Why the Oscars are “#VeryMale, #VeryWhite”

By Maggie Pool

Since the Academy Awards of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences first ceremony in 1929, only five women have been nominated for Best Director. None were nominated this year, despite the plethora of films directed by women that took the world and box offices by storm. For example, Greta Gerwig’s “Little Women” burst out of the gate beating the $50 million domestic gross of the 1994 version starring Winona Ryder in just ten days, and Rotten Tomatoes gave it a 95% approval rating. There were many other films this year made by women that also gained much critical attention like “The Farewell” (Lulu Wang), “Portrait of a Lady on Fire” (Céline Sciamma), “Honey Boy” (Alma Har’el), “Hustlers” (Lorene Scafaria), “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood” (Marielle Heller), “The Souvenir” (Joanna Hogg), and “Queen & Slim” (Melina Matsoukas). So why aren’t women winning? Because the Academy is only made up of 32% women.

There is one woman who has won an Academy Award for Best Director. Her name is Kathryn Bigelow. She won from her 2007 war movie, The Hurt Locker, which follows Staff Sergeant William James, a bomb diffuser in the Iraq war who seems to thrive on it. So it’s understandable why an Academy that was made up of about 94% white males at the time, according to a Los Angeles Times study, would vote for her and such a movie. This is no offense to Bigelow and her film, but it’s an undeniable correlation between the identity of the Academy voters and the content that they tend to vote for, which usually includes a white male protagonist and a plot that surrounds him and his heroicness.

Why is it that Kathryn Bigelow has been the only woman to ever win an Oscar for Best Director in the 92 years of the Academy Awards? The answer is simple. There just aren’t enough women within the Academy to vote for women nominees. Throughout most of its long-respected history, the Academy hasn’t had a very diverse community of voters. After the disaster of #OscarsSoWhite in 2016, and the start of the Times Up campaign in 2018, the Oscars have made several attempts to invite new filmmakers into the Academy. The Oscars has invited 2,300 new members since 2017, so now 32% of the voting body is women, up from 25% in 2015.

While those numbers may seem small, I’d argue that progress is progress. As long as we continue to raise our voices and make our injustices clear, the Academy will not be able to ignore its lack of diversity issue.

Hi, I’m Shanakay!

Hello! My name is Shanakay Osbourne and I am the new graduate assistant at the Women’s Center. I am a first-time UMKC student and my field of study is in social work. UMKC is my school of choice because I believe that I will gain the knowledge and skills needed to become an effective social worker in the future. I also like UMKC’s many opportunities for its students and its diversity.

I am excited to be a part of the Women’s Center team and I look forward to starting a wonderful journey. I value the Women’s Center mission for educating, advocating, and supporting women’s equity. My goal is be engaged in the community, address women’s issues, and inspire others. I am passionate about helping others reach their fullest potential.

I’m Kyra, It’s Great to Meet You!

Hello readers! My name is Kyra Crabtree (although I like to go by Kyra Charles whenever possible), and I’m a senior at UMKC who will serve as the new blog editor intern. I’m an English major with emphasis in creative writing, and a theatre minor with an emphasis in acting. This May, I’ll be getting my Bachelors of Arts in English with honors. I’m proud of the person UMKC has helped me to become, as the staff and students have always made me feel like my goals were not impossible. I’ve allowed myself to go above and beyond while living in Kansas City, learning not just from the classroom, but from the artistic city life far beyond what I could get in my hometown of Oak Grove.

For me, the Women’s Center has always emanated a feeling not just of feminist urgency, but a sense of comfort and camaraderie. They know the major issues, but also are willing to go one step at a time and try to provide for everyone who needs them. I’m happy that I can use my skills from both my major and my minor for the women’s center, not only blogging for them but performing in the Vagina Monologues as well. I hope I can share my knowledge, experience, and sense of humor on this blog while learning new things myself. My major interests are movies, history, fiction, politics, rock n roll, and animals, so those will probably occur quite regularly in my posts. Lets get started!

