The Gender Gap in Caregiving and Why Women Carry It

Trivia Question: In heterosexual married couples where both partners work full time, women spend ____ % more time caregiving than men.

Answer: 40.

By: Emma Sauer

When I think of caregivers, I think of my paternal grandma, who’s dedicated herself to my grandpa’s care for as long as I can remember, ever since he’s had difficulty walking. I think of my mother, a living reminder that housewives work their asses off just as much as career-women. I think of my best friend, studying rigorously so she can become a nurse.

Caregiving, whether its paid or unpaid, professional or personal, is hard work. I will forever have respect for caregivers, because they go above and beyond to help their fellow humans. It takes a special kind of person to be patient and disciplined enough to be a good caregiver. Caregiving, if you weren’t aware, is a broad term that covers those who “provide care to people who need some degree of ongoing assistance with everyday tasks on a regular or daily basis” (CDC). A caregiver can be someone hired to take care of a stranger, or an unpaid person taking care of a family member, friend, or loved one. Up to 81% of all caregivers, formal and informal, are female, and they may spend as much as 50% more time giving care than males. Even in heterosexual relationships where both partners work full time, women still spend a whopping 40% more time caregiving than their male partner. 

So, why do women shoulder such a heavy share of the caregiving compared to men? If you yourself are a woman, you already know the answer: it’s what’s expected of us. This isn’t to say that caregiving and homemaking isn’t just as important as more traditional careers, or even that there aren’t women who love doing it. However, it would be outright wrong to say that that 75% number isn’t partly due to a sense of obligation. It was only as recently as WWII that the United States began to change its perception of women as primary caretakers. In those days, the nuclear model of family demanded that women stayed home to cook, clean, and watch the kids, while their husbands went off and did important man things, like selling vacuums door to door, committing tax fraud in the office, and whatever else businessmen did in the 50’s. You’d think things would have changed more by 2022, but a lot of women are instilled with an obligation/duty to take care of others, whether it’s their children, husband, parents, or someone else.

This month, let’s recognize the women in our lives who are caretakers. Better yet, let’s do it all year long. If you’re a caregiver yourself, thank you. Thank you for your hard work, dedication, and time you give to others.

A Brief History of Women in the U.S Military (Part 2)

By: Sierra Voorhies

Trivia Question: True or False? Army and Navy nurses, all of whom were women, weren’t given veteran’s benefits and equal rights in the military until 1947, when they were granted officer’s status. 

Answer: True

World War II (1939-1945)

In WW2, all branches of the military accepted women into their organizations. Their role expanded from clerical jobs to driving, repair persons, lab workers, operators, parachute riggers, and air combat trainers (USO). 68,000 women served as nurses across the Army Nurse Corps and the Navy Nurse Corps – sometimes working on front lines, and sometimes being killed or taken as prisoners of war. Black women served as nurses overseas and stateside, and were continuously used as auxiliary forces that were called in so men could serve on the front lines when needed. In 1948 Truman signed an Integration Act that desegregated women in the Army and the Organized Reserve Corps where Black women had been serving without official recognition. 

Interesting Fact: Aesthetically, in WW2, uniforms were skirts, and having hairdos, makeup and nail polish was emphasized, this is different from today when makeup, nail polish and skirts are not allowed (USO). 

In 1948 (Before the Korean War) Truman signed an Act that allowed ‘women to serve as full, permanent members of all branches of the Armed Forces.” (USO) Truman also issued an executive order to desegregate the military and allow Black women equal service (USO).

Vietnam War- Present
  • In the Vietnam War, women were allowed to command units that included men. 
  • Since the 80’s progress continued to be made, including women becoming fighter pilots, rescue swimmers, and four-star generals in the Army (USO).
  • In 1991 Operation Desert Storm started, and an estimated 40% of women serving were Black women (NABMW).
  • In 1994 Clinton got rid of the “Risk Rule” which let women be in any position besides direct ground combat roles (USO). 
  • In 2015 Women would be allowed to serve in direct ground combat roles, meaning almost every role in the armed forces is now open to women (USO).

