KC Gay Pride Festival 2013

By Katelyn Bidondo.

Photo by sigmaration

Photo by sigmaration

The KC Gay Pride Festival kicks off on May 31 with the Westport Street Blast followed by Pride on the first of June, and this year’s festival will be held on Westport road between Main and Broadway. If you know Kansas City, you know this is a perfect spot for Pride! There are already amazing bars and restaurants in that area, imagine adding live DJ’s, vendors,  and thousands of gays = amazing! The theme for the festival this year is “Back to the Basics”. There are 3 “basics” for the theme, and they are:

  • Basic One: This year’s Festival will be held out in our community, right on Westport Road between Broadway and Main Streets.
  • Basic Two: All entertainment will feature local artists, from musical acts to DJs, who embrace and support our LGBTQIA community.
  • Basic Three: This will be a grassroots Pride. Anyone and everyone who wants to contribute are welcome to volunteer. All voices are to be heard.

So, what I gather from this is basically that we are getting back to our roots, truly supporting Kansas City’s LGBTQIA community, with local artists, vendors, and musicians, and doing all of this while including people from every walk of life. The Kansas City Diversity Coalition (KCDC) had this to say on Facebook, “KCDC is here to cater to everyone in our community, not just a select few. Let’s show them we are better and capable of more than nit picking and arguing within our own community. The time for a united KC, is now”. I couldn’t be more excited about this year’s event. This is my first ever Pride in Kansas City! So, let’s unite, get back to our roots, and have a blast at KC Gay Pride 2013!

Swimsuit Season: The Nice Weather Rant

By Morgan Elyse.

Photo by frank servayge

Photo by Frank Servayge

The warm weather is officially here and I’m sure you’ve all seen the ads. Get ready for swimsuit season: with our new diet plan, with three simple exercises, five minutes a day, find the suit that’s right for your body type, hot off the runway looks, cleansing, toning, burning – ENOUGH!

Guess what, Internets and fashion magazines (like you matter anyway), it’s 100 degrees with the humidity of a sauna in Kansas City during the summer and people should be able to wear what makes them comfortable, dammit! We don’t have to cover up our stretch marks or cheesy thighs because it’s freaking hot! DEAL WITH IT!

Honestly, if someone is so shallow as to judge me for trying to avoid suffocation from the heat when they don’t even know me or how much effort I’ve put in over the last year and a half in becoming a healthier person, frankly, I hope their eyes DO burn when they’re staring at aaaallllllll of this!

I hope people reading this will join me in realizing how utterly pointless it is going to be to stress ourselves out as we stare our bare bodies down in those dressing room mirrors trying to find the swimwear that hides our “flaws” just right. You are not flawed. I am not flawed. We are all beautiful. Not just curvy women practice these terrible habits of self-hate, and not just women do it either.

Photo by Marcus Q

Photo by Marcus Q

Most of you reading this are educated people. You know better than to base your ideal body image on Hollywood, Vogue, or that one girl you saw walking on the Plaza who you thought was perfect but, in all actuality, probably has body image issues just like you and me or worse. We all come in different shapes and sizes! Yes, it’s cliché, but it surely bears repeating if we still have yet to grasp the concept! Are we just destined to eternally chastise ourselves for not being born into the body type that’s “in” during this era? You’re going to make me say it, aren’t you? MARILYN WAS A SIZE 14! Relax!

I want everyone, as they leave the last week of classes behind, and face the freedom of summer, to truly be free; I want you to be free from the worry of what everyone else thinks of YOUR body, free from wondering whether you might be bearing too much flab or, perhaps, the worry that you might be missing some flab in the “right” places. I want you to feel free to laugh and run and jump and play and dive – even if you jiggle funny while you’re doing it – free your mind, spirit, and body, and enjoy the warmth of the sun against your beautiful skin (with plenty of sunscreen slathered on to it, of course), however large or small a surface area that amounts to.

Love your body. I know probably as well as anyone that it’s a very hard thing to do, especially in the months ahead. But let’s all just make the pledge to keep the thought in our consciousness. If we are consistently making it an effort to love ourselves, this will become our new habit rather than the dirty looks and comments in the mirrors and negative thoughts we have about our appearances we’re accustomed to. Love your inside and your out; as long as you know you are living healthy (feeding your brain, eating right most of the time, and exercising at least a few times a week), there is no reason you shouldn’t be proud of everything that makes you who you are.

Photo by Eleventh Earl of Mar

Photo by Eleventh Earl of Mar

And hey, love others too! Spread the kindness and remember to use the right speech and thinking in regards to others’ appearances as well (you know we’re all guilty, especially when we’re not at peace with ourselves). Take a summer pledge to love every body – now get out there and bare yours!

