Back to Basics #1: What is Intersectional Feminism?

Image source: marcn, Creative Commons

Editor’s note: Hi, Roos! Welcome to the first installment of… drumroll please… Back to Basics!  In this blog segment, Women’s Center staff take on core feminist ideas, terminology, myths, and more! We hope you enjoy and learn a thing or two!

By: Adriana Miranda

We’re bringing it back to basics this week with: intersectional feminism! What is intersectional feminism you ask? Great question! So let’s say just for example: You’re a white woman. You work with a Latina or Black (or both) woman and a white man. For every dollar this white male coworker makes, you make 82 cents. Unfair, right? But look at your Latina/Black female coworker; she only makes 56-64 cents.  

So you’re thinking, “Wow this is clearly a gender issue! We women make less than men! But why does my other female coworker make even less than me?”

That’s because there are other factors to your coworker’s identity that already add to her oppression. Yes you’re both women, but she is Latina/Black. Taking these different identities and layers of oppression into consideration in our fight for gender equity is intersectional feminism. “Intersectional” means we recognize the issues of all marginalized female-bodied individuals, not just the cis white women.

“But Adriana, why can’t we just advocate for ALL women without highlighting differences? Why can’t we just come together as women?”

I’m so glad you asked! For women of color, trans women, disabled women, etc. we can’t just separate from our identities. Even within women-centered and feminist spaces, non-white, disabled, and LGBT women may still face oppression among other women. It’s like, you can’t pick and choose what parts of you exist right? They all do!

We’re all whole complex beings, and fighting for gender equity means fighting for those with identities different to ours, and acknowledging their experiences unique to their identity. We should be intersectional in our feminism. 

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5 Black Artists Bringing Excellence to the KC Art Scene

By: Emma Sauer

Kansas City has more to offer than barbecue and sports teams. This is a thriving city teeming with talent, innovation, and excellence, and the city owes much of that to the Black community. From the American Jazz Museum to the AAAC (African American Arts Collective), Black artists have an established presence in Kansas City. Here’s a list (in no particular order) of five Black creators who make incredible art.

Meeks Me Smile Studio

@meeksmesmilestudio Instagram

Shawanna Meeks founded Meeks Me Smile to offer unique, and stylish handbags. One night while getting dressed for a night out with her friends, she realized she didn’t have the right handbag to match her fun night. So, she made her own. The shop offers small accessories, wallets,  clutch bags, totes, handbags, and more–all with cute and colorful prints. Considering these bags are all handmade, they’re marked at a remarkably affordable price. Costs range from $15 to $155 (not including shipping). Meeks Me Smile Studio also dabbles in furniture design and acrylic paintings.

Sonia Sanchez

Source: Creative Commons, John Mathew Smith, https://www.flickr.com/people/36277035@N06

Sonia Sanchez is a poet, playwright, author, and activist. A major influence in the Black arts movement, she’s received both the Robert Frost Medal for distinguished lifetime service to American poetry and the Langston Hughes Poetry Award. Her poetry is known for its mixing of musical elements and traditional poetry. Through her poems she celebrates the art of Black English. Sonia Sanchez’s 16 books have moved readers since her first collection of poems, Homecoming, in 1969. Not much of her poetry is free to read online, but you can check out her books at your local library or purchase them.

Arie Monroe

“Block and Delete”, Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

If you like comics or pop art, you’ll love Arie Monroe’s colorful and expressive art. Her comic Tornado Alley, starring Mainasha and her cat Socks, is a wacky take on the Wizard of Oz, but it’s also been a way for Monroe to to communicate her struggles as a black woman, according to her caption statement on “Block and Delete”, a piece currently on display in the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art. She also specializes in caricature art. On Redbubble, she has merch available featuring caricatures, the Tornado Alley crew, and other illustrations.

Whitney Manney

@WhitneyManney Instagram

Whitney Manney is both a fashion designer and her independent ethical fashion label of the same name. WM’s clothes are bold, taking inspiration from street art and urban culture. Whitney Manney aims to make clothes that are more than clothes; they make ready-to-wear wearable art. As for the artist herself, she’s showcased her work at over a dozen galleries and runway shows, including the UMKC Gallery of Art. She’s also done teaching partnerships with the HALO foundation (a foundation dedicated to helping homeless KC youth), and other schools around the area.

