They Mean Business Interview Highlights

By:  Alison Kendall, Emma Sauer

You might not expect it, but Kansas City is a small business hot-spot.  42% of small businesses are woman-owned, and that number is expected to only rise in the future. Check out these highlights from our earlier social media campaign, “They Mean Business”, by our stellar grad student, Alison! These highlights only feature a few of the amazing business-owners interviewed.  To see each post, check out our Instagram. 

Olivia & Madison, Amity & Vine Salon Home | Amity and Vine 

Amity and Vine (located at 1501 St in the West Bottoms) is a salon that promotes inclusivity, realistic beauty ideals, and acceptance for all.

Q: What was the key driving force to starting Amity and Vine? 

The driving forces behind Amity & Vine is accessibility and inclusivity. We want a space where our clients can afford basic hair care services and products as well as enjoying a comfortable and accepting environment where they can relax. Getting a simple haircut or a complete transformations shouldn’t be stressful, and we want to cultivate that experience for our clients.

Q: What are some challenges you face while running your business?

The main challenge we face with owning a small business would have to be the learning curve. Of course the costs and marketing were difficult too; but without the specific knowledge and background in finances and entrepreneurship, we have to learn as we go and reach out for help in those areas every now and then.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to college students and recent graduates who are interested in entrepreneurship?

Our advice for recent graduates and college students interested in entrepreneurship would be that it is normal to go through failures. As corny as that sounds, falling short in certain aspects of your business allows you to understand when to ask for help from those around you. As well as recognizing when to ask for help, always network and meet the other small businesses in your area because being a part of the community will be such an amazing tool for your business’ success.

 

Cori Smith, Blk+Brwn Bookstore 

BLK and BRWN is a bookstore that amplifies the works of POC authors and storytelling.

Q: What was the key driving force to starting BLK and BRWN?

. The biggest driving forces for me could be summed up into three sources — (1) my ecosystem — my mother has been my biggest supporter, my friends and family have been some of the loudest cheerleaders for me and the work that this space stands for; (2) the passing of my older brother, Cody — he was the free-spirited rebel of the two of us and I wanted to find a way to honor him and following my passion was something that he stood for unapologetically; and (3) the need was greater than the risk — this was not just about me or the money — this community needs to know that our stories matter and that we are not the sum total of just our traumatic histories.

Q: What are some challenges you face while running your business?

As a Black woman, it definitely seems that a lot of people have things to say or “advice” to give about what I should be doing. So on a deeper level, I run into constant challenges or micro aggressions that would not exist if I were not a Black woman. Whether it’s people who believe they are being helpful but overstepping the boundaries because of my age, gender, or my racial make-up or people who outright believe that I couldn’t be an expert in my lane. Very annoying.

The other challenge is just dealing with the ebbs and flows of small business. Trying to make sure there’s enough inventory, being the person behind the counter, shipping and tending to social media, as well as, being customer service. I am currently a one-woman show, and so being all things at once can be difficult and burnout is very real.

Q: What piece of advice would you give to college students and recent graduates who are interested in entrepreneurship?

1. Make three plans for the same goal. You can never be over prepared but you can certainly be underprepared.

2. The ability to have a completely balanced work/life is a myth. Balance is not 50/50. Sometimes it’s 70/30 or 60/40 and that’s okay.

3. You have to be able to show up as YOU. The thing that makes the product/service you provide is that it’s YOURS. So do not ever feel like you have to compromise that to be successful. Take breaks and also be mindful of your capacity. You are your brand no matter how much you like or dislike that. If you are not taking care of you then the product/service will inevitably suffer, as well. The work you put out into the world is reflective to who you are.

 

 

Help End Period Poverty.

By: Anel Sandoval and Crystal Lum

Did you know that over 1.8 billion people menstruate each month? Did you also know that over 500 million of these people struggled with obtaining menstrual products pre-COVID-19? If you thought that was bad, it became harder when the pandemic hit. Economic security significantly decreased during the pandemic, with women more likely to become unemployed and overall reliance on support services increasing significantly.

Along with this, supply shortages sometimes left stores out of stock and the pandemic resulted in quarantines that prevented people from leaving their homes, so people were suffering even more than before.

There is a term for this disparity, appropriately named period poverty. Period poverty is the state where people who menstruate are not able to obtain products to treat their periods. It becomes a barrier to their rights to being clean and their rights to being healthy. It limits their social, physical and mental health. People tend to miss out on parts of their lives due to being ashamed of their periods.

Examples of those barriers are the pink tax, lack of resources, lack of education, waste management and hygiene facilities. What is the pink tax? The “pink tax” isn’t a literal tax in a sense. It’s the action of marking up products directed towards women for items that function the same as men’s products. The products tend to be designed with feminine colors and shapes that tend to appeal to women. Not only does that account for menstrual products, but it also targets beauty products and even clothing apparel. A blatant example of this pink tax is shown below, where Ace Hardware marked the price of an identical item marketed to women up over 30%.

Image

Source: Twitter, @TomKatMPLS

 

How do we fight this?

You can be an ally to combat this ongoing issue by educating others about the need for free menstrual products. Contact your local and federal governments to implement laws and policies to end period poverty. Participate in donation drives, promote menstrual donation drives to the student body and faculty at your university. If you know anyone that needs menstrual products, CVS Pharmacy has done their part to make buying products affordable.

 

Someone’s Gotta Say It: The Word “Girlboss” Needs to Die 

By: Emma Sauer 

It’s been some time since I wrote one of these blogs, but I’m coming in hot today with an irritating trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. 

