Japanese Women Protest Sexist Ban On Wearing Glasses At Work

By Adriana Suarez

In Japan, there has been much backlash from women in the workplace surrounding their appearance. A part of the Japanese culture is the treatment of women. According to a Georegetown University blog post, “The ideal woman in Japan .. on one hand is the loving housewife but on the opposite it is the beautiful, smart, youthful girl.” Women in Japanese society have been objectified between the 1980s and 90s.

This women specific problem is only part of the reason why Japanese women struggle. The societal norms that have been passed down from generations has formed a normalization of the image of women in society today. This, of course, varies from culture to culture because of the variety of changes in daily life as well as cultural changes that we in the United States view differently.

It has become a large controversy over social media, Where on Twitter the hashtag #メガネ禁止 which in English translates to #GlassesBan. It’s important to raise awareness about this topic that began at the start of the month in November.

The attention that this ban has received has also brought awareness to other restrictions within the corporate dress code within the Japanes culture. For example, there has also been a ban against wearing high heels at the work place and ironically there has also been a requirement in some companies to wear make-up. Campaigners have submitted a petition to the government that call for legislation to declare harassment policies that make up for such treatment towards women in the workplace.

Dorothy Arzer : Hollywood’s Most Prominent Woman Director

By Maggie Pool

Director, editor, and screenwriter, Dorothy Arzner is one of the most prolific woman studio directors in the history of American cinema. She was the only woman directing feature-length studio films in Hollywood in the 1930s. Her career spanned from 1919 to 1943. Arzner was one of the few directors to successfully continue their career from the silent era into the era of sound in film.  She worked on a total of 25 films, many of which have received significant attention from feminist film critics and queer theorists. Arzner began her career in the film industry typing scripts for the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, later known as Paramount. After six months, she became the chief editor in charge of film cutting and editing. This led to Arzner’s first “big picture,” cutting and editing Blood and Sand (1922). This was the first film for which she undertook some of the filming.

Eventually, Arzner was entrusted with directing feature films at Paramount, all of which garnered much success. Some of these silent films include: Fashions for Women (1927), Ten Modern Commandments (1927), Get Your Man (1927), and Manhattan Cocktail (1928). Because of her triumphs, Paramount bestowed upon Arzner the directing role for the studio’s first sound film, The Wild Party (1929) starring Clara Bow.

Arzner left Hollywood in the 1940s and was all but forgotten until the 1970s, when feminist film theorists dug up her work, and she was brought to new recognition. Much of Arzner’s legacy lies in feminist critics analyzing her work such as Christopher Strong (1933) and Dance, Girl, Dance (1940). Christopher Strong is about female aviator, Lady Cynthia Darrington (Katharine Hepburn) and Parliament member, Sir Christopher Strong (Colin Clive). The two characters meet at a party and become instantly attracted to one another. Azrner’s direction leads you to believe Lady Darrington is willing to tie down her free spirit for love, but this dramatically changes. Rather than sacrifice her independence for a man, Lady Darrington broke the world record for height achieved in air, and removed her oxygen mask, causing her to lose consciousness and send the plane into a deathly nosedive.

In Dance, Girl, Dance, Arzner explores female stereotypes, such as women being just a “spectacle” for men and are either wrapped up in sexuality, grace, or innocence. The movie centers around two good friends, Judy and Bubbles who are both dancers. While Bubbles uses her good looks and sassy personality (sexuality) to get jobs, Judy is a dedicated ballerina (grace and innocence) and finds it more difficult to succeed in her chosen profession. Arzner’s Christopher Strong and Dance, Girl, Dance showcase the challenges women face while pursuing their passions and careers.  It is for this reason, that Arzner’s work as a female pioneer in the early ages of Hollywood has become an important area of film.