NedRa Bonds

Image Source: Connie Fiorella Fitzpatrick, Creative Commons

NedRa Bonds is an activist, quilt artist, and retired teacher in Kansas City, Kansas. Her vibrant, collage-like quilts often make strong statements about the social issues she’s passionate about. Her artwork has been directly inspired by issues of human rights, social justice, race, and environmentalism, to name a few. Bonds also often incorporates elements of satire and political commentary into her art, echoing her principles as an activist. She’s made over 100 quilts since 1989, many that have been shown at different art shows and exhibits in KC. If you’ve spent some time at the Women’s Center, her art may look familiar: for the Women’s Center’s 40th anniversary, she led the creation of our Women’s Equity Quilt!

 

 

 

 

Someone Call Elle Woods Cause I Need a Lawyer to Fight the Pink Tax

 

Source: Creative Commons, https://www.flickr.com/photos/30478819@N08/50531102396

By: Sierra Voorhies

We all know that there is a gender pay gap; women on average make 83 cents on the dollar that men make. This is worsened by intersections of ethnicity and gender. For example, black women make 63 cents to the white man’s 1-dollar, while Latino women make 55 cents to a white man’s 1-dollar. But did you know about the pink tax?

The pink tax refers to an increase in price for feminine or feminine coded items. So, this commonly refers to things like razors and soaps but can apply to anything from dry cleaning to tech accessories. For example, at Target right now 4 women’s triple blade disposable razors from the Up & Up brand is $3.89 but 8 men’s triple blade disposable razors by the same brand is $4.89.  So, for a man’s razor it’s 61 cents per unit, and for a women’s razor it’s 97 cents per unit. This might not seem like a large difference, but over a lifetime of every hygiene product, it costs a lot more to buy feminine hygiene items than masculine ones.

Now that we are familiar with the Pink Tax, let me introduce you to our Pink Tax Donation Drive, happening Saturday, February 12 at the 2:00pm in the Swinney Center! Come to the game and get a free button from us and donate some Pink Tax item(s)! Ideas for items are things like razors, shampoo, bodywash, deodorants, soaps and more- basically hygiene products. They don’t have to be feminine-coded, just items that the pink tax could affect. For example, get the larger and cheaper pack of razors labeled for “men” to donate instead of the smaller more costly pack pink razors labeled for “women” if you want to! These items will go to the UMKC Kangaroo Pantry and the game is free for students! To get a ticket go to https://kcroos.com.

 

Forced Sterilizations and Targeting Marginalized Communities

By Emma Gilham

Earlier this fall, whistleblower allegations at an ICE detention center in Georgia of forced sterilizations swept news headlines. Dawn Wooten, the whistleblower and former nurse at the center, claimed consent was not obtained for these procedures, the patients were not informed of what was happening, and those that objected were placed in solitary confinement. An investigation by the Department of Homeland Security has been opened into the misconduct at Irwin County Detention Center after significant urging from federal elected officials, as ethical questions such as obtaining informed consent and negligence have been raised. While the investigation is a start, it cannot be ignored that consistent complaints of misconduct have emerged from these detention centers and that the government has an unsavory history with forced sterilizations. The first eugenics law was passed in 1907 in Indiana, inspiring 31 other states to follow. In the CNN article, “In a horrifying history of forced sterilizations, some fear the US is beginning a new chapter”, “The laws, which led to officials ordering sterilizations of people they deemed ‘feeble-minded’ or ‘mentally defective,’” later became models for Nazi Germany.” Throughout the 20th century other government-backed forced sterilizations occurred, which unsurprisingly targeted BIPOC womxn. Civil Rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer had a non-consensual hysterectomy while she was having surgery for another health issue in 1961. She brought attention to the issue in her activism. Even into the 2000s, sterilizations were illegally funded by the state of California on incarcerated womxn. Time and time again vulnerable groups have been sterilized at increasing rates. To clarify, hysterectomies and tubal ligation are irreversible and valid forms of birth control. However, the aforementioned instances of forced sterilization often included preying on, coercing, or misinforming womxn into having these procedures. In the end, the investigation into the Irwin County Detention Center is just the tip of the iceberg.

