April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, And for Good Reason.

By: Amanda Johnson

We hosted a Denim Day table on April 23 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

We hosted a Denim Day table on April 23 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Every 2 minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 22 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime; 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men experience rape in their lifetime. Think about all the people you know- think about your family and friends. Does this startle you?

Unfortunately, reality paints a darker picture than what these numbers say. We live in a world where victims are prosecuted, where by-standers capture rape on their phone for laughs rather than for evidence, and where rapes go unreported and rapists go free. Why is it that, in a culture that knows rape is wrong, it is so prevalent?

Sexual violence isn’t comprised of a series of isolated events perpetrated by individuals. It’s engrained in our culture. As scholar Thomas Macaulay Millar wrote, “It takes one rapist to commit a rape, but it takes a village to create an environment where it happens over and over and over.” This is a culture where sexual violence is a normal occurrence and rape can be used as a humorous term- where rape victims can “deserve it.”

I’d rape her,” is defined by the Urban Dictionary as synonymous with “I’d tap that.”

Those Broncos got raped at the Super Bowl, amiright?

No. No. No.

Rape isn’t tantamount to losing a game. It isn’t a term to use when you find someone attractive.

The lines are being blurred between what constitutes condoned and consensual behavior and what sexual violence really is. In a survey of high school students, 56% of girls and 76% of boys believed forced sex was acceptable under some circumstances. It turns out, when you replace the word ‘rape’ with ‘forced sex,’ a lot more individuals will admit to committing it, being victims of it, and finding it acceptable under certain conditions. We are a culture that normalizes rape, yet, we don’t even seem to understand what it means.

Throughout the last 10 years, the National Crime Victimization Survey has reported that only approximately 30% of rape survivors report the incident to the police. Of those rapes reported to the police only 16% result in prison sentences. This means that only 5% of the time, a man who rapes ends up in prison. Unfortunately, when looking at institutions like university campuses, the numbers get even worse. The Justice Department estimates that even fewer than 5% of completed and attempted rapes of college women are reported to law enforcement officials. This number is even more staggering when you consider that 1 in 4 women will be the victim of sexual violence during her academic career. In these instances, 9 out of 10 women knew their attacker.

Despite the increased prevalence and need for victim services, universities most often  lack adequate policies and fail to provide for victims of sexual assault. The Campus Accountability Project, started by Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFE), showed the sad deficiencies in adequate sexual assault policies. Over 80% of policies received a C or below, with none making a grade higher than a B+. Nearly one-third of the policies didn’t comply with federal regulations, and only 40% had a dedicated full-time staff member dedicated to sexual assault prevention and education. In a world where victims are prosecuted, less than one-third of the policies stated that a victim’s dress and past sexual history are relevant during investigation.

In recent years, many universities have gone under fire for directly mishandling or covering up cases of rape and sexual assault- many times making national headlines such as Harvard and Yale. Some, such as Dartmouth, have even seen a decline in applications because of the negative attention. It’s time for universities to take a stand against sexual assault and provide the responsiveness that victims deserve.

We ended Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, a Men's March to end rape and sexual assault.

We ended Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, a Men’s March to end rape and sexual assault.

Tides are starting to turn though. Fortunately, this year, President Obama has issued a task force to directly deal with sexual assault on college campuses, and Sen. Claire McCaskill has conducted national surveys on the issue and has lead a bipartisan effort through the legislature to combat sexual assault in the military and now on college campuses. This effort is aimed at implementing new regulations that force campuses to adopt and change policies. Moreover, it seeks to provide additional resources to help universities be able to provide crucial services for those affected by sexual violence.

