective; it’s not my (or your) fault if someone else decides to be a dangerous person. And it is not overdramatic to be considerate of your safety and mental health. 

The second thing that really bothers me is the entitlement this man felt that led him to show up to my apartment, my space, and demand my time and attention — especially after I had made it clear that I did not want him there. Why do some people feel like they have the right to break someone’s boundaries and invade their space? This is unfortunately often a gender-equity issue. Keep an eye out for the last part of this series, where I will discuss this phenomenon.  

Blocking Someone Doesn’t Mean It’s Over: Part I

By Brianna Green

I have dated a lot of people over the past several years. I’ve had a lot of good experiences… and I’ve had a lot of bad ones. My most recent dating experience was one of the worst. 

I had been seeing someone for almost a month, then we started arguing. We argued for about a week before I decided to end things. We had plans to meet in person to talk, but I decided to end things over the phone instead. I had a feeling it would go badly in person. The phone call took less than 5 minutes and I thought that would be that. But here I am telling this story.  

He calls me a week later hoping that I had realized I made a mistake and that we could get back together. I told him I needed some time to think about it. Two days go by and he calls me again.  Honestly, I hadn’t thought about it much and I wanted to talk to my therapist about it later that week, but his phone calls were making me upset and confused, so I decided to stick to my decision about ending things.  

Several days later I go to therapy. My therapist helps me work out my feelings and I feel a lot better about the situation. I was sad and angry that things had ended the way they did, but it was time to move on. After therapy, I made a Facebook post about the feelings I had been having and how grateful I was to be in therapy. And, of course, he reached out to me about the post that same day. We talked and decided to meet up that night (because I make “good” decisions). The meet up actually went pretty well and we decided to start talking again and plan a date for the following week.  

But over the next two days I realized the reconciliation was not a good idea. I ended things in the first place for a reason, and I was disappointed in myself for getting back together with him. It felt like I was letting myself down and throwing away whatever progress I had made in therapy. So I message him the next morning saying I was sorry but that talking to him again was bad for my mental health and not a good idea. After I sent the message, I blocked him. The back-and-forth needed to stop.  

Unfortunately, blocking someone doesn’t mean it’s over. Come back for Part 2 to learn what happened after I blocked him.  

Harassment and domestic violence disproportionately affect women and other gender minorities. October is Domestic Violence Awareness month, but as we move into November, remember: “each day, members of our community miss class or work because they are facing domestic violence.”  

A Story in Learning to Say No: Part II

By Brooke Davidoff

When I read that this man wanted to come spend the weekend at my apartment, my initial response was to panic. If being on a boardwalk in public with him was uncomfortable, how much worse would it be if we were alone? 

I didn’t own a couch, and I told him I didn’t have anywhere for him to sleep. His response: Will we have privacy? Those words triggered a panic attack from thousands of miles away. I was sweating, and anxiety and fear blanketed me immediately. I pictured myself trying to get away from him, sleeping in my 10-year-old’s room to escape being alone with him.

He was looking at flights and rental cars, sending screen shots of options for his arrival before I had even accepted his offer. I messaged two single male friends to see if I was overreacting, projecting, or reading this wrong. 

I was diagnosed with PTSD over four years ago. I have survived multiple traumas, the majority due to negative, unwanted interactions with men. I realize I am sometimes overly alert and standoffish with men. Maybe he did want to help me move… but his interest in our privacy made me think otherwise. My friends reassured me that he had boundary issues, letting me know I could and should say no.

He had already booked himself a ticket. 

For most of my life I didn’t know how to stand up for myself. I was polite, I ignored red flags. I had since taken multiple classes on trauma and its affects on mental health and I had gone to therapy to help me address my PTSD, yet I still found myself afraid to say no. I still felt more worried about hurting his feelings than about his affect on my physical safety and comfort. I did not feel like my “no” was valid until more than one friend gave me permission to have boundaries.

It was not easy, but I sent him an email to cancel his flight. I didn’t owe him anything but the truth. I did not want him to come.

If a conversation with anyone triggers you, you have every right to not talk to or see them again. From childhood, girls are socialized to be nice and to be more in touch with their own and other people’s feelings. Women often feel a lot of guilt when we hurt others’ feelings, but in actuality: regardless of your gender, you don’t owe anyone anything, and your safety is in your hands. No one has the right to push their wants onto you. You are not here to accommodate others. If you have a gut feeling about someone, listen. 