In conclusion, Black women continue to face intersectional issues in the Armed Forces, but those who have served and volunteered since pre-colonialism paved the way for those who serve with full recognition and benefits now. Proportionately, Black women serve at a higher rate (in noncommissioned officers) than White women or Black Men, meaning they tend to stay in the service longer. The military can be a place of opportunity that civilian careers might not equal in the eyes of some Black women today (NABMW).

Like in every other aspect of life, the United State’s history of slavery, segregation, and racism plays an important role in the way Black women serve. But all the same, women will persist. 

Note: I would love to write a part two about the history of queer people in the military, but as this is so long, I will refrain from including it in this blog. Stay tuned! 

Women of Color in the Essential Workforce

By: Adriana Miranda 

Trivia Question: _______ __ _______ (demographic) are more likely to be doing essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic than anyone else.

Answer: women of color

Did you know women of color are more likely to be doing essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic than anyone else?

“Of the 5.8 million people working healthcare jobs that pay less than $30,000 a year, half are nonwhite and 83 percent are women.” says the New York Times.  Also, according to Think Global Health, “one in every three jobs held by women has been deemed essential, and women of color are more likely to have essential jobs”.

We as an entire global population are relying on healthcare workers and service workers to keep our lives semi-normal and semi-functioning. While these roles have always been important, and we should always treat others with respect regardless of their job being “essential”, these past two years have REALLY shown us that these essential workers are truly the backbone of our everyday lives. They keep our groceries stocked, they keep our public spaces clean, they keep our families alive. They are also more likely to be women of color.

Not only are things like racism and misogyny facing women of color every day, but they are also more likely to be putting themselves in danger of getting COVID to keep our communities running, AND very often being overworked and underpaid for it.

It’s time we start acknowledging how crucial women of color are to our workforce and our lives.

Next time we’re out getting groceries, picking up takeout, getting a COVID test, shopping, trying to make our lives feel a little normal during a global pandemic, let’s be grateful for the people who risk their well being every day to keep this country running.

The Woman Behind the American Red Cross: Clara Barton

Trivia question: Clara Barton founded___________, an organization dedicated to emergency relief, on May 21st, 1881 and led it for the next 23 years. 

 Answer: The Red Cross.

Image Source: Flickr, elycefeliz, Creative Commons

By: Laura Yac

They say behind every organization stands one man, but that’s not always true.  On the contrary, there are many organizations founded and led by women. Take Clara Barton: she created an organization that was dedicated towards emergency relief. This organization came about in May 21st, 1881 and was under her supervision for the next 23 years.  She helped found The Red Cross. The Red Cross is widely known and has helped people all across the world as well.  

We would not expect anything less than that from Barton, who was described as a strong, independent women who cared for others. She dedicated her life to The Red Cross, and she never married or had a family. In the 1800s and early 1900s, this was very uncommon. Barton didn’t mind leaving behind a life as a wife or mother, because she felt as if her purpose in life was to help others. During the Civil war she became a self-taught nurse and cared for wounded soldiers. By doing that she earned the respect of many and was known as the “angel of the battlefield”. She continued her great work during wars and helped over 20,000 soldiers reunite with their families after being hurt. She showed she not only cared for everyone’s physical health but their overall health.  

After that, she became one of the very first women to ever work for a federal government during that time period. She continued to strive for a change and continued being an inspiration to many. After many years she decided to finally retire in 1904. With that she left a legacy and what many would refer as a big position to fill. Currently the Red Cross is being ran by Gail J McGovern, a woman who is following the steps left behind by Clara Barton.

5 Black Artists Bringing Excellence to the KC Art Scene

By: Emma Sauer

Kansas City has more to offer than barbecue and sports teams. This is a thriving city teeming with talent, innovation, and excellence, and the city owes much of that to the Black community. From the American Jazz Museum to the AAAC (African American Arts Collective), Black artists have an established presence in Kansas City. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of five Black creators who make incredible art.

Meeks Me Smile Studio

@meeksmesmilestudio Instagram

Shawanna Meeks founded Meeks Me Smile to offer unique, and stylish handbags. One night while getting dressed for a night out with her friends, she realized she didn’t have the right handbag to match her fun night. So, she made her own. The shop offers small accessories, wallets,  clutch bags, totes, handbags, and more–all with cute and colorful prints. Considering these bags are all handmade, they’re marked at a remarkably affordable price. Costs range from $15 to $155 (not including shipping). Meeks Me Smile Studio also dabbles in furniture design and acrylic paintings.

Sonia Sanchez

Source: Creative Commons, John Mathew Smith, https://www.flickr.com/people/36277035@N06

Sonia Sanchez is a poet, playwright, author, and activist. A major influence in the Black arts movement, she’s received both the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. Her poetry is known for its mixing of musical elements and traditional poetry. Through her poems she celebrates the art of Black English. Sonia Sanchez’s 16 books have moved readers since her first collection of poems, Homecoming, in 1969. Not much of her poetry is free to read online, but you can check out her books at your local library or purchase them.

Arie Monroe

“Block and Delete”, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

If you like comics or pop art, you’ll love Arie Monroe’s colorful and expressive art. Her comic Tornado Alley, starring Mainasha and her cat Socks, is a wacky take on the Wizard of Oz, but it’s also been a way for Monroe to to communicate her struggles as a black woman, according to her caption statement on “Block and Delete”, a piece currently on display in the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. She also specializes in caricature art. On Redbubble, she has merch available featuring caricatures, the Tornado Alley crew, and other illustrations.

Whitney Manney

@WhitneyManney Instagram

Whitney Manney is both a fashion designer and her independent ethical fashion label of the same name. WM’s clothes are bold, taking inspiration from street art and urban culture. Whitney Manney aims to make clothes that are more than clothes; they make ready-to-wear wearable art. As for the artist herself, she’s showcased her work at over a dozen galleries and runway shows, including the UMKC Gallery of Art. She’s also done teaching partnerships with the HALO foundation (a foundation dedicated to helping homeless KC youth), and other schools around the area.

NedRa Bonds

Image Source: Connie Fiorella Fitzpatrick, Creative Commons

NedRa Bonds is an activist, quilt artist, and retired teacher in Kansas City, Kansas. Her vibrant, collage-like quilts often make strong statements about the social issues she’s passionate about. Her artwork has been directly inspired by issues of human rights, social justice, race, and environmentalism, to name a few. Bonds also often incorporates elements of satire and political commentary into her art, echoing her principles as an activist. She’s made over 100 quilts since 1989, many that have been shown at different art shows and exhibits in KC. If you’ve spent some time at the Women’s Center, her art may look familiar: for the Women’s Center’s 40th anniversary, she led the creation of our Women’s Equity Quilt!

 

 

 

 

Lavinia Fontana: Renaissance Woman

By: Emma Stuart

The Renaissance was a time of rebirth in Western art, culture, politics, and the economy. There were many things changing at that time and one of the most notable things being art. When most people think about Renaissance-era artists a few select names come to mind: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Jan van Eyck, to name a few. These are all phenomenal artists who changed thescope of the art world forever. However, there is a name that is often left out of this list.

That name is Lavinia Fontana. She is considered to be the very first working female artist. She was born in Bologna Italy in 1552 to a family of prestigious painters. Her father, Prospero Fontana was a teacher at the School of Bologna which was an important art school at the time. Her artistic talent was nurtured by her father from an early age. This great talent served her very well in life, and when she desired to be married her skills were used as a sort-of dowry. She was married to an amateur artist and merchant who greatly regarded her skills.

The two went on to have a happy/successful marriage with 11 children. She continued to work on her craft even as a mother and her career excelled. In a very scandalous change from the status quo of the Renaissance era, Lavinia was the breadwinner for her family and her husband worked as her studio assistant. Lavinia was one of the original female powerhouses of the art world, she was able to pave the way for some of the other female artists that we know and love. As her work continued to excel and her career to soar, she gained a very prestigious list of patrons. These patrons include Italian Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, Spanish Cardinal Francisco Pacheco, The King of Spain Phillip II, and many members of the nobility across Europe.

Portrait of a Noble Woman, ca. 1580, by Lavinia Fontana. National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Her specialty was portraiture and was highly sought after by female nobles in Italy as she was able to capture the splendor of their dress alongside their dogs, who they wished to be included in the portraits. This type of portraiture showed a juxtaposition of the stiff attire of the noblewoman and the playfulness of an excited puppy.

Minerva Dressing. 1613, by Lavinia Fontana. Galleria Borghese.

Another one of her great accomplishments was breaking into the boy’s club scene of church painters. She was commissioned to paint an altar piece for the new cathedral dedicated to Saint Hyacinth of Poland. She was able to leave her mark in one of the oldest and most highly venerated churches in Rome. Lavinia was making waves in the art community in more ways than one. She was also known for being the first woman to paint a female nude in the history of art.

This magnificent story of hers is often untold because she was not supposed to have succeeded in the boy’s club that was the Renaissance art scene, but against all odds she pursued her dreams and make a sizeable impact on the world of art. She was able to have a star-studded career and also have a family who encouraged her work. Lavinia Fontana was a magnificent woman, artist, and mother and her story deserves to be heard.

Someone’s Gotta Say it: Anime’s Issue With Sexism

 

By: Emma Sauer

Hi again, and welcome to a shiny new blog segment! Thrice a month, I’ll be diving into an aspect of pop culture with a feminist twist.I think this will be a great way to bring some awareness to popular media’s relationship with feminism. This time, we’re talking about anime. In other words, I’m going to ruin fun things for everybody by talking about how they suck.

Fun!

Anyway, if you know anything at all about me, you know I’m a huge anime fan. My friends can attest to the army of anime figures on my bookshelf, my enthusiastic rants about the most newest shows, and those who have seen me at my most depraved will recall my Kuroshitsuji cosplay (we do not speak of those dark times). But as someone who has watched anime for half a decade now, there are things about it that I’ve never grown fully accustomed to. 

There’s the fanservice- upskirt shots of barely legal schoolgirls, beach episodes showcasing cleavage, seemingly random nude scenes, and jokes that often end with an embarassed/angry woman as the butt of a joke. To clarify, I don’t have problem with dirty jokes or sexy characters in anime–this is not the issue. Rather, what skeeves me out is when sexual harassment is played for laughs, or when the “sexy” character in question looks like a child. For example, take the first season of the Netflix original anime, Seven Deadly Sins. The main character constantly harasses another character by groping or looking up her skirt, while the other characters berate him for being a pervert. This is supposed to be a running gag. 

That’s not a joke. It’s just sexual assault.  

Even elements of anime as simple as character design show blatant sexism. Let me present to you: a murderous assassin who attacks under the cover of London fog, Jack the Ripper. If you clicked that link, I’m sorry. No, the show does not provide a reason for Jack the Ripper, of all things, to appear as a skimpily-dressed minor.  And no, there’s not a good reason for her to be wearing a bikini. And no, I have no idea why she’s wearing heels. We all know that if this character was a dude, there’s no way he would be dressed like that.

Although these aspects of anime are unsettling, at least I can skip them. I can easily avoid a scene that will make me uncomfortable. If I’m bothered, I can just skip, or I can laugh at how stupid it is. But you know what I can’t skip or laugh off? 

Crappy female characters—especially those in otherwise decent shows. Don’t get me wrong, anime has no shortage of awesome female characters, but too often, especially in shounen (usually action oriented and marketed towards boys), female characters are sidelined by their male counterparts. Take for example, a character that’s been universally hated since her inception: Sakura Haruno, from Naruto.

Sakura’s a train wreck of a character. Her deepest desire is to get together with a boy who has the romantic appeal of an enraged housecat. Sakura doesn’t have any complex desire for self-realization, or a reason to push herself that doesn’t involve a dude.

The manga’s creator intended for Sakura to be the quintessential “girl” character, which makes me pretty concerned about what he thinks the average woman is like. If every woman acted like Sakura, I think the human race would just be doomed. She’s a walking stereotype: a constant damsel in distress, weak, boy-obssessed, annoying, and vain. However, Sakura does have her redeeming moments- she gets very little action compared to the male characters, but she does have some fight scenes, and she’s regarded as a capable ninja in her own right. Personally, I can’t bring myself to hate her fully. I love Naruto, and since she’s one of the only major female characters, I have to take what I can get.

Although poor Sakura is an extreme case of a poorly written female character, I see the same issues she has in female characters all over anime. Female characters are seen as lesser in all contexts, both by other characters, the audience, and the people who create them. This issue is perhaps more complex than I give it credit for: anime is created for a Japanese audience, not an American one. They have their own unique issues when it comes to gender equality, as does the United States. The way Japanese society views women is different, and it’s important to keep that in mind as you enjoy your favorite anime. At the same time, I believe that’s a poor excuse for anime to have such poor female representation. I’ve seen great anime that don’t use the harmful tropes and stereotypes I’ve described, that allow female characters to be more than set-pieces for the male ones. It’s possible. Anime can do better. 

If you’re like me, it can be hard to let go of anime, despite all of its systematic issues. I’ve spent my whole childhood watching anime. At this point, it’s just a parasite sucking out my brain noodles and replacing them with cup ramen. You don’t have to stop watching the anime you love. I understand it’s not possible for every person to do that. However, as anime fans, we need to at the very least, recognize the sexism at play in anime. The degree to which it’s ignored is astounding. 

I get it’s asking a bit much to demand that the anime industry abandon its weird obsession with school-girls and french maids, but can we at least acknowledge it’s weird that it’s there in the first place?

I mean, someone’s gotta say it!

Keep your hands to yourself!

 

By: Jetzel Chavira

“Don’t Touch My Hair” is a powerful anthem that Grammy-award winning artist Solange Knowles wrote in 2016. In an interview with Natelegé Whaley for the Huff Post, Solange recalls an experience where a white woman came up to her and petted her fro.

This made me think about the many times I walked through Target with my best friend who is a Black American woman, and how she could not find products for her hair. I think about how my own hair is wavy and it’s not hard for me to find hair products. My hair is not seen as a spectacle. I have never once been asked for my hair to be touched.

So, the next time you see someone whose hair is different than yours, check yourself before you do or say anything. Check out Solange’s song “Don’t Touch My Hair” ft. Sampha here.

 

Sliding from DMs into Real-Life Dating

Source: Creative Commons, https://foto.wuestenigel.com/online-dating-sending-online-gifts-to-lover/

By: Ebony Taylor

Valentine’s Day is approaching once again. For starters, there is a lot of conversation around this holiday being extremely heteronormative. Simply put, there are a lot of stressors put on being relationships and what that should look like. Though we have come a long way with recognizing and accepting other’s perception of “relationship”, Valentine’s Day celebrations, focus on heterosexual and monogamous romantic relationships which leaves out aromatic and asexual people, as Sian Ferguson from everydayfemisim.com points out.

With so much emphasis on finding love and being boo’d up on V-day, it doesn’t make it easier when we have been in a pandemic. Coming out of isolation and getting back to human interaction can be nerve-wracking. Without pandemic restrictions, “going out” means you can leave the house. If you’re making the switch from online dating to in-person dating, I have searched the internet for tips on making it as stress-free as possible.

For starters, you still want to be safe and setting boundaries before linking up can help. If it is important to you, making sure your partner is vaccinated, wearing masks, or limiting personal touch are some things to consider. I found it helpful that apps like Bumble, Tinder, Hinge, Match, OKCupid, BLK, and Chispa have a feature that shows a person’s vaccination status. Also, establish physical, sexual, and emotional boundaries. Talking about sexual orientation and gender identities is another conversation to be had in the world of online dating and meeting someone for the first time. Be mindful and respect others’ views on certain topics to avoid misunderstandings and conflict. Being clear and direct can save you time and undeserved stress later down the road. Communicating with your partner about your needs and what feels good for you can help the transition run smoother.

As for wanting ways to celebrate love as you see it and not what it “should” be, the first thing on any site’s list is practicing self- love. Though this needs to be normalized throughout the year, what better time is there than on Valentine’s Day? Forget the marketing and capitalistic ways of our society to make you think that if you’re not spending money on someone then you don’t love them. Get crafty and make your own gifts, or rather show your love with quality time.

