Tour of The Dividing Lines in Kansas City

By: Emma Stuart

O’Neil, Daniel X. Country Club Plaza. 12 January 2015As many of you know, the month of February is Black History Month, a month dedicated to the celebration of black culture and history. The history of the Civil Rights movement is all around us even right here in Kansas City and it is important to learn about that history. Thanks to the Johnson County Library there is a free and comprehensive driving tour of the history of segregation here in Kansas City. In this tour you are taken all throughout the city. It begins at Shawnee Mission East High School, whose students come from Mission Hills Kansas (one of the most expensive zip codes in Kansas).  As the tour continues, you are taken through the history of Kansas City’s development, including the founding of neighborhoods, the restrictive homeowners’ associations, and the homes of historical figures. The tour ends at the Nutter Ivanhoe Neighborhood Center off of 37th Street, which is a resource for the local community.

The tour takes about a half an hour of driving and stops in various places around KCMO and KCK. In this short amount of time you are taken through decades of history starting in the 1940s and ending in present day. Sometimes it is difficult to grasp the impact of racism in your city, but with this tour it opens your eyes to the real effects of racism when it comes to the development of a city. You are able to see nearby locations where history took place right in the city where you live. This tour was eye opening for me, because it put me in the same location of these difficult historical pastimes.

I took this tour with my family last summer and it was a learning experience for all of us. I had inklings of the racially driven actions that had led to the development of this city, but I had never seen them with my own eyes. I had never heard of them from the mouths of those who lived it. This tour is something that I think all residents of KCMO and KCK should partake in. It tells of the sordid past of this interesting city; it is necessary to look back on the misdeeds of the past to move forward to a better future.

This tour can be accessed through the link below and can be taken either using a web browser or through the VoiceMap App.

 

Call Me Slim Shady Cause We’re Back, Back Again

By: Sierra Voorhies

Hello y’all. If you have been a reader of the Women’s Center blogs, you might be familiar with me. I have written blogs about pronouns, gender, and bisexual erasure, as well as stories about my family and tv-shows. I will be continuing to work at the Women’s Center this semester, until May when I hope to graduate with a bachelor’s in psychology and a minor in women’s, gender and sexuality studies.

I am passionate about educating myself and others about how to be a good ally and member of the queer community. I hope to explore some fun subjects and stories this semester, while developing myself and programs through the Women’s Center. Gentle reminder that the Women’s Center is for all genders, and I hope if you have a little extra time around Haag Hall, you will come check out our library, sit on our comfy couch and sip some tea with us.

Welcome Back From Taylor Michl, Women’s Center Graduate Assistant

By Taylor Michl

Happy Spring semester to you all! Allow me to reintroduce myself: I’m Taylor Michl, and I have had the pleasure of serving as the Graduate Assistant at UMKC Women’s Center since August.

Last semester, I was lucky to take part in executing tons of Women’s Center programs, including in-person events and social media campaigns. I’m excited for the programs we’re planning this semester – we’ll be recognizing Black History Month, Women’s History Month, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and more through our programming.

I am a graduate student in UMKC’s Mental Health Counseling and Preparing Future Faculty Fellowship programs. Outside of school and the Women’s Center, I am lucky to be conducting research about the lived experiences of transgender and gender non-conforming adults. I live with three very cute cats and my partner in Midtown KC.

One thing that may surprise some people is that, although I proudly work at the Women’s Center, I don’t identify as a woman – I use they/them pronouns and am a genderqueer person. What I love about the Women’s Center is that we are dedicated to advocacy, education, and support for all people – not just women. We talk a lot about the ways gender inequity and gender roles impact transgender women and men, cisgender women and men, and people who identify outside of the gender binary. So, if you are looking for a safe space to drink free coffee, work on homework, or practice self-care this semester, you are welcome here – regardless of your gender identity or expression.

Farewell Fall Semester!

By Sierra Voorhies

What a semester! I feel like it went by so fast, honestly! I will be coming back to the Women’s Center in the spring, and will continue to be present on our blog, on social media, and at our programming. 

