Another Tinderella Story

By Elise Wantling

If you currently are, or recently have been, single, then you’ve probably heard of an app called Tinder. Or its’ more feminist sibling, Bumble. Perhaps, you’ve even heard of Grindr or Her if you’re LGBTQ+ identifying, or just well versed in dating apps. Online dating is nothing new. It dates back to 1995 with the creation of Match.com, but the creation of Tinder really revolutionized the industry, (though it was not the first dating app on the market). The release of Tinder spurred the creation of more and more dating apps.

With Tinder, no longer did you have to look at full profiles, and read detailed descriptions of who someone thinks they are and why they think they’d be a good match for you. Instead, you could simply swipe through photos without ever opening the profile and determine solely based on looks whether or not you think you’re compatible with someone. Tinder simplified things down to a science: swipe right if you’re interested, left if you’re not. If they like you too, you’ll match and you can chat. If they don’t like you back, you can’t message them. Simple, easy.

When I first got on Tinder back in 2016, I was nearing the end of high school and had recently turned 18, making me one of the people in my friend group old enough for the full Tinder experience. (At the time, Tinder also had a teen section for ages 16-18). My friends had gotten into it while I was seeing my first girlfriend, but after we broke up they encouraged me to download the app. I was recently out as bisexual, and the queer dating pool at my high school was pretty limited, so I decided to give it a try.

It wasn’t until I was a few weeks away from leaving for college that I got brave enough to go on my first Tinder date. It went horribly, we were not at all compatible (plus he showed up almost an hour late, said he would buy me coffee, but didn’t, and talked my ear off for two hours without me getting a word in edgewise). Despite that, I swiped on.

Tinder has a reputation for being a hookup app, an app people can use to find a quick date or a one night stand. While yes, some people do use it for that, a survey of 1,000 Americans done by Simple Texting found 52% of Tinder users surveyed said they never had a one night stand. From that same survey, almost 14% of those surveyed said they were engaged/married to someone they met on Tinder. Despite public opinion, the facts are there: Tinder is a viable way of meeting a long term partner.

Flash forward to my sophomore year of college. One lonely night I’m swiping through Tinder, only half paying attention, when a cute guy catches my eye. I open his profile and see that his chosen anthem is “Fast Car” by Tracy Chapman (one of my all-time favorite songs!). I swipe right, and we immediately match, so I shoot him a message. Flash forward again, another two years, to October 2019. We’re now engaged and counting down to our wedding day that is in less than 7 months. We live together, we recently added a puppy to our family, and we have Tinder to thank for bringing us together.

One might assume my Tinder love story is an exception to the rule, and not the standard. Perhaps it is (though we are the second couple that I know in real life who met on Tinder and are getting married). However, according to the Pew Research Center, as of 2016 5% of Americans who are in a married or committed relationship said they met online. That is not an insignificant number of people! If you’ve been considering giving online dating a try, or getting back into it, consider this your sign- perhaps you can become just another Tinderella story.

 

 

 

Moonstruck: A Howling Good Comic

By Elise Wantling

Are you a fan of girls, gays, or ghouls? If you answered yes to any of those, you are going to love Moonstruck by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle. This is one of the most recent projects of author Grace Ellis, who is also the author of the popular comic Lumberjanes. The comic stars Julie, a chubby, shy Latina werewolf who lives in a small college town called Blitheton, where she is a barista at a coffee shop. She works with her best friend Chet, a nonbinary centaur who is dashingly handsome and fabulously flamboyant. Julie is dating Selena, a fellow werewolf who is black, on the chubbier side, and full of confidence. There is also a full cast of side characters, monsters and humans alike, representing different races, body types, and species.

Currently there are two published collections of comics, Moonstruck Volume 1: Magic to Brew and Volume 2: Some Enchanted Evening. Volume 1 follows the gang as they struggle to find and battle a magician who steals Chet’s magic at a free community magic show. Chet deals with an identity crisis, as he doesn’t know who he is if he isn’t a monster anymore.

While Julie and Selena are hot on the case, things also heat up between them, and eventually boil over. They also get some help from their friend Cass, who helps them put victory in sight. In Volume 2 the gang rescues their friends Lindi, Ronnie, and Mark from some serious trouble. They also manage to get themselves into the middle of a rivalry between the fairy sorority and fraternity. Julie and Selena have some relationship trouble when Selena finds out that Julie is keeping secrets. Mark is also keeping a secret, which is accidentally revealed!

The comic has a diverse cast of characters, both main and background. I really appreciate the representation of a variety of races, genders, body types and sexualities. While Julie is a bit on the shyer and more timid side, she is still a strong female character. There is also positive representation of a healthy woman/woman romantic relationship that is not hyper sexualized or used as a joke. Chet and their love interest are also taken seriously and display a healthy (and super cute!) relationship. It is refreshing to see a comic with a truly diverse cast of characters, and not the usual formula of “all cisgender, heterosexual, thin, white people + one or two characters who break that mold”. The comic simply reflects the realities of the world, which is that people come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and sexualities.