Being back on campus can create a social pressure to make friends and be more involved on campus. Those feeling anxious about putting yourself out there, know that it is more normal than you think. Try not to let in-person dating give you anxiety. With a pandemic still lingering around, feeling anxious is okay. No need to rush. Set limits and boundaries that allow you to move at your own speed and you the most comfortable. When you be yourself, the confidence will take the weight of social pressures off.

If you are single, newly single, or just ready to mingle, remember to take your time and be yourself. So what if people try to compare you to your “virtual” self, or your connection only exists in text messages and DMs? In the words of pop princess Ariana Grande, say “thank you, next”. Instead, go out with your friends or favorite family members. Or better yet, make it about loving yourself. Getting comfy by yourself with your favorite sweatpants, food, and a movie sounds like a memorable date to me.

 

 

 

The Lasting Legacy of Henrietta Lacks

 

Source: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, © 2017 Kadir Nelson ,https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.2018.9

By: Emma Sauer

As you may know, February is Black History month– and this year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness. This extends to the legacy of African Americans not just in medicine and academia, but also as mid-wives, doulas, naturopaths, counselors and therapists, public health activists, and more. With a theme so all-encompassing, I thought it a fitting time to talk about an African American woman who, despite her huge contributions to cancer and leukemia research, cloning, and development of vaccines, will never see or know just how profoundly she changed the world.

Henrietta Lacks was a person much like you or me. She was a mother, a wife, a friend. She loved cooking, her children, and never the left the house without a coat of red nail polish. She was born in Roanoke, Virginia, on August 1, 1920. She married David Lacks in 1941, and together they raised five children: Lawrence, Elsie, David Jr., Deborah, and Joseph.

10 years flew by. One wonders how Henrietta spent those ten years. What memories did she make with her family? What hardships did she experience? What people did she meet? What made her laugh, smile, or cry? Time has robbed us of the answers to these questions. The bulk of what we know about Henrietta’s life is her last months.

The year was 1951, and Henrietta Lacks was feeling unwell. For some time, she’d had a strange pain in her womb area. She described to her cousins like a “knot”. After experiencing vaginal bleeding, she visited John Hopkins Hospital, the only hospital in the area that would treat black patients. She was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer, and by October 4 of that year, she died. She was just 31. Before she succumbed to the disease, she underwent a biopsy in which her cancerous cervix cells were snipped and sent to the lab of Dr. George Gey. Researchers were amazed by what they found. Henrietta’s cells were incredibly unique. They had the capacity to survive and multiply at a rate far above ordinary cells. Her cells doubled every 20-24 hours, where other cells died. Effectively, her cells were immortal.

Without the knowledge of Mrs. Lacks or her family, John Hopkins Hospital shared her cells widely with other scientists, biotech companies, and institutions. These cells were called HeLa cells, and were the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory. Her family was not made aware of this for 20 years.

Both the way Henrietta Lacks’ cells were obtained and used is appalling, but at the time, it was completely legal. Unfortunately, it was not the first or the last time an African American would be exploited by the medical community. For example, 12 years before Henrietta was born, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study began. Forced sterilization policies targeted African Americans and other minority women, lasting until the 70s. The historical context of how scientists acquired the HeLa cells is one steeped in centuries of racism. I can go on and on all day about how wrong this was, but what’s done is done. HeLa cells have been in use longer than Mrs. Lacks even lived. Her descendants continue to tell her story, and as recently as October 2021, they are currently suing Thermo Fisher Scientific for commercialization of HeLa cells.

Henrietta Lacks’ story is disturbing and sad, but her legacy lives on.  She has contributed to modern medicine and science in countless ways. HeLa cells have helped scientists understand more about the human genome, leukemia treatment, and vaccines. Her cells have even been used to test the effects of gravity in space. HeLa cells have saved lives, and my intention is not to take away from that. Rather, if you’ve read this far, I hope I’ve sparked some interest in you to learn more about Henrietta Lacks. She’s much more than a cell.