Immigrant Healthcare Workers: The Unsung Heroes of the Pandemic

By: Jetzel Chavira

When I first heard of COVID-19, I had no idea what we were getting into. I reflect on the healthcare workers fighting frontlines against this contagious and deadly disease. About 2.9 million immigrant healthcare professionals played a vital role in fighting against COVID-19. And one of those 2.9 million healthcare workers was my mom. She immigrated to the United States at 8years old, but she went back in forth to Mexico ’till around the time she was in middle school. She had me at 16 years old but despite these challenges with a newborn and practically being a single mother, she pursued respiratory care. She earned her associate’s degree in respiratory therapy. During the pandemic, she continued to work at the hospital, working directly with COVID-19 patients. I remember how fearful she was coming home to my little sister and I. Our laundry room was next to our car garage so she would change out of her scrubs in the laundry room to new clothes in order to take extra precautions. She was on the front lines fighting against the pandemic.

Whenever I hear immigrants steal jobs or don’t contribute to our society, I feel anger come over me because I think about my mom. There have been countless times when my mom has been afraid that she may be fired from her job due to her status. My mom does not deserve to live in fear. No one deserves to live in fear. 

So, I say let’s appreciate immigrant healthcare workers, instead of telling them to go back to their country.  

 

Artist Salon Spotlight: Meet Joy Zimmerman!

By: Emma Stuart

This segment is a continuation of the segment of blogs highlighting local artists that will be involved in the Artist’s Salon, sponsored by the Women’s Center at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14th.

This posting is all about  local singer songwriter Joy Zimmerman. She recently debuted a song called “Women Who Walk on Water” with an event at the InterUrban ArtHouse, accompanied by an exhibit. This exhibit is dedicated to important women throughout history, who are highlighted through a portrait gallery in the InterUrban ArtHouse gallery space and are mentioned in Joy’s song. To get to know our featured speakers we asked them some questions about themselves and their work.

Q: What is your preferred medium of creativity?

“I’m a singer/songwriter and presenter.”

Q: What is your interest in participating in the Artist’s Salon?

“I think this panel will be a fascinating discussion, and I look forward to hearing

the perspectives and insights of the other panelists.”

Q: What is a source of inspiration for your work?

“I love writing and sharing songs about the scope of life experience. Reflecting on artists whose songs have been meaningful to me, I dive into the joys and struggles of my own life to spur ideas.”

Q:Are there any projects you are currently working on that you are excited about?

“I’m currently participating in the Artist INC program, working on new collaborations, practicing for upcoming gigs, arranging small tours, writing new songs for a forthcoming album, and looking forward to attending several conferences and a songwriting retreat.”

Q: How do you see the intersection of art and gender in your own work? And how has this empowered you, or others?

“Women are vastly underrepresented in the music industry, so I feel stronglyabout representing the female voice and perspective in songwriting, performing, recording, and producing. It was gratifying to write a song highlighting courageous women past and present and curate a hall of portraits and a concert to celebrate their impact.”

You can find Joy’s music on streaming platforms such as Spotify, YouTube Music and Pandora. To learn more about Joy and her work visit her website, and if you are interested in hearing Joy’s take on the intersection of art and gender join us at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14th for our Artist’s discussion.

Artist Salon Spotlight: Meet Natasha Ria El-Scari!

 

By: Emma Stuart

This segment is a continuation of the segment of blogs highlighting local artists that will be involved in the Artist’s Salon, sponsored by the Women’s Center at the InterUrban ArtHouse on April 1th at 6-7 p.m. Natasha Ria El-Scari will be one of the featured speakers at the event.

Natasha is a Kansas City local with many talents. She is a published poet and writer with 5 published written works. Her most well-known being “Mama Sutra: Love and Lovemaking Advice to my Son”, which is all about the conversations on lovemaking that she has had with her son. This is a non-fiction work those contrasts some of her other fiction work including “Growing Up Sina” and “The Only Other”. To get to know our featured speakers, we asked them some questions about themselves and their work.  Here’s what Natasha had to share with us: 

Q: What is your preferred medium of creativity?

“Poetry and specifically spoken word.”

Q: What is your interest in participating in the Artist’s Salon?

“ I am always elated to connect with other women artists in community. This event will be one of those beautiful times.”

Q: What is a source of inspiration for your work?

“The source of my inspiration is to create from the most authentic voice I can. That voice is that of a womanist, a woman, an African American, a mother and a lover.”

Q: Are there any projects you are currently working on that you are excited about?

“Currently, I am making attempts at completing my 6th book, Steelife. Each day it seems further away. I have another secret project in preparation now and I get giddy thinking of it. As an editor and manuscript developer I do admit that other’s work sometimes precedes mine. That is often the struggle of writers/artists who also teach and work in their field of passion. ”

Q: How do you see the intersection of art and gender in your own work? And how has this empowered you, or others? 

“I believe that my art as it intersects with gender completely empowers my intended audience, women, and girls but also the men who seek to and need to understand their perspective. There is something special about art and humor that allows people to see their oppression for what it is and to see their participation in others oppression. ” 

 If you are interested in learning more about Natasha’s work you can visit her website www.natasharia.com, which has information about her books, art, coaching services, and more. And if you want to hear more about what Natasha has to say about the intersection about art and gender join us at The InterUrban ArtHouse on April 14, 6-7 p.m. for our discussion- “Gender, Art, Power”.

Whose Femininity Is It Anyway?

By: Adriana Miranda

Have you ever thought about how, like, femininity is SO strongly tied to men? Hear me out!

Yeah, femininity is traditionally associated with women. BUT! Think about what kind of women are afforded femininity. It tends to be straight women, or white women, orrrr thin women, or just women that fit into the cishet male gaze of desirability in one way or another. So if femininity (at least to a cishet world) means “desirable to men” has it ever really been ours to begin with? And what if our performance of femininity ISN’T for men, what happens then?

Now we all perform gender, right? I personally present very feminine, i’m talking almost-strictly-wears-dresses feminine. I also happen to be a lesbian. And plus-size. And a person of color. This for some reason sometimes confuses (and angers) cisgender heterosexual people.

Either my femininity is called into question or my sexuality is called into question: “Are you sure you’re not at all attracted to men? You dress so cute! I bet you secretly do like us.” Or…“Do you just dress this way because you’re not comfortable being your true self?”

Why does it need to be one way or another? Why does my femininity have to be me trying to attract men or make up for my fatness for men or appear more “soft” for men? What if I just want to present feminine? And even if I was if I was doing it for anyone other than myself, it’s definitely for other lesbians. Femininity can and DOES exist entirely on its own, completely separate from men.

Someone’s Gotta Say it: Female Comedians Don’t Get a Fair Shake

By: Emma Sauer

In 2019, A Little Late with Lily Singh aired for the first time on NBC. Singh, a comedy youtuber and influencer, launched her career from her YouTube channel. Initially, fans and critics were cautiously optimistic, and at first the show seemed like it would be promising–then the first episode came out. 

Christ on a cracker, was it bad. Every joke fell flat, every skit was played out, and Singh’s presentation felt forced and awkward.  I’m not going to argue Lily Singh is some comedy genius, but I do think the widespread scorn she received was disproportionate. Sure, she made a bad show, and some jokes that were in poor taste, but it was her first time appearing in front of a TV audience. The show had budget and time difficulties, and it was filmed in the heat of COVID-19, further throwing a wrench into the show’s production. The problems audiences and media critics had with the show extended way beyond its quality, but that’s another blog for the time. For the time being, let’s just say some people thought Singh got a little too comfortable appropriating Caribbean/Black culture. 

Everyone on the internet seemed to agree for one brief, delicious moment–A Little Late with Lily Singh was a swing and a miss. But then, it became clear to me that there were some people taking the opportunity not just to bash Singh’s comedy, but just female comedians in general. I remember seeing a lot of discourse online throughout YouTube, Reddit, and 4-chan. (Shout-out to 4-chan for always being there to remind me humanity is doomed.)

This incident reminded me of an ongoing argument that has never really ended- are women even funny? If you’re a rationally thinking person, this sounds like an incredibly stupid argument, and I agree with you–it is stupid. It’s ass-backwards, even. The idea that women can’t be comedians based on their gender is something I wish we left back in the early 2000s, but unfortunately it is still a thing. On the bright side, you won’t find a lot of reputable sources declaring women incapable of fun. On the not so bright side, you’ll find it’s the opposite on internet forums and social media. 

So what exactly are people saying about female comedians? Well, I’ll save you the pain of googling it yourself. (You’ll have to take my word for it. I don’t want to link where I found these remarks–they’re hateful and not worth your time to read.) Here’s what I found: 

  1. “Women are more concerned with their appearance than telling jokes.” In a YouTube video called “Women are NOT FUNNY” (very creative title, 10/10), the guy in front of the camera reacts to some unfunny TikTok videos from a woman. His takeaway from a couple seconds-long videos? “Women just don’t seem to appreciate comedy at the same level a man does.” He also states that men are better at comedy, because they are willing to self-deprecate from an early age, while women prefer to avoid drawing attention to their imperfections. He categorizes women as being too vain and self-absorbed to take a joke. This dude talks like women are an entirely different species. His ideas were kind of interesting, but he had nothing to back it up- no research, no articles mentioned or cited. The comments had nothing but  high praise for him though, and he’s got ~200,000 subscribers. Go figure, I guess. 
  2. “Female comedians joke too much about their vaginas.” This is another blanket statement I’ve come across on social media threads, and I’m sure it’s something female comics have been hearing for decades now. In my humble opinion, this is a double standard at play. I haven’t even watched that much stand-up comedy and even I’ve heard a ton of dick jokes from male comics. Why is it that guys can make dick/sex jokes all they want, but when a women does the same thing, people find it so gross? I think it has to do with the fact that people don’t expect sex jokes from a woman. From a man, they’re funny. From a woman, it’s annoying and icky. Comedian Emily Weir had some insightful things to say about this in an article from Farrago Magazine. The article is from 2016, but it still makes great points. 
  3. “I don’t like(insert female comedian here) therefore all female comedians are bad.” This isn’t a statement I hear from people online–rather, it’s the thought process I’ve observed from people who hold that belief. Ok, remember what I said about Singh earlier? People took that one instance and spun their own narrative of all women being poor comedians, not just Singh. I see the same thing happen all the time with mainstream female comedians, such as Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and Ellen DeGeneres. It’s important to recognize that the comedian world is male dominated. Men make up roughly 75% of comedians. The few female comedians you see in the spotlight are not necessarily an accurate picture of all the others. There’s a cornucopia of gut-busting female comedians out there- you just aren’t looking.  Additionally, I’d argue that there are a lot of mainstream male comics who are equally obnoxious and groan-inducing. I don’t like Joe Rogan, but that doesn’t mean every bald, red-faced, middle-aged man is a hack, just most of them! (Kidding, kidding… I didn’t mean it, Dad.) 

It goes without saying that women are just as funny as anyone else. These three points don’t prove anything, and as soon as you start to think about them, their reasoning falls apart. As time goes on, more people are catching onto the weak arguments against female comedians. The way they’re viewed is changing, and I feel like the climate is improving for women in comedy. Even still, these backwards ideas against them still persist. They’ve always bugged me, and someone had to say it. 

P.S) Here are a few of my favorite female comedians. Feel free leave your own favorites in the comments! 

Nicole Byer

Jamie Loftus

Catilin Reily 

Sex Sells…But at What Cost?

By: Ebony Taylor 

Ever watched a movie or tv show based in high-school? Think about the female characters. There’s often a character who’s a “school slut” or girl who wears revealing clothing. She is almost always over-sexualized. Reporters have noticed the almost obsessive need to sexualize the teenage experience, especially with Gen-Z. As a borderline millennial myself, I do not think movies and tv shows accurately represent teen life because the film industry has a skewed view of the high school experience. A more recent example is HBO’s Euphoria, a show meant to portray the mind of young teens.  

Although I have not watched the show, many critics of the show feel its objectification of underaged girls is an issue. The Daily Targum, an online newspaper, mentions that Hollywood has a history of setting unrealistic beauty standards, focusing on the women characters’ sexual development. This may have to do with men filling writing and directing roles, and that female characters are being used to appeal to the male eye.

This idea was brought to my attention on Euphoria,  because the writer and director of the show is also male. Are male writers and directors conscious of how they’re portraying women? Those who have watched Euphoria  agree that the show is not shy about displaying nudity. With the numerous sex, nude, and drug scenes, the Guardian writes that younger audiences may be accidental targets. From featuring former Disney costars, attractive models, to a soundtrack made of popular artists, I can see how this show would be appealing to them.   

The main topic of discussion here is to consider how society imposes sexuality on young girls. Media outlets like social media, tv shows, and movies impact girls and their mental health. Sexualization in media suggests that being “sexy” is liberating and powerful. However, when girls are exposed to unrealistic portrayals of girls their age, it can lead to internal conflict, confusion, self-loathing, according to a Verywell Mind article. Not only do media platforms persuade young girls to express their sexuality, but they open a channel for them to do it.  

Due to labor laws, directors may cast women to play the roles of high school-aged girls. I was shocked to learn that actress Rachael McAdams was 25 when she starred in Mean Girls  as a high school bully. The Daily Targum gave an opinionated review that though the sex lives of teens cannot be completely censored, it is a “fine line between sexualizing young women and being informative on how teens view and experience sexual activities.” It can give teens the wrong perception, that what they see (a grown, developed, working woman) is how they should look in high school. Granted, some girls develop more than others in their teens, but these films and shows are setting the bar almost impossibly high for growing girls.  

For social media outlets, there is a negative side to sexual exposure. The American Journal of Psychiatry mentions Nancy Jo Sales, writer of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, who concludes that social media can reinforce sexism and objectification. Many times, young girls are sent unwanted penis pictures, pressured to send nude photos, or portray themselves in a sexualized way to compete with other girls for “likes” online. It’s not only happening in the media, but in other parts of teen’s life. The answers for why girls’ sports feel that they need to dress in more revealing uniforms, why women who are more endowed and shapely play high schoolers, or why sex scenes can’t be censored and have to be shown repeatedly, can only come from females in the media industry. There need to be more women in the media to stop the sexualization of girls and young women. Female writers, directors, other creatives could help create realistic portrayals of women in the media. Stricter and more protective laws for women can also ensure safety for women of all ages.  

Self-Care Tips from Yoko Ono

 

By: Emma Stuart

To celebrate Women’s History Month, let’s start by celebrating you! Take a page out of Yoko Ono’s book Grapefruit, where she lists pages and pages of actions to take for the use of therapeutic self-care. This book and mind set was the precursor for modern day self-care. Here’s just a few of Ono’s suggestions… “Light a match and watch until it goes out. Go into the middle of Central Park Pond and drop all of your jewelry. Scream against the sky” (source).

Now, these actions may seem far-fetched and not anything like the self-care industry that we know today, but all of these seemingly outrageous actions have meaning. These actions are focused on the mind, empowering yourself and others, connecting with others, and helping you connect with your imagination. This category of actions is characterized by self-discovery which has seemingly been overlooked in the modern self-care industry. To put this into practice we can combine Ono’s category of actions with the modern self-care industry. Here is a list of actions that you could do this month to take care of yourself.

  1. Sit outside [weather permitting], put away all distractions, and focus on where you are in that moment.
  2. Write out a list of people or things that you are grateful for. Post it in your living space and contemplate it often.
  3. Go on a walk near your living space, find something from your surroundings that inspires you, it could be a rock, leaf, flower etc. Take it and mail it to a friend.
  4. Take part of a day for yourself, do something that you enjoy and devote your energy to it.
  5. Find a new piece of media to focus on that brings you joy, a book, a piece of art, a song, etc.
  6. Take some time out of your day to earnestly tell the important women in your life how much they mean to you. If you can don’t just say it, show it.
  7. Get ready one day to go nowhere, make sure to wear clothes that make you feel good in your body.
  8. Spend time with someone who fills your heart with joy.
  9. Congratulate yourself for getting through the week, get yourself a little treat to celebrate.
  10. Finally, take some time to reflect and make it known how much you appreciate yourself, do this often.

Even if you can’t do all of these things or these things exactly, try to be intentional about checking up on yourself and taking care of you. As women, that is how we can best celebrate Women’s History Month, by being kind to ourselves.

 

 

 

“Fridging Women”: How the Comics Industry Flubs Female Characters

By: Alyssa Bradley

Lynda Carter as “Wonder Woman”, 1976

The absence of female authors and the large majority of male readers has potentially skewed the comic book industry. Overly sexy female characters, constraining female characters to secondary roles, and dull or extreme personalities are the patterns of sexism observed in comic books or graphic novels. “Women in Refrigerators” or “fridging women” is a term coined by Gail Simone, which is used to refer to the disempowerment or maiming of female characters. The origin of the term came from the 1994 comic The Green Lantern #54.The hero, Kyle Rayner, returns home to find his girlfriend, Alexandra DeWitt, killed and stuffed in a refrigerator. This trope became recognizable as a way for authors to use female characters as devices to project their male characters forward in their story.

“Fridging women” as a trope applies to much more than just comic books. Utilizing female characters as assets to their male counterparts contributes to the sexism women are subjected to their entire lives. Young girls or women who consume this media get the impression that they are only a mere accessory to the plot rather than an influential factor in the story.

Acts of sexism extend beyond the over-sexualized characters. Female authors have become gradually marginalized with the growth in the industry and female fans are attacked and criticized for their opinions. The results of these problems can damage the social image of women and make it increasingly difficult to fight the gender equity issues concerning our world today. Equal representation in the entertainment industry must take precedence in order to undo society’s status quo.

 

Back to Basics #2: Do Feminists Hate Men?

By: Laura Yac

We are bringing it back to basics this week with a common misconception involving feminists.  When I talk about my feminist beliefs, I often get asked the question, “Do you hate men?”  My answer,  like Cher from Clueless would say is: “Ugh! as if…”

Yet the question still remains if feminists really hate men, and for the most part we don’t! I have come to the conclusion that many individuals (especially men) feel attacked by the term feminist and the concept of women wanting to be seen as equal and receiving the same opportunities that men do for simply being male. This is where I believe individuals got the common misconception that we hate men.

If you go online right now and look up the term feminist, the definition is  “advocacy of women rights on the basis of equality of sexes.” From that, we can gather that overall feminists just want to be seen at the same standards the world places men. We want nothing more than to be treated as the powerful individuals we are and because of that, men shouldn’t feel threatened or hated on. It is simply a matter of wanting change. Women are tired of being treated like they are unable to do certain tasks, tired of being underpaid and underestimated.

It is time that individuals realize that. Instead of seeing such movement as a threat, they should join the cause for the women in their life who have been shut down and underestimated their whole life. For now, it seems women’s rights will be a battle we continue to fight.

For the mean-time here is some extra helpful information on what feminism really is and to leave on a good note… Men, we don’t hate you!

Helpful articles to learn more about feminism: click here and here.

 

 

 

 

 

Women’s History Trivia: First Female African American Physician

The New England Female Medical College (Image Source: Wikipedia Commons)

By: Alyssa Bradley

Trivia Question: Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American woman to become a _______ (occupation) in the United States. 

Answer: Physician

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler is recognized for becoming the first African-American woman physician in the United States. As a young girl, she grew up in a house with her aunt who took care of the ill. Rebecca was always considered a “special student” and was allowed to attend many prestigious private schools because of her intellect.

Later in life, she pursued her shared family passion for medicine.  During 1860, Crumpler applied and was accepted into the New England Female Medical College. This institution was founded in 1848 and had only started accepting its first female student, a class of 12, in 1850. The women at this college faced ridicule from male physicians who derided the institution. They complained that women “lacked the physical strength to practice medicine”. Others thought that women were incapable of understanding a medical curriculum and that the topics taught were inappropriate for their “sensitive and delicate nature”.

In 1860, there were only 300 women out of 54,543 physicians in the United States–and none of them were African American. Despite the discouraging odds, in 1864 Crumpler became her school’s only African-American graduate.

After completing her schooling, Crumpler relocated to Richmond, Virginia where she found her calling. She discovered “the proper field for real missionary work, and one that would present ample opportunities to become acquainted with the diseases of women and children.” It was here she worked under the Freedman’s Bureau, an agency dedicated to helping newly freed African American slaves.

Throughout the rest of her practice, Rebecca faced daily issues of racism and sexism from her colleagues, pharmacists, and many others. Rebecca Lee Crumpler continued to practice medicine and even wrote a book called A Book of Medical Discourses in Two Parts. She passed in 1895. Crumpler achieved many things in the name of gender and women’s equity and paved the way for many of those who continue to defy adversity.