 

The 2019 Vagina Monologues

By Mackinzie Aulgur

“…find freedom, aliveness, and power not from what contains, locates, or protects us, but from what dissolves, reveals, and expands us.”- Eve Ensler

We all deserve to be ourselves, stand up for what we believe in, and voice our opinions; each and everyone one of us. This Thursday and Friday, February 21st-22nd, UMKC will be presenting the Vagina Monologues! Doors open at 7pm and performances will take place at 7:30pm. This year the monologues will have 18 presenters, all of which play vital parts. The Vagina Monologues are personal monologues read by a diverse group of women in our community. Their stories will touch on subjects such as sex, sex work, body image, love, rape, menstruation, female genital mutilation, masturbation, birth, orgasm, and various names for the vagina. The main theme in the play is redefining the vagina to be seen as a symbol of female empowerment and the embodiment of our individuality (Mission, 2019).

In collaboration with V-Day, we will be selling our famous vagina pops (milk and dark chocolate), t-shirts, feminist mugs, Trailblazers’ blend coffee, and a variety unique of buttons before and after the performances. For those who may not know, V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. In fact, according to the United Nations, one of every three women on the planet will be physically or sexually abused in her lifetime (Mission, 2019). While we cannot change the past, we have the opportunity to come together as a community, to show support and raise awareness for a better future. Please join us at this years Vagina Monologues as we all reflect on what unifies us in our fight for this goal.

Mission. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.vday.org/mission.html

Thursday, February 21. UMKC Student Union Theater, 5100 Cherry St. 

  • Advance tickets: $10 for students, $25 for non-students, $5 each for groups of 5 or more students
  • At the door: $15 for students, $30 for non-students

Friday, February 22. UMKC Spencer Theater, James C. Olson Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry St. 

  • Advance tickets: $10 for students, $35 for non-students, $5 each for groups of 5 or more students
  • At the door: $15 for students, $40 for non-students

Tickets may be purchased through Central Ticket Office. Proceeds from all activities benefit the UMKC’s Women’s Center, Violence Prevention and Response Program and V-Day’s 2019 spotlight campaign.

 

Women in Jazz

By Nina Cherry

The music industry is, and always has been male-dominated, especially in jazz. The vast majority of jazz musicians in the canon are men. The genre was born in raunchy clubs that were considered to be unfit for a lady. Jazz is the ultimate boy’s club. There are a few prolific female vocalists that made their way into the canon such as Ella Fitzgerald, Sarah Vaughan, Nina Simone, and Billie Holiday, but the number of female instrumentalists that have received the recognition they deserve in the genre is even scarcer.

I didn’t realize how large the gap was until I started a unit on the jazz canon in one of my classes. I knew about plenty of female jazz vocalists, but I realized that I could not even name one female jazz instrumentalist. It turns out that UMKC’s Conservatory of Music and Dance has a total of one woman in the jazz studies program – a sizeable and very reputable program. But I couldn’t stop thinking about it – why are female jazz instrumentalists so underrepresented?

A large part of jazz are the solos, and that’s how we are remembered as instrumentalists – that is our statement of expression and our time to show off. Aspects of jazz such as “trading fours” (definition: http://people.virginia.edu/~skd9r/MUSI212_new/materials/definitions2.html#tradingfours) are about asserting dominance on the bandstand – something often viewed as “masculine”. Improvisation and soloing are other major aspects of jazz which require leadership, so that role is almost always filled by a man.

Although there has been plenty of racial integration in the history of jazz, there remains a huge margin to be filled in terms of gender inclusion. I firmly believe that out of all of the genres of music, jazz has the furthest to go in terms of gender equity.

This is a fantastic article for more on this topic: http://theconversation.com/why-is-there-so-little-space-for-women-in-jazz-music-79181

Internalized Misogyny: What does it look like? How do you stop it?

By Nina Cherry

As feminists, we confidently believe that we view everyone equally, but internalized misogyny sits somewhere in most of us. But what is internalized misogyny? What does that even mean? Until recently, I had heard this term before, but I never quite understood it.

