Reflecting on Shrink Your Stress

By Indrasari Mursid

On Wednesday, December 4 the Women’s Center partnered with A Window between Worlds and Office of Student Involvement to host Shrink Your Stress the week before Finals Week. The Women’s Center has done this in the past and it’s always been a hit, and I think my experience and involvement in planning the event just proved that. I submitted the program proposal, budget, created the event flier, and assisted in taking photographs at the event and directed students on how to do the activity. This Shrink Your Stress event, we had students crate shrink art thus the title of the program and either trace and decorate their own mandalas, trace their own image, or color in an already traced image (i.e. flower, leaf, and rainbow). This event reminded me of the events I would program as an Art Therapy Club Public Relations officer during my undergraduate career. During our biggest event, Late Night Breakfast during Stress Relief Week (also the week before Finals), the Art Therapy Club would distribute crayons and coloring sheets with mandalas, festive-holiday designs, and other imagery with the choice of having hot cocoa. So, it was cool to a different interpretation of a similar event to help relieve stress the week before Finals Week.

I felt like the event was successful as many students came to the tables to create shrink art and many students created multiple pieces once they had finished one – I was impressed with how artistic and creative all of the other students were. Many of them, after they created their first piece, went ahead and decorated another using images from their phone that they could trace. One student did a Pikachu, another did a Naruto character, and one did a floral wreath with her initials. We always had at least ten students at the tables working on their shrink art pieces.  As a student, it can be hard to set time for oneself.  I have struggled with this during my graduate studies and acknowledging when enough is just too much can be hard for me to gauge. I don’t usually understand the repercussions of my work load until after it passes and I feel the effects of burnout creep onto me. I think Shrink Your Stress,  petting adorable animals, and decorating stuffed kangaroos during Stress Less Fest are great reminders to be mindful and evaluate one’s mental well-being in a time where that is often neglected. I want to point out though that there are many definitions of self-care. One student may set a goal to set three meals a day, whereas another’s goal may be to decompress with one episode of their favorite television show every night before they go to bed. There is no wrong way to do self-care.

 

Kiana’s Experience At The Women’s Center

By Kiana Mullins

For the past five months, the UMKC Women’s Center has helped me gain self-confidence in my abilities. My internship was a rewarding experience because I was able to advance my knowledge in women’s equity. Learning about the reasons behind every event hosted by the Women’s Center made me aware of what the UMKC campus is missing out on. It was interesting to see the impact these events had on students. The Women’s Center benefits both men and women on campus and this is something not everyone is aware of.

The events I attended also gave me a better understanding of women’s experiences and women’s health. I have been able to advance my leadership skills and volunteering at events, and being responsible for certain tasks has helped others recognize my reliability.

I am able to recognize how beneficial the UMKC Women’s Center is because of the events that they host and resources they provide. After I walk across that stage on December 14th, I will be able to use the skills I gained through this internship in the real world. Being a part of the Women’s Center has allowed me to see the bigger picture of why it is important to promote women’s equity and inclusion.

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence

By Skye VanLanduyt

16 Days of Activism Against Gender Based Violence is a yearly campaign running from November 25- December 10. The campaign was founded in 1991 at the Women’s Global Leadership Institute, with the purpose to call for prevention and elimination of violence against women and girls. The United Nations (UN) Women started a UNITE by 2030 Campaign under secretary, Ban Ki-Moon. The UNITE campaign specifically “calls on governments, civil society, women’s organizations, young people, the private sector, the media, and the entire UN system to join forces in addressing the global pandemic of violence against women and girls.” According to the Center for Women’s Global Leadership, the campaign is “the most widely recognized and longest-running campaign for women’s rights in the world.”

This year’s theme is “Orange the World: Generation Equality Stands Against Rape.” The 5 focus areas of UNITE include…
• Honor and acknowledge Women’s Movements
• ‘Leave No One Behind.’ Take a “human-rights based approach and focus on underserved and disadvantaged groups of women and girls.”
• Survivor-Centered: “Take a respectful and ‘do no harm’ approach to the telling and retelling of survivor stories.”
• Multi-Sectoral: “everyone in society has an important role to play.”
• The Color Orange: Show your support by wearing orange!

Make sure you like and follow the UMKC Women’s Center and The UMKC Violence Prevention and Response. We will be posting information about each day and ways about how you can take action against gender violence during the campaign! You can also check out the UN Women’s Facebook page to learn more about the cause, read articles about international women’s rights, and advocacy.

Menstrual Products Drive

By Maggie Pool

For the first time ever, the Women’s Center is pairing up with Residential Life to implement a donation drive program into an annual activity called Wing Wars. Wing Wars happens every new school year and is a friendly competition between Johnson Hall, Oak Street Hall, and JP2 filled with a variety of events that earns each team points. In addition to the main Wing War happenings, there are events on campus residents can attend to gain points for their team. This is where the Women’s Center comes in. This year, the Women’s Center has decided to do a Menstrual Products Drive to raise awareness on the basic need for menstrual products. The drive will start November 5th and go through December 3rd. There will be a donation box placed in each residence hall and each product donated will generate a certain amount of points.

