Walk A Mile®Through Our Graduate Assistant’s Lens

By Indra Mursid

The first time I heard about Walk a Mile in Her Shoes© I was a senior student representative during my undergraduate studies. Student Senate was co-sponsoring the march with our own sexual assault and Title IX program so we weren’t the ones who were making the executive decisions on how to advertise or how to incorporate community outreach into the march. When I first found out about the Women’s Center involvement in hosting UMKC’s annual Walk a Mile in Her Shoes event – I was thrilled to be one of a handful of people making executive decisions on how to incorporate community resources within the march. Before Walk a Mile©, I assisted in curating the roaster of community organizations for the Resource Fair. Some organizations there were from previous Resource Fairs like MOSCA, League of Women Voters, and the American Association of University Women (AAUW) and some were new-and-upcoming organizations that I knew about in the Kansas City area through social media like Barrier Babes. To communicate with organizations about Walk a Mile ©, its cause, and how these organizations could help empower others was incredibly powerful to me because we were exposing survivors and advocates to communal resources they might not have even thought to look into. During the march, I got to witness my efforts through another lens – literally.

During the march, I was also in charge of taking photographs from various vantage points in many stages of the event from the Resource Fair tabling to men crossing the finish line. It was amazing to see students, faculty, Greek Letter societies, and UMKC sports teams unabashedly put on high heels and march in awareness of rape, sexual assault, and gender based violence. I could tell through my interactions with many men how passionate they were about the subject, especially in the speeches Dr. Martin, Justice Horn, and Humberto Gonzalez gave. They spoke about how they advocate for the women closest to them and women who cannot speak out due to the fear of retaliation or lack of support to do so. I want to emphasize how much we need men to use their voice as a vehicle for change, especially in women’s issues. Overall, the experience of planning, executing, and sprinting around the route with the participants taking photos was incredible. I hope to be involved in some way during my time at UMKC and beyond.

Join Us for Walk A Mile In Her Shoes®

By Skye VanLanduyt

In 2001, Psychologist Frank Baird founded Walk A Mile In Her Shoes® to encourage men to think about how gender violence affects women. At the event, men are asked to walk a mile in women’s shoes to bring awareness and understanding to women’s experiences, improve gender relationships, and decrease the potential for violence. To learn more about Walk A Mile In Her Shoes®, and its mission go to https://www.walkamileinhershoes.org/index.html#.XXqtUy2ZPfs

The Women Center’s website states since 2007, over 1,000 people at UMKC have participated in the event. This participation has increased awareness of rape, sexual assault, gender violence, and funds for the UMKC Women’s Center and UMKC Violence Prevention and Response Program.

UMKC Librarian, Scott Curtis is a previous participant and longtime supporter of Walk A Mile In Her Shoes®. He says, “walking in high heels allowed him time to think about the discomfort women feel due to social conventions based on sexism.” As the school year starts, Curtis believes participating in Walk A Mile In Her Shoes® is important because it will give students and staff the opportunity to “come together and, through a little fun and a lot of reflection, work toward making UMKC a better place.”

This year, UMKC’s new athletic director, Dr. Brandon Martin will be providing the opening remarks. As director, he says “I believe it’s my job to be a leader for the athletic department but I also believe in being a leader for a larger part of the campus.” His involvement hits close to home, “as a parent of two daughters” he says, “it is important to take a stronger stance against sexual violence.” Martin hopes Walk A Mile In Her Shoes® will continue gaining momentum for UMKC’s fight to decrease gender violence.

Our Student Body President, Justice Horn will be co-leading the event with Martin as the MC. Horn says he feels “it is our duty, in positions of influence, and positions of power to be allies toward the fight for equality for women.” Much like Martin, Horn says Walk A Mile In Her Shoes® is personal. “My mom makes the money in our family and is usually the only woman in the room.” Horn hopes those in attendance this year “understand that everyone needs to be in this fight towards equality.”

We hope you will join us this Thursday! All are welcome.

When: Thursday, September 19, 2019 at 5:30. A kick-off will take place before the march, which will start at 6pm.

Where: UMKC University Playhouse, 51st & Holmes St., Kansas City, MO 64110

Admission: Free!

A limited supply of shoes will be provided by the UMKC Women’s Center, so we encourage you to bring your own shoes!

Participants are asked to wear heels to the walk but are not required to.

If there is inclement weather, the event will be held at Jazzman’s, Student Union, 5100 Cherry St., Kansas City, MO 64110.

Reflecting on “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes”

By Ann Varner

Students marched with their heels and signs in the annual event, which was held last week at UMKC.