Internalized misogyny is when women subconsciously project sexist ideas onto other women and even onto themselves.

We see women being degraded subtly in our everyday lives – especially in the media. This sets an unhealthy precedent and makes it all the more difficult to see ourselves tearing one another down.  

It can be difficult to identify internalized misogyny. As independent as we think we may be, we have many preconceived notions about how a woman should exist that stem from societal expectations and gender norms. It is important to be conscious of this, and to be conscious of your thoughts and ideas not only about other women but also in regards to yourself. Remember – empowered women empower women!

Personally, I find myself projecting this internalized misogyny onto myself more often than I project it onto other women. I am quick to cast judgement on myself. Sometimes I tell myself that I need to reel it in because I’m being too aggressive, when in reality, I am merely being assertive.  

Catch yourself when you feel inferior or when you find yourself judging other women.  Step back and evaluate the situation. Most importantly, be kind. Be kind to yourself and to other women.

“Internalized misogyny does not refer outright to a belief in the inferiority of women. It refers to the byproducts of this societal view that cause women to shame, doubt, and undervalue themselves and others of their gender.” Suzannah Weiss, “7 Sneaky Ways Internalized Misogyny Manifests in Our Everyday Lives”

Loving Myself: Michael’s Words

By Ann Varner

When I was in middle school, a young man named Michael let me know that the two moles I had on my face were hideous, and that no boy would ever kiss me because they would be distracted by them. One was a small mole next to my nose and one was a flesh colored mole on my nose. He was horrible about those moles, telling me that no beautiful women had moles on their faces (which I now know is not true). However, as I looked around and noticed no one else had beauty marks on their faces, my 12-year-old self believed him. After all his torment, I went home crying. I took a pair of scissors that I had poured rubbing alcohol on and cut the mole off of my nose. Yes, this really happened, and no, I have no idea how I managed to do that without permanent scarring or infection. At 19 years old, I was having my first surgery on my jaw joint and I asked if they could remove the small beauty mark that was next to my nose. They did, and finally, I was free of the self-consciousness that I should have never fueled in the first place. I physically cut something off of my face because I believed that I wouldn’t be attractive unless I did it. That is not okay, but that is what women are constantly told they need to do; change themselves in order to be more beautiful, attractive, and accepted.

Fortunately, organizations like the National Organization for Women Foundation (NOW) as well as our own UMKC Women’s Center are proactive about spreading the word of self-acceptance –  especially with events such as the “I Am Enough!” photo campaign organized by the Women’s Center and “Love Your Body Day” coordinated by the NOW Foundation. The NOW Foundation states:

“Every day, in so many ways, the beauty industry (and the media in general) tell women and girls that being admired, envied and desired based on their looks is a primary function of true womanhood. The beauty template women are expected to follow is extremely narrow, unrealistic and frequently hazardous to their health. The Love Your Body campaign challenges the message that a woman’s value is best measured through her willingness and ability to embody current beauty standards.”

My story is a tad different than most when I speak about how those beauty marks affected me because of other’s words, but the stories are all the same when it comes to how women are viewed in society and what the media portrays as “perfect.” Join the movement and check out the NOW Foundation as well.

No More Bossy Girls

By Nina Cherry

It seems that I have been taking initiative since the day I was born. I am a natural born leader, a perfectionist, and I like things done correctly and in a timely matter. Growing up, my assertiveness caused me to frequently be labeled as “bossy,” while the boys were always labeled leaders.

But why are girls labeled as bossy? When we use the word bossy to describe girls, we are reinforcing the idea that their strength is inferior.  The negative connotation of the word often discourages girls to pursue leadership and encourages them to be more reserved.

I always thought that I come off as strong, but I only recently realized that I am just assertive and determined, and I am finally unperturbed by that. There have been many times in my life where I have debated whether or not to bite my tongue, to be passive or assertive, or to seem more “ladylike.” But I was not raised to be ladylike; I was raised to be a strong woman. I was raised to be confident. I was raised to be loud. And, as Beyonce says, “I’m not bossy – I’m the boss.”

