Children Should be Feminists Too

Image Source: Francisco Ororio, Creative Commons

By: Alyssa Bradley

Gender equality starts at home.  Current issues around gender, racial, and LGBTQ+ equality should be discussed with the younger generations, who can bring their visions for a better world to fruition. That is why it is important to teach children to grow up feminist. Feminists have the perspective that men and women should be equal when it comes to their rights and privileges. Make a commitment daily to be a role model for the society you wish to leave; this will enable your children to view the world through the lens of gender equity.

Children of all genders should be having more open and honest conversations about the personal struggles they encounter. Being comfortable discussing important issues with your kids can make them more confident and secure in themselves to prevent things such as abuse, mistreatment, or disrespect to others.

Dismantling systems already put in place like gender roles can be a good start to liberating your kids with a feminist mindset. Boys and girls should be able to engage in gender-neutral activities without fear of being seen playing with “a girl’s/boy’s toy”.

Another important tool to teach kids how to be feminists is to ask children to think critically about the world around them, especially the media they are exposed to. We are often surrounded by over-sexualized, gendered, and even violent content that can inhibit gender equity. Be honest about the effects these systems have on our world and teach children to be emotionally intelligent and vocal about their beliefs.

These teachings encourage both young boys and girls to respect and treat women the same as men and in turn not contribute to the misogyny of today’s society. While some might say that children aren’t to be involved in serious political matters we have to remember that the ideas that are instilled among children now will be what carries over in the future. Creating young feminists will propel the younger generations to enact positive change in the future. Anti-feminist behaviors are taught and not learned, so if more parents implement feminist ideals into their children’s lives, they’ll grow into individuals who will be part of a kinder, more feminist future.

We need to change the dress code, not what girls wear.

By: Laura Yac 

While being in school, a very common phrase that young girls/teenagers are scared to hear is,  “Are you aware of the school’s dress code?” This is a short phrase that can bring so much shame and embarrassment to these individuals in a place where they are meant to feel safe. Young girls are described as a distraction because of what they choose to wear. At such a young age, girls are being sexualized and that only causes long term harm. Establishing these ideas in young girls only leads them to grow to be ashamed of what they choose to wear due to the feedback that they may receive. It’s crazy to think we have been taught to believe that showing your knees or too much shoulder is an issue to our education.  One might ask; how does wearing a tank top have anything to do with test scores?

I hope that with time there is change brought to this now socially acceptable way to embarrass young girls covered by being a dress code violation. I believe that young girls should be allowed to wear what they see fit without being considered a distraction to others. Because being honest, how distracting can a person’s collar bone be? Until change is made district if not nationwide, we are left with seeing young girls filled with guilt for how they choose to dress.

Want to learn more on this issue affecting young girls? Click here or here.

 

Someone’s Gotta Say it: Female Comedians Don’t Get a Fair Shake

By: Emma Sauer

In 2019, A Little Late with Lily Singh aired for the first time on NBC. Singh, a comedy youtuber and influencer, launched her career from her YouTube channel. Initially, fans and critics were cautiously optimistic, and at first the show seemed like it would be promising–then the first episode came out. 

Christ on a cracker, was it bad. Every joke fell flat, every skit was played out, and Singh’s presentation felt forced and awkward.  I’m not going to argue Lily Singh is some comedy genius, but I do think the widespread scorn she received was disproportionate. Sure, she made a bad show, and some jokes that were in poor taste, but it was her first time appearing in front of a TV audience. The show had budget and time difficulties, and it was filmed in the heat of COVID-19, further throwing a wrench into the show’s production. The problems audiences and media critics had with the show extended way beyond its quality, but that’s another blog for the time. For the time being, let’s just say some people thought Singh got a little too comfortable appropriating Caribbean/Black culture. 

Everyone on the internet seemed to agree for one brief, delicious moment–A Little Late with Lily Singh was a swing and a miss. But then, it became clear to me that there were some people taking the opportunity not just to bash Singh’s comedy, but just female comedians in general. I remember seeing a lot of discourse online throughout YouTube, Reddit, and 4-chan. (Shout-out to 4-chan for always being there to remind me humanity is doomed.)

This incident reminded me of an ongoing argument that has never really ended- are women even funny? If you’re a rationally thinking person, this sounds like an incredibly stupid argument, and I agree with you–it is stupid. It’s ass-backwards, even. The idea that women can’t be comedians based on their gender is something I wish we left back in the early 2000s, but unfortunately it is still a thing. On the bright side, you won’t find a lot of reputable sources declaring women incapable of fun. On the not so bright side, you’ll find it’s the opposite on internet forums and social media. 