Other peoples feeling are not more important than yours, and they are not as important as your safety or your piece of mind. Younger me would not have had the courage to say no. Saying no was empowering, I encourage you to try it.

A Story in Learning to Say No: Part I

By Brooke Davidoff

Moving across the country as a single mother is stressful. I moved here in June from Long Beach, California to live with one of my best friends from high school. There ended up not being enough room for my son and I at her place, and I had to hastily relocate without even unpacking. When I had found an apartment and was ready to move my stuff out of my friend’s basement, a male acquaintance in California offered to fly in to help. 

The last time he and I hung out was awful. 

I read his text message inviting himself to my new place. I cringed as his words flashed across my screen. He and I had lived on the same street when we were in middle school. We’re in our early 40’s now and had not seen each other since 8th grade, until that uncomfortable day two years ago. He had driven two hours to see me, and we had spent an afternoon together.

That day, we walked to the beach boardwalk across the street from my apartment. Immediately, he took my hand in his. We had never dated. We had never had a physical relationship. Our text messages had been G-rated, there hadn’t even been flirting. Maybe he’s overly friendly, I thought. 

We walked into an arcade, and my son went to play a video game—the man kissed me. It was random, unwanted and unexpected. I didn’t know how to pull away, and the rest of the afternoon was just as uncomfortable. Every time my son would walk away, this guy was in my face; his hands travelled all over my body like we were a couple.

We were not. 

He went home a few hours later while I sat with my confusion in silence. Questioning myself. Maybe I led him on. Jeans and a t-shirt shouldn’t have given off flirty signals—though I know now nothing I could have worn would have given him permission to touch me. 

Later that night he Facetimed me. He was drunk and begging me to flash him. I said no multiple times, he argued that he wanted to see them. I hung up. I didn’t speak to him for over a year. 

However, like many people, I give others second chances, expecting and hoping they have changed. We began texting again after I moved; I felt safe. He couldn’t drive up the freeway to see me anymore—I had states of distance to protect me.

But now he was inviting himself to my new apartment.

Hear the rest of Brooke’s story in Part II posting tomorrow!

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 ( ).” 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. 


The Shadow Pandemic

By Mia Lukic

November 30th was White Ribbon Day, a part of the United Nations ongoing 16 Days of Activism against Gender Based Violence which runs from the 25th of November to the 10th of December. This was a day to show solidarity with those who have experienced gender-based violence through signing a white ribbon and sharing the message on social media. Gender based violence is defined as “harmful acts directed at an individual based on their gender. It is rooted in gender inequality, the abuse of power and harmful norms” (UNHCR) and is considered “a serious violation of human rights and a life-threatening health and protection issue” by the United Nations Refugee Agency.

While the COVID 19 pandemic changed the circumstances of the event, it also has had a detrimental impact on gender-based violence worldwide. Even before the pandemic, 1 in 3 women experienced physical or sexual violence mostly by an intimate partner (UN Women). The numbers are only increasing due to a multitude of COVID caused changes. The factors include: security, health, and money worries, cramped living conditions, isolation with abusers, movement restrictions, and deserted public places (UN Women)

Statistically, less than 40% of women who experience violence seek help, and during the pandemic calls to helplines in certain countries increased by 5 times (UN Women). What does that mean about the number of cases?

The United Nations has deemed this the Shadow Pandemic. The Coronavirus is without question one of the most difficult things the world has experienced in past years, and the increase in violence against women seems to be a symptom left out of the fact sheets.

PPE or Personal Protective Equipment, takes on a whole new meaning. The CDC recommends wearing a mask and social distancing, but a mask cannot protect from violence, and distance from abusers can be impossible during stay at home orders. So how do we combat this Shadow Pandemic?

The UN Women Executive Director, Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka, said:


“I would like to call on your government to make visible at the highest level your commitment to addressing violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19 by issuing a short statement on social media, in the form of a video message or a short text at the highest possible level, ideally at the level of Head of State/Government, highlighting:

  • Tangible actions undertaken to address violence against women and girls in the context of COVID-19;
  • Future planning policies and actions to implement in this context;
  • Your Government’s commitment to raise awareness on the issue at the national and international levels.” (UN Women)

UN Women stresses the importance of the following during this Shadow Pandemic.


