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.

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.

 

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).

Tips on Discussing Women’s Issues During the Holidays (Without Throwing Dinner Plates)

By Christina Terrell

Avoid familial drama – without feeling like your voice is being silenced.

We all have that not-so-favorite aunt or uncle who has something controversial or annoying to say about women, and how they should not feel dehumanized when it comes to abortion, politics, or gender equality.

It’s just impossible to hold back your opinion, right?

Your mother might have advised you to keep silent about your feminist views. However, no matter what she says, the key to not having to keep silent about your views is to pick your family opponent wisely.

Some of the best ways to get a dad or uncle – who might not understand where you are coming from – to see the light would be to share some of your personal experiences that can persuade them to have a more open mind. After hearing about some of the situations that their own family member has been through, the males in your life will be less likely to blame those experiences on the woman who endures them.

Naturally, this approach may not work when speaking to a male ego. However, this is okay, because you should be prepared to be disappointed by how they react to the information you share with them. Since it seems that women are living in a troublesome sociopolitical climate, we repeatedly hear that our opinions are not valid – which can make us women feel as if our right to speak up is being ignored.

Don’t feel defeated at this stage; there is still a way to rein in the conversation without turkey and mashed potatoes flying across the dinner table. Simply reply to your dubious family member with the facts – there is no better way to prove your point than with the truth. There are so many organizations that advocate for women by providing statistics and research-based information to the public. So, drop some self-knowledge on that family member of yours.

To help you out, we’ve gathered a few statistics that you can memorize:

“Since 2009, 60% of sexual assaults have gone unreported.”

The American Association of University Women

“One in three women are sexually abused at some point in their lifetime.”

VERVE

“Women from around the world aged 15-44 are more at risk from rape and domestic violence than from cancer, car accidents, war, and malaria.”

Makers

If all else fails, don’t be discouraged. Practice self-care by reminding yourself that your opinions are valid, and leave the conversation knowing that although women’s issues may not mean much to your not-so-favorite uncle, they sure mean something to you. All over the world, women are uniting to bring their voice to the table – even if it is just a holiday meal.

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.

Event Preview: Walk a Mile in Her ShoesⓇ 2018

By Samantha Anthony

Signs are welcome at the march. Here, some students show off their posters from the 2017 event.

Each year, the UMKC Women’s Center advocates for change through our organization and presentation of Walk a Mile in Her ShoesⓇ, a march dedicated to women’s rights and violence prevention. The Women’s Center website states that since 2007, over 1,000 people have participated in the march at UMKC.

What: Walk a Mile in Her ShoesⓇ is “The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence.” It asks men to walk in high-heeled shoes to better understand and appreciate women’s experiences, improve gender relationships, and decrease the potential for violence. To find out more, visit www.walkamileinhershoes.org.

Who: Presented by the UMKC Women’s Center and Violence Prevention & Response Program

When: Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 5:30. A kick-off will take place before the march, which will begin at 6.

Where: UMKC University Playhouse, 51st & Holmes St., Kansas City, MO 64110

Admission: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is FREE for students, but you must register at http://info.umkc.edu/womenc/programs/walk-a-mile-in-her-shoes/

Advance: $25 Staff/Faculty; $50 Community

Walk-In: $30 Staff/Faculty; $55 Community

All proceeds will benefit the UMKC Women’s Center and Violence Prevention & Response Program.

Parking: Ample parking is available at the Cherry Street Parking Structure located at Oak and 50th Street. Metered parking is also available on campus. For more information, visit https://www.umkc.edu/finadmin/parking/default.cfm.

Please note that we have a limited number of heels available for walkers. Ask your friends and family to borrow some heels, or, if you would like to donate a pair of heels, send us an email: umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

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.

Book or TV Series: The Handmaid’s Tale is some scary sh*t

By Ann Varner

Last week, the UMKC Women’s Center bought the book The Handmaid’s Tale and less than a week later I finished reading it. My interest, like many others, first sparked when Hulu premiered The Handmaid’s Tale series last year. The second season recently premiered on April 25 which coincided with Denim Day, a national campaign that raises awareness of the misconceptions of sexual assault and rape – a very fitting coincidence. Only a few episodes in, and I already think that this season is more terrifying than the first. Despite the TV series doing a very good job of following the storyline of the book, I did notice a few differences in the TV series that may have been added to appeal to today’s TV audiences.

Many of the differences between the book and the TV series center on the characters. For instance, one of the biggest differences is that in the book, Serena Joy, the Commander’s wife, and the Commander himself are actually a much older couple than portrayed in the Hulu series. In the series, they are a young, beautiful couple. The biggest plot difference is that Janine (or OfWarren) does not give birth to a healthy baby. In the book, the baby dies after a few days; whereas, in the show, the baby is healthy but Janine cannot give it up and attempts suicide and threatens to kill the baby. In the show, this causes Aunt Lydia to try to force the Handmaid’s to stone Janine to death. At the end of the first season, June (or OfFred) refuses to stone Janine and the other Handmaid’s follow. This is the first sign of revolt and the Handmaid’s refusing to follow orders.

Although the first season of the series was a complete retelling of the book, the producers have used the second season to explore the details of June’s character more deeply. For example, the second season addresses June’s affair with her husband who was married when they met. We also learn more about her relationship with her extremely feminist mom who ends up in the colonies. These glimpses into June’s past help to define the choices she makes to survive her current situation.

After reading the book, I am pleased to say that the writers of The Handmaid’s Tale series have done a great job sticking with the story line in the book, but are also using some creative license to expand the plot (with author Margaret Atwood’s involvement). The show is a horror story that I can’t stop watching, but it’s also a grim reminder of why we must continue to fight for women’s rights.

Upcoming Event: Denim Drive

By Megan Schwindler

The UMKC Women’s Center is asking for donations of gently used denim to be used as the canvas for artwork for others to witness during UMKC Denim Day in April. We’re collecting denim from April 9-20. Drop off locations include the UMKC Women’s Center, Miller Nichols Library, Oak Street Residence Hall Lobby, and the Office of Student Involvement.

What is Denim Day USA?

It is a rape prevention education campaign where community members, elected officials, businesses, and students are asked to make a social statement with their wardrobe by wearing jeans as a visible protest against the misconceptions that surround sexual assault.

Denim Day stems from the 1998 Italian Supreme Court decision that overturned a rape conviction because they believed that because the victim wore tight jeans she must have helped her rapist remove her jeans, thereby implying consent. Enraged by the verdict, the women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans to work. This action motivated the California Senate and Assembly to do the same. It then spread nationally, and wearing jeans on Denim Day became an international symbol of protest against the destructive attitudes and myths surrounding sexual assault.

For more information on the case you can visit The New York Times’ coverage or visit the Peace Over Violence website.

For more information concerning the denim drive and event, contact: hehkw4@mail.umkc.edu or 816-235-1638.