So what exactly are people saying about female comedians? Well, I’ll save you the pain of googling it yourself. (You’ll have to take my word for it. I don’t want to link where I found these remarks–they’re hateful and not worth your time to read.) Here’s what I found: 

  1. “Women are more concerned with their appearance than telling jokes.” In a YouTube video called “Women are NOT FUNNY” (very creative title, 10/10), the guy in front of the camera reacts to some unfunny TikTok videos from a woman. His takeaway from a couple seconds-long videos? “Women just don’t seem to appreciate comedy at the same level a man does.” He also states that men are better at comedy, because they are willing to self-deprecate from an early age, while women prefer to avoid drawing attention to their imperfections. He categorizes women as being too vain and self-absorbed to take a joke. This dude talks like women are an entirely different species. His ideas were kind of interesting, but he had nothing to back it up- no research, no articles mentioned or cited. The comments had nothing but  high praise for him though, and he’s got ~200,000 subscribers. Go figure, I guess. 
  2. “Female comedians joke too much about their vaginas.” This is another blanket statement I’ve come across on social media threads, and I’m sure it’s something female comics have been hearing for decades now. In my humble opinion, this is a double standard at play. I haven’t even watched that much stand-up comedy and even I’ve heard a ton of dick jokes from male comics. Why is it that guys can make dick/sex jokes all they want, but when a women does the same thing, people find it so gross? I think it has to do with the fact that people don’t expect sex jokes from a woman. From a man, they’re funny. From a woman, it’s annoying and icky. Comedian Emily Weir had some insightful things to say about this in an article from Farrago Magazine. The article is from 2016, but it still makes great points. 
  3. “I don’t like(insert female comedian here) therefore all female comedians are bad.” This isn’t a statement I hear from people online–rather, it’s the thought process I’ve observed from people who hold that belief. Ok, remember what I said about Singh earlier? People took that one instance and spun their own narrative of all women being poor comedians, not just Singh. I see the same thing happen all the time with mainstream female comedians, such as Sarah Silverman, Amy Schumer, and Ellen DeGeneres. It’s important to recognize that the comedian world is male dominated. Men make up roughly 75% of comedians. The few female comedians you see in the spotlight are not necessarily an accurate picture of all the others. There’s a cornucopia of gut-busting female comedians out there- you just aren’t looking.  Additionally, I’d argue that there are a lot of mainstream male comics who are equally obnoxious and groan-inducing. I don’t like Joe Rogan, but that doesn’t mean every bald, red-faced, middle-aged man is a hack, just most of them! (Kidding, kidding… I didn’t mean it, Dad.) 

It goes without saying that women are just as funny as anyone else. These three points don’t prove anything, and as soon as you start to think about them, their reasoning falls apart. As time goes on, more people are catching onto the weak arguments against female comedians. The way they’re viewed is changing, and I feel like the climate is improving for women in comedy. Even still, these backwards ideas against them still persist. They’ve always bugged me, and someone had to say it. 

P.S) Here are a few of my favorite female comedians. Feel free leave your own favorites in the comments! 

Nicole Byer

Jamie Loftus

Catilin Reily 

Sex Sells…But at What Cost?

By: Ebony Taylor 

Ever watched a movie or tv show based in high-school? Think about the female characters. There’s often a character who’s a “school slut” or girl who wears revealing clothing. She is almost always over-sexualized. Reporters have noticed the almost obsessive need to sexualize the teenage experience, especially with Gen-Z. As a borderline millennial myself, I do not think movies and tv shows accurately represent teen life because the film industry has a skewed view of the high school experience. A more recent example is HBO’s Euphoria, a show meant to portray the mind of young teens.  

Although I have not watched the show, many critics of the show feel its objectification of underaged girls is an issue. The Daily Targum, an online newspaper, mentions that Hollywood has a history of setting unrealistic beauty standards, focusing on the women characters’ sexual development. This may have to do with men filling writing and directing roles, and that female characters are being used to appeal to the male eye.

This idea was brought to my attention on Euphoria,  because the writer and director of the show is also male. Are male writers and directors conscious of how they’re portraying women? Those who have watched Euphoria  agree that the show is not shy about displaying nudity. With the numerous sex, nude, and drug scenes, the Guardian writes that younger audiences may be accidental targets. From featuring former Disney costars, attractive models, to a soundtrack made of popular artists, I can see how this show would be appealing to them.   