When’s the last time you walked into Target, TJ Maxx, Kohls, or any one of those conglomerate department stores? Have you noticed all those mass-produced t-shirts, tumblers, bags, book-ends, blankets, pillows, posters, and planners have one particular word plastered across them? Something like this:

Source: Amazon

Ugh. Girl Boss. Just typing that out feels like I’m manifesting the worst kind of cutesy faux feminism. Anyway, let me tell you why I hate this word so much. 

The word “girl boss” is a word ascribed to any woman in a position of leadership. It’s vague enough that it can mean a lot of different things, whether it’s a female CEO, business owner, or a middle aged white woman at home selling her Lularoe leggings. I also see it from time to time in Instagram bios or other places on social media. 

So, my main problem with cutesy phrases like “girl boss”, “boss lady”, or “she-eo” is that they’re infantilizing. (And also make for hideous interior design.) A woman in a leadership role shouldn’t be made into a huge deal— at least, not in a way that doesn’t recognize her accomplishments for what they are. When a man is in a leadership role, we don’t call him a “boy boss”, right? That just sounds silly and dumb. Same thing for “girl boss.” It’s dumb, and it makes me roll my eyes. I’m all for lifting up women, but instead of vaguely virtue-signaling with a sparkly pink “GIRL BOSS” plaque on your desk, do the work to focus on specific gender inequity issues.

And you know what? I find this whole “girl boss” thing totally disingenuous. It’s become a way for corporations to create merchandise and market themselves as being feminist, when in reality they’re destroying the environment, using child labor, and under-paying their employees.

Back to Basics #5: What is the Women’s Center?

By: Emma Sauer 

Something I get asked a lot, whether at events, in the office, or just when talking about my job is…

What do you actually do at the Women’s Center?”

I’ll tell you! 

The Women’s Center at UMKC serves several purposes. Our office houses a wide array of resources available to the community, such as information on housing assistance, local shelters, and LGBTQIA+ resources. These are available either as brochures or links collected on our Campus and Community Resources tab. We also have a library, a lactation/self-care space, and a kitchen, all available to faculty and students. Of course, we’re also just open as a safe space for any marginalized students, and students are welcome to come in and just hang out. 

Another huge thing our staff does at the Women’s Center is our programming– if you are a student at UMKC, you may have spotted us at one of the many events we host, co-sponsor, or attend. Examples of programs we’ve run in the past include running a menstrual product drive to spread awareness about the Pink Tax, promoting body positivity during Every Body is Beautiful Week, and the Their/Her Art Project, which exhibits and uplifts local female and nonbinary artists. Throughout the semester, the student staff are constantly planning new events like these to promote awareness of gender equity issues with the help of Arzie, our awesome director.

There’s even more to the Women’s Center I could go on and on about, but that’s another post for another time.

“So what’s the point of having a Women’s Center and doing all these programs?” 

 Well, speaking as a woman and outspoken feminist, the Women’s Center matters to me personally because it allows feminism to have a physical, vocal presence at UMKC. The Women’s Center is also important because it provides a safe space for marginalized groups on campus, and our programming throughout the school year means gender equity always has a voice. In other words, we want UMKC– and Kansas City in general– to be more feminist! 

“Feminist? What’s that?” 

… Oh boy. That’s a question for a previous B2B blog, my friend. And if you want to learn more about why women’s centers are so important to have at universities,  you can check out this great article from WIHE (Women in Higher Education). 

Women Who Lead, Read

By: Ebony Taylor

Women’s Center Library, 105 Haag Hall

Since starting college, there has been little time, if at all, that I have gotten to sit down, pick up a book, and read. No distractions, no emails, no assignment deadlines, just me and the smell of printed paper.  As a book lover, I came across a list of feminist-written reads that I had to share. If you have already been introduced to the world of feminist writing, or are just getting started, this list is compiled with reads from feminist thinkers and novelists to poets and producers of feminist pornography. There is something for all. I have picked 7 books that I think I would want to pick up, but you should visit Esquire to get the entire list.  If you want even more feminist reading, don’t forget to check out our Women’s Center library, located in our office at 105 Haag Hall! 

 This collection of essays and poems are from women of color who raise awareness for issues that women continue to face. This book is said to connect with women of all ages, race, and genders.  

This witty, humorous collection of stories recounts memories from the author’s life and identity as a Native American woman.  Midge reflects on feminism, tweeting presidents, and white-bread privilege. Enjoy Midge’s urban-Indigenous identity and how it has impacted her ideas on culture, race, media, and feminism. 

Rana el Kaliouby is entrepreneur and scientist, working in the field of emotional intelligence, Emotional AI,  and cofounder and CEO of Affectiva, a start-up company spun off of MIT Media Lab. This book is a memoir that highlights the conflict between her Egyptian upbringing and her goals in life. 

This book shows how men express emotions in different stages of life, status, and ethnicity and how toxic masculinity skews men away from an important part of themselves. It discusses men’s concerns, like the fear of intimacy and their role as patriarchs in society.  

 We already know stories of magical creatures and witches, but Circe recreates the sorceress from Homer’s Odyssey in a feminist light. The overlooked character of Circe gives rise to her independence in a male-dominated world.   

A collection of writings from feminists in the adult entertainment industry and research by feminist porn scholars. This book investigates how feminists understand pornography and how they produce, direct, act in, and buy a into a large and successful business. Authors of these writings also explore pornography as a form of expression where women produce power and pleasure.  

Serano writes about her journey before and after transitioning, expressing how fear, suspicion, and dismissiveness towards femininity molds society’s view on trans women, gender and sexuality. Serano also proposes that feminists today and transgender activists must collaborate to embrace all forms of femininity.  

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.

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).