  • Prioritize funding for a minimum package of essential services and include violence against women prevention in COVID-19 fiscal stimulus packages.
  • Make urgent and flexible funding available for women’s rights organizations working at the nexus of COVID-19 and addressing violence against women


  • Declare national zero tolerance policy for violence against women and girls with a concrete action plan in place
  • Launch a COVID-19 behavior change social mobilization campaign


  • Undertake explicit measures so that services for survivors of violence are maintained as essential
  • Ensure continuum of adequate criminal justice system response.


  • Collect data for improvement of services and programs” (UN Women)

Whether you are calling your representatives to demand they address the Shadow Pandemic, checking in on your loved ones, or fighting your own battle, know you are not alone. For hotline numbers and resources in our area check out the link below:

Domestic and Sexual Violence Resources

Witches Get Stuff Done: The Salem Witch Trials

By Brianna Green

Happy Halloween Roos! Thank you for watching the Witches Get Stuff Done video and for coming to the blog for more information about the Salem Witch Trails!

So, what were the Salem Witch Trails? The Salem Witch Trials were, as the name indicates, witch trails that happened from January 1692 until May 1693. Around 150 people (men, women, and children) were accused of being a witch or using witchcraft. Sadly, 19 people, mainly women, were hanged after being convicted of witchcraft. Outside of the 19 hangings, a man was crushed to death because of his refusal to plead guilty or not guilty, and another 4 people died in prison awaiting trial (Brooks).

What started this mess that lead to 24 people dying? Let’s start with the context of the time. This was the late 1600s. Salem was a rural community that was very religion and had very strict gender roles, especially for women (Hasset-Walker). Not only that, but there had been a smallpox outbreak; they had a rivalry with a nearby community; they had fears about Native American attacks; and they were still dealing with after affects from the British war with France that happened in 1689 (Brooks; Hasset-Walker). They had a lot going on and there was already a lot of tension.

In January of 1692, two young girls (9 and 11) were diagnosed with bewitchment after having “fits” where they would have outbursts of screaming and violent contortions ( After their diagnoses, other girls from the community started experiencing similar fits. Now, the first two girls named who they thought were causing their bewitchment. They named Sarah Good, Sarah Osborn, and a slave named Tituba. Tituba did confess to witchcraft and claimed others were involved; this confession made people go into panic and hysteria (Brooks). Although these were the first people accused, the first trail and execution happened in June of 1962 with the accused Bridget Bishop.

What’s interesting is that these women were considered outcasts before their accusations. For example, Bishop had been accused of witchcraft well before the trails even started (Brooks). Tituba was a slave. Osborn was an elderly widow who remarried a farmhand. And Good was a homeless beggar. These women did not fit the traditional mold women in these communities usually had which would include being proper, religious, married mothers who acted like caregivers (Hasset-Walker).

As you already know, the trails officially ended in May of 1693 after 24 people had perished. Over the course of the year, the panic slowly subsided and the court realized that they shouldn’t rely on spectral evidence, which is testimony in regard to visions and dreams, to convict someone. The court system apologized for what happened and provided financial restitution to the deceased family members in 1711 ( Along with that, they pardoned the people accused of witchcraft and restored their names ( Of course, with something horrific like this, the damage stayed with the community. This tragedy also inspired the play “The Crucible” by Arthur Miller in 1953 (

Now, what can we learn from this and how can we apply it to today? I would argue that women are still held to high standards today. From the way we look to the way we act. We can’t be fat but also can’t be too skinny. We need to wear makeup but not too much of it. We can’t be too sexual but also cannot be prudes. Working mothers are criticized for using nannies to help raise their children but if they were stay at home mothers, they’d also hear about how they can work and have a family. Although it’s no longer the 1600s, we still need to fight for our rights and our equality. However, we can use terms like “witch” to our advantage and make it liberating and empowering. After all, witches get stuff done.


Brooks, Rebecca Beatrice, et al. “History of the Salem Witch Trials.” History of Massachusetts Blog, 28 May 2020,

Hassett-Walker, Connie. “Perspective | What the Salem Witches Can Teach Us about How We Treat Women Today.” The Washington Post, WP Company, 1 Apr. 2019, Editors. “Salem Witch Trials.”, A&E Television Networks, 4 Nov. 2011,