On Thursday, September 27, the Women’s Center and Violence Prevention and Response put on our annual “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes” event. Every year, male members of the UMKC community come to support the event by putting on heels and quite literally walking a mile in them. During the walk, most participants carry signs in support of consent and anti-violence towards women. This year, we also had the participants create a “red shoe pledge” where they pledged to do things, such as “always be an advocate” and “always believe her.”

Chancellor Agrawal wears his heels to celebrate the event and promote safety for women on campus.

We had a great turn out this year. A special thanks goes to our Chancellor Agrawal for his speech and putting on his own pair of high heels. Thank you to the participants who learned what it’s like to wear heels – it’s not fun. Some men even apologized and said, “I am so sorry that women have ever had to wear these things.” Thank you to our sponsors who sponsored a table, and to the UMKC community for showing up to encourage our walkers.

In our current society, walks like these are needed. I believe it helps to not only promote anti-violence towards women, but to also encourage the walkers to reflect upon themselves and what they can do to help create change. After all, change can only begin when voices speak up and are heard.

To read more about Walk a Mile in Her Shoes® and its mission to prevent sexual assault and gender-based violence on college campuses, go to https://www.walkamileinhershoes.org/.

Event Preview: Walk a Mile in Her ShoesⓇ 2018

By Samantha Anthony

Signs are welcome at the march. Here, some students show off their posters from the 2017 event.

Each year, the UMKC Women’s Center advocates for change through our organization and presentation of Walk a Mile in Her ShoesⓇ, a march dedicated to women’s rights and violence prevention. The Women’s Center website states that since 2007, over 1,000 people have participated in the march at UMKC.

What: Walk a Mile in Her ShoesⓇ is “The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence.” It asks men to walk in high-heeled shoes to better understand and appreciate women’s experiences, improve gender relationships, and decrease the potential for violence. To find out more, visit www.walkamileinhershoes.org.

Who: Presented by the UMKC Women’s Center and Violence Prevention & Response Program

When: Thursday, September 27, 2018 at 5:30. A kick-off will take place before the march, which will begin at 6.

Where: UMKC University Playhouse, 51st & Holmes St., Kansas City, MO 64110

Admission: Walk a Mile in Her Shoes is FREE for students, but you must register at http://info.umkc.edu/womenc/programs/walk-a-mile-in-her-shoes/

Advance: $25 Staff/Faculty; $50 Community

Walk-In: $30 Staff/Faculty; $55 Community

All proceeds will benefit the UMKC Women’s Center and Violence Prevention & Response Program.

Parking: Ample parking is available at the Cherry Street Parking Structure located at Oak and 50th Street. Metered parking is also available on campus. For more information, visit https://www.umkc.edu/finadmin/parking/default.cfm.

Please note that we have a limited number of heels available for walkers. Ask your friends and family to borrow some heels, or, if you would like to donate a pair of heels, send us an email: umkc-womens-center@umkc.edu

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes : Take a step toward preventing sexual violence

By Kara Lewis

Our staff is fueled by feminism… and this week, a little more coffee than usual. We’ve been busy putting up fliers, plugging our Facebook event, and organizing crates of high heels.

Our biggest fall event and fundraiser, Walk a Mile in Her Shoes, is this Thursday at 5:30 in the University Playhouse. Schools and other organizations across the world participate in different Walk a Mile in Her Shoes events each year. When men register for the march and strap on heels to stand in solidarity with women, they become part of the international movement to end rape and gender violence.

That sounds big, right? Yes, the issue is monumental— according to statistics from RAINN, one in six American women has survived completed or attempted sexual assault. The problem gains prevalence on campus: Women in college stand three times more likely to face this terrifying, inexcusable crime.

Our event Thursday offers an opportunity to start advocating by taking one step, then another, around the University Playhouse. Take this step with the dozens of others who have already registered. Take this step with people who are both long-term feminists and those who are new to the cause.

Take this step for a reason that’s important to you.

I choose to cheer at the event, design posters and write this blog because I believe we are all responsible in building a campus culture that pushes back against sexual violence.

Join me and register for Walk a Mile in Her Shoes. Bonus: Reward yourself with pizza after the walk— 15 percent of your bill at Pizza 51 will benefit the Women’s Center.

Walk a Mile in Her Shoes 2015

By MatiaraIMG_0517

This Thursday September 17, 2015 is Walk a Mile in Her Shoes! If you don’t know, this event is “the International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence.” Every year a large number of people are sexually assaulted. Events like Walk a Mile in Her Shoes are necessary to bring awareness to the severity of gender violence and encourage efforts to end it. At this event men will be walking a mile (we measured the distance!) in women’s shoes. You can watch and support our walkers for $15 at the event, and for $25 at the event men can join the walk. Everyone that attends will receive a meal from Chris Cakes. Please come out and support this Thursday at 5:30pm at the University Playhouse. Hope to see you there!

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.

***

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:

Wonder Woman and Director of Athletics: Carla Wilson

by Amber Charleville

Earlier this semester, I had the privilege of sitting down with UMKC’s Director of Athletics, Carla Wilson. It was a true delight to talk with her about UMKC, the Athletics Department, and Feminism.

Ms. Wilson was appointed to Director of 5d633a50a247f483e8e38254012d84ffAthletics on December 2, 2013, but she’d been serving as interim director for five months prior to that, as well as being UMKC’s Senior Woman Administrator. She has a long history of service with UMKC, receiving her bachelor’s degree in accounting here in 1988 and working for the university ever since.

Of course, those are all facts anyone can snag from her official bio, but I wanted to really understand her roles and her vision for UMKC Athletics. Ms. Wilson shared with me that over the years she’s supervised 14 of the 16 sports at UMKC, overseen budgeting for the entire department, and sat on several committees around campus, including the Chancellor’s Advisory Board to the Women’s Center.

Listening to her story is truly inspiring. She has worked her way from an entry level university position to Director of Athletics, the only female athletics director in the Western Athletic Conference. She also explained that the title “Senior Woman Administrator” is not a specific position. It is a title held in addition to someone’s role within the senior staff of an athletics department.

“It came out of the fact that there were lots of men at the top, making all the decisions, and they wanted to make sure there was a viable counterpart, a female voice that was making sure the interest of all the students, the female athletes were taken into account. From female coaches getting equal pay and the needs of female students, making sure their needs were being met.”

If face, she explained that when the Athletics Director is a woman, she can either keep the Senior Woman Administrator designation, or she can appoint another female member of the staff to the role, giving two empowered female voices to the department. She intends to pass that designation on.

We also discussed some of Ms. Wilson’s goals for UMKC athletics. She has several, but I was thrilled to hear that her top priority is the well being of her student athletes. “Everything we need to do here should center around student athlete success.” You get the sense listening to Ms. Wilson that she cares very deeply for all of her students, male and female, and that she will always have their best interests at heart as she works to make UMKC’s athletics department truly great.

“Academics are first and foremost,” she says, stressing that the current cumulative GPA for the 224 student athletes is 3.24. And that’s not to leave behind athletic excellence, either. Her goal is to start in the top 1/3rd of the Western Athletics Conference and move up from there.

She also laid out the expectation that the student athletes support other campus activities beyond sports. We here at the Women’s Center know all about that as the Athletics Department sponsors the participation of all their athletes in our Walk-A-Mile fundraiser. (For more information on Walk-A-Mile, which is this May, please see here.)

Our conversation also covered the importance of having strong women role models (for both young women and men), Ms. Wilson’s approach to feminism, and her work with the Women’s Center.

“Being a woman, it is very important to me that women, whether they’re students or people in the community, that we are making sure that we are celebrating women who do great things, that we’re providing programming, that we’re making people aware of what’s going on.”

Overall, I could not have been more impressed and inspired by my conversation with Ms. Wilson. She cares deeply about the community, this university, and all the students in it, athletes and non-athletes alike. She understands that people might be watching her a little more closely, waiting for the first woman to be the Director of Athletics here at UMKC to underachieve. But I for one will be watching, knowing that she is going to do great things for our Athletics Department and this school in general.

Thank you again to Ms. Wilson and her staff for arranging this interview. It was an amazing opportunity.

 

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, http://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.

The Countdown Begins: “Walk a Mile in Her Shoes: The International Men’s March to Stop Rape, Sexual Assault & Gender Violence”

Walk a mile in her shoes is a playful opportunity for men to raise awareness in their community about the serious causes, effects and remediation to sexualized violence. In a study by the U.S. Centers for Disease control of 5,000 college students at over 100 colleges, 20% of women answered “yes” to the question “In your lifetime have you been forced to submit to sexual intercourse against your will?” That’s an astounding one in five college women reporting rape at some point in her lifetime- so it is vital for us to stand together as a community and increase awareness.  Walk a Mile in her Shoes literally asks men to walk one mile in Women’s high-heels, it’s a fun way to get the Kansas City community and students to talk about gender relation and sexual violence.

We are calling all men in the Kansas City community and on Campus to register and walk a mile in women’s high-heeled shoes- to help better understand and appreciate women’s experiences, improve gender relationships, decrease the potential for violence, and open discussion in general. There are only a few more days more until the event, so if you haven’t registered, do it now!

To register, visit our website, for more information please email Kelly Rifenbark, call 816-235-6175, or vist the Facebook event page.