Top 3 Feminist Shows

By: Annabelle Obermaier

In today’s age, we have a vast amount of feminist media to watch, read, listen to. Today I will be
going over the options you have for what to watch, specifically my top three feminist shows and movies
I’m going to be sharing!

Dickinson

Dickinson is a show that is an Apple TV original series. It is a comedy that focuses around the
poet Emily Dickinson. If you don’t know who Emily Dickinson was, she was a writer in the mid-1800s.
Since she was a woman her writings were never fully accepted or published until after her death.
This series stars Hailee Steinfield who plays Emily is one of my favorite actresses, and I think she
plays the character well. Since this is a comedy, this isn’t your typical historical show, so if period pieces
usually bore you, give this show a try!

The Queen’s Gambit

The Queen’s Gambit is a Netflix original limited series that came out during quarantine. It was
very popular at the time, but if you haven’t heard of it, here’s the rundown: Our main character Beth is an
orphan living at this orphanage. She discovers a man that works there playing chess by himself. She wanted
to play, but the man was reluctant to teach her since she was a girl, but he eventually decided to. They find out she’s a prodigy and
from then on there we get to watch her life after this. This is overall one of my favorite series!

Enola Holmes

Enola Holmes is another Netflix original that is just utterly a great representation of a young girl
that won’t just align herself with what society wants her to be. The movie starts out with Enola waking up
to discover her mother missing. She knows she has to find her, she has to become a detective, (like her
older brother Sherlock holmes.) On her adventure to find her mother, she runs into Tewkesbury, a young
boy who is running away from home as well. What is special about this movie is that they don’t force a
love story out of the two of them, which I feel was very unique to these types of shows.
Enola Holmes 2 just came out on Netflix, I have not seen it yet, (solely due to the fact of waiting
to watch it with my bestie) but I am so excited to watch it!

It’s very important for us all to keep our eyes out for feminist shows, it’s easy for us all just to
watch what’s popular, even if it isn’t necessarily feminist. This is fine as long as we recognize what we’re
watching and take the time to appreciate some get feminist shows and movies!

Reflecting on 50 Years of Service to the University of Kansas City-Missouri

 

“Attention” by Summer Brooks, medium: black clay, spray foam, underglaze, luster, butterfly clips

By: Emma Sauer

Since its establishment by Alumni and former Kansas City mayor Kay Barnes in 1971, UMKC’s Women’s Center has been a proud voice for gender equity on campus. Through 50 years of continuous education, advocacy, and support services, the Women’s Center has diligently worked to cultivate a feminist-friendly community at UMKC. Most recently, our programming has revolved around supporting UMKC’s female athletes, our healing arts corners, and increasing our menstrual product supply available to the public. Our office is and always will be a safe space for every marginalized student, faculty member, or community member who walks through our doors.

To celebrate half a century’s worth of service, the Women’s Center is proud to unveil “Ms. behaving!”, an art exhibit co-curated by Women’s Center Director Arzie Umali and Sonie Ruffin. The exhibit will feature artwork showcasing acts of gender empowerment. In the words of Laurel Thatcher Ulrich, “well-behaved women seldom make history”. In other words, to enact real change, we must refuse to silence our voices. Activism demands determination and resilience in the fight for equity. Even the smallest act of courage, resilience, or rebellion can create lasting impact. 

During our opening night on Friday,  November 4, we saw an incredible turnout, despite the heavy rain! Now that I’ve been with the Women’s Center for two semesters, I can confidently say our art exhibits hosted through “Her Art Project” are my favorite events.  During a brief speech at the event,  our director Arzie emphasized the importance of giving female artists a platform.  She pointed out that if you ask someone to name male artists,  nobody ever has an issue listing off a whole list of them–but ask for female artists, and people will struggle to name even one. That’s a problem.  There are a plethora of female artists out there just as, if not more, talented than their male counterparts, but art communities often fail to recognize them. At least now, after someone sees in the exhibit, they’ll be able to name more than a dozen right in KC.

The UMKC Women’s Center Anniversary Exhibit will be up for viewing at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center in the Crossroads Arts District until January 28. We invite you to stop by, enjoy the art, and reflect on what you find there. 

We hope this exhibit inspires you to walk in the footsteps of other trailblazers throughout history: abolitionists, suffragists, and feminists who misbehaved!

 

Who was Frida Kahlo?

By: Anabelle Obermaier

September 15th- October 15th is recognized as Hispanic Heritage Month, a month focused on bringing light to hispanic cultures, histories, and peoples. In light of this month, I am going to be talking about the artist Frida Kahlo, a famous Mexican artist, mostly known for her painted self portraits.

