What is V-Day?

By Bonnie Messbarger

To put it simply; V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. On February 14th 1998 American playwright and activist, Eve Ensler, created the VDay event. Ensler along with a group of women established V-Day as a universal day to stop violence against women.  Since then the V-Day movement has exploded and is now recognized in over 140 countries with roughly 1500 events taking place each year. To find out more information about V-Day or how you can get involved, visit their website.


Be sure to check out local VDay events hosted by your UMKC Women’s Center. http://www.umkc.edu/womenc/vday2012.asp

For further information or with questions contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

Celebrate VDAY!

By Tria Tatum




Show your UMKC support at the upcoming Women’s Center Events.

Monday, February 13th, 2012. 11am-1pm
Stop by and visit our VDay information table on campus at the Health Sciences Building! The Women’s Center will be selling chocolate vagina pops, t-shirts and buttons and providing information about your UMKC Women’s Center and VDay!
Click HERE for more information.

Thursday, February 16, 2012. 7-10pm
“Vagina Monologues”
Join us for a night of theater in the UMKC Student Union.
Purchase your tickets in advance $15 ($10 student price). At the door tickets are $20 ($15 for students).
Click HERE for more information.

 Tuesday, February 21, 2012. 11am-12pm
The Women’s Center and the UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project will be hosting a workshop for MEN ONLY. A group of dedicated V-Men will participate in a conversation about ending violence against women and girls. FREE ADMISSION
Click HERE for more information.


To register and see additional event details visit our calendar page:

For further information or with questions contact the Women’s Center at 816.235.1638 or umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

Join us to celebrate 40 years of telling our stories with the UMKC Women’s Center!

Remembering 2011 and Looking Forward to 2012

By Maritza Gordillo

It was not too long ago when I said I was ready to come back and work at the Women’s Center for the 2011 Fall semester. Time went by so quickly due to the fact that we had approximately 14 events this semester, including some of our big events like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, Women’s Equity Quilt Dedication, and Starr Symposium in which I had the privilege of meeting Dolores Huerta whom I’ve always wanted to meet. The events were really fun because I got to learn a lot more and meet new people. This semester the Women’s Center was filled with new staff members whom I enjoyed working with and hope to see when we come back from winter break. I am truly excited and look forward to coming back in the spring to plan events such as the Vagina Monologues, Stalking Awareness Month, and our 40th Anniversary Gala. I hope to see everyone soon at our spring semester events!  Happy Holidays everyone and congrats to the 2011 Fall Graduates!

Update: Rape Definition

From Change.org

By Emily Mathis

In October, I wrote about how the FBI’s rape definition was out of date and needed revising. Well as of a couple of days ago there was some voting about what to do with the definition and there was a unanimous vote to change it.  This unanimous vote comes after the Rape is Rape campaign that got 160,000 emails sent to the FBI protesting the current rape definition.

The voices of the campaign were heard and there have been some major victories towards revision of the outdated definition, which reads: “carnal knowledge of a female forcibly and against her will.” Now the updated but yet-to-be-approved definition says rape is:  “penetration, no matter how slight, of the vagina or anus with any body part or object, or oral penetration by a sex organ of another person, without the consent of the victim.” This new definition takes out the word forcible and that the victim has to be a woman.

While this new definition is a step in the right direction to getting all rapes counted for there is still one more step. The final step is getting FBI Director Robert Mueller and Attorney General Eric Holder to update the current definition. Go here to sign the petition on Change.org.

Learning To Be At Peace With My Vagina

Image from Flickr.com

By Kristina Gardner

I’m a self-proclaimed feminist, I believe in equal rights, equal pay, and equal treatment for women. I believe in stopping the violence against women; and that’s why I work in the Women’s Center. But this semester has been an eye opener for me. I’ve learned that working in the Women’s Center and advocating for Women’s Rights and Violence Prevention, is more than just protesting, signing petitions, and putting on events. It’s about loving yourself for what and who you are….

And that meant coming to terms with my vagina…

But first I had to come to terms with just saying the word “vagina”. I stood in front of a mirror for 20 minutes at a time just saying the word, using it in sentences, and teaching myself that it is not a bad word, as I was brought up to believe it was. Not letting myself say some of the funny terms my parents and teachers used for it. That was the first step.

It really started to make me wonder why for eighteen years of my life, why have I never was allowed to say, or was never comfortable to say the word “vagina”. I mean, clearly, my parents and friends had a big part in it. I was raised to be modest and to act like a “lady” it just wasn’t something “ladies” said. They were never okay to say the word or talk about it, so neither did I, and I was perfectly alright with that.

Around this same time in my “blog rolling”, I stumbled across this documentary all about “the perfect vagina” and what women are doing to themselves (including get surgery to reduce the lips of their vaginas, and making themselves virgins again) to achieve “the perfect vagina”. The whole documentary is about learning to love what you have, and learn that everyone’s vagina is different.

Now, we had the Vagina Monologue Auditions, here at the UMKC Women’s Center, and the actual performance is in February.  I had never seen this play before, so I watched some of the clips from performances around the world, and found myself agreeing with these stories, knowing those things really happen to people. Seeing stories about people coming to terms with their own vaginas and periods, etc.; I found myself inspired – and quite frankly, a little upset – that I had delayed this self-acceptance, for so long.