In 2019, an interview-conducted study was done in St. Louis, Missouri where an estimated 31,000 women 18 years or older are considered low-income. The study found out that 60% of its participants (109/183) skipped or ate a lighter meal in order to afford menstrual products over the past year (Kuhlmann, Bergquist, & Danjoint, 2019). Of those participants, 36% (40/111) skipped meals on a monthly basis. Similarly, 64% (117/182) did not have the money to purchase menstrual products at some point during the same year (Kuhlmann et al, 2019). ⅓ had to use toilet paper, rags, tissues, diapers, or paper towels as supplementary menstrual products (Kuhlmann et al, 2019). The study concluded that the solutions to these problems came down to three categories:

  1. Increase access to menstrual products
  2. Increase education in menstrual products
  3. Increasing access to safe public restrooms

Many schools across America are recognizing this is an issue and are taking action. For example, Brown University announced they would provide free tampons and pads across campus in men’s, women’s, and gender neutral bathrooms. Brown’s student body President, Viet Nguyen, said: “There’s been a lot of conversation about why pads and tampons are a necessity, not a luxury, but not a lot of action. We wanted to take it into our own hands” (Jones, 2016, p. 1). After Brown University announced their plan, New York City public schools announced they would provide free menstrual products in all sixth through twelfth grades schools (Jones 2016). Many schools followed after including Columbia University, University of Arizona, University of Nebraska – Lincoln, and Emory College (Jones, 2016). Hashtag campaigns have furthered the awareness with campaigns like #TheHomelessPeriod and National Period Day (October 19th) and garnered global attention.

The Women’s Center provides free menstrual hygiene products (tampons and pads) for any student with no questions asked. These donations would go back into the hands of students who may be of low income, low access to resources, or too busy to buy menstrual products when they need them. Having this drive will also inform students that we are a resource to use when they are in need of a place to study, information on community resources, and a safe space. Our ultimate goal is to implement menstrual hygiene products in women’s and gender neutral bathrooms throughout campus.

Reflecting on Roo Up!

By Olivia Brzozowski

On Thursday, November 7th, the UMKC Women’s Center partnered with Kansas City Athletics to host the event Roo Up With the Women’s Center, featuring the Kansas City Volleyball team. The volleyball match against Utah Valley took place at 7pm in The Swinney Center. Lots of fans came out to show support of their Roos, which ultimately led to a Roo win! The UMKC Women’s Center’s mission focuses on promoting gender equity around campus and the community. Because sports play such a major role in society, it is important that female athletes are supported just as much as male athletes. The UMKC Women’s Center has had the perfect opportunity to partner with Kansas City Athletics in support of female student-athletes on campus. Last month, the Women’s Center hosted its first Roo Up event at a Women’s Soccer game.

At the volleyball game specifically, free t shirts were handed out to all fans as well as buttons with phrases such as “Win Like A Girl”, and “WOMXN UP”, which is also what the t shirts said. Overall, it was a fun event and people loved the free t-shirts and buttons. It created an atmosphere where the Women’s Center could be promoted and we could educate people on our mission. The next Roo Up event will take place at a UMKC Women’s Basketball game, with the date TBD. So, keep your eye out for this one!! We are excited to continue this relationship with Kansas City Athletics, and get people excited to watch UMKC’s own very talented female student-athletes!

The Clothesline Project

By Maggie Pool

According to the National Domestic Violence Hotline, 1 out of 7 men or 1 out of 4 women have experienced “severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime” (National Domestic Violence Hotline). Because these types of heartbreaking events are unfortunately common among couples, the Women’s Center and Violence Prevention and Response office has made “The Clothesline Project” a time to share feelings or thoughts on how violence against men and women has affected loved ones or the world around them.

Starting Monday, November 4th, the UMKC Women’s Center will be co-sponsoring with the office of Violence Prevention and Response on a project called “The Clothesline Project”, a visual display that bears witness to domestic and sexual violence. UMKC students can stop by information tables, located at the Rockhill Parking Garage Walkway, 52nd & Rockhill Road, to add to the line by decorating a shirt.

If you missed Tuesday’s informational table, no worries! Violence Prevention and Response will be tabling again on Thursday, November 14th at 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. in the Royall Hall Lobby. Both offices have committed themselves to creating safe spaces for everyone to feel comfortable sharing thoughts or experiences on subjects close to their hearts. Come by one of the tables and start a discussion, make a shirt to add to the line, or learn more about the Women’s Center and Violence Prevention and Response office!

Co-Sponsored by: UMKC Women’s Center

 

Is Barbie Forever?