Many campuses have already made a stride towards victim services as well as prevention. Thankfully, the University of Missouri-Kansas City is one such school. It offers many services and support on campus for victims, awareness, and prevention. The UMKC Women’s Center and the Violence Prevention and Response Project seek to strengthen the university and community response to gender-based and sexual violence. Together, and in collaboration with other campus and community offices, the Women’s Center and Violence Prevention and Response Project provide vital training and education on prevention and response, resources and services for those affected by sexual violence including a safe place, referral information. Unlike many universities, UMKC offers a full time Victim Services Adjudication Advisor, Michelle Kroner. Her office, as well as the women’s center, is available to any student.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to remain active and to raise your voice against sexual assault. Sexual assault and rape has received national attention because of people like you. What UMKC and other institutions are doing is significant progress. But, it’s not a fix. Not yet. Remember, 1 is 2 many. If my article makes you uncomfortable: good. Be a person who seeks to change the system instead of ignoring it. Don’t be complicit. We can end the culture that perpetuates rape.

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Author’s Note: Violence against women is a larger narrative than what simple statistics have to offer. It’s a culture that extends worldwide. It’s a world where one in three women will be raped in their lifetime- where sexual violence is more guaranteed than an education.

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Resources:

Internalized Misogyny

by Morgan Paul

I’ve been thinking a lot about masculinity lately and it’s really scary when we realize that all of these things that many of us say that we’re against are actually internalized. Over the weekend I was hanging out with my brother. He’s 25, married and has a daughter.  My brother is very protective of all of the women in my family and in his life and is by no means a supporter of violence against women, yet when a buddy of his was telling him about a vinyl decal for the back of a truck that looked like there was a woman tied up he said “That’s awesome.” My brother, the man who would not think twice about spending the rest of his life in prison to protect a perfect stranger, said that it was awesome to “joke” about a girl being kidnapped. This has really been bothering me because I really don’t believe that it’s something he agrees with, but his misogyny is so internalized that he doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. We wonder why there’s such a problem with violence against women, it’s because we are all taught that it’s okay! Though the lessons may not be outright, actions speak way louder than words. By turning these situations into jokes, we’re saying that all of these problems and worries that women deal with on a daily bases are not valid. Yes, internalized problems like this are difficult to change but we’ll never know if we don’t try.

The Strength of “Her”

By Ayo Aruwajoye

UMKC's Violence Prevention and Response Project promotes violence prevention in the UMKC community.

UMKC’s Violence Prevention and Response Project promotes violence prevention in the UMKC community.

Working at the Woman’s Center, I can truly say I have grown. One of the big lessons that I learned is that us as women are very strong. I wrote this poem around the time of Sexual Assault Awareness month last year. Sexual assault is any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient. This poem describes a woman that has been through so much in life in general, but to be specific, in her relationship, and she still remains strong optimistic. This is the kind of woman that I want to be when I grow up. I have heard stories from friends, family, and strangers about different things they go through, like domestic violence, sexual harassment, relationship dominancy, and stereotyping. We hear so many stories about the bad things that woman go through like unfair payment issues, teen pregnancy, but we never take the time to reward these woman for moving forward, for standing up for what they believe in or even for remaining STRONG through all the turmoil and tribulations. Every woman should realize how strong she is and praise themselves for being such strong woman. Neither a man, nor the government has a say in what a woman’s worth is. I commend all the survivors of any sort or discrimination, embarrassments, or sexual assault because that’s the example we should set for other woman and young teenage girls that you are to be treated fairly, equally and with respect, Stand up for what’s right and stay strong, because better days will come.

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The Strength of “Her”

It’s the strength of her that shows why her presence is demanding like the rush of cold wind on a snowy day.
It’s the strength of her, that’s why her smile refuses to fade away
What is it about a woman, the way we hurt but solemnly stay?
Wishing that tomorrow could be so much of a better day!
Is it the way her Hips sway that tells the Pain she’s on her way?
Because it seems like instead of walking away, she’s running at a faster pace
The yearn to be loved, but the confusion above, mind all over the place, so hard to crack this Love case
The strength of her is overwhelming, overbearing and overrated
Who designed us to be this strong, to go through all the emotions of a love song?
It’s the strength of her that lets you think I’m okay
She nods her head up and down, like accepting a check on pay day
In my mind…. No in HER mind, she’s screaming for just one escape
One superhero with a red, long cape
I know he sees her tears, the ones that fall from fear
I know he feels her, she knows too
They sit there with nothing to say, nothing to do
The only similarity is their strengths showcase
He’s is the physical aspect
But her emotional aspect has lifted the weights
Showed its face, fought the same old race, and still had time to reminisce on the day
It’s the strength of her that lets her ignore foolish ways
Yes, she’s aware of your continuous lacking words every day
It’s the strength of her that she can say…
That the strength of her makes her Okay
It’s the strength of her that shows why her presence is demanding like the rush of cold wind on a snowy day.
It’s the strength of her, that’s why her smile refuses to fade away
What is it about a woman, the way we hurt but solemnly stay?
Wishing that tomorrow could be so much of a better day!