The main topic of discussion here is to consider how society imposes sexuality on young girls. Media outlets like social media, tv shows, and movies impact girls and their mental health. Sexualization in media suggests that being “sexy” is liberating and powerful. However, when girls are exposed to unrealistic portrayals of girls their age, it can lead to internal conflict, confusion, self-loathing, according to a Verywell Mind article. Not only do media platforms persuade young girls to express their sexuality, but they open a channel for them to do it.  

Due to labor laws, directors may cast women to play the roles of high school-aged girls. I was shocked to learn that actress Rachael McAdams was 25 when she starred in Mean Girls  as a high school bully. The Daily Targum gave an opinionated review that though the sex lives of teens cannot be completely censored, it is a “fine line between sexualizing young women and being informative on how teens view and experience sexual activities.” It can give teens the wrong perception, that what they see (a grown, developed, working woman) is how they should look in high school. Granted, some girls develop more than others in their teens, but these films and shows are setting the bar almost impossibly high for growing girls.  

For social media outlets, there is a negative side to sexual exposure. The American Journal of Psychiatry mentions Nancy Jo Sales, writer of American Girls: Social Media and the Secret Lives of Teenagers, who concludes that social media can reinforce sexism and objectification. Many times, young girls are sent unwanted penis pictures, pressured to send nude photos, or portray themselves in a sexualized way to compete with other girls for “likes” online. It’s not only happening in the media, but in other parts of teen’s life. The answers for why girls’ sports feel that they need to dress in more revealing uniforms, why women who are more endowed and shapely play high schoolers, or why sex scenes can’t be censored and have to be shown repeatedly, can only come from females in the media industry. There need to be more women in the media to stop the sexualization of girls and young women. Female writers, directors, other creatives could help create realistic portrayals of women in the media. Stricter and more protective laws for women can also ensure safety for women of all ages.  

Back to Basics #2: Do Feminists Hate Men?

By: Laura Yac

We are bringing it back to basics this week with a common misconception involving feminists.  When I talk about my feminist beliefs, I often get asked the question, “Do you hate men?”  My answer,  like Cher from Clueless would say is: “Ugh! as if…”

Yet the question still remains if feminists really hate men, and for the most part we don’t! I have come to the conclusion that many individuals (especially men) feel attacked by the term feminist and the concept of women wanting to be seen as equal and receiving the same opportunities that men do for simply being male. This is where I believe individuals got the common misconception that we hate men.

If you go online right now and look up the term feminist, the definition is  “advocacy of women rights on the basis of equality of sexes.” From that, we can gather that overall feminists just want to be seen at the same standards the world places men. We want nothing more than to be treated as the powerful individuals we are and because of that, men shouldn’t feel threatened or hated on. It is simply a matter of wanting change. Women are tired of being treated like they are unable to do certain tasks, tired of being underpaid and underestimated.

It is time that individuals realize that. Instead of seeing such movement as a threat, they should join the cause for the women in their life who have been shut down and underestimated their whole life. For now, it seems women’s rights will be a battle we continue to fight.

For the mean-time here is some extra helpful information on what feminism really is and to leave on a good note… Men, we don’t hate you!

Helpful articles to learn more about feminism: click here and here.

 

 

 

 

 

A Brief History of Women in the U.S Military (Part 2)

By: Sierra Voorhies

Trivia Question: True or False? Army and Navy nurses, all of whom were women, weren’t given veteran’s benefits and equal rights in the military until 1947, when they were granted officer’s status. 

Answer: True

World War II (1939-1945)

In WW2, all branches of the military accepted women into their organizations. Their role expanded from clerical jobs to driving, repair persons, lab workers, operators, parachute riggers, and air combat trainers (USO). 68,000 women served as nurses across the Army Nurse Corps and the Navy Nurse Corps – sometimes working on front lines, and sometimes being killed or taken as prisoners of war. Black women served as nurses overseas and stateside, and were continuously used as auxiliary forces that were called in so men could serve on the front lines when needed. In 1948 Truman signed an Integration Act that desegregated women in the Army and the Organized Reserve Corps where Black women had been serving without official recognition. 

Interesting Fact: Aesthetically, in WW2, uniforms were skirts, and having hairdos, makeup and nail polish was emphasized, this is different from today when makeup, nail polish and skirts are not allowed (USO). 