The comics are full color and beautifully illustrated. Each panel is a work of art unto itself and I personally adore the art style and character designs. It is easy to tell what is happening in every panel and not at all difficult to follow the storyline. Whether you’re a lover of strong women in media, cute art, the supernatural, or LGBTQ fiction, there is something in Moonstruck for everyone. I would recommend them for ages middle school and up, but they definitely appeal to the young adult as well as the adult crowd. Moonstruck tells simple, pleasing stories in a way that is easy on the eye. Volume 3 comes out February 11th, 2020, and I am counting down the days!

 

We Interrupt Our Regularly Scheduled Blog Posts …

By Chris Howard-Williams

So, I’m going to ask you to indulge me a bit this week.  Normally, I write blog posts that deal with being a male feminist and what I can do as an ally to best support the cause of feminism.  I’m going to take a break from that this week to talk about cartoons.  Well, I want to talk about one cartoon in particular, a small offering from the Cartoon Network called Steven Universe.

During the July 4th week, Steven Universe became the first children’s animated series to showcase both a same-sex proposal and marriage. Responding to questions about this decision, Rebecca Sugar, the show’s creator, said that we must absolutely tell LGBTQ+ children that they belong in this world and deserve to be loved.  “We cannot wait until a child grows up to tell them they deserve to exist and that their story matters,” she went on to say.  “I am overwhelmed with emotion thinking of the years of tireless work from all of us on the crew leading up to this moment.”

While this alone is pretty phenomenal, it’s just one more thing on the checklist of amazing firsts and highlights that Rebecca Sugar has woven into the show.  Here are some other groundbreaking facts about Steven Universe:

  • It’s the first animated show on Cartoon Network to be fully created by a woman.
  • It has a diverse voice cast featuring many women of color. Deedee Magno, Michaela Dietz, and Estelle voice the three main female protagonists (Pearl, Amethyst, and Garnet, respectively).
  • It seeks to fight against gender norms, offering us a male main character who is empathetic and regularly shows his emotions, many strong female characters, and even an androgynous character who is openly admired by both male and female characters in the show.
  • It has characters who represent many different kinds of sexuality, including straight, gay, and bisexual characters. There is even a character that Rebecca Sugar has confirmed represents a polyamorous relationship.
  • Finally, it presents all of this as normal within the contexts of the world it has built, allowing us to see a world that could exist if we keep fighting for gender and sexuality rights and equality.

So, why does it matter?  Quite simply, representation matters!  As one article put it, when underrepresented populations don’t see people like themselves in media, they get the message that they are invisible, that they don’t count.  In short, they start to feel that there’s something wrong with them.  Even more important is a genuine representation of themselves in media and not a “one-dimensional” characterization of themselves.  And this is exactly the kind of portrayal that Rebecca Sugar is striving for with Steven Universe.

And she has achieved it.  How do I know?  Because the representation has mattered to me personally.  As a gay man watching with my partner as the first ever children’s show featured a same-sex marriage, I cannot express how validated we felt as the union was treated with respect, with dignity, and with love.  I will admit a few tears were shed as we grabbed each other and commented about how beautiful it was to see our personal lives represented in some form on the small screen.  I can only imagine how others have felt watching the show over the years … the girls being shown that they can be strong warriors, the boys being shown that they can be empathetic and find peaceful solutions to conflict, and the many LGBTQIA+ people being shown that our love is just as valid, just as worthy of respect. We can all be Crystal Gems, and if you don’t know what I’m talking about there, I have a show that you need to watch!

Friends and Feminism

By Maleigha Michael

*spoilers ahead*

Friends was one of the many trendy sitcoms that came from the ’90s that is seen as a classic by many. And even though its last episode aired in 2004, it still seems to grow in popularity. Because of its familiar presence in the TV world today, its values and themes are important to pay attention to since they have such a strong impact on their audience. The main point I want to get across is that while Friends integrated some feminist perspectives, they were often countered to promote patriarchal ideals. And just because the sitcom had a few progressive tones, that doesn’t make it a feminist show; moreover, it definitely doesn’t mean we should accept them today, or should’ve accepted them back then. There are examples in every episode that I could discuss and pick apart, but since I don’t have 18 pages (front and back) I’ll only be addressing a few.

For those that say Friends is a feminist show, I want to point out that sure, it could be seen that way. But only if you’re idea of feminism is very outdated. The show introduced characters from the LGBTQIA community (or just LGBT, as it was recognized at the time), which should always be applauded, but the way those characters were received by the other characters is why the show is seen by others as outdated. For example, Chandler’s transgender father was constantly made fun of and Ross’s lesbian ex-wife was far too often oversexualized.