Photo by Deb Roby

Photo by Deb Roby

 

To learn more about Body Image programming at UMKC, sponsored by Women’s Center and Counseling Center, visit us online. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter.

A Symbolic Barbie

By Ayomide Aruwajoye.

Photo by Richard NewtonAll through the semester, I kept looking at these two Barbie dolls that sat on the shelf in the Women’s Center. I always wondered what they were there for and what they symbolize. Both of the dolls were dressed like the “typical Barbie doll standards”: short dress, long hair, tall heels, small waist and big boobs! After a couple of weeks I forgot all about the Barbie dolls until I saw a picture of an innocent little girl playing with dolls and right next to her was an anorexic woman, who looked sick with lots of makeup on and little to no clothes on. The picture’s caption said, “Girls spend 10 years playing with Barbie dolls and the next 20 trying to become one!” After I saw that picture, I remembered the two Barbie dolls at the Women’s Center and decided that the Barbie dolls at the Women’s Center would have a different symbolic meaning than the “bad rep” that they carry.

 

Photo by rocorI have always heard about people not wanting their kids to play with Barbie dolls because of the message they send to kids. I’m guessing that message has to do with body image and intelligence since Barbie dolls are known for their super skinny beautiful bodies and ditsy dumbness. I played with dolls when I was little, but I guess as I got older I just didn’t care for them as much. This was not the case when it came to my cousin and many other girls. She loved her Barbie dolls, and as soon as she got too old to play with them, she started dressing like a Barbie and looking too old for her age. So then I started wondering why a kid’s toy would encourage you to grow up so fast. That’s the only explanation I could come up with, because why couldn’t Barbie be a young girl on her way to school or the park. Instead the Barbies that are placed in front of us on television are the ones with the short skirt, long hair and the boyfriend named Ken. Barbie is a bad role model.

So I started wondering if the Barbie dolls at the Women’s Center were also bad role models. So I decided I was going to give our Barbie dolls a new meaning. These dolls were not going to be the dolls that made girls, and even grown women, hate their bodies, or made females think they have to dumb themselves down for a man to like them. These Barbie dolls were going to actually be the opposite of that. The Barbie dolls at the Women’s Center should be an example of what it means to love yourself in spite of the flaws you might have, and being true to yourself, not acting dumber to attract someone. The Barbie dolls at the Women’s Center now represent women who are confident and respect themselves while demanding respect from others too. When you come into the Women’s Center, look at the dolls and realize you’re a Barbie, too – as you define “Barbie” for yourself.

Read past Barbie entries from Women’s Center bloggers:

Barbie’s Positive Influence

Barbie’s Not-So Positive Influence

Game Night Get Away Wrap-Up

By Briana Ward.

152Our event, Game Night Getaway, was a blast. We definitely achieved our goal of giving students a chance to take their minds off finals. Final exam week is very stressful for students. We learned about why it is important to remain calm and relaxed while taking a final, and it can become overwhelming for many people.

 

196The event was full of fun! We gave out prizes that consisted of Women’s Center tumbler, t-shirts, whistles, coffee, and more. The prizes were given out for the winners of our bingo game. The biggest prize was given to our raffle ticket winner. There was great food to top off a fun event.

 

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166I enjoyed seeing everyone smiling and laughing, and getting away from the normal stresses of the week. While being able to be active and have fun at our event, this was a learning experience also: the students were able to talk about stress with Kate Melton from Student Health & Wellness.

 

 

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For more information on this and other Women’s Center events and programs, visit our website, “like” us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter.

Semester Reflection: Briana

By Briana Ward.

This semester was an amazing experience for me at the Women’s Center. Now it is coming to a close, and I would like to share some standout moments. I learned a lot, and was able to grow from participating in the events. The most special event to me was The Vagina Monologues. Although, I participated in a number of other events, like Operation Beautiful, National Equal Pay Day, Denim Day USA, and Take Back the Night, nothing topped being in the cast of The Vagina Monologues.

 

IMG_7850In the beginning, I was nervous because I never participated in an event such as that one. I did not know what to expect completely presenting myself to a crowd. Before I walked on to the stage, I was overwhelmed with emotions. I thought the crowd would be able to see it in my face, but they did not. Once I got on stage, my nervousness and emotions disappeared. I realized that I was surrounded by beautiful, wonderful, and warm women who genuinely cared about the empowerment of women and building their strength; making the word more comfortable to say and making VAGINA known and expressed instead of something that is JUST part of a woman’s body. Our vaginas describe US – it is not scary, it is not nasty to talk about, and it is who we are! I walked away with a lot leaving this event! The Vagina Monologues is just one amazing event that we sponsored during the Spring Semester.