In 1948 (Before the Korean War) Truman signed an Act that allowed ‘women to serve as full, permanent members of all branches of the Armed Forces.” (USO) Truman also issued an executive order to desegregate the military and allow Black women equal service (USO).

Vietnam War- Present
  • In the Vietnam War, women were allowed to command units that included men. 
  • Since the 80’s progress continued to be made, including women becoming fighter pilots, rescue swimmers, and four-star generals in the Army (USO).
  • In 1991 Operation Desert Storm started, and an estimated 40% of women serving were Black women (NABMW).
  • In 1994 Clinton got rid of the “Risk Rule” which let women be in any position besides direct ground combat roles (USO). 
  • In 2015 Women would be allowed to serve in direct ground combat roles, meaning almost every role in the armed forces is now open to women (USO).

In conclusion, Black women continue to face intersectional issues in the Armed Forces, but those who have served and volunteered since pre-colonialism paved the way for those who serve with full recognition and benefits now. Proportionately, Black women serve at a higher rate (in noncommissioned officers) than White women or Black Men, meaning they tend to stay in the service longer. The military can be a place of opportunity that civilian careers might not equal in the eyes of some Black women today (NABMW).

Like in every other aspect of life, the United State’s history of slavery, segregation, and racism plays an important role in the way Black women serve. But all the same, women will persist. 

Note: I would love to write a part two about the history of queer people in the military, but as this is so long, I will refrain from including it in this blog. Stay tuned! 

A Brief History of Women in the U.S Military (Part 1)

 By: Sierra Voorhies

Trivia Question: True or False? Army and Navy nurses, all of whom were women, weren’t given veteran’s benefits and equal rights in the military until 1947, when they were granted officer’s status. 

Answer: True

The role of women in the armed forces has only increased since the Revolutionary War in The United State’s history. The history of Black vs White women in the military has commonly been segregated, so in this article I try my best to elaborate side by side the roles and obstacles White and Black women faced as their service roles grew. 

Historical timeline

Revolutionary War (1775-1783)

During the Revolutionary War, women traveled alongside soldiers and did cooking, cleaning, mending, and healing but didn’t participate in battle. There were exceptions of women who disguised themselves as men to serve. Notably Margaret Corbin kept fighting even after her husband was shot and killed. Black Women who were enslaved were brought into the house to help slave owners wives when their husbands went to serve in the militia. They also worked with men to build forts and served as spies under the promise of freedom after their service (NABMW).

Civil War (1861-1865)

During the Civil War, women grew crops, cooked, sewed, fundraised, and notably served as official nurses; about 3,000 women nurses worked for the Union Army. Historians estimate upwards of a thousand women also dressed as men to fight in the war.  Black women were also official and unofficial nurses and served in both Union and Confederate hospitals, as well as the Navy. Black women in the North were paid to raise cotton on plantations for the Union to sell. At first black and troops of color weren’t paid for their service, so their wives, black women and women of color had to support their whole family by laundering other soldiers’ clothing and making food to sell in the camps. Not until 1864 (3 years into the war) were black men paid fully (NABMW).  

World War I  (1914-1918) and 1939-1945)

Before the First World War, the US Army Nurse Corps was formally established. This is a big turning point because women still didn’t have the right to vote, but they could officially serve in the US military. The US Navy also hired 12,000 women to serve as yeoman, who worked at desks, as operators and translators. The US Army Signal Corps also hired women to be telephone operators “3 kilometers from the trenches in France.” (USO) Black women were not allowed to be military nurses until after Armistice had been signed, and all were terminated from hire when the war was over. So Black women served in other ways during WW1 but were still not allowed full participation (NABMW). 

 

Keep your hands to yourself!

 

By: Jetzel Chavira

“Don’t Touch My Hair” is a powerful anthem that Grammy-award winning artist Solange Knowles wrote in 2016. In an interview with Natelegé Whaley for the Huff Post, Solange recalls an experience where a white woman came up to her and petted her fro.

This made me think about the many times I walked through Target with my best friend who is a Black American woman, and how she could not find products for her hair. I think about how my own hair is wavy and it’s not hard for me to find hair products. My hair is not seen as a spectacle. I have never once been asked for my hair to be touched.

So, the next time you see someone whose hair is different than yours, check yourself before you do or say anything. Check out Solange’s song “Don’t Touch My Hair” ft. Sampha here.