“Stethoscope” by surroundsound5000 is licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women

By Mia Lukic

October marks both Domestic Violence Awareness Month and the month of Indigenous People’s Day on October 12th, 2020. The Coalition to Stop Violence Against Native Women reports that 4 out of 5 native women are affected by violence today. The National Institute of Justice released a study that said 55.5% of native women experience physical violence by an intimate partner. Native women are murdered at a rate 10 times the national average, and they go missing and/or are murdered at a higher rate than any other ethnic group, according to Native Women’s Society. The lack of communication between tribes, local, and federal law enforcement are often cited as the reason only around 12% of missing indigenous women are entered into the National Missing and Unidentified Person System.

Last month, Congress passed two bills, Savanna’s Act, and the Not Invisible Act, which are focused on the issue of missing and murdered indigenous women, and they await the president’s signature. Harper’s Bazaar breaks them down to explain:

Savanna’s Act is named after Savanna LaFontaine, a native woman who was brutally murdered in 2017. This act requires that the Justice Department reports statistics on native people, create and train law enforcement on the protocol for missing and murdered indigenous people, and reach out to tribes and organizations focused on indigenous rights.

The Not Invisible Act demands that the Department of the Interior “designate an official within the Bureau of Indian Affairs to coordinate prevention efforts, grants, and programs related to missing Indians and the murder and human trafficking of Indians” (HB).

These bills are a good step towards justice and can only be attributed to the tireless work of activists who fought and continue to fight for indigenous women. The statistics of violence against indigenous women are horrendous, and for people to still have to fight for something to be done about it is disgraceful. Do not forget the indigenous woman during Violence Prevention Month, or any month. Take some time on the 12th to learn what land you are standing on, go to school on, work on, live on. The website https://native-land.ca/ will break down the tribes that lived on the land before you with a simple zip code input.

What is the Green New Deal, And How Does it Affect Women?

“wind mill” by blubee is licensed under CC BY 2.0

By Emma Gilham

As fire engulfs the West, tropical storms destroy communities, and temperatures reach unprecedented levels, climate change is on the public’s mind. The Green New Deal is something many of us have heard about from the news or from social media. Words like “expensive”, “socialist”, and “daydream” buzz around the idea. If someone was particularly interested, unbiased information on the topic is readily available. However, this takes a little more effort than turning on the television.

The Green New Deal is not a piece of legislation or even a proposal for one. It is a plan to address the climate crisis before it’s affects are irreversible. Based on the “October 2018 report entitled ‘Special Report on Global Warming of 1.5 oC’’ by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and the November 2018 Fourth National Climate Assessment report”, the Green New Deal considers the advice of experts in climatology. With this knowledge, comes harsh realities. The 14-page document sets the goal “to achieve net-zero greenhouse gas emissions through a fair and just transition for all communities and workers…” by 2050. It also acknowledges and prepares for the millions of jobs that will be lost in this process. The plan proposes reinvesting in clean energy and guaranteeing people jobs and healthcare. In contrast to the way BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) communities have historically been left behind when the government makes new goals, the proposal takes on intersectionality. For example, “obtaining the free, prior, and informed consent of indigenous peoples for all decisions that affect indigenous peoples and their traditional territories…”. Although the atrocities inflicted upon native tribes by the government cannot be undone, there are ways that we can improve the existing relationships. The Green New Deal also addresses the gender pay gap as a crisis related to climate change: “a gender earnings gap that results in women earning approximately 80 percent as much as men, at the median…”. Climate change and pollution disproportionately effect “frontline and vulnerable communities” such as BIPOC communities, migrant communities, women, the poor, the elderly, and the disabled, and the Deal puts forth efforts to begin remedying this. I encourage you to read through the document. Ask yourself: Is this feasible? What are the benefits and drawbacks? How would this affect my life or my children’s lives? At this time, The Green New Deal has received a lot of criticisms and praises. While it doesn’t produce any legislation, it is the only document we have that has attempted to confront the issues we face. It paints a picture of a future to work towards. In the end, climate change is not going to wait for us to finish brainstorming, it’s time to act.

Sojourner Truth: A Timeless Women’s Rights Activist

By Skye VanLanduyt

Sojourner Truth escaped from slavery and became a powerful civil and women’s rights activist during the nineteenth century. Truth’s famous speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” will always be one of my favorite woman authored pieces in multi-ethnic literature. Her language is controversial, provocative, and unforgettable. She delivered the speech in 1851 at a Women’s Convention in Akron, Ohio.

Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech is meant to be controversial. Her speech criticizes white privilege while calling attention to gender and racial disparity in America. In the second paragraph, Truth exclaims “That man over there says that women need to be helped into carriages, and lifted into ditches, and to have the best place everywhere. Nobody ever helps me into carriages, or gives me any best place! And ain’t I a woman?” Her critique of men’s treatment toward women runs deeper than the issue of men seeing women as submissive. White women may not be treated fairly but black women are not seen by men as women at all. Truth’s writing reveals why it is important to take a step back and realize women’s experience is not entirely universal.

At the end of the same paragraph, Truth compares her worth to a man’s. She boldly exclaims, “I could work as much and eat as much as a man-when I could get it-and bear the lash as well! And ain’t I a woman?” I love this line because Truth is challenging her role as a woman comparably with a man. She declares women do not “need to be helped” and should be seen as equal to men because they are able to do the same work. But she also calls attention to racial disparity in a new way. Her assertion, “I could work as much and eat as much as a man” is a powerful punch against the barriers white men put up against her.

As powerful as Truth’s “Ain’t I A Woman” speech is, there is a shroud of mystery behind the piece’s publication. Her original speech was transcribed by journalist and audience member, Marius Robinson. Truth and Robinson were “good friends” and reportedly “went over his transcription of her speech before he published it.” A second transcription was published by writer, Frances Gage in 1863 in the New York Independent, a women’s suffrage magazine. Some speculate discrepancies in Gage’s transcription. The phrase, “Ain’t I A Woman” is not found in Robinson’s earlier version of Truth’s speech, nor is there any southern dialect. Although Gage was a feminist, her choice to falsify Truth’s dialect and word choice is counterproductive to the purpose of Truth’s speech. The piece loses its powerful flare and provocative language because Gage’s intended audience is not black. New York’s readership in the 1800’s was predominately white. A powerful black woman’s voice speaking out against white privilege and supremacy would not have received praise before the abolition of slavery.

Despite controversy, Sojourner Truth’s speech, “Ain’t I A Woman?” continues to reflect America’s history, present, and future. It is a reminder that while so much progress has been made in the fight for women’s equality, so much more still needs to be done.

Turning A Man’s World Into Our World

By: Maggie Pool

Since our first American History class, a few names have been imbedded into our minds regarding the history of equality and women’s rights. Names such as, Susan B. Anthony, Rosa Parks, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, and Harriet Tubman are familiar to anyone who received a general education in America. Noticeably, lessons surrounding women’s history is geared towards women’s suffrage, but the fight for equality did not stop once women gained the right to vote in 1920. After this leap toward equality, who continued the fight?

Joan Ruth Bader, known as Ruth Bader Ginsburg (RBG), was born on March 15th, 1933. She attended the Harvard School of Law but transferred to Cornell University after being scolded for pursuing a male dominated career. In 1954, Ginsburg graduated from Cornell in the top of her class. Despite facing gender discrimination, she became the first female member of the Harvard Law Review. Ginsburg continued fighting against gender discrimination, and in 1980 was appointed by President Jimmy Carter to serve on the U.S Court of Appeals. In 1993, President Bill Clinton appointed her to fill a vacancy in the Supreme Court. She served as Associate Justice until 2010.

On December 25th, 2018, “On the Basis of Sex,” a biopic presenting RGB’s rocky beginnings as a lawyer in a man’s world was released. The film centers around a tax case about a Colorado man who is denied a tax benefit routinely given to women caring for family members. The case triggers a series of arguments about gender, society, and the law. Ginsburg’s ruthless dedication to prove many laws are generated on the basis of sex is catapulted by this one event, and the journey she faces forces her to maneuver longstanding sexist barriers by only using the weapon of law.

It’s hard for audience members to not get riled up about the discriminating figures Ginsburg confronts, especially since the movie sets up her logic behind the case. We are immediately on Ginsburg’s side, rooting for her to finally shed light on equality for those too stubborn to accept reality. “On the Basis of Sex” does its job of introducing Ginsberg and her struggling start as a lawyer but also her unwavering intensity for justice, which immediately grips you, inciting you to continue the fight for future generations.

Ginsburg, now 86-years-old, remains one of women’s fiercest advocates. When President Bill Clinton nominated her to the Supreme Court, he compared her legal work on women to that of Thurgood Marshall on behalf of African-Americans. Because of her heroic feats, I hope the name Ruth Bader Ginsburg is another woman’s name future students are taught to remember and respect throughout American history.