And of course I have to talk about the finale. In the beginning, Rachel started off as this idol for independent women: leaving a man at the altar, breaking away from her father’s money, and pursuing her dream career in fashion (and yes, I realize how unrealistic this part was since she had no prior experience in the industry, or proper schooling). One of the main plot lines to the show was the whole will-they-won’t-they back and forth love affair between Rachel and Ross, so it only makes sense that that’s how the franchise ended.  But when the opportunity arises for Rachel to work for Louis Vuitton in Paris, episode after episode is focused on Ross trying to stop Rachel from leaving just so he could be with her. This all leads up to the end scenes of Ross convincing Rachel to stay. Ross wasn’t alone in this either. Phoebe and Joey actually encouraged him to go after Rachel, instead of encouraging him to support the woman he loves when she’s offered the chance of a lifetime. This ending was extremely disappointing for feminists for obvious reasons, but also because of the lasting impact it has on its viewers. After all of Rachel’s hard work and progress she’s made to get where she is, she turns down a major job opportunity to be with a man who wasn’t very supportive of her career choices in the first place.

For a character that had such a strong story line, the salute off the show that she was given is one of the many examples of how any feminist themes in Friends are overshadowed by regressive concepts that left a bitter taste in the mouths of feminists back then and especially today. The series may be one of the most popular sitcoms ever, but we shouldn’t accept any oppression of female dominance and simply pass it off as “that’s just how it was back then!” Finding feminism in any show is great, but Friends should NOT pass as a feminist show.

Janelle Monáe’s New Music Video is a Tribute to Vaginas, Feminism, LGBTQ+ AND Unity of all People

By: Korrien A. Hopkins

This week Janelle Monáe dropped a new music video for her single PYNK. This is the third song and video she has dropped from her upcoming third solo album, “Dirty Computer” which is set to release April 27.

The video PYNK hit the web earlier this week, featuring only women dancers.  Directed by Emma Westenberg, the video opens with Janelle Monáe and a line of backup dancers wearing pink leotards and what the internet has been describing as pussy pants.

The entire video is pink of course. But in addition to the pussy pants and pink everything throughout the video you can see underwear with slogans like “Sex cells” and “I grab back” among many other womanist phrases.

In February, Monae dropped two songs and videos. The songs are “Make Me Feel” and “Django Jane”. Both are songs that I absolutely love. “Make Me Feel” pays a clear homage to the legend Prince, reflecting on his 1986 video for “Kiss”. “Django Jane” which features Monae’s nice rap flow, is a song that celebrates the strength, courage and beauty of black women. It celebrates black culture while addressing the trials and tribulations of identity in a modern society.

Monae stated, “PYNK is a brash celebration of creation, self-love, sexuality, and pussy power! PYNK is the color that unites us all, for pink is the color found in the deepest and darkest nook and crannies of humans everywhere.”

So, she not only uses Pynk to celebrate black women but to Its celebrate everyone and unify us all.

Like she said, deep inside we’re all pink.

There were concerns that the pants in the video might not be inclusive of women who don’t have vaginas. Monáe and Thompson quickly to address those concerns. Thompson tweeted, “To all the black girls that need a monologue that don’t have Vaginas, I’m listening.”  Monáe tweeted, “Thank you to the incomparable and brilliant @TessaThompson_x for helping celebrate US (no matter if you have a vagina or not) all around the world! We see you. We celebrate you. I owe you my left arm T. Xx.”

I am extremely excited for this album to release later this month. I am truly pleased with her releases thus far.  I am so happy, proud, and so thankful for Janelle Monae’s artistry and how she uses her platform. She promotes and supports those who choose to live their truths unapologetically and does so herself. For that I will forever support her. <3

Checkout her latest releases here:

Django Jane

PYNK

Make Me Feel

 

UMKC gears up for Transgender Awareness Month

By Ann Varner

It was recently brought to my attention that November is Transgender Awareness Month. In particular, November 20th is Transgender Day of Remembrance, a day dedicated to remembering transgender people who have lost their lives due to anti-trans violence.

This month is so important because it brings attention to a group of people who have significant struggles in terms of equality and acceptance in the United States. According to Marie Claire, there are an estimated 700,000 people who identify as transgender in the United States. 41% of this population has attempted or committed suicide.

19% of transgender people have experienced violence or abuse from a family member, with only 18 states having clear laws protecting transgender people.

In order to help improve these issues and reflect a more positive trans experience, UMKC LGBTQIA Programs & Services is hosting many events this week and next week for trans awareness. Their website also lists university resources for trans and non-binary students, faculty and staff. Check them out!