Real Men Show Respect

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3sOXN_80ohM[/youtube]

By Maritza Gordillo

I came across this video on YouTube and, after watching it, to my surprise, it had a different ending that what we would expect. Now, I say “ what we would expect” in the sense that society has taken rape culture as a norm so that we aren’t even surprised to hear about another rape victim. It should be the other way around; we should be surprised when it happens (which it shouldn’t), not when it doesn’t happen. This man portrays what should be the norm and how men (and anyone!) should treat women.  Watch and see for yourself.

 

T-Shirts, Buttons, and Chocolate Vaginas, Oh My!

The season of V-Day is upon us!

We have tons of events going on to celebate V-Day, and promote violence prevention for violence against women and girls. There are events all month long (and into March!) that aim to bring attention to the V-Day Movement and call the UMKC campus to action to end violence against women and girls.

Have you licked your vagina today? Stop by 105 Haag Hall to purchase a chocolate vagina, and lick away!

Have you licked your vagina today? Stop by 105 Haag Hall to purchase a chocolate vagina, and lick away!

At all of our events we have our amazing V-Day T-Shirts and V-Day Buttons for sale. In addition, we have the renowned chocolate vaginias in both milk and dark chocolate. Stop by any (or all!) of our events listed below to purchase items! Or, swing by The Women’s Center at 105 Haag Hall during normal business hours (Monday-Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.) to buy any of the items!

We hope you will join us in the fight to end violence against women and girls!

Our Events:

We have various interactive tables where participants can refelct on healthy relationships and express their reflections by creating shrink art charms! The dates/times/locations of our tables are as follows:

  • Thursday, Feb. 13; 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Royall Hall
  • Monday, Feb. 17; 11 a.m. – 1 p.m.; Health Sciences Building
  • Thursday, Feb. 27; 1 p.m. – 3 p.m.; Oak Street Residence Hall

We also have our V-Men event, where a facilitated discussion about gender violence takes place among men. Our event will be on Wednesday, Feb. 19 at 5 p.m., and there will be FREE PIZZA!

Our V-Day initiative for the year comes to a spearhead on Tuesday, March 4 with our benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues. The doors open at 7 p.m., and the performance begins at 7:30 p.m. o purchase tickets, please visit the UMKC Central Ticket Office at 4949 Cherry or online at http://bit.ly/1g2O7Sh.

For more information about all of our V-Day events, please “like” us on Facebook and Tumblr, follow us on Twitter, and visit our UMKC V-Day 2014 site!

What Would You Do?

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mMSb5fS5rQM[/youtube]

By Ayo Aruwajoye

What would you do if you were being abused?

What would you do if your friend or a family member was being abused behind closed doors?

What would you do if you saw a complete stranger being abused in a public place?

Let’s say someone was being harassed about their sexual preference because they were Gay or Lesbian, what exactly would you do?

Would you turn and act like you don’t notice because “it’s none of your business”? Would you attempt to help but then back off when you get scared too, or would you do everything in your power to help that person?!

People are put in scenarios everyday where they have the chance to change and possible save someone’s life by helping them and sticking up for them but they choose not to!

I watched videos from a show called, What would you do, and I was shocked by how many people were witnesses to someone being harassed, sexually, physically and emotionally abused and did nothing. Many people turned their heads and acted like they saw nothing. Later on when some of them were questioned about why they didn’t do anything they replied,” I didn’t know what to do!”

Imagine later that night after that you witnessed someone being aggressively abused and did nothing you’re watching the 10:00PM news and you see the woman that was being abused is now pronounced dead because she was shot by her abusive boyfriend. How would you feel then?

