Kansas City Native Joins the Women’s Center Team!

By SheKenya Williams

My name is SheKenya Williams and I am a junior at UMKC where I am studying Theatre Performance.  After I complete my Bachelor’s degree, I would like to get my teacher’s certification and eventually teach theatre at the elementary level.  I chose UMKC because of its impressive Performing Arts Program which never fails to put on fun and interesting productions. I grew up in the Kansas City Missouri and graduated from Central High School. I have taken part in an organization called Young Women in Action where I mentored middle school girls to help keep them focused on academics rather than their appearances. By doing this, it helped them avoid distractions and it kept their sights on what is more important in life. The UMKC Women’s Center first caught my attention with their tabling events on campus. Every month the staff promotes an event which showcases an issue or important cause. The Women’s Center is always bringing something new to my attention and the attention the students and the community. I really look forward to taking part in future UMKC Women’s Centers events and spreading the news about women’s issues.


Reflections on the Vagina Monologues

By Courtney Neaveill

On Thursday, February 16th – the UMKC Women’s Center produced a performance of the Vagina Monologues. Around 300 people packed the UMKC Student Union Theatre and intently watched and listened as twenty-one women performed nineteen different skits. The audience gasped as Tria Tatum performed “My Vagina Was My Village”, a painful recollection of the rape and beating a woman endured during the Bosnian War in the early 90’s.  Carolina Costa took on the charm and innocence of a six-year-old girl in her performance of “A Six-Year-Old Girl Was Asked”. The audience giggled along with Carolina’s character as she described the look and smell of her vagina. That giggle turned into a roar of laughter as Emily Boyer fanatically moaned on stage during her interpretation of “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy”. She bounced around on stage, flipping her hair and kicking her legs, as she imitated the ultimate orgasm as women from all different backgrounds experience it. 

For more on the Vagina Monologues, I inquired with Women’s Center intern, Carolina and Women’s Center employee, Tria for their thoughts on the event.

What were your feelings about the VM’s?

Carolina: When I found out I would be part of the Vagina Monologues cast I was nervous and excited, it was only a week away from the performance day. Before that, I was excited to watch the play, I had heard a lot about it working at the Women’s Center and I knew some of my co-workers were taking part in the performance. I was happy to collaborate with such a great cause and excited to see how everything would turn out!

Tria: I feel that the VM’s are a distinct expression of women’s issues all around the world.

Was there a particular piece that stood out to you – or that you could relate to the most?

Carolina: I laughed with every funny piece and really enjoyed “My Angry Vagina” and “The Woman Who Loved to Make Vaginas Happy”; but I was also very shocked with some of the saddest and terrifying pieces. “My Vagina was my Village” brought to life the horrible reality many women face in times of war; enacting those feelings and transferring them to the audience in such an effective way is a brilliant method to raise awareness in the issue of rape and rape camps many people are unfamiliar with.

Tria: I could not personally relate to a majority of the pieces. I have never been to a sex workshop, nor found love in the arms of women or enjoyed to give them pleasure, nor been beaten, mutilated or raped. I feel that the skit to which all women can relate is “Angry Vagina”.

What kind of impact do you think (or hope) the Vagina Monologues made on those in attendance this year?

Carolina: I hope that everyone who attended the play or participated in some way in the Vagina Monologues not only had a great time and laughed with the cast, but has a better understanding of the variety of issues surrounding women and the feminine perspective: social pressures, sexual taboos, violence, rape, healing and reconciliation processes, birth, and pleasure; are all part of the multidimensional female story.

Why are the Vagina Monologues such an important component of social awareness in Kansas City?

Tria: I believe that truth in many different forms can produce a sense of freedom. It is important that we inform ourselves so that we may make a difference and a positive impact on the next generation of women and young girls in our area.

Who would you like to see in attendance at the Vagina Monologues next year in 2013?

Carolina: I would like to see new and old faces in the 2013 performance. I would love for people who are already involved in anti-violence movements and V-Day to continue to collaborate with the cause and I for the message to continue to spread worldwide. I would like to see more men in the audience and a bigger involvement in the issues that affect not only women but our society as a whole.