By Skye VanLanduyt

My English professor in college distorted my image of Barbie after assigning Marge Piercy’s poem, “Barbie Doll.” Piercy’s poem criticizes Barbie’s negative psychological impact on young girl’s body image. In my opinion, the last stanza is particularly haunting not just for its sexual implications but for its praise of non-bio-degradable beauty standards. For me, this is what makes Barbie so controversial. Her “perfect body,” painted lips, and little outfits are put into the hands of little girls around the world. This teaches little girls there is only one standard of beauty.

I was excited when the UMKC Women’s Center announced M.G Lord, author of “Forever Barbie: An Unauthorized Biography of a Real Doll” would be coming to The National Museum of Toys and Miniatures to speak about the complex role Barbie plays in the feminine experience. In September, Mattel launched “Creatable World,” a gender-inclusive doll line. I was surprised by the Lord’s response to Mattel’s efforts. She felt the gender-inclusive doll is nothing new. “Children mutilate and cross-dress their dolls. I was that child. Children have been making dolls their own for years.” So, perhaps, Lord has a point. I know as a child, I too, cross-dressed and cut the hair off of my Barbie dolls. I am sure most kids experimented with their dolls’ hair and clothing.

For Lord, her reasoning is deeply psychological. At the height of her childhood, her mother was diagnosed with cancer. Lord believes she coped by “cross-dressing her Barbie dolls as a way of protecting her vulnerability.” The act of dressing Ken in feminine clothes preserved her image of her mom. For corporations, she poses these questions, “is there only one way to be non-binary?” and “does Barbie reflect or shape the market place?” In some respects, Barbie is a teaching tool for gender performance. Lord calls this “impersonation, approximation.” Drag Queens have been using Barbie as a feminine paradigm for years.

While I think it is amazing the LGBTQIA community is uniquely invested in Barbie’s femininity, I wish the doll was not idolized by young girls. Lord talked about a number of different Barbie’s Mattel released such as the Sally Ride Barbie, the David Bowie Barbie, and Skipper. Lord claims none of Mattel’s career themed Barbie’s are deeply loved. She calls the David Bowie Barbie and Skipper “grotesque,” and I would have to agree with her. Although the Skipper doll comes with a desk for academic studies, Lord explains, “When Skipper grows up her desk for homework turns into a vanity.” What is even more alarming is knowing Skipper and the David Bowie doll were created by men. It seems like corporations are teaching girls to become vain and overtly feminine. In the case of women’s equity, the marketplace is a bad teacher for “shaping” women to be a certain way. Thus, answering Lord’s previous questions regarding non-binary expression and the market place.

Lord’s extensive knowledge on the inner workings of Mattel and the corporate world reiterate similar, troubling themes from Marge Piercy’s poem. However, Lord provides some hope for those worried about gender expression and equality. If children are making Barbie their own rather than being swayed by corporate ideas, where does children’s idolization of Barbie come from? Is Barbie really forever? Maybe this all draws from childhood psychology. Lord’s talk left me with so many unanswered questions. It would be interesting to continue research on why and how Barbie is still in the hands of so many young girls today.

Aspiring Latina Professional Joins The Women’s Center

By Adriana Suarez 

Hi, my name is Adriana Suarez. I am a freshman here at UMKC in the Undecided or Exploratory Program. I graduated from Sumner Academy of Arts & Sciences in Kansas City, Kansas. I am interested in a major with the sociology department as well a minor in Spanish, to maintain connection to my roots; being a young Latina professional. In the future, I hope to work in the non-profit sector. I decided to join the Women’s Center because I love culture and being around others.

While also being a member of the Latino Student Union, I hope to gain more involvement on campus through the Women’s Center. One of my goals is to become immersed in the culture at UMKC I love doing things to help others, and I have many interests including music and arts.

This last summer, I interned for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City as an Activities Director. I worked on a team, creating lesson plans and teaching students grade 4- 6 in the KC Metro area. This experience led me to grow in both my personal and professional life. I loved working with the kids and being able to bring a smile to their faces.

Introducing Elise, The Women Center’s New Staff Member

By Elise Wantling

Hello all! My name is Elise Wantling, and my pronouns are they/them/their. I am a senior here at UMKC studying political science, with the goal of attending grad school next year either here or at the University of Kansas to get my masters in social work/social welfare. My plan is to become educated in non-profit management, and eventually open my own home for homeless LGBTQ+ youth. I transferred here from KU at the beginning of 2019 because, well, out of state tuition gets expensive after a while when you’re a Missourian studying in Kansas. While I enjoyed my time at KU thoroughly, I am also really enjoying studying here at UMKC! I am glad I found a school in Kansas City that has a strong political science program and an LGBTQ+ friendly campus.

I am excited to work with the Women’s Center to promote equity and equality for all genders. While I do not identify as a woman anymore, I have lived as one for about two decades and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the struggles women face. Being nonbinary, I also have the unique perspective of what it is like living outside the gender binary. I hope to use my unique gender related experiences to be able to help people of all genders live a better life. I am looking forward to blogging, working and planning events, and seeing everyone’s beautiful faces at the Women’s Center.