Gender equity intersects with just about any other social issue that might be discussed in classes, and it is a big part of society. It’s been an important part of my personal growth and education to study and speak on gender equity and to advocate more and more for it. I know I am more educated and well spoken on the subject today then when I started at the beginning of the semester.

I think that when a lot of people think of the UMKC Women’s Center or our mission for gender equity they think of women’s issues like access to equal pay, domestic/sexual violence, barriers to reproductive rights. There is no doubt that these things are super important and worthy of attention and care, but it has been my specific goal at the Women’s Center–and it will continue to be my goal next semester–to explore and support gender issues that are not centered around cis men and cis women. Trans+, non-binary, genderqueer, and other gender non-conforming people face a lot of specific gender issues. 

This semester I’ve written about gender, pronouns, the representation of queer and bi people in media, as well as some role models in my family. Next semester, I want to focus more on trans+ representation and actions I am taking to become a better advocate and ally. I hope everyone gets some down time as well as some realignment with themselves and their priorities after this challenging semester!

 

Women’s Center for All Gender Equity

By Sierra Voorhies

You may not know this, but we have recently taken important steps to support all gender equity here at the Women’s Center—you can look for our “all genders welcome” signs in the center and at events, and look for our trans+ and gender variant inclusive programming and social media. Sexism and gender discrimination affect people who are trans+, non binary, two spirit, etc. as well as cis men and women. We are moving toward inclusivity in our programming and we want people of all genders to know they have a safe, comfortable space to talk about gender issues, gender variance, and all things gender-related in our center. Our resources and center are available to all community members and students!

We are open Monday through Friday 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., closing at 3 p.m. on Fridays to get a jump on our relaxing weekends. In the office we have a microwave, coffee maker, lounge/study area, small library, free safe sex kits, free period products, a private lactation room, and conference room—all of which is open to any and all visitors (call ahead to reserve the conference room if you can). Our lactation room has a mini fridge for saving milk, and a couple comfy chairs and space for a stroller, so student parents are more than welcome to use this cozy private space to make their day on campus easier. 

Our programming includes Healing Arts activities from AAUW, such as scratch art, shrink art, and meditative stepping stones. We post on this blog three times a week to discuss personal and public gender minorities’ stories and issues. We also promote and put on events about body image, interpersonal violence, mental health, managing stress, feminism, and womens sports. 

Speaking of women’s sports, we just went to one of the Roos’ volleyball games and gave out resources, pens, and pins! This semester we’ve tabled at soccer games and one volleyball match, and you can catch us next semester at the women’s basketball games giving out buttons with affirming phrases and supporting women’s sports! The whole staff here at the center wishes you a great break, and we hope you come by to meet us next semester!

Review of “Maid” on Netflix (Spoilers!)

By Sierra Voorhies

Content warnings: abuse and homelessness

I recently watched Maid, a new series on Netflix. The series is based on the book Maid: Hard Work, Low Pay, and a Mother’s Will to Survive by Stephanie Land, which is Land’s memoir exploring her experience working below the poverty line to provide for herself and her daughter. 

Not only were the performances of Margaret Qualley, Nick Robinson, and Andie MacDowell amazing, the show also brought women’s issues and poverty to center stage. As Brooke explained last week, domestic violence is often a gendered issue affecting cis women and their children. 

In Maid, we see Margaret Qualley’s character, Alex, leave her partner Sean while he is sleeping in order to avoid a violent encounter. We then witness the ups and downs of Alex trying to provide for herself and her daughter, Maddy. 

When she leaves Sean, Alex becomes homeless. She and Maddy get kicked out of a parking lot that they were sleeping in, and they even spend a night on the floor of a ferry station. Unfortunately, this reflects how many women who’ve escaped an abusive relationship become homeless.