Tria: This year the turnout was great but I would love to see more young men enjoying a play about vaginas. It’s important for not just women but also men to understand why vaginas should be loved and appreciated.


For more information about the UMKC Women’s Center and our upcoming events please visit http://www.umkc.edu/womenc/events/calendar.asp or call us at (816) 235-1638.

Be sure to also check out all of our exciting 40th Anniversary Events! http://www.umkc.edu/womenc/40thanniversary/default.asp

Pictured above from top to bottom: Emily Boyer, Carolina Costa, Tria Tatum and the cast of the Vagina Monologues.




Short-Film Addresses Women’s Equality in Revolutionary Egypt

By Armelle Djoukoue


Gender inequality in Egypt is a big issue. In April of 2011 Belgian feminist and women’s rights activist, An Van Raemdonck, traveled to Cairo and interviewed Egyptian women’s rights activists. She inquired with Egyptian women about what the revolution in Egypt meant to them and how they intended to advance women’s rights in the midst of political turmoil. The women interviewed by Raemdonck are all engaged in women’s rights movements, some as heads of established organizations, and others as younger activists within new groups. You can watch footage of the interviews in Van Raemdonck’s short-film Women and the Egyptian Revolution. The content of the film focuses on women’s rights activism and discusses the advancement of women’s equality in Egypt during the revolutionary process and in the specific context of political transition. In many countries women are afraid to fight for equality; this is an educative short-film that demonstrates the courage it takes for some women to fight for their rights.

Join the Women’s Center for a screening of Miss Representation

By Carolina Costa

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oiD9SbeaDEs&feature=fvst[/youtube] Miss Representation is a 2011 award winning documentary written and directed by women’s advocate, Jennifer Siebel Newsom. Miss Representation challenges the media’s limited and often disparaging portrayals of women and girls; as well as the collective messages that young women and men overwhelmingly receive pointing that a woman’s value and power lie in her youth, beauty, and sexuality, and not in her capacity as a leader. Newsom has also launched MissRepresentation.org, a call-to-action campaign that gives women and girls the tools to realize their full potential.

The Women’s Center is pleased to invite everyone in the UMKC community and Kansas City area to a screening of Miss Representation on Tuesday, February 28th. The event will take place at the UMKC Student Union Theatre and we will kick-off the evening off with a reception at 5:30pm, followed by the screening at 6:00pm. Join us after the film for a facilitated discussion concerning the documentary. Drinks and snacks will be provided and this event is FREE and open to the public! All you have to do is pre-register online at www.umkcmissrepresentation.eventbrite.com and bring your tickets to the event; space is limited so do not wait to register!

It is also a great opportunity to discuss matters such as media consumption, women’s leadership, sexualization, self-esteem and abuse in an informed and plural environment that will help you develop your thought in many issues. Don’t hesitate to engage in the discussion and share your experiences and impressions of the film. And please, join us for the opportunity to make a difference in your community by taking action in the Miss Representation Campaign.

 For more information about the event contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu or visit http://www.missrepresentation.org/

 A special thanks to all of our sponsors for this event: UMKC Counseling Center, K-Roo Student Media, UMKC Friends of the Library, Veronica’s Voice, Girl Scouts of NE Kansas NW Missouri, UMKC Career Services, The Women’s Foundation of Greater Kansas City, and Win for KC

The Woman Behind Operation Beautiful: Caitlin Boyle

By Armelle Djoukoue

Caitlin Boyle is 26 years old and lives in Charlotte, North Carolina. She worked as a freelance and technical writer for seven years, including a five year stint as a contributing columnist for The Wall Street Journal Classroom Edition. Caitlin started her blog “Healthy Tipping Point” in 2008 where she writes daily about food and fitness. The blog chronicles how she balances her busy lifestyle with healthy eating and exercise.   It was on this blog where Caitlin began Operation Beautiful.

