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.

Celebrating Jedidah Isler, Ph.D.: A Woman in STEM

By Ann Varner

I stumbled upon an article titled “5 Powerful Women in STEM You Need to Know” (http://news.janegoodall.org/2018/03/08/5-powerful-women-stem-need-know/ ) and while reading it came across someone I found incredibly interesting and wanted to write about. Her name is Dr. Jedidah isler and she is the first African American woman to earn a PhD in Astrophysics from Yale.

According to jedidahislerphd.com, “Dr. Isler is an outspoken advocate of inclusion and empowerment in STEM fields and is the creator and host of “Vanguard: Conversations with Women of Color in STEM.”. Her non-profit organization, The STEM en Route to Change (SeRCH) Foundation, Inc., is dedicated to using STEM as a pathway for social justice and has developed a variety of initiatives including the #VanguardSTEM online platform and web series. Brief CV.”

In the STEM field women are vastly underrepresented, especially African American women. Women such as Dr. Isler are very much needed to advocate for inclusion and empowerment in the STEM field as well as represent themselves. Great work, Dr. Isler!

Photo credit: http://jedidahislerphd.com/about/

Time Magazines Top 100

By Caitlin Easter

Time Magazine’s list of the 100 most influential people of the year came out recently, and it’s one of the most diverse and intersectional issues ever. The list also features the most women ever awarded, at almost half of the list being female. There are 48 women featured in this year’s list, which is up from the 45 who were featured last year. The list is made up of pioneers, artists, leaders, icons and titans, and women are representing in each category.

The list is selected every year from a list of candidates who made the largest impacts in the world, good or bad.  Nominated by list alumni and voted on by the public, the list embodies the changes that happened throughout the beginning of each year.

This year’s list is made up of strong, groundbreaking women from all walks of life: activists, chefs, athletes, authors, scientists, actresses, singers, models, painters, directors, designers, politicians, a first lady, survivors, journalists, business women, and architects. We see big names such as Sandra Oh, Taylor Swift, Michelle Obama, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Ariana Grande, but also have the pleasure to learn names that we’re not all familiar with such as Greta Thunberg, Vera Jourova, Jeanne Gang, and Jennifer Hyman.  Women are finally starting to be equally represented in different aspects of life, and we’re ready for it!

A full list of this year’s recipients can be viewed at: http://time.com/collection/100-most-influential-people-2019/.


The Vanity Myth of Makeup

By Christina Terrell

There should be no shame in doing something that makes you feel comfortable in your own skin. One of the latest trends that has taken the beauty community by storm has been the development of all the possibilities that makeup offers. The only issues are women have started to get backlash for exploring all these makeup possibilities, for instance women are being told that since they wear makeup, that they are trying to wear a mask that hides their true self from the world, rather than this is something women do to empower themselves. Sha’Condria, also known as “i’Con” is a female poetry empowerment speaker and at the 2015 Texas Grand Slam Poetry Festival, Condria presented a poetry piece titled “In My Skin”. In this poetry piece Condria speaks about her personal experience with being shamed for wearing makeup and how it is almost as if people treat the word makeup as if it were a curse word.

From my personal stand point I feel as though a woman should not be told what defines her as beautiful, because beauty should not be what anyone else’s definition of it is but should be whatever your own personal definition is. Self-love is a concept that is already hard to acquire and find in one’s self and when you add the negative opinions of others it can make things much harder on a woman who may deal with insecurities.

There is an issue that stands in the way of women who choose to wear makeup and then the people who disagree with wearing makeup. That issue being that typically someone who says you shouldn’t paint your face to be pretty or that natural beauty is the best beauty. Would be that those individuals do not understand, is that in a harsh world when women find peace and something that aids their happiness then they must do all they can to continue to empower and up lift themselves.