Even though the scene I just painted is extreme, it happens every day and every day we have an opportunity to make a change in someone’s life!

Start standing up for people when you see their in danger or need help the statistics for people being abused and hurt is too high for people to witness this and not do anything. Every time you stand up for someone you have a chance to SAVE THEM, you’re making a statement that what’s going on right now is NOT RIGHT and it has to be STOPPED.  You’re refusing to be put in the category of people that “DID NOTHING” and you’re willing to RESCUE someone that needs to be rescued!

Watch some on the video’s I found on YouTube  about things that happen every day to people where they need someone to stand up for them and then ask yourself, “WHAT WOULD I DO?”

A Women’s Center for Everyone

WC_Logo-2COLOR-FBy Arzie Umali

The Women’s Center has had a home at UMKC for over 40 years; however, every day, someone new walks through our doors, attends one of our events, or discovers us on the internet.  That is what is so great about the Women’s Center. It is available and accessible to everyone.  It is a place to come when you want to meet people or you need some extra support. It is a staff of creative, passionate people who plan programs and events to educate you and raise your awareness about gender issues so that you feel inspired to get involved. And it is a service that helps you find resources for women, learn about the multicultural realities of women, and stay informed about current events that affect women. Our mission is to advocate, educate, and provide support services for the advancement of women’s equity on campus and within the community at large, and as a place, a staff, and a service for our students we strive to make this happen.

The Women’s Center is located in 105 Haag Hall. It is a convenient location for students who need a space to study between classes, finish up homework, or meet up with friends. We are open every weekday from 8 AM to 5 PM and we encourage all students to take advantage of our study lounge with computers and a comfy couch, conference room, and kitchenette. For nursing mothers we offer a private and secure lactation room with refrigerator for storing breast milk. And if it’s a book on women’s and gender topics you are looking for, our friendly staff is always happy to help you find a book in our library. The Women’s Center also houses the Violence Prevention and Response Project, where you can pick up information and resources about gender violence, stalking, and sexual assault, or stop by and speak to our Victim Services Adjudication Advisor if you need extra support. Our center really is about having a safer space to go when you need help, when you need to get away, or even if you need to see a friendly smile.

If activism and getting involved are what you want from your college experience, attending one or all of the Women’s Center’s programs is what you need to do. We offer a number of events that will raise your awareness about gender disparities and inspire you to get involved.  Through our Violence and Prevention Project we offer programs on sexual assault prevention to create a safer campus community.   This semester, our V-Day programs will begin in February with information tables at various locations across campus that will offer information about the international movement to end violence against women and girls. On February 19, we will be partnering with the UMKC Men of Color Initiative to offer a workshop just for men to discuss their own responsibilities in ending violence toward women. And on the evening of Tuesday, March 4, at the Student Union Theater, we will present a benefit performance of The Vagina Monologues, which includes a diverse cast of women from the UMKC student body, staff and faculty, as well as women from the community.  For more details about all our V-Day programs or to purchase tickets to The Vagina Monologues, please visit the V-Day UMKC website at http://www.umkc.edu/womenc/VDay2014/default.asp.

The Women’s Center also hosts a number of events that recognize the accomplishment of women and focus on gender equity. During the week of February 24,  we will be presenting Every Body is Beautiful Week, a series of programs that addresses eating disorders and negative body image as barriers to women’s achievement.  These programs are offered as a campus-wide effort in partnership with the UMKC Counseling Center, Office of Student Involvement, UMKC Athletics, Swinney Recreation Center, Office of Multicultural Student Affairs, and Student Health and Wellness to create more body positive messaging and ideals for women and girls. In March during Women’s History Month we will offer a trivia contest challenging our campus community’s knowledge of the accomplishments of women in history.  And on April 8, we will host an Equal Pay Day event to raise awareness of the pay disparities that women in America still face. All of these events are meant to engage our students in the unique experiences of all women.