In June 2009, Caitlin was inspired to post a note that simply read “You Are Beautiful!” in a public restroom. She took a picture of her note and posted it on her blog. She immediately received responses from her readers, and her email filled up with photographs of notes posted all over the country. Caitlin continued to leave positive messages on the mirrors of public restrooms, at work, the gym and the grocery store. She scribbled down whatever came to mind — “You are beautiful!” or “You are amazing just the way you are!”  And with this one small act, the Operation Beautiful movement was born.  Three months later, she resigned from her corporate job to write “Operation Beautiful: The Book” which was published in August of 2010. Caitlin Boyle is a woman who is dedicated to ending negative self-talk among girls, woman, and men. Women of different ages, races, lifestyles and geographic locations have been posting encouraging notes of their own.

So join us next Monday, February 27th– Friday, March 2nd as your UMKC Women’s Center engages in Operation Beautiful. It’s time for us to encourage a positive body image in ourselves and for others. Participate in this campaign by posting statements of positive body image around campus. Stop by the Women’s Center (105 Haag Hall, 5100 Rockhill road) or the MindBody Connection (3rd floor of Student Union, 5100 Cherry) to pick up post-it notes.

Visit our Operation Beautiful event page https://www.facebook.com/events/348089951886726/ 

For further information or with questions contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

Links: http://operationbeautiful.com/ 

Vanguards and Visionaries

By Sarah L. Jensen

We are only a few weeks away from the  Women’s Center Vanguards and Visionaries Reception! Join us to honor the past leadership of the UMKC Women’s Center. You can meet former directors, staff, and members of the Chancellor’s Advisory Board to the Women’s Center in addition to seeing the new exhibit: Vanguards and Visionaries. The exhibit features local women artists who helped shape visual arts of Kansas City these past forty years. It will be a great night of art, refreshments and bumping elbows with some of the amazing women of Kansas City. We hope to see you there!

 When: Thursday, March 1, 2012
Where: Leedy-Voulkos Arts Center, 2012 Baltimore, KCMO
What Time: 5:30 – 7:30 p.m.
RSVP online: http://umkcwc40.eventbrite.com/

For further information or with questions contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

Join us to celebrate 40 years of telling our stories with the UMKC Women’s Center!

Image credit: Webster’s Beaker, Philomene Bennet, 2008

Leave Your Lipstick At Home

By Courtney Neaveill

“Gwyneth Paltrow lipstick lesbian”: Google that and you will get over two pages of results – all of which reference a recent interview that Ms. Paltrow gave with Harpaar’s Bizarre. The 39 year old film star mentioned her daughter’s affinity for pink, ruffled clothes and remarked that IF her daughter were a lesbian she would be a ‘lipstick lesbian’ – as opposed to a ‘butch’ lesbian.  So now you may be thinking, ‘what the hell is that?’ Definition incoming! The most popular description on UrbanDictionary.com, defines the lipstick lesbian as “a feminine lesbian who is attracted to other feminine lesbians. They generally enjoy fashion, flowers, perfume, sex and the city, lingerie, lipstick of course, and (gasp!) passionate sex with other women.” The authors at Wikipedia expand on their similar definition of a LL by adding “most female same-sex sex scenes in mainstream pornography [portray women] this way.”  I take issues with this designation.  It’s as if people are saying “ok- now that we know what she is, we’ll know more appropriately how to deal with her.” I think of scientists uncovering a new species of animal or better yet, Jack Hannah. “Hey everyone, how’r  ya’ll doin – I’m Jungle Jack Hanna and on today’s episode we’ll be looking for the allusive Lipstick Lesbian.” What about the lesbian who does not fit into the nicely outlined “lipstick” category – is she butch by default? Is there no such thing as a normal, everyday lesbian? I’ll admit when I first heard the term lipstick lesbian I was amused – but does this label serve a purpose or is it damaging to the gay and lesbian community?

The people over at Belladonna.org not only find lipstick classification necessary but they also commit an entire section of their website in support of feminine lesbians. The claim is that they are unidentifiable by appearance and therefore need a support community where they can find tips on how to navigate the lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT), dating and social scene. “Since we “don’t look like Lesbians”, other Lesbians don’t recognize us, which means we are often excluded from the united front. (Also, we don’t get asked out.)” This makes sense. In 1998, the Village Voice published an article in which they addressed the lipstick lesbian phenomenon.  According to the article, after series like the L Word, Sex and the City and Grey’s Anatomy portrayed lesbians in a more feminine light, lesbians no longer felt obligated to wear Doc Martens and rainbow colored jewelry but instead ventured to strut around in designer clothes and high heels.  Executive producer and director of L Word, Ilene Chaiken, feels that lesbians are liberated by the increasing social acceptance of the feminine lesbian.