Alex reaches out to everyone she can. She can’t stay with her mom long-term due to her mother’s untreated Bipolar Disorder putting her and her daughter in danger. Alex tries to rely on her friends and family with no luck. When she tries to utilize government assistance, she runs into an unescapable loop: she can’t find a place to live or daycare for Maddy without a job, but she can’t get a job if she has her daughter with her. The expenses of childcare affects many Americans, and is especially hard on those with low incomes and single parents. With nowhere else to turn, Alex eventually moves back in with her ex, Sean. Sean picks up where he left off, emotionally abusing Alex by getting rid of her car, refusing to let her have access to a telephone, and neglecting to bring home food or money from his work. 

Eventually Alex pulls herself out of Sean’s orbit again and this time has the resources and support in order for them to start a new life in Michigan, where she goes to college for creative writing. 

This show was so impactful, and if you’ve ever experienced this kind of situation, you will surely find it hard to watch. But I am so glad it’s on Netflix so we can all practice compassion and gain a greater understanding for people experiencing homelessness, especially women escaping domestic violence. Great mothers can be homeless and unable to provide for their children sometimes, and it’s powerful to fall in love with characters who represent this very human struggle, that could affect any of us.

 

Parting is Such Sweet Sorrow

 

by Rhonda Cooksey

Serving as blog editor for the UMKC Women’s Center has made for a joyous summer.  I chose my summer classes to help me learn ways to speak up for women, and what I have learned has been life changing.  By having the internship experience in concurrence with a class about women’s movements, my concepts of feminist political and social organizations has completely changed. I sense subtle shifts in my thinking about women’s issues that will ultimately shift my behavior, focus and trajectory. Working with the Women’s Center inspires me to learn more and do more for women and social justice.

I especially loved learning about Her Art Project. It’s for the students at UMKC and also for the entire Kansas City arts community.  We did a Stepping Stone project during Roo Connection Days that was a big success. New students did a healing arts project by choosing a colorful sculpey stone and writing an affirmation or goal on it that would represent this step in their lives. It’s a simple act that reminds women to take care of their mental health. We have a tendency to take care of everyone but ourselves.

There’s nothing like being part of a community of women helping women. It’s been an incredible experience that I will never forget, and I look forward to volunteering with the UMKC Women’s Center during the fall and spring semester. They have some awesome projects and events that I can help with. I guess its back to my home office for me, but don’t worry, I’m never alone. Luigi and his dog, Kira, are always behind me. And, Women’s Center, I’ll be visiting!

 

My Farewell to the Women’s Center

Jenna Gilio

As this summer draws to a close, my time at the Women’s Center must end. I cannot believe how quickly this time has passed! It seems like just yesterday I was publishing my very first blog introducing myself to you all. For my final post, I’d like to take a moment to reflect on the things I’ve learned, the ways I’ve grown, and the experiences I’ve gained.

One of my biggest takeaways from this summer is the value of art and creativity. I have always enjoyed any opportunity to create but working at the Women’s Center has revealed how beneficial creativity can be. Many people experience art as a means of expressing their true selves. Others find connection through it. Some find it healing, both mentally and physically. The Women’s Center offers Healing Arts Workshops as an outlet for individuals to experience art in whatever way they find most empowering. My personal favorite activity was the Stepping Stones workshop. Not only are the stones beautiful, but they are also a tool to help you stay grounded in what is most important and meaningful to you. The phrase I chose to write on my stone was “You’re a goddamn cheetah.”

At the start of the summer, I decided to select a single blog topic to report on each week. One of my favorite authors and activists, Glennon Doyle, had recently released a new podcast and I thought it would be the perfect fit. Each week, I listened to a new episode and posted my thoughts and reactions to the Women’s Center blog. Sometimes Glennon spoke on topics I felt a bit afraid to write about, like religion and body image, as I didn’t want to trigger anyone or say the wrong thing. Through this experience, I learned it is better to dialogue about important issues and risk not always getting it perfectly “right” than to not say anything at all.