To watch Sha’Condria’s powerful piece, follow this link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5_kkbKs9pY4


Catcalling is not a Compliment, it’s Harassment

By Brittany Soto

Since our center has been promoting the “Meet us on The Street” event all throughout this week, focusing on the issues of gender-based street harassment, I wanted to turn my attention to one of my biggest pet peeves; catcalling. Catcalling is when an individual whistles, shouts, or makes sexual comments toward another individual as they are walking by. Women are often the ones faced with having to deal with this ridiculous issue. The fact that I get a little nervous when I decide to get dressed up because I don’t feel like getting harassed, is a problem. Women shouldn’t have to feel self-conscious or nervous every time they get dressed to head out the door or every time they pass by men on the street.

The most common defense that men have against this issue is that catcalls are their way of “complimenting” a woman’s looks. Going up to a woman and telling her she’s beautiful is one thing, but shouting “damn!” “hey sexy!” or whistling and honking the car horn as a woman walks by is a different story. Catcalling can even get to the point of being dangerous if women decide defend themselves or ignore the cat-callers, because often they will get offended causing them to act in an aggressive or intimidating manner by name calling or going as far as assaulting women. THIS is harassment.

What men need to understand is that catcalling is not cute, funny, or complimenting. It’s degrading, demeaning, and disgusting. It lets women know they are being objectified and looked at as nothing more than a piece of meat. It makes women feel as though they have no rights or values. Women are not dogs to be whistled at and they are not sexual objects. Women are more than their looks. Women have the right to be treated with as much respect and dignity when walking down the street as any man. Women deserve to feel safe.

For additional information on how women are fighting cat-calling visit: http://www.womensmediacenter.com/fbomb/how-i-took-a-stand-against-catcalling

A Few Quick Additions for your Summer Playlist!

By Caitlin Easter

With summer quickly approaching, it’s time to update your playlists, and here at the Women’s Center we have you covered! Here are some new MUST ADDS for your “Summer Evenings 2019” playlists! However, this isn’t your typical playlist. Instead of picking the anthems we already love, I decided that I would show some love to female artists with their unique sounds. While this may not be your idea of a windows-down-music-up playlist, these are songs that embody women’s strength, and will be what I am blasting this summer (yes, with my windows rolled down).

Let’s begin with Billie Eilish’s “you should see me in a crown” from her new album “WHEN WE FALL ASLEEP, WHERE DO WE GO?”. Billie is an artist with a different sound than what you would expect to see appear on one of these lists, but if you’re down for an odd, but iconic, vibe then this could very well be your summer anthem. The specific lyric I’m liking right now is: “You say/ Come over baby/ I think you’re pretty/ I’m okay/ I’m not your baby/ If you think I’m pretty/ You should see me in a crown.” Interested yet? Now go listen to it with the all the production!

Kehlani at the minor stage during Stavernfestivalen in Stavern on 09. July 2016. Lineup: Kehlani Parrish (vocal)

Next up is a personal favorite artist of mine, Kehlani. If you haven’t heard her new song “Nunya” from her 2019 album, “While We Wait,” then I’ll patiently wait for you to go listen. Okay, I’ll apologize for the pun (does that count as a pun?), but a song about not needing a man? We’re in. The line to look out for in this one is: “You put on a show/ ‘Cause you don’t want the world to know/ That you lost a girl who got it on her own/ It’d be good for you to let it go, let it go, let it go/ Ain’t nunya business (Nunya).”

Slowing down a bit for this one, “Warrior” by Avril Lavigne is such a different sound than I think of when I hear ‘Avril.’ Nevertheless, this song from her new album “Head Above Water” is such a refreshing piece! And let’s just say that the rain pouring in the background is surprisingly well placed for such an encouraging tune. I had trouble summarizing this song into a couple of well-spoken lyrics, if I’m honest, but I doubted that pasting the whole song would be appropriate (or legal). So instead you get to hear my commentary! My favorite lines: “Oh, you can’t shoot me down/ You can’t stop me now/ I got a whole…army/ Oh, they tried to break me down/ They tried to take me out/ You can’t cut a scar on me.”