“I think that we all need representation, we need aspirational figures, and it’s a positive thing for girls growing up to look at a TV show and say: ‘Oh, so that’s a lesbian, and she can be successful and wear glamorous clothes. Feeling that I might be gay doesn’t relegate me to some dark corner of society.’ “

Sociologist and professor, Jane Ward, calls this “’an echo effect’: The media prefers images of beautiful women, so lesbians put energy into being pretty, and then the media reports that image as the new ideal. “It’s the same way that heterosexual femininity is packaged and sold to female consumers.” Lesbians are therefore more palatable to the media-crazed, consumer public.

So which is it – have lesbians been forced by the general public into acting and dressing more feminine or have they been liberated by lipstick and high heels? I think it is a matter of both social pressure and personal expression. Either way, it is not a very flattering reflection of U.S. American social culture when public figures like Gwyneth Paltrow keyhole people into such inescapable categories. Actress Portia de Rossi once quipped “Everyone is their own kind of lesbian. To think there’s a certain way to dress or present yourself in the world is just one more stereotype we have to fit into.”  We should not be persuaded to make the distinction between two potentially harmful clichés; the ‘lipstick’ and the ‘butch’ lesbian.  Why is it anyway that lipstick lesbians receive the special feminine treatment? One of the most beautiful expressions of femininity is the deep love and affection that one woman can have for her female friend, partner or lover; with or without lipstick.

What is V-Day?

By Bonnie Messbarger

To put it simply; V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. On February 14th 1998 American playwright and activist, Eve Ensler, created the VDay event. Ensler along with a group of women established V-Day as a universal day to stop violence against women.  Since then the V-Day movement has exploded and is now recognized in over 140 countries with roughly 1500 events taking place each year. To find out more information about V-Day or how you can get involved, visit their website.


Be sure to check out local VDay events hosted by your UMKC Women’s Center. http://www.umkc.edu/womenc/vday2012.asp

For further information or with questions contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

Celebrate VDAY!

By Tria Tatum




Show your UMKC support at the upcoming Women’s Center Events.

Monday, February 13th, 2012. 11am-1pm
Stop by and visit our VDay information table on campus at the Health Sciences Building! The Women’s Center will be selling chocolate vagina pops, t-shirts and buttons and providing information about your UMKC Women’s Center and VDay!
Click HERE for more information.

Thursday, February 16, 2012. 7-10pm
“Vagina Monologues”
Join us for a night of theater in the UMKC Student Union.
Purchase your tickets in advance $15 ($10 student price). At the door tickets are $20 ($15 for students).
Click HERE for more information.

 Tuesday, February 21, 2012. 11am-12pm
The Women’s Center and the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project will be hosting a workshop for MEN ONLY. A group of dedicated V-Men will participate in a conversation about ending violence against women and girls. FREE ADMISSION
Click HERE for more information.


To register and see additional event details visit our calendar page:

For further information or with questions contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

Join us to celebrate 40 years of telling our stories with the UMKC Women’s Center!

‘Stitches’ Opening Reception This Evening

By Sarah L. Jensen
Good morning supporters and fans of the Women’s Center! We hope you will be joining us for the “Stitches” opening reception this evening: February 2, 5:30pm at Miller Nichols Library, Dean’s Gallery, 2nd Floor, 800 East 51st St. The exhibit will be featuring textile artist NedRa Bonds and the Women’s Equity Quilt. Also, for your viewing pleasure, there will be a performance of Stitches: Some Stories About L.I.F.E. written by UMKC alumn Kathleen Shaw. To register and see additional event details visit our calendar page: http://www.umkc.edu/womenc/events/calendar.asp
For further information or with questions contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu