Someone’s Gotta Say It: The Word “Girlboss” Needs to Die 

By: Emma Sauer 

It’s been some time since I wrote one of these blogs, but I’m coming in hot today with an irritating trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. 

When’s the last time you walked into Target, TJ Maxx, Kohls, or any one of those conglomerate department stores? Have you noticed all those mass-produced t-shirts, tumblers, bags, book-ends, blankets, pillows, posters, and planners have one particular word plastered across them? Something like this:

Source: Amazon

Ugh. Girl Boss. Just typing that out feels like I’m manifesting the worst kind of cutesy faux feminism. Anyway, let me tell you why I hate this word so much. 

The word “girl boss” is a word ascribed to any woman in a position of leadership. It’s vague enough that it can mean a lot of different things, whether it’s a female CEO, business owner, or a middle aged white woman at home selling her Lularoe leggings. I also see it from time to time in Instagram bios or other places on social media. 

So, my main problem with cutesy phrases like “girl boss”, “boss lady”, or “she-eo” is that they’re infantilizing. (And also make for hideous interior design.) A woman in a leadership role shouldn’t be made into a huge deal— at least, not in a way that doesn’t recognize her accomplishments for what they are. When a man is in a leadership role, we don’t call him a “boy boss”, right? That just sounds silly and dumb. Same thing for “girl boss.” It’s dumb, and it makes me roll my eyes. I’m all for lifting up women, but instead of vaguely virtue-signaling with a sparkly pink “GIRL BOSS” plaque on your desk, do the work to focus on specific gender inequity issues.

And you know what? I find this whole “girl boss” thing totally disingenuous. It’s become a way for corporations to create merchandise and market themselves as being feminist, when in reality they’re destroying the environment, using child labor, and under-paying their employees.

Why Work at the Women’s Center?

By: Emma Sauer

At UMKC’s Women’s Center, we run a tight ship.  Between the five of us, we currently have three interns, a graduate assistant, and Arzie, our director. We’re looking for another work study student to add to our team this fall and spring, and it could be you!

If you’re a person who is passionate about helping and educating others and someone who is always open to learning new things, you will flourish at the Women’s Center. Through our events and programs, you’ll have to opportunity to educate and advocate for women’s equity on campus.  Our office is also a safe space for everyone, but especially anyone who feels marginalized.  You will help keep the office running by keeping the area tidy, answering phone calls, and providing resources from our brochures or resource list to those who need it. You’ll also help organize and staff events with your coworkers, along with posting regularly to our social media…and the blog of course! This is a great opportunity for teamwork, as you’ll be working alongside your fellow staff to create programs, campaigns, and to make sure events go without a hitch.

Working with the Women’s Center is an incredible opportunity to gain experience in an office setting while also advocating for gender equity.  Plus, it’s lots of fun!  Many of the programs we run involve art activities, meeting new students, and getting involved on campus! Speaking from experience, working here is a great way to gain experience on campus if you haven’t had the chance yet.  All majors are welcome to apply, and as a work study student, you’ll even get paid!

Application Steps:

  1. Complete the Women’s Center Work-Study Application here.
  2. Send your current resume and class schedule to umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.
  3. Questions? Please contact 816-235-1638 or
    umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu.

Details:

Aid Term: Fall/Spring

Job Title: Office & Events Assistant

Pay Range: $13.00 to $14.00

Weekly Hours: 12

Weekly Work Schedule: Mon – Thurs, 10:00 AM – 4:00 PM Fridays, 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM (Some evening and weekend hours during special events)

Job Category: Administrative/Customer Service

Essential Duties May Include: Identify needs of individual and appropriately assist with questions or concerns at front desk. Politely greet students and guests to provide quality customer service; Answer phones. Assess questions; offer solutions or additional resources such as a manager to assist. Demonstrate professionalism in a confidential setting. Implement existing/new tasks, projects and/or ideas with accuracy and enthusiasm. Promote services by serving as an representative through conversations with fellow students. Data entry, mailing and other clerical duties as assigned. Open/close office as needed.

Back to Basics #6: Can Men Be Feminists?

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 By: Anel Sandoval

We are bringing it Back to Basics this week! In this blog segment, we explain feminist terminology, myths, concepts and more! Today’s question is…

“Does a feminist have to be female?” 

Being a feminist means believing that women and men are equal and deserve equal rights. If you agree with that, then you’re a feminist. With that being said, all genders can be a feminist! True feminism is intersectional. Feminism spans across any and all genders, sexual preferences, or ethnic identities. And yes, men can be feminist allies too! 

“Why are men important in advocating for gender equity?”  

Men can be important allies to women in fighting for gender equity and promoting violence prevention. Women have been fighting for women’s equality for hundreds of years, but men also have a role to join in the fight as they’re not the problem, but part of the solution. One example of a self identified male feminist is former President Barack Obama. In August of 2016, President Obama penned his famous This is What A Feminist Looks Like where he reminded us that “it is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too.” His administration also took big steps to combat campus sexual assault and violence against women, improve equal pay protections, and actively promote women’s issues. 

“What can I, as a man, do to become an ally for women’s human rights?”  

 Great question! Here is a list of ways:  

  • Support women’s organizations such as the Women’s Center here on campus. We have many events you can attend this semester!  
  • Educate yourself on the history of women’s fight for equality as well as current issues.  
  • Start a conversation with women in your life. Listen to women who are fighting for their rights and ask them questions on how you can support them. 
  • Do not be a bystander to women’s violence. If you see it in your home, workplace, campus, or any public place, do not be silent, report it.  
  • Do not share sexist content that belittles or discriminates against women in any way. 
  • Advocate and educate others. Men can challenge other men in a way that women can’t, and if you use that opportunity to try to educate other guys, or just send the message that sexist attitudes are not okay, that can go a long way. It can feel awkward, but it’s worth it and very appreciated. 

Remember that absolutely anyone can be a feminist regardless of their gender and it is our duty, as society, to change the fact that women aren’t equal to men. To learn more click here

Back to Basics #5: What is the Women’s Center?

By: Emma Sauer 

Something I get asked a lot, whether at events, in the office, or just when talking about my job is…

What do you actually do at the Women’s Center?”

I’ll tell you! 

The Women’s Center at UMKC serves several purposes. Our office houses a wide array of resources available to the community, such as information on housing assistance, local shelters, and LGBTQIA+ resources. These are available either as brochures or links collected on our Campus and Community Resources tab. We also have a library, a lactation/self-care space, and a kitchen, all available to faculty and students. Of course, we’re also just open as a safe space for any marginalized students, and students are welcome to come in and just hang out. 

Another huge thing our staff does at the Women’s Center is our programming– if you are a student at UMKC, you may have spotted us at one of the many events we host, co-sponsor, or attend. Examples of programs we’ve run in the past include running a menstrual product drive to spread awareness about the Pink Tax, promoting body positivity during Every Body is Beautiful Week, and the Their/Her Art Project, which exhibits and uplifts local female and nonbinary artists. Throughout the semester, the student staff are constantly planning new events like these to promote awareness of gender equity issues with the help of Arzie, our awesome director.

There’s even more to the Women’s Center I could go on and on about, but that’s another post for another time.

“So what’s the point of having a Women’s Center and doing all these programs?” 

 Well, speaking as a woman and outspoken feminist, the Women’s Center matters to me personally because it allows feminism to have a physical, vocal presence at UMKC. The Women’s Center is also important because it provides a safe space for marginalized groups on campus, and our programming throughout the school year means gender equity always has a voice. In other words, we want UMKC– and Kansas City in general– to be more feminist! 

“Feminist? What’s that?” 

… Oh boy. That’s a question for a previous B2B blog, my friend. And if you want to learn more about why women’s centers are so important to have at universities,  you can check out this great article from WIHE (Women in Higher Education). 

Unbothered. In my lane. Focused. Flourishing.

By: Emma Sauer

Hey Roos! I’m back for another round at the Women’s Center this semester, repeating my role as the Blog Editor. Over the summer, I interned at AltCap, a CDFI here in Kansas City. In case you didn’t know what a CDFI is (I didn’t), it stands for Community Development Financial Institution. A large part of what CDFIS such as AltCap do is lend capital to underserved and marginalized communities in Kansas City. Even though my time there was short, it gave me an increased awareness of the very real institutional barriers female business-owners and entrepreneurs face. Those barriers are even more present for women of color. This semester, we’re going to be promotig female business owners and entrepreneurs over social media, blogs, and our display board, so stay tuned!  

I’m so glad to be back with the Women’s Center in a space promoting gender equity and intersectionality. If there’s anything I learned over the summer, it’s that I always have more to learn about feminism, and I’m going to continue to educate myself further this fall!  

Talk soon, guys! <3 

Engaging Students Through Healing Arts at UMKC

Image Credit: A Window Between Worlds, https://awbw.org/engaging-students-at-umkc/

By: Arzie Umali

The following blog was written by the director of the Women’s Center, Arzie Umali, and was originally posted on the A Window Between Worlds blog at awbw.org/blog/umkc. Arzie is a certified healing arts facilitator and has been offering workshops at UMKC since 2013.

The Women’s Center at the University of Missouri-Kansas City (UMKC) has had the honor of hosting A Window Between Worlds healing arts workshops since 2013. As an artist and survivor of trauma, I knew firsthand the healing power of art; now, for almost 10 years, I have been sharing that knowledge and empowering our students to use art to heal not just from trauma, but also navigate through the daily stressors of college life.

Through our art program, we are giving students the tools they need for self-preservation so they can find success not just in college, but in life.

Bringing an AWBW program to the Women’s Center was a perfect fit. It was African American feminist writer, Audre Lorde, who said, “Caring for myself is not self-indulgence, it is self-preservation, and that is an act of political warfare.” Our students are often overwhelmed and juggling multiple responsibilities, never having enough time for themselves. Being a college student today is hard, and many of our students we support are not just college students. They are also care-givers, and parents, and self-supporting individuals with jobs and families. They are also dealing with different traumas and stressors like debt, illness, loneliness, family violence, and/or a global pandemic. For many of our students, college is also the first time they have felt safe to come to terms with their own identity. For most students, college comes first and everything else comes last – especially themselves. I often find myself telling students that self-care is just as important as showing up for class, studying hard, and acing their finals. And that’s where our AWBW program comes in.

From the first time our students come to campus during summer orientation, we engage them with healing arts. During orientation, we offer students the opportunity to create Stepping Stones. This art activity allows them to ground themselves as college students and see their journey as a series of steps leading them towards graduation. This activity guides them in keeping focused on their end goal, and if they should stumble along the way, their Stepping Stone is there to remind them to keep taking steps forward.

Throughout the academic year, students can engage with our AWBW program through multiple avenues. Whether they need support dealing with trauma, managing their anxiety, coping with stress, or just a timeout, our healing arts workshops are available to them all year round. During Welcome Week, we offer Journey Charms workshops using shrink art where students can visualize college as one of life’s journeys that may be full of good and bad surprises. We also offer Touchstones workshops where students create art that ties them to the larger UMKC community and reminds them that we are there for them, no matter what. Finally, at the end of each semester, we host Shrink Your Stress. This signature program takes place during our campus Stress Less Fest and gives our students a window of time during finals week to step away from their studies to do some self-care and stress relief by creating fun and meaningful shrink art.

Image Credit: A Window Between Worlds, https://awbw.org/engaging-students-at-umkc/

Our most successful and fastest growing art workshops are our Healing Arts Corners. These self-managed healing arts stations are set up in various locations across campus to reach as many different populations as possible. In 2015 we started these workshops with just four locations and this past semester we were in twelve spaces on campus including the Women’s Center, International Student Affairs, the LGBTQIA Rainbow Lounge, the MindBody Connection (a collaborative space of our Counseling Center and Student Health and Wellness), the At Ease Zone in Student Veterans’ Services, the Student Advising Office, the Writing Studio, the Health Sciences Library, the Village in Multicultural Student Affairs, and our three residence halls. These stations provide students an outlet and resource for doing self-care on their time and on their terms. Students learn quickly where the stations are, and they return time and again when they need a little art to get them through the day.

Since 2013, our AWBW program has engaged students across campus, from classrooms in Arts and Sciences, to lounges in our medical school, to the sidelines of our basketball court. Our program has grown from serving 245 participants through 17 workshops during our first year, to serving 1800 participants at 67 workshops during the 2018-2019 academic year. With the COVID-19 pandemic came an even greater need for our workshops. We pivoted several times in order to continue offering art to students in the safest way possible.

The AWBW program at the Women’s Center is vital to the overall health of our campus. I am confident that through our art program, we are giving students the tools they need for self-preservation so they can find success not just in college, but in life.

Arzie Umali, MPA
Windows Facilitator
University of Missouri-Kansas City

A Farewell from Taylor Michl, our Graduate Assistant

 

By: Taylor Michl

Boy am I ready to sip cold drinks in the summer sunshine. But, not before reflecting on a busy semester—and year—filled with growth and fun. I’ve been graduate assistant at UMKC Women’s Center since August and it’s bizarre to think that this is the end of the road.