So let’s not have any more bossy girls. We need to empower our confident, strong, assertive, brave, loud girls and encourage them to be leaders.

Ban Bossy is a movement dedicated to ending the stigmas associated with strong-willed young women. Created by Girl Scouts of America and Lean In, it challenges us to find words other than “bossy.” If you agree with Nina’s thoughts, pledge to ban using the word “bossy” when describing young girls at http://banbossy.com/.

A Woman in a Man’s World: Elizabeth Kosko

By Nina Cherry

Kasko is a female percussionist and a student at UMKC.

Elizabeth Kosko began playing drums nearly twenty years ago. Since then, she has attended Emporia State University for her undergraduate degree, University of Southern California for her Masters, and has served as a substitute performer for the LA Philharmonic Orchestra and the Kansas City Symphony, among other ensembles. She is a current DMA student at UMKC’s Conservatory and Dance.

Kosko didn’t notice gender discrimination as a female percussionist throughout junior high, high school, and not even during her undergraduate studies at Emporia State, but when she did she was caught by surprise. She started to encounter discrimination when she began playing professionally. Upon moving to Los Angeles, she quickly realized that the freelancing world was a “boy’s club.”

Auditions for professional orchestras are blind, but pre-professional ensemble auditions are not. These pre-professional ensembles, such as the New World Symphony, are crucial in order to be accepted into professional orchestra auditions later on. Kosko informed me that in the past thirty years,  the New World Symphony has had a total of four female percussionists – and one of them was by default. Even after a group of female percussionists petitioned for blind auditions, they refused.

Most female percussionists focus on mallet percussion, such as xylophone or marimba, with the males traditionally playing snare drum or timpani. Kosko believes that this stigma derives from marching band, with the assumption that a girl isn’t strong enough to carry a snare drum or a bass drum.

Kosko told me that she finds empowerment from her friends’ and colleagues’ success. She adds, “Something that I’ve tried to embrace more recently, which is another aspect of what makes me being a percussionist and a figure in entertainment a little bit different, is that I’m queer, but also visibly queer.” When playing in Children’s Concert Series, she believes it is important for young people to see a queer woman in the percussion section among the men.

There is a long way to go in terms of gender equity in the music industry, especially in terms of percussion, but with more women like Elizabeth Kosko, we can bridge that gap.

Sexism in Colors – Why is Pink for Girls and Blue for Boys?

By Maleigha Michael

When I was younger, I learned the colors of the rainbow through the mnemonic, ROY-G-BIV (red-orange-yellow-green-blue-indigo-violet). It was a color rule that has stayed with me since and helped me understand the relationship of colors. As I was growing up, I also learned another color “rule”: Pink is for girls and blue is for boys.  This is something we all heard growing up. Why though? Who got to decide this? What impact does this have on society? And how come so many of us abide by this rule so strictly?

I did a lot of reading on the history of these two colors, and it turns out there’s a lot of history behind them. It all started in the 19th century when pastel colors started becoming popularized for babies. The two colors were first chosen because of how they complimented hair and eye colors. Blue was meant to go with blue eyes and/or blonde hair, and pink for brown eyes and/or brown hair. Then, blue was actually the color that was assigned to girls, because it was seen as a dainty color, and pink was seen as a stronger color, so it was assigned to boys.

Okay, that actually sort of makes sense. But how then did pink become a color for girls and blue for boys? In my further reading, I found that girls were reassigned with pink because it was close to red, a romantic color, and women were seen as more emotional. But by the 1960’s during the women’s liberation movement, women challenged this social norm and threw gendered colors out the window. However, this did not last long once prenatal testing came out, which led to parents pre-planning for their babies and retailers realizing that they could capitalize on selling specific content tailored for each gender. So we’re back to square one.