Hello Everyone! I’m Haley Dean

This is my last semester here at UMKC. I am pursuing a Bachelors of Health Science with a minor in Exercise Science. I transferred to UMKC from Johnson County Community College, where I received my Associates degree in Liberal Arts. Along with classes and interning at the Women’s Center, I am a part of the Bachelors of Health Science Society here on campus as well. When I’m not on campus, at work, or doing homework, I spend most of my free time snuggling with my two cats.

I have chosen to do my internship at the UMKC Women’s Center because I want to support the women in the community. The Women’s Center not only benefits me, but all women here on campus. I have learned a lot about health disparities women face during my program, and the Women’s Center is here to provide resources for women, as well as to educate and advocate for gender equity, which is extremely important. I’m excited for this semester and all of the amazing events we will be doing!

Once I graduate I plan to get a job right out of college. Down the road I plan to go to graduate school and get my Master’s in Public Health with an emphasis in Epidemiology, and of course, spend some quality time with my cats.

Ready for Another Semester at the Women’s Center

Hello everyone, glad to be back writing for you! Did you miss me? I had a relaxing winter break and now I’m ready to resume my duties here at the Women’s Center (though I did cheat and work a little over break). This semester I am working as both the social media intern and a work-study student, so I do a few hours a week as both. That means more time spent in the Center planning fabulous events for students, faculty, and community members to enjoy.

I’ll be in charge of heading our Women’s History Month trivia table and the social media trivia, so be on the lookout for that come March. It’s sure to be fun and you’ll learn a lot. This year Women’s History Month is focusing on the anniversary of the Women’s Suffrage movement. I’m hoping to feature some little-told stories of the unsung heroes of the movement. We’ll see how my research goes.

This will be my last semester here at the Women’s Center, and at UMKC in general. I’m set to graduate with my bachelor’s degree in political science this May, assuming all goes well. I’ll miss UMKC, and the Center. It’s all really grown on me over the past year that I’ve been here. I’m trying to savor my last semester and really let myself enjoy it.

I’m not taking a ton of classes, so I should have a little more free time to just enjoy being a college student. Of course, I’m still going to leave plenty of time to study hard and do well in my classes. I’m going to take my time looking for jobs for after college and really try to find something that I’d be a good fit for. I hope to partake in my hobbies, walk my dog, and just enjoy life the semester. Life always tends to throw me some curveballs, so we’ll see how things go.

Introducing…Sabrina!

Hi, my name is Sabrina Zavala and I am currently in my final semester here at UMKC. I am in the Bachelor of Health Sciences program with a minor in Exercise Science. I chose UMKC for a few reasons, but the number one reason was because of how diverse UMKC is. Coming into college, I never would have imagined being so involved and knowing a lot of people around campus. I enjoy getting to know new people and making new friends everywhere I go. I may seem shy and quiet at first, but once you get to know me, I won’t stop talking and laughing.

I chose to be the Violence and Prevention Intern at the Women’s Center this semester because I wanted to do everything I could to help support the women on our campus and in our community. I have volunteered with the Women’s Center multiple times throughout my college years and now I get to coordinate the events and connect with others involved on campus as well. The Women’s Center provides not only me but other women and students the support and inspiration that pushes us to continue every day, which is why I am excited to be interning at the Women’s Center this semester!

Hello, I’m Allani!

By: Allani Gordon

I’m currently a freshman at UMKC pursuing a Bachelor of Liberal Arts with a minor in Studio Art and Anthropology. I chose UMKC because I knew it would be an inclusive and enriching environment for me, which it has been for me so far. The Women’s Center especially promotes all the qualities that initially drew me to UMKC, and I look forward to representing these values on campus and in the community.

As an artist and activist at heart, my internship for Her Art Project at the Women’s Center has given me the opportunity to combine these two passions. I’m eager to connect with and empower local female artists, as it will empower myself too. I hope the projects I work on during this semester will contribute to the long-term reconfiguration of representing female artists in the Kansas City area.