Finally, my favorite thing about working at the Women’s Center has been building relationships with other women and hearing their life experiences. I truly enjoyed getting to know my coworkers and speaking with new students at Roo Connection. I can honestly say these relationships have helped me grow as an individual, as a professional, and as an advocate. Though my time at the Women’s Center is up, I will always cherish the memories I made here. Farewell, Women’s Center!

 

Morgan’s Farewell Blog

Well, here we are. I am leaving the Women’s Center and going into the real world (scary). I have been working with the Women’s Center for a full year and still remember the excitement I felt when I got the email saying they were considering me for this position. It was my first zoom interview, and I was so confused about how to dress and whether to go casual because of Zoom or still go formal. I ended up doing formal and I think that helped me get the job. Along with the rest the staff of 2020/2021, I can say we had a unique experience with the Women’s Center working during a pandemic. It was different but still rewarding. And to be honest, I think we did well and stayed active during the trying times of the pandemic.

One thing I especially loved about working here was being able to create. I always knew I had a creative side to me, but I think the Women’s Center brought it out in me. I was able to create many projects while informing the community about women’s issues. A program called Afro Femme was one of the favorite contents I created. The program focused on using Instagram to educate the public about the history of Black feminists. Not only was I able to create but I learned a lot about these great women. I also enjoyed creating information for International Women’s Day. That event showed me what I can do under pressure to meet deadlines and it still came out well.  Besides creating content, I was able to learn from our other events. I recommend the Start Smart Negotiations Workshop for anyone looking for a job. It taught me what to do and where to go when it comes to your salary. I plan to use this knowledge for my first career job. Another informative event was the Who I Am: The Model Minority. I learned how model minority affects the Asian community and was able to listen to many stories about what it is like to be an Asian American, especially during Covid.

I know that working here has prepared me to work in the real world. I had never worked with an office staff and gained a lot of knowledge about how an office operates. I was able to learn email etiquette, which I think every school should provide a course to teach this valuable skill. I also learned how to execute an event in a professional setting and the standards it must fit. I am grateful for the Women’s Center, and I plan on continuing to get involved with organizations to serve my community.

 

 

We Can Do Hard Things: Our Bodies

by Jenna Gilio

On this week’s episode of We Can Do Hard Things, Glennon Doyle poses this question to listeners: “Why are we at war with our bodies and can we ever make peace?” Glennon begins by sharing her own experience with body image. At a very early age, she learned that a woman’s worthiness is beauty, and beauty is staying small. From the age of 10-26, she struggled with bulimia. Though Glennon overcame her battle with bulimia years ago, she admits that approximately 50% of her thoughts today are still concerning food, working out, and her body. She refers to these intrusive thoughts as the “opportunity cost” of obsessing. “The thoughts I’d think, the art I’d make, the activism I’d unleash if I had those thoughts back again,” Glennon imagines.

The solution society offers to those trapped in this internal battle is the one-size-fits-all phrase: love your body. But what does that even mean? Glennon suggests that in order to love our bodies, we must trust our bodies. And in order to trust our bodies, we must stop trying to control our bodies. The idea of relinquishing control can seem impossible because society and the media are constantly reminding us that “we can’t trust any part of ourselves,” Glennon adds. We are ingrained not to trust our anger, our ambition, our hair, our skin, our desires. “I have to believe that my body has a wisdom and a way that is better than my controlling plan for it. Because by the way, my controlling plan for it was never my plan for it. It’s a patriarchal idea that has been planted in me that now I am imposing on my body and have been forever,” Glennon shares. If we can’t learn to trust our bodies, we will never know their power. The wisdom our bodies use to tell us they want to eat or indulge is the same wisdom they use to tell us something is not right when we walk into a room. “When we deny our bodies, we lose this wisdom,” Glennon asserts.

This war we are at with our bodies can feel daunting. Rather than tackling it head-on, consider taking a single step towards peace. The Next Right Thing this week is to simply identify some of the masterpieces we have created in our lives and reflect on how our bodies contributed to them. This could be a relationship, a piece of work or anything we have been a part of creating that is beautiful. As always, when things get hard this week, remember that we can do hard things!