 

Women Who Lead: Activism Through an Intersectional Lens – Panelist Jasmine Ward

Tune into the “Women Who Lead” Panel Discussion for an invigorating conversation with a panel consisting of a diverse group of local women leaders, Thursday November 5, 2020 6:00-7:30pm

Use the link below to register

https://umsystem.zoom.us/meeting/register/tJElf-GtrjsuE9LhA5KFTTUrsV7LnbyIiRxM

The “Women Who Lead” panel discussion is this Thursday! Continuing our introduction of the panelists and all the amazing things they do, we would like you to meet our second panelist, Jasmine Ward! Jasmine is a third-year law student at the University of Missouri – Kansas City School of Law, and a KC native studying education law, and criminal defense. She is currently a Rule 719 Legal Intern for the Johnson County District Attorney’s Office, president of the Black Law Students’ Association, and vice-president of the Board of Barristers. As with our previous blog on the topic, we asked Jasmine some questions about her community involvement and advice to future leaders, the following is that interview.

What motivates you to keep working towards justice in a time where the country is so divided, and many people choose to reject the realities of social issues and/or scientific fact?

Very long story short, I always think about my ancestors and my elders (including those who are still alive), who were fighting for things they weren’t sure would ever be realized, and who were doing so in much more dangerous situations (not to downplay the true dangers Black women and men face today). If they could do what they did, then I feel we can do anything.

How does your intersectional identity as a woman impact your outlook on the world and certain issues?

I think having identities that intersect as mine do – being a Black woman – it makes you think about all the little things that mainstream media or politicians don’t consider, all the things that “fall through the cracks” per se. And thinking about those things as they relate to Black women has made me hyper-cognizant that issues and realities fall through the cracks for millions of people with intersectional identities – so I’m always striving to look between the lines when I consider a person or a community and their needs. More than that, I find ways to just ask communities about their “between the cracks” needs, because it’s preposterous to think I could know things about communities to which I don’t belong.

What would you say to young female leaders who are just starting on their path to leadership?

First and foremost, don’t doubt yourself. If you’re in a room, you belong there, and you can stand with the best of them. And don’t take on a role, just be yourself – I don’t think anyone who is considered a “leader” thinks of themselves that way; you don’t have to assume some personality or way of being, who you are is already effective enough!

Are there any programs/projects you are currently working on that you would like to mention?

My main focus right now is graduating and passing the bar, but I am working with the Diverse Student Coalition and UMKC to try to make some necessary additions to our discrimination policies. Further, the Black Law Students’ Association (BLSA) at UMKC Law is currently planning our Fall session of Street Law, a program where BLSA students, Black law professors, and Black attorneys teach diverse high school students, basic legal concepts. This year, we’ll be teaching those classes via Zoom, instead of in the law school, but we think high school students will still get the same learning experience and ability to see Black academic and professional success modeled.

Where can people go to learn more about the work you do?

LinkedIn would be the best place!

Be sure to register to see Jasmine in the Women Who Lead Panel and keep checking in to learn about the other panelists!

COVID-19’s Impact on Women

By Jordan Tunks

COVID-19 is impacting everyone, but it is impacting women in a different way than men. When the shutdown began in March of 2020, things like restaurants, shopping centers, and movie theaters were being shut down one after another. These industries are employed mostly by women causing the unemployment rate of women to increase dramatically. According to Forbes.com, women accounted for 55% of workers that became unemployed in April compared to men at 13%.

When the shutdown first began, childcare was not deemed as an essential service. This left many mothers in a predicament many men were not put in. This created a burden on women to figure out what to do with their children while they went to work, forcing some women to have to take off work and stay at home. This could lead to more problems at work if they were having to call off multiple times in a row. Fortunately, childcare was deemed essential after a month or so into the pandemic so these mothers and childcare workers could resume their schedule.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted women’s mental health more than men. According to Forbes.com, 52% of COVID-related stress has had a negative impact on women compared to 37% of men. This pandemic has been hard on women in multiple ways, from figuring out childcare to losing a job and having to find another source of income. Men did not have as much of a setback as women, especially when it comes to employment. Many male dominated occupations were deemed a necessity, allowing them to continue working though the months of shut down. Men also typically hold higher positions at work, presenting them with the opportunity to work from home, which many women did not get. Due to these situations, women were and are being affected in very different ways than men during this pandemic. Do you feel like Covid-19 disproportionately affected you?