“We should not be held back from pursuing our full talents, from contributing what we could contribute to the society, because we fit into a certain mold ― because we belong to a group that historically has been the object of discrimination.”
– Ruth Bader Ginsburg

The 2019 Vagina Monologues

By Mackinzie Aulgur

“…find freedom, aliveness, and power not from what contains, locates, or protects us, but from what dissolves, reveals, and expands us.”- Eve Ensler

We all deserve to be ourselves, stand up for what we believe in, and voice our opinions; each and everyone one of us. This Thursday and Friday, February 21st-22nd, UMKC will be presenting the Vagina Monologues! Doors open at 7pm and performances will take place at 7:30pm. This year the monologues will have 18 presenters, all of which play vital parts. The Vagina Monologues are personal monologues read by a diverse group of women in our community. Their stories will touch on subjects such as sex, sex work, body image, love, rape, menstruation, female genital mutilation, masturbation, birth, orgasm, and various names for the vagina. The main theme in the play is redefining the vagina to be seen as a symbol of female empowerment and the embodiment of our individuality (Mission, 2019).

In collaboration with V-Day, we will be selling our famous vagina pops (milk and dark chocolate), t-shirts, feminist mugs, Trailblazers’ blend coffee, and a variety unique of buttons before and after the performances. For those who may not know, V-Day is a global activist movement to end violence against women and girls. In fact, according to the United Nations, one of every three women on the planet will be physically or sexually abused in her lifetime (Mission, 2019). While we cannot change the past, we have the opportunity to come together as a community, to show support and raise awareness for a better future. Please join us at this years Vagina Monologues as we all reflect on what unifies us in our fight for this goal.

Mission. (n.d.). Retrieved from https://www.vday.org/mission.html

Thursday, February 21. UMKC Student Union Theater, 5100 Cherry St. 

  • Advance tickets: $10 for students, $25 for non-students, $5 each for groups of 5 or more students
  • At the door: $15 for students, $30 for non-students

Friday, February 22. UMKC Spencer Theater, James C. Olson Performing Arts Center, 4949 Cherry St. 

  • Advance tickets: $10 for students, $35 for non-students, $5 each for groups of 5 or more students
  • At the door: $15 for students, $40 for non-students

Tickets may be purchased through Central Ticket Office. Proceeds from all activities benefit the UMKC’s Women’s Center, Violence Prevention and Response Program and V-Day’s 2019 spotlight campaign.

 

Women’s Centers in Senegal

By Ann Varner

Over the winter break I was able to have one of the best experiences of my life-studying abroad in Senegal for two weeks. While there I studied gender, health, and development in Senegal on a program sponsored by the UMKC Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies and Black Studies Programs, the Departments of History and Foreign Languages & Literature, the UMKC Women’s Center, and the UMKC Honors College,. The experience was amazing, eye opening, and also saddening.

In Senegal there are many efforts for women’s equality. Women can get divorced, legally and religiously, and they can pursue justice if assaulted in any way by a man. Women can also go to college and have their own businesses. While in Senegal I visited multiple women’s centers. One of the women’s centers was similar to a legal aid office where women can come for support as well as legal advice. I asked how often women actually get divorced and due to the stigma of divorce and family shame, it’s not very often. Women in Senegal can get religiously divorced, but it is much harder to become legally divorced. It is such an issue that legal help is primarily what that specific women’s center is dedicated to.

The other women’s center was quite different. This women’s center was in a small village. There, the women went every day to harvest items to sell such as oysters and fish. They then came back to the women’s center and spent many hours preparing the items to be sold, and spent their afternoons either selling their items or learning. The lessons taught were reading and writing, as well as practical lessons such as how to market and manage money for their business. One of the stories that stuck out to me was when we learned of the small loans that the center gave out. For a while men and women could get a small loan to start their business and then were supposed to repay the loan. The women always did, and the men never did. After realizing that the men were not going to pay the center back a rule was instated that only women could procure small loans. When we asked what the motivations were, the response was that women were more worried about ensuring success for their families while the men were not.

Women in Senegal deserve the recognition for all they do on a daily basis. While all women work hard, there is something different about watching a woman with multiple babies strapped to her carrying a large basket on her head as she walks in the 100 degree heat to her market spot. I feel as though we Americans live in a bubble and need to be reminded that there are people in developing countries just trying to learn to read and write so that they can provide an income for their families. I am incredibly grateful for the opportunity to have visited with the women I did and learn about their lives and culture.