So, if you aren’t comfortable with your vagina (or even just saying the word vagina), I challenge you to do the same, because your vagina is yours. You should love it, respect it, and be proud that you are a woman!


16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence

By Maritza Gordillo

16 Day of Activism Against Gender Violence campaign arose from the first Women’s Global Leadership Institute in 1991. The campaign starts on November 25th and runs through December 10th. The campaign’s dates are symbolic because November 25th is the International Day against Violence against Women and December 10th is International Human Rights Day. Throughout the 16 days, other significant campaigns take place as well, such as, International Women Human Rights Defender Day ( November 29th), World AIDS Day ( December 1st), the Montreal Massacre ( December 6th), and others. According to the official website, the goals this campaign has set are to raise awareness at the local, national, regional, and international level, strengthen local and global activism, to pressure governments to implement commitments made in national and international legal instruments and demonstrate the solidarity of activists around the world. If you want to be an activist in your local community, on November 24th the Women’s Center will be having ‘The Clothesline Project during the 16 Days of Activism Against Gender Violence’ and you can also come out to our T-Shirt making party and make your own t-shirt with a message on it about how domestic violence has affected you or someone you know. So come support these events and learn more about helping aid this campaign.

When Will Victim-Blaming Stop?

By Kristina Gardner

You’ve heard about it. These awful cases of victim-blaming; from the case of the Toronto Police Officer telling girls to stop wearing skirts to school or they will get raped, to the New York City Police Officer warning women to stop wearing revealing clothing on the streets of Brooklyn (and in general) or they will get raped, to the newest piece that came out about the Radio Host blaming the Occupy Wall Street protestors for getting “raped and groped”. Why would you ever even think to blame the victim of a rape or any kind of sexual assault for the action of the person that did that to them! I don’t think women go around saying “I hope wearing this very cute skirt to go out with my friends doesn’t attract rapists.” No, she’s thinking about having a night on the town with her girlfriends, and looking good to have a good time. Or whatever the reason – because let’s face it, skirts are pretty comfortable—she should be able to wear that skirt or “revealing clothing” without any worries about being sexually assaulted. But I digress.

We have got to stop blaming the victims of these sexual assaults, stop asking them what they could have done to prevent it, blaming them for wearing that skirt, or low cut shirt, and start blaming the people that are doing these crimes! And doing something about it! These police officers should not be worrying about what the women were wearing, but rather worrying about getting the person that raped them, or preventing the possible rapes.

So, what if a horrible thing like sexual assault happens? What should we do as a friend to the person that has been sexually assaulted?

What to do…

if someone you know is a survivor of sexual assault, domestic/relationship violence, or stalking:

  • Believe them. People rarely lie about dealing with these issues.
  • Listen and concentrate on understanding their feelings.
  • Allow them to be silent; you don’t have to talk every time they stop talking.
  • Ask how you can help.
  • Don’t ask questions that imply that the rape, abuse, or stalking is their fault, such as “Why did you go to his room?”, “Why are you staying with that person?”, or “Why didn’t you run away?”
  • Offer to accompany them to the police, to seek medical attention, or to seek counseling.
  • Help them regain a sense of control by letting them decide what to do. Help them explore the options and then support them in making their own decisions about how to proceed.
  • Remind them that rape, abuse and stalking are not their fault.
  • Offer shelter or companionship, so they don’t have to be alone.

UMKC Violenc Prevention and Response





Raising Awareness

Image from Flickr.com

By Emily Mathis

The first time he hit me I was so scared and shocked that I stayed. After that it was a continuous cycle of verbal, emotional, and physical abuse followed by guilt, blame, and manipulation to get me to stay. I left him after the third time. I am one of the lucky ones. I know that. Every day victims of domestic violence are seriously injured or even killed. According to some statistics, domestic violence is the number one cause of injury in women between the ages of 15-44. That’s more than car accidents, muggings and rape combined. Not to mention that according to the Domestic Violence Resource Center more than three women and one man are killed every day by domestic violence.

I was only 17 when it happened to me. I’m sure there were signs but at 17 how could I be expected to recognize them? Well maybe that’s where we start-with education. Teaching kids, teens, and young adults what is a healthy relationship and what an abusive relationship looks like is important. We need to be teaching everyone what to do if you find yourself in an abusive situation. I turned to my friends at the time. It was the blind leading the blind. But what if my friends had heard about what you do in these situations? Maybe I would have gotten help sooner than I did. There is no one to blame in these situations except for the perpetrator.

With 1 in 4 teenage girls assaulted by their boyfriends, it is time that we broaden our focus to include younger generations. If you stop it early it will be less likely to get to a critical point in the future. But along with teaching kids, teenagers and young adults, we need to be raising awareness among people of all walks of life because domestic violence knows no race, ethnicity, or class. This is one of our nation’s serious problems and it needs to be handled as such.

Here are some links if you or someone you know is in trouble or you just want more information:

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence

National Domestic Violence Hotline

Some local information:


Rose Brooks

UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Project