My own journey as a female athlete

By Allison Anderson

I never thought about how my gender played a role in my life until recently. Growing up I lived in a very equal household. Both my parents were in the military, everyone cooked, cleaned, and my mom even took care of our taxes. Nobody was above anybody and your gender did not define your role.

I recently learned that I was very lucky to grow up with the parents I did. After joining Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention office at Mizzou I learned that not everyone has had the same experience as me. While working for the women’s center here at UMKC, I have done hours of research which has opened my eyes to the unfortunate gender roles that have affected my life. I realized that my gender impacted one of the biggest parts of my life, my athletic career.

I started playing soccer when I was four and I can remember one particular sexist incident that still affects me today. When I was nine I won both competitions at soccer camp (juggling and an obstacle course). I was one of two girls in my group; everyone else was a boy, including the coaches. I beat all the young boys in my group by having a faster obstacle course time and juggling the ball more times than they did. When I won, the boys were less than supportive. In fact, they told me the only reason I beat them was because I was on steroids. Again, we were eight and nine years old.

As I continued to reflect on how athletics has played a role in my life, I realized that sexism is very prominent among young children and their sports. I coached for a children’s soccer organization for five years. The kids were ages two through five. The older the kids got, the more sexist the organization seemed to get. For example, the two year olds were all mixed in together; boys and girls just learning the basics. However, when they reached age four, they were separated into boy teams and girl teams, and given traditional gender role jersey colors. The girls’ teams wore pink, purple and yellow. The boys were given blue, green, and gray. I always thought it was odd and have now realized how something as simple as a color can have an effect on a child’s mindset towards gender.

Jersey colors aren’t the only way brands and organizations target gender roles. Cleats are the number one thing you need for soccer, and big named brands like Nike and Adidas take full advantage of traditional gender roles when it comes to making money. If you go to a sporting store and look at cleats, all of the girls’ cleats are pink, purple, or bright “feminine” colors. The boys are the opposite. Even in the men and women’s cleats section the colors are like this. It is ridiculous.

Growing up my favorite player was (and still is) Cristiano Ronaldo. He always promotes the coolest looking cleats and as a soccer player myself I wanted to wear the same cleats. But guess what? They only sell high-quality, expensive, name-brand cleats in adult male sizes. They don’t even sell a men’s size small enough for me to fit. It just makes me think that these brands do not feel women are good enough players or in a way, worthy enough, to wear these high-quality cleats.

This feeling of not being worthy or good enough really came to its height when I was in college. My school’s women’s soccer program had a good history and was consistently successful for many years. The same could not be said about the men’s program, but because we were women, our success did not matter, so the men’s team was treated better.

The number one most irritating part of playing college soccer was the fact that the men got to play at seven in the evening. Why is that irritating? Because the women’s team, my team, played at five in the evening before them. Our season is in the fall which means we play from August to November. Do you know how hot it is at five p.m. in some of those months? Do you know how many people are not able to attend our games because the average full-time job does not finish a work day until five in the evening? It was embarrassing. There were always more parents, locals, and students at the men’s games. Plus the environment was more fun and entertaining; and they got to play under the stadium lights because it was later at night.

The women’s team had more conference championships, more National Tournament bids, and overall more wins than the men’s team, but again, because we are women, none of that mattered. This story is starting to sound familiar, right? That’s because the United States women’s soccer team has been going through it for years. But there has recently been some hope brought into the lives of female athletes.

This year, the U.S. national women’s soccer team won another World Cup title. In the soccer world, the World Cup is the biggest competition you can win. The women on this team used their national platform to bring more awareness to gender inequality in athletics and people are finally starting to pay attention. Strong and dedicated female athletes like Megan Rapinoe and Serena Williams are helping pave the way for change. They are creating a world where women can play under those stadium lights, where girls can beat boys because they are better, and hopefully, someday, a world where a little girl can wear her favorite soccer player’s cleats.

 

A Semester in Reflection by the Women’s Center’s Christina Terrell

By Christina Terrell

I have been at the Women’s Center since November of 2018 and Spring 2019 was my second semester here and it has been nothing but non- stop excitement all semester long. However, this spring semester has really taught me a lot and allowed me to really get involved with campus life.

I was able to attend about 18 out of the 25 events that we hosted this semester, which gave me the opportunity to witness and experience things that I had not done before. For example, this semester I took on the role of taking pictures for most of the events, which allowed me to see things through a different lens, literally. It really brought me joy being able to capture such great moments of some of our events such as, The Vagina Monologues, The Her Art Women’s Persistent Muse Luncheon, and Denim Day. Being an armature photographer was not something that I pictured myself doing in a million years, however I am glad this new venture was brought to me because it showed me, I have interest in things I would not have thought of on my own.

Reflecting on my semester here at the Women’s Center, another big highlight for me was that I took on some leadership roles this semester, which allowed me to gain skills and confidence in areas that I had not realized I embodied. For instance, this semester I oversaw office information such as managing our Women’s Center Library. Along with I decided to take on the role of organizing the end of the year celebration that we have at the end of each semester, which allows us to come together and reflect on the highlights of the semester.

In the end my semester here at UMKC’s Women’s Center has been nothing short of exciting, and fulfilling, being a work-study student here has really allowed me to get involved, experience new things, and embody roles that I would not have imagined of doing before becoming a part of such an empowering team like this one.

A Semester in Reflection from the Women’s Center’s Caitlin Easter

By Caitlin Easter

As the semester draws to a close, inevitably so does my time here at the Women’s Center. As sad as this is, it provides a perfect opportunity to reflect on what I have done and the things I have learned from working here.

While I have always had a passion for the helping the advancement of women, I never thought I would one day be lucky enough to work at a place devoted to advocating for the equity of women. Coming to Kansas City from a small town, I never realized the opportunities and experiences that would be afforded to me in college just because I was in a space with more people and ideas.

When I first saw the “hiring” poster last semester in Haag Hall, I expected all the positions to be filled at that point in the semester, and was incredibly surprised when there was room for me on staff. That interview was one of the most nerve-wracking things I’d ever done. What if they told me I wasn’t a good enough feminist? More than just being turned down for a job, the fear of being told that I wasn’t fitting the feminist side of myself as much as I had always believed was terrifying for me; the possibility of not being what I had always labeled myself as was such an odd thought. What if I didn’t fit into position and environment because I was a fake feminist? Being accepted for that position helped me to achieve some of the most defining moments of my life through this job.

Getting to wear so many hats in the Women’s Center was also very beneficial! I got to play different roles such as secretary, event organizer, and blog writer! Never being stuck doing the same thing every day was such a change from traditional jobs, and was a nice experience in multitasking for me.

My favorite experiences during my time at the Women’s Center were the Vagina Monologues production and the Healing Arts Corners. The Vagina Monologues was very similar in theme to a production I had done in high school, and was something I was very much looking forward to. Watching other women perform and display our experiences in an open and raw way really deeply touched me. The Healing Arts corners were something I took over near the beginning of this semester, and they have been such a satisfying thing to manage. Beyond just the satisfaction of getting to play with sculpey clay at work, it was also a incredible to see that impact that something so small could make on someone’s day and life.

This semester, I have learned that though my time at the Women’s Center may come to an end, my feminist spirit will never, and it is just about finding new ways to advocate and express this feminism. At the center I have learned about women who use their art to advance women, and if art can spur social change, what else could do the same?

One of the biggest things that inspired me was the culture around feminism in the center. Coming from a place where the title feminist was synonymous with “crazy liberal” to a place where people understood that wanting to be equal was NOT too much to ask, was such an important shift for me. It was nice to be in a healthy place where I could grow, away from people telling me that I was asking too much for wanting the same as everyone else.

The biggest think I will take with me, is that we all have a part to play in the advancement of women in our society, and that doubting how good I am of a feminist is not doing anything for me.