Lately, the advent of “Gender Reveal Parties” has reinforced the “pink is for girls, blue is for boys” rule. Although parents have been getting more and more creative with their reveals, pink and blue have remained the two dominant colors that people use to show the sex of their babies.

Maybe you’re thinking, “Who cares? So what if pink is for girls and blue is for boys? What’s the big deal?” Well the answer I have for you also happens to wrap up what the point of this whole thing is about: Feminism.

Assigning colors to babies enforces a role that they are supposed to grow and fit into. There are only two colors, also enforcing that there are only two genders you’re allowed to claim. If you’re a girl, you have to like pink, and that also means you’re girly. If you’re a boy, you have to have blue, and you CANNOT like pink, or else you aren’t manly enough. If you’re a girl and you like blue, you’re a tomboy, and you aren’t seen as a strong female, but instead as a girl who doesn’t know how to be a proper girl.

Obviously, this is all completely invalid and shouldn’t have ever been applied to our society back then, and shouldn’t be applied now. I know that not everyone sticks to this rule. There are plenty of parents, more recently than ever before, that refuse to stand by this ridiculous code, and some who even take a few progressive steps further as to let their kids dress themselves however they want, such as a allowing their sons to wear dresses.

In summary, gendered colors are totally outdated, and we should stop pushing colors on children if we want a world with less stereotypes, less sexism, and overall less prejudice. As I learned when I was young, there are seven colors in the rainbow, so let’s not neglect the OYGIV of ROY-G-BIV!

Woman with the Pencil, Not the Pencil Skirt

By: Caroline Turner

Why do we notice women in the news for what they are wearing, and men in the news for what they are doing? Why are we more inclined to point out what a women has on than we are a man?

Source: Wiki-images

On Snapchat, pretty much daily, you will see story lines about what various female celebrities are wearing. Do women just dominate the fashion world? No. But why then is what they are wearing what makes them newsworthy? Men are rarely seen in Snapchat stories and media for what they are wearing. Rather, they are mostly mentioned for who they are with or what they are doing. So why is it that we are so focused on capturing, celebrating, and criticizing women for what they wear?

I did a Google search of “media’s focus on female fashion,” and many articles came up that illustrate why focusing on what a woman wears above all else, creates problems in the way they are perceived. The whole first page was full of articles about media coverage on female politicians and scientists. Attention for these women should focus on what they are doing in leadership and research, not on their fashion choices.  But that’s often where the attention goes and what makes the headline or story. The media never treats men this way. Part of the reason there are fewer women than men in these fields is because of this constant focus on what women are wearing, rather than what they are doing. This sends the wrong message to young girls and may discourage them from considering those careers. Focusing on a woman’s appearance devalues her professionally, and can , often to no avail.

When I changed “female” to “male,” in my Google search, what I found confirmed that this was largely a female issue. However, my searches did find that the media pays disproportionate attention to men with regard to sports and their athletic physique, which creates body image issues among young boys.  So maybe men are not being portrayed fairly in the media either; however, the specific focus that the media places on how women look and what they are wearing can be damaging to them professionally and can affect to how they see themselves and assess their own .

So why does the media focus so much on what women are wearing? How did this come to be?

The male gaze, coined by feminist film critic Laura Mulvey in 1975 describes the way in which the visual arts and literature depict the world and women from a masculine point of view, presenting women as objects of male pleasure. An object does not do anything, it is to be looked at. An object is something that we do things to or do things with, but it does not act on its own. Perhaps media outlets have become like Mulvey’s man behind camera. The male gaze through the lens of the media can objectify women and distort how we value them, and this can have dangerous effects.

As media evolves and grows, pictures become stories and videos become GIFs. These narratives that we create in order to understand ourselves and others are becoming more and more embedded into our everyday lives. As media becomes more connected to us through social media, it is important to  become vigilant in recognizing the male gaze in the media so we can rise above its influence and decide for ourselves what is truly newsworthy.