The Women’s Center also addresses the issue of gender discrimination in the arts through the Her Art Project we address the issue of gender discrimination. This semester our programs will celebrate Wonder Women at two exciting events.  First, we are presenting a group art exhibit at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in the historic Crossroads Arts District. The exhibit will run February 7 – March 29 and will feature six local women artists who are superheoines of the local arts community and who create works that represent the strength, courage, and resilience of the empowered woman.  On the evening of April 22 at the Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch, we will be hosting award-winning filmmaker Kristy Guevara-Flanagan for a screening and discussion of her documentary WonderWomen! The Untold Story of American Superheroines. Both of these events focus on creative women as leaders, change-makers, and inspirations to the next generation of Wonder Women. For more information about these, and all of our events this semester, visit our website, www.umkc.edu/womenc.

Finally, the Women’s Center is a vital resource for everyone, not just women, and not just student at UMKC or people in our community. We are here for everyone and available to everyone, 24-7, on the worldwide web. Through our website, www.umkc.edu/womenc, you can access resources for women, check out our calendar for events happening on campus as well as in the community for women, and learn about the staff and history of the Women’s Center. Through our Blog, https://info.umkc.edu/womenc/, you can get insight on current topics about women from articles written by our own student staff. And on our Social Media sites (Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, and Flickr) you can find information, photos, and news about what’s happening at the Women’s Center and around the world. As you can see, the Women’s Center is more than just a mission statement. It’s a place, it’s a staff, and it’s a service dedicated to making UMKC and our community a safer, more equitable world for everyone.

For more information about the UMKC Women’s Center, please stop by 105 Haag Hall or visit us at www.umkc.edu/womenc.

Student Assistant Thrilled for A Semester Full of VPR Events

By Maritza Gordillo

If feels great to be back! I am excited to start a whole new semester filled with new events sponsored by the Violence Prevention & Response Project (VPR). From January being National Stalking Awareness Month to April being Sexual Assault Awareness Month we have events that once again bring that awareness to our community and our campus this semester (the images below are from our Stalking Awarenss table on Jan. 27). Please stay tuned to all of our events and follow us on our Facebook, Twitter, and Tumbr as we invite everyone to participate! Help us in promoting support, advocacy, and education to prevent gender-based and sexual violence.

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Our next event is our first V-Day table on Monday, Feb. 3, from 11 a.m. – 1 p.m. at the Atterbury Student Success Center. Join us outside the cafeteria to purchase V-Day shirts, V-Day buttons, and chocolate vagina’s, and to participate in a shrink art activity that promotes healthy relationships!

New Student Assistant Aims to Empower Youth and Prevent Violence

?????????????????????????????????????Hi, there! My name is Colleen Lucas and I am a new student assistant at the Women’s Center. I graduated from UMKC with a Bachelor’s of Art in Studio Art with an emphasis in Photography in 2012.

My interest in gender equality really began while learning about the underrepresentation of women in the art world in art history classes during my undergraduate career. Since then I haven’t been able to turn away from the issues women and minorities encounter. I am interested in pursuing a career in Social Work or in Middle School Education- maybe both, why not? Positively influencing young women (and men, too) as a means to (hopefully) prevent violence is my ultimate goal. I am excited to be involved with the Women’s Center in bringing events that raise awareness to our campus and community, and also to offer support to my campus peers.

Participate in 16 Days of Activism by Viewing The Clothesline Project

16_days_logo_englishBeginning on Monday, November 25, the Violence Prevention and Response Project and the Women’s Center is sponsoring The Clothesline Project during the 16 Days of Activism. This event is part of the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence, an international campaign that aims to promote violence prevention education in order to eliminate all forms of gender violence.

The Clothesline Project will be shown in the East Hallway on the first floor of the UMKC Health Sciences Building (2464 Charlotte Street, Kansas City, MO 64108) from Monday, November 25 (International Day Against Violence Against Women) through Tuesday, December 10 (International Human Rights Day).

Nov. Clothesline_Flyer2013Stop by to be a witness to this visual display, and to stand up to gender violence!

For more information on this or other Violence Prevention and Response Project and Women’s Center events, please visit our website.

You can “like” us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter (@UMKC_Womenc) and Tumblr, as well!