 

156To end the semester off right, Ayo and I were given a chance create our own event. Game Night Getaway was a great success! I am excited about this because throughout the semester I helped with a lot of events but had never planned an event for the Women’s Center. Now I get to show everyone what I have learned and what I am capable of doing.

The Vagina Monologues: A Reflection

By Ayomide Aruwajoye.

This semester is coming to a close, and the Women’s Center has only one more event left (learn more about Game Day Getaway here).

IMG_7850But looking back, my favorite event was The Vagina Monologues. This was the first event I worked since I started at the Woman’s Center, and it was also the most interesting to me. I think this was the most memorable event, too. I had people coming up to me months later asking me if we were hosting another Vagina Monologues event before the end of the year. I was disappointed, too, when I had to say “No” every time.

 

IMG_7883I think I was more shocked that no matter how much I tried to guess what this event was about, nothing could have prepared me for that night. That night was a combination of inspiring, serious, confusing, exciting, and funny moments. My favorite part was the “Angry Vagina” monologue. She talked about how tampons were uncomfortable, and vaginal examinations were very scary. I liked this one because it related to my life and how I feel; I was the angry vagina woman. I was also surprised to see some of my friends as speakers, too. This also inspired me to audition for The Vagina Monologues next year.

 

IMG_7613I think everybody took away something from The Vagina Monologues – especially at the end when the cast stood up and said who they were rising for. Some women said things like the reason they rise is because of their mothers, sisters, and victims of sexual assault. I think The Vagina Monologues is inspiring to women because not only can every woman relate to what the cast was saying but it even gave the men that showed up to the event an inside view. Next year I’m looking forward to The Vagina Monologues.

 

For more information on this and other Violence Prevention & Response Project events, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook. Learn more about the Women’s Center by visiting our website, “like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Take Back the Night: A Reflection

By Katelyn Bidondo.

IMG_8336

The Women’s Center hosted our Take Back the Night event on Thursday, April 25, and as a student staff member I was able to work our event. We had many volunteers, students and community members in attendance, which brought an amazing feeling of togetherness to this important event.  During the program we had some wonderful speakers. I already knew a lot about sexual violence, but the speakers really made the issue hit home with me. I realized that sexual violence can happen to anyone: mothers, daughters, sisters, or even a classmate.

IMG_8319 IMG_8323

One of the speakers was a volunteer from MOCSA, the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault. She is a survivor of sexual violence, who came to share her story and let others know that with time, it does get better. Her story was truly uplifting. Whether a survivor or not, you have to admire her courage and strength to make it through such a difficult situation.  As the event wound down I got the chance to speak to some of the participants of Take Back the Night. I had a conversation that I know I will never forget. The woman shared with me her experience with sexual violence. I couldn’t help but to have such a strong feeling of pain and sadness for her. But, much to my surprise, at the end of her story, she smiled and said, “You can either choose to be a victim or a victor, and I chose to be a victor”. This is what I feel the theme of our event was – raising awareness and helping victims know that you can overcome and eventually become a victor.

For more information on this and other Violence Prevention & Response Project events, visit our website, or “like” us on Facebook. Learn more about the Women’s Center by visiting our website, “like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

 

Learning about Strength through the Women’s Center

By Ayomide Aruwajoye.

While working at the Women’s Center, I can truly say that I have grown. One of the big lessons that I learned is that we as women are very strong. I wrote this poem around the time of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. This poem describes a woman that has been through so much in life but still remains strong and optimistic. This is the kind of woman that I want to be when I grow up. I have heard stories from friends, family, and even strangers about different things they go through: domestic violence, sexual harassment, relationship dominancy, even the traditional “women are supposed to act a certain way” attitudes. We hear so many stories about the bad things that women go through like unfair payment issues or teen pregnancy to name just a couple. But we never take enough time to reward these women for moving forward, for standing up for what they believe in, or even for remaining STRONG through all the turmoil and tribulations. Every woman should realize how strong she is and praise herself for being so. No man, not even the government, has a say in what a woman’s worth is. I commend all the survivors of any sort of discrimination, embarrassments, or sexual assault because that’s the example we should set for other women and young teenage girls: that you are to be treated equally – fairly and with respect – Standing up for what’s right and Staying strong because better days will come.

 

The Strength of “Her”

 It’s the strength of her that shows why her presence is demanding like the rush of cold wind on a snowy day.

It’s the strength of her, that’s why her smile refuses to fade away

What is it about a woman, the way we hurt but solemnly stay?

Wishing that tomorrow could be so much of a better day!

Is it the way her Hips sway that tells the Pain she’s on her way?