But, it’s the song “Dynamite,” off of the album “Sucker Punch” by Sigrid that is really the underappreciated song of 2019. This great song to get you in your feels, and yet manages to be strangely empowering. And while you’re at it, don’t forget to give the acoustic version a listen as well! The lyrics to appreciate in this song are: “I miss you, but I’ve got things to do…/ I’m the same, but I’m bolder…/ You’re as safe as a mountain/ But know that I am dynamite.” While on the topic of Sigrid, I thought I would throw another good one off her album into the mix. “Don’t Kill My Vibe” is probably the most upbeat song on this list, and it’s also the one that gives me the strongest urge to tweet #YouThought! Embodying empowerment, the line I chose for this song is: “You shut me down, you like the control/ You speak to me like I’m a child/ Try to hold it down, I know the answer/ I can shake it off and you feel threatened by me/ I tried to play it nice but/ Don’t kill my vibe/ Don’t break my stride/ You think you’re so important to me, don’t you?”

To end this list, I’ve decided to take a song that was dropped in 2018 in order to get some #GirlGroup representation on this list! “Women’s World” as it appeared on Little Mix’s fifth studio album “LM5” is

social advocacy set to music. The lyrics speak for themselves, and the artistry in the song itself is stunning. Let’s end this blog with what are objectively the best lyrics of all: “Every day she tells her daughter/ “Baby, you’re not just a pretty face”/ She says “you gotta work much harder/ Than every single man, that’s just the way”/ But she goes to the same job everyday/ She’s overworked and underpaid/ Just ’cause the way her body’s made/ Ain’t that insane?/ If you never been told how you gotta be/ What you gotta wear, how you gotta speak/ If you never shouted to be heard/ You ain’t lived in a woman’s world.”

Faculty Highlight: Dr. Theresa L. Torres

By Brittany Soto

Dr. Theresa L. Torres is an interdisciplinary scholar who teaches and writes about gender, race, class, and immigration. She is an associate professor at UMKC for Latinx and Latin American Studies and Sociology. She is also an affiliated faculty member for Women’s Gender and Sexuality Studies and is currently teaching feminist studies.

Dr. Torres was my former professor for my Sociology-Society and Community Service course. Her course was one of the things that further peaked my interest in Sociology and helped me become more aware and knowledgeable about the history of different issues that have happened within our society as well as those that are happening currently in our society today. This included women and gender related issues. She was very good about emphasizing the importance of race, class, gender, and immigration while explaining why each of these things play a pivotal role in how we view and treat others, as well as how we view and treat ourselves. One thing I’ve always remembered about Dr. Torres was how passionate she was when she was teaching each of these topics. She was not only passionate about what she taught, but she also made sure to encourage us students to serve our community by having each of us do an internship project by volunteering at a non-profit organization in order to observe the status of that organization in terms of race, class, and gender, then having us present our findings to the class.

Aside from teaching, Dr. Torres also regularly volunteers her time and work with the Latinx community (as seen in her picture). This picture shows Torres with her Latinx students who presented their research at the 2016 National Association for Chicana/Chicano Conference. She also collaborated with former doctoral students and is in the process of publishing an article from their research titled “Marx, Dea, Theresa Torres, and Leah Panther. “‘This class changed my life:’ Using Culturally Sustaining Pedagogues to Frame Undergraduate Research with Students of Color.” CUR Quarterly: Council on Undergraduate Research.” This article is based on research using Culturally Sustaining Pedagogy for teaching Latinx and Black students. Currently, Dr. Torres is in the process of publishing a book on Latina activists and the spirituality and resistance of their leadership. Her first publication on this topic is: “Transformational Resistant Leadership in Kansas City: A Case of Chicana Activism, Racial Discourse, and White Privilege,” Chicana/Latina Studies: The Journal of Mujeres Activas En Letras y Cambio Social.” This article is about the leadership of Rita Valenciano, a local Chicana Activist and her leadership to remove and ardent anti-immigrant leader.

One of Dr. Torres’ greatest joys is seeing her former students advancing in their careers and contacting her to share their news and ask for advice. Students are the central reason why she does the research and work she is doing. She is dedicating her new book to her students.