At the Center, I’ve been surrounded by colleagues and visitors who deeply care about the liberation of women and others that experience gender marginalization. There’s something really special about going to work everyday knowing that the smiling faces I will see deeply care about justice in the same ways I do. This semester, I have witnessed Women’s Center staff persevere, create, educate, empower, and grow. I have learned so much from them about ecofeminism, using art to empower and heal, dismantling fatphobia, and using creativity to meet students where they’re at. I’ve also been lucky to work with a variety of students, faculty, and staff in other departments through our Women’s Center programming, which has made me feel a deeper sense of community at UMKC.

Although I don’t plan to work at a university women’s center in the long term, I know that planning events, supervising staff, and building connections here will make me a more thoughtful counselor, researcher, and faculty member in the future. So, I guess all that’s left to say is thank you. Thank you all for making my feminism more informed, nuanced, and caring. Thank you for engaging in our growing gender equity community at UMKC. To anyone reading this, thank you for continuing to show up for yourself and your community every day even though it can be painful to live in a world that is less kind to some than others.

I hope your summer is filled with loved ones, fun, and taking breaks. You deserve it!

Farewell, Au Revoir, and Adios Y’all!

By: Sierra Voorhies

I have learned so much from working at the Women’s Center for two whole semesters! At first, I really struggled to find topics for blogs, I didn’t trust my writing or my interests. Now, after a full academic year, I have gained so much confidence and knowledge that there were actually more blogs that I wanted to write that we didn’t have time to. 

For your entertainment, I will tell you a couple things that I wanted to write about but ran out of time to. First, last semester I went to the Women’s March in Kansas City, and I had such an interesting time, with really good and not so good parts of that experience. I also wanted to talk about wedding ceremonies, specifically how some brides chose to follow or shirk tradition (like by wearing a black or colored dress instead of a white one). Another thing I would have liked to write about is the connection between femininity and commodification. For example how women and femme people are made to feel like it’s normal or necessary to have a collection of shoes, clothes, makeup, nail polish, etc. to be fully performing femininity, and that masculine presenting people don’t have the same capitalistic demands on them. 

If you are working at the Women’s Center in the future, please feel free to make these ideas into your blog posts, I will continue to check into this blog after I am done, because it is truly a great place to get insight into the gendered issues of today from the perspective of college students. I will always remember my time here and thanks to anyone who reads this blog!

Reflecting on my Women’s Center Experience

By: Jetzel Chavira

This has been one of the most fulfilling and busiest years of my life. I am reflecting my time at the Women’s Center and my most favorite part about working here was meeting my co-workers. On the daily I work with Adriana and Sierra who are my fellow work-study students. Apart from them, I also get to work with the interns which include Laura, Ebony, Emma Sauer, Emma Stuart and Alyssa.

The most challenging part of working here has been balancing work and life. I tend to get overwhelmed a lot and when I don’t organize or prioritize than I usually end up procrastinating. I found that using a physical planner and my Outlook calendar really helped. I would also make lists of what tasks I needed to do and prioritize them. Overall, the Women’s Center has been a good experience. I learned management skills, organizational skills, and had so much fun hanging out with my coworkers.

The Importance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month

By: Adriana Miranda

TW: sexual assault, violence

Did you know that 1 in every 6 American women has been the victim of an attempted or completed rape? But this doesn’t just affect women. Men who are students and 18-24 years old are FIVE times more likely to be raped or sexually assaulted than men of the same age who are not students. Transgender, genderqueer and nonconforming (TGQN) students are also at higher risk than other college students (source for all of these here). And these are just reported cases; who knows how much larger the number is for people who don’t ever talk about their assault? That being said, SA is something that affects us all. If you have friends who are women or TGQN, there’s a high chance they’ve experienced some form of SA. If you have male friends there is a chance they’ve experienced the same.

This is why SA Awareness Month (SAAM) exists. It’s a time for us to come together to raise awareness and to take action against sexual assault.

The Women’s Center is dedicated to spreading awareness about SA and this SAAM. As part of our programming, we participated in Denim Day on April 26, 2022. Denim Day began as the result of a court case that victim-blamed a woman for her assault. Why? The Italian Supreme Court ruled that her jeans were too tight for her rapist to remove by himself, so she must have helped remove them.  This past Wednesday, we also shared a“What Were They Wearing” display to share the stories of SA victims, heard from a survivor speaker, and finished out the event with healing arts and snacks as a break from the heavy subject matter.