Because it seems like instead of walking away, she’s running at a faster pace

The yearn to be loved, but the confusion above, mind all over the place, so hard to crack this Love case

The strength of her is overwhelming, overbearing and overrated

Who designed us to be this strong, to go through all the emotions of a love song?

It’s the strength of her that lets you think I’m okay

She nods her head up and down, like accepting a check on pay day

In my mind…. No in HER mind, she’s screaming for just one escape

One superhero with a red, long cape

I know he sees her tears, the ones that fall from fear

I know he feels her, she knows too

They sit there with nothing to say, nothing to do

The only similarity is their strengths showcase

He’s is the physical aspect

But her emotional aspect has lifted the weights

Showed its face, fought the same old race, and still had time to reminisce on the day

It’s the strength of her that lets her ignore foolish ways

Yes, she’s aware of your continuous lacking words every day

It’s the strength of her that she can say…

That the strength of her makes her Okay

It’s the strength of her that shows why her presence is demanding like the rush of cold wind on a snowy day.

It’s the strength of her, that’s why her smile refuses to fade away

What is it about a woman, the way we hurt but solemnly stay?

Wishing that tomorrow could be so much of a better day!

Got STRESS?!? Join the Women’s Center for Game Night Getaway

By Briana Ward.

Game-Night-Getaway-flyer

Most students become stressed around the time of finals. Do you find yourself not being able to focus when you are studying extremely hard for a test? Learn how to manage your stress levels and how to stay healthy during finals at the Game Night Getaway. This event is co-sponsored by MindBody Connection and the Counseling Center. On May 6,2013, the event will began at 5:30 p.m. until 8 p.m. It will be held at the Women’s Center  – 105 Haag Hall.

During this event you will learn how to balance stress that stems from finals. We will have trained members from the MindBody Connection and Counseling Center available to teach techniques about stress management and explain to everyone what stress looks like. There will be a chance at these events to participate in hands on activities that will help during finals.

The best part of this all is that it is a FREE event. There will be FREE FOOD and PRIZES!  Take a break from the end of semester stress and relax at the Women’s Center.

For more information on this and other Women’s Center events and programs, visit our website, “like” us on Facebook, or follow us on Twitter.

Wonder Women!

By Morgan Elyse Christensen

Wonder Women film logo

On the 15th of April, Wonder Women! The Untold Story of American Superheroines aired on PBS’s Independent Lens. This documentary, directed by Kristy Guevara-Flanagan and produced by Kelcey Edwards, is entertaining, educational, and inspirational. Wonder Women! reminisces over little girls’ dreams of becoming crime-fighting action heroes while commenting on what little choice we had (and still have) in positive female character emulation. Wonder Women! also explains the history of America’s oldest superheroine and, in conjunction with a history of feminism, connects her and her female super-colleagues with other real-life woman powerhouses.

Wonder Woman by B Baltimore Brown

Although I caught a few reruns with my mother as a kid, I was born just a little too late to have been affected by the Lynda Carter television series. However, an impression was made on me later in life when I saw Dara Birnbaum’s experimental film, Technology/Transformation: Wonder Woman. For me this was a big turning point in my understanding of the media’s portrayal of “strong” women. Yes, Wonder Woman broke the glass ceiling in the male dominated comic book arena. Yes, she was created by a man who was an advocate for women’s rights.

Wonder Woman by Christian HernandezBut she was still a woman…with boobs…in a swimsuit. I know, Superman and Batman both sport speedos and most male superheroes are drawn overly muscular – in this regard, it’s not an uneven playing field of sexualization. So, how can we complain?

Because!

Despite how they’re clothed, most superheroines are still dependent on their male counterparts and portrayed as weaker and less effective in their crime-fighting OR they’re portrayed as hysterical villains and in many cases, villain and heroine alike are killed off.

Wonder Women! premiered at Austin’s 2012 SXSW and has since made its way around the film festival circuit. It has been screened at 75 Community Cinema events in 30 states including a showing at Kansas City’s Tivoli Theatre this past March. If you haven’t had a chance to see it yet, you can actually watch it online right here, and I highly recommend that you do. However, if you don’t have an hour to kill at the moment but you’re dying to see what it’s all about, you can visit the film’s official website and watch the 4-minute trailer here.

Best part of all???

Launching TOMORROW is Wonder City, PBS’s interactive companion game to the Wonder Women! documentary. Unlike most “girl games” which focus on gendering themes such as shopping and cooking, this new action-based online game features your choice of a DIVERSE girl protagonist in a superheroine adventure that encourages critical thinking about pop culture and today’s media. HELLO! I can’t wait to play! Oh yeah, I’m sure my kids will like it too. Have fun, everyone, and let your inner Wonder Woman fly!