She was born in 1907 in Mexico City.  At age 6 she became ill with polio and was bedridden for 9 months until she recovered. Kahlo was encouraged by her dad to play sports, even though during that time it was rare for a girl to do so. Later on in her schooling she was one of the only girls admitted into National Preparatory School, a very prestigious school for young students. Even though she was always good at art, her dream of becoming a doctor led her to this school.

The Two Fridas

“The Two Fridas”

When she was 18, Kahlo tragically got in a bus accident. This accident injured her spine and pelvis, causing her to be bedridden once again for months. She began painting more and more since there was not much to do. She expressed her pain through her paintings while she recovered.

She was very expressive with her emotions and didn’t try to hide them, instead she used her art to communicate them through painting. In order to paint her self portraits, she had a mirror above her bed in order to see herself. During the years following her recovery, she began to pursue her career in painting, and no longer went to school to become a doctor. She eventually married a famous muralist, Diego Rivera.

Kahlo traveled to show her work in big cities like New York, San Francisco, and even Paris. Some of her most famous paintings I suggest you look up are “The Two Fridas”, “Self-Portraits on the borderline between Mexico and the United States”, and “Self-Portrait with thorn necklace and hummingbird”.

Women’s History Trivia: First Female African American Physician

The New England Female Medical College (Image Source: Wikipedia Commons)

By: Alyssa Bradley

Trivia Question: Rebecca Lee Crumpler was the first African-American woman to become a _______ (occupation) in the United States. 

Answer: Physician

Dr. Rebecca Lee Crumpler is recognized for becoming the first African-American woman physician in the United States. As a young girl, she grew up in a house with her aunt who took care of the ill. Rebecca was always considered a “special student” and was allowed to attend many prestigious private schools because of her intellect.

Later in life, she pursued her shared family passion for medicine.  During 1860, Crumpler applied and was accepted into the New England Female Medical College. This institution was founded in 1848 and had only started accepting its first female student, a class of 12, in 1850. The women at this college faced ridicule from male physicians who derided the institution. They complained that women “lacked the physical strength to practice medicine”. Others thought that women were incapable of understanding a medical curriculum and that the topics taught were inappropriate for their “sensitive and delicate nature”.

In 1860, there were only 300 women out of 54,543 physicians in the United States–and none of them were African American. Despite the discouraging odds, in 1864 Crumpler became her school’s only African-American graduate.

After completing her schooling, Crumpler relocated to Richmond, Virginia where she found her calling. She discovered “the proper field for real missionary work, and one that would present ample opportunities to become acquainted with the diseases of women and children.” It was here she worked under the Freedman’s Bureau, an agency dedicated to helping newly freed African American slaves.

Throughout the rest of her practice, Rebecca faced daily issues of racism and sexism from her colleagues, pharmacists, and many others. Rebecca Lee Crumpler continued to practice medicine and even wrote a book called A Book of Medical Discourses in Two Parts. She passed in 1895. Crumpler achieved many things in the name of gender and women’s equity and paved the way for many of those who continue to defy adversity.

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! 

Women of Color in the Essential Workforce

By: Adriana Miranda 

Trivia Question: _______ __ _______ (demographic) are more likely to be doing essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic than anyone else.

Answer: women of color

Did you know women of color are more likely to be doing essential jobs during the COVID-19 pandemic than anyone else?

“Of the 5.8 million people working healthcare jobs that pay less than $30,000 a year, half are nonwhite and 83 percent are women.” says the New York Times.  Also, according to Think Global Health, “one in every three jobs held by women has been deemed essential, and women of color are more likely to have essential jobs”.

We as an entire global population are relying on healthcare workers and service workers to keep our lives semi-normal and semi-functioning. While these roles have always been important, and we should always treat others with respect regardless of their job being “essential”, these past two years have REALLY shown us that these essential workers are truly the backbone of our everyday lives. They keep our groceries stocked, they keep our public spaces clean, they keep our families alive. They are also more likely to be women of color.

Not only are things like racism and misogyny facing women of color every day, but they are also more likely to be putting themselves in danger of getting COVID to keep our communities running, AND very often being overworked and underpaid for it.

It’s time we start acknowledging how crucial women of color are to our workforce and our lives.

Next time we’re out getting groceries, picking up takeout, getting a COVID test, shopping, trying to make our lives feel a little normal during a global pandemic, let’s be grateful for the people who risk their well being every day to keep this country running.

America Ferrara: Latina Trailblazer

By: Jetzel Chavira

America Ferrara is a trail blazing Latina in Hollywood. For over twenty years, Ferrara has been breaking stereotypes on screen and has become a role model to all Latina women. Throughout her career she faces criticism from not only people from Hollywood but also her family. She recalls a time where a family member told her, “Actresses don’t look like you. You’re brown, short, and chubby” (America Like Me: Reflections on Life Between Cultures )

Ferrera always went for roles where the characters that were relatable and it landed her first major roles including the character Ana in “Real Women Have Curves” (2002). Since then, she has been countless other movies and TV shows not only as an actress but as a director and producer. Her latest project, “Gentefied” a bilingual dramedy on Netflix is about a Mexican America family that is being pushed out of their home, Boyle Heights California, due to gentrification.