Pridefest or Protest

Photo credit: Julie Missbutterflies, “LGBTQIA Pride- Rennes-2017” via Flickr

By Caroline Turner

Kansas City celebrated Pridefest during the first week of June, but LGBTQIA+ communities have been continuing the festivities and activism around the nation and around the world throughout the entire month.

In KC, the three day festival at Berkeley Riverfront Park featured headlining musicians Betty Who, Citizen Jane, Well Strung and more. The celebration also featured many local business and vendors, volleyball, workshops, food trucks, and a Ferris wheel.

While reflecting on Pride Month, I came across the article by BuzzFeed questioning, “Should Pride Be A Party Or A Protest?” The article points out both trials and tribulations that the LGBTQIA+ community are going through, focusing on how Pride events have shifted since its beginning in New York 1970, which marked the first anniversary of the Stonewall riots. The author points out tension between the rising shift in the Pride movement being, “less explicitly about rising up against oppression and more about joy, visibility, affirmation and celebration in face of that oppression.” For some who feel their battle is not yet won, this presents a conflict. Some want to march to demand their rights and some want a party to celebrate their rights.

Themes of minority and majority come out within the tension, as the movement is made up of many people and groups. In the article, senior director of Casa Ruby, a well-known bilingual multicultural LGBT Organization said, “(There are) lots of folds in the community who don’t feel particularly represented.”

Whether people are protesting or partying, the main consensus seemed to be that as long as people are showing up that’s what matters. Showing representation of the LGBTQIA+ community as a whole is powerful. Get out there and enjoy the rest of pride month everyone!

LGBTQIA Pride Month Lecture featuring Angelica Ross

click to enlarge

by Thea Voutiritsas

Join us Wednesday, April 12th at 6pm in the UMKC Pierson Auditorium for the LGBTQIA Pride Month Lecture featuring Angelica Ross!  Miss Ross is a leading figure of success and strength in the movement for trans and racial equality. She is the founder of TransTech Social Enterprises, a company that empowers trans and gender nonconforming people through on-the-job training in leadership and workplace skills. TransTech helps people lift themselves out of poverty and brings economic empowerment to marginalized communities. She was awarded the 2016 Human Rights Campaign Visibility Award for her work. She is also played a breakout role as Paige in the Emmy nominated 2015 film Her Story, which provides a look at the successful women who have been overturning conventions in their surroundings.

This lecture is free of charge. RSVP at http://umkclgbtqia.eventbrite.com

Cosponsored in partnership with the Division of Diversity & Inclusion; UMKC Women’s Center; UMKC Multicultural Student Affairs; UMKC LGBTQUIA Programs and Services; UMKC Pride Alliance; UMKC LGBTQIA Affairs Council; UMKC Trans+

Texas Mayor Jess Herbst: ‘Yes I am Transgender and a Seated Mayor’

Image from the website of the mayor of New Hope, Tex., Jess Herbst.

by Thea Voutiritsas

Jess Herbst, mayor of New Hope, Texas announced at a town hall meeting that she is Transgender, and would no longer use the name Jeff. “As far as I know, I am the first openly transgender mayor on record in the state of Texas; there could be others who never came out,” Ms. Herbst said in a New York Times interview on Wednesday. “But I am the first to say, ‘Yes I am transgender and a seated mayor.’ ” Herbst also writes an open letter to the citizens of New Hope which can be viewed on the official website of New Hope. In it, she writes:

I know that transgender people are just coming to light in our society, and we have made great strides in the last few years. Celebrities like olympic gold medalist Caitlyn Jenner, Laverne Cox from the show ‘Orange is the new Black’ and popular shows like ‘Transparent’ , society finally has a chance to see and learn about who we are.

In Herbst’s blog, jessherbst.com, she writes that she found many of her transgender references online. She says she found “an avalanche of knowledge. I became aware of not only the terminology, but that fact that there were many, many more people like me out there.” Herbst was eventually able to begin meeting with more trans women, and about a year ago, she began HRT. Now, she has been living full-time as Jess since January 2017.

She plans on continuing as Mayor, and hopes to do the very best for the town. She says that her family has been supportive, writing in the letter that “My daughters have been adamant supporters of me and are proud to tell people their father is transgender.” More of Herbst’s story and updates can be found on her blog.

 

Kat Blaque

By Matiara Huff

http://katblaque.tumblr.com/image/120005457569

http://katblaque.tumblr.com/image/120005457569

Kat Blaque is an incredible Youtuber activist. As a Trans women of color, she has taken it upon herself to educate people on issues unique to her Identity. Her videos range from defining gender, to defining feminism, to issues of race and current events. She has basically made a video on every topic, and they have all been inclusive and educating. She is well educated in the issues that she talks about, and is careful not to offend anyone. Her on-camera attitude is almost neutral which helps in getting people to understand her topic. She is one of my favorite Youtubers, whenever people have questions about race or gender, she is one of the people that I recommend.