Ferrera wants to represent Latinos not only on screen but behind the scenes. In her words, “Making TV is hard, period. Making Latino TV by Latinos for Latinos is nearly impossible.” Ferrera continues to fight for basic representation and is continuously fighting for this simple ask.

Image Source: Ryan Lash/TED

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!

 

 

 

 

Lavinia Fontana: Renaissance Woman

By: Emma Stuart

The Renaissance was a time of rebirth in Western art, culture, politics, and the economy. There were many things changing at that time and one of the most notable things being art. When most people think about Renaissance-era artists a few select names come to mind: Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, Raphael, Caravaggio, and Jan van Eyck, to name a few. These are all phenomenal artists who changed thescope of the art world forever. However, there is a name that is often left out of this list.

That name is Lavinia Fontana. She is considered to be the very first working female artist. She was born in Bologna Italy in 1552 to a family of prestigious painters. Her father, Prospero Fontana was a teacher at the School of Bologna which was an important art school at the time. Her artistic talent was nurtured by her father from an early age. This great talent served her very well in life, and when she desired to be married her skills were used as a sort-of dowry. She was married to an amateur artist and merchant who greatly regarded her skills.

The two went on to have a happy/successful marriage with 11 children. She continued to work on her craft even as a mother and her career excelled. In a very scandalous change from the status quo of the Renaissance era, Lavinia was the breadwinner for her family and her husband worked as her studio assistant. Lavinia was one of the original female powerhouses of the art world, she was able to pave the way for some of the other female artists that we know and love. As her work continued to excel and her career to soar, she gained a very prestigious list of patrons. These patrons include Italian Cardinal Gabriele Paleotti, Spanish Cardinal Francisco Pacheco, The King of Spain Phillip II, and many members of the nobility across Europe.

Portrait of a Noble Woman, ca. 1580, by Lavinia Fontana. National Museum of Women in the Arts.

Her specialty was portraiture and was highly sought after by female nobles in Italy as she was able to capture the splendor of their dress alongside their dogs, who they wished to be included in the portraits. This type of portraiture showed a juxtaposition of the stiff attire of the noblewoman and the playfulness of an excited puppy.

Minerva Dressing. 1613, by Lavinia Fontana. Galleria Borghese.

Another one of her great accomplishments was breaking into the boy’s club scene of church painters. She was commissioned to paint an altar piece for the new cathedral dedicated to Saint Hyacinth of Poland. She was able to leave her mark in one of the oldest and most highly venerated churches in Rome. Lavinia was making waves in the art community in more ways than one. She was also known for being the first woman to paint a female nude in the history of art.

This magnificent story of hers is often untold because she was not supposed to have succeeded in the boy’s club that was the Renaissance art scene, but against all odds she pursued her dreams and make a sizeable impact on the world of art. She was able to have a star-studded career and also have a family who encouraged her work. Lavinia Fontana was a magnificent woman, artist, and mother and her story deserves to be heard.

The Lasting Legacy of Henrietta Lacks

 

Source: Smithsonian National Portrait Gallery, © 2017 Kadir Nelson ,https://npg.si.edu/object/npg_NPG.2018.9

By: Emma Sauer

As you may know, February is Black History month– and this year’s theme is Black Health and Wellness. This extends to the legacy of African Americans not just in medicine and academia, but also as mid-wives, doulas, naturopaths, counselors and therapists, public health activists, and more. With a theme so all-encompassing, I thought it a fitting time to talk about an African American woman who, despite her huge contributions to cancer and leukemia research, cloning, and development of vaccines, will never see or know just how profoundly she changed the world.

Henrietta Lacks was a person much like you or me. She was a mother, a wife, a friend. She loved cooking, her children, and never the left the house without a coat of red nail polish. She was born in Roanoke, Virginia, on August 1, 1920. She married David Lacks in 1941, and together they raised five children: Lawrence, Elsie, David Jr., Deborah, and Joseph.

10 years flew by. One wonders how Henrietta spent those ten years. What memories did she make with her family? What hardships did she experience? What people did she meet? What made her laugh, smile, or cry? Time has robbed us of the answers to these questions. The bulk of what we know about Henrietta’s life is her last months.

The year was 1951, and Henrietta Lacks was feeling unwell. For some time, she’d had a strange pain in her womb area. She described to her cousins like a “knot”. After experiencing vaginal bleeding, she visited John Hopkins Hospital, the only hospital in the area that would treat black patients. She was diagnosed with terminal cervical cancer, and by October 4 of that year, she died. She was just 31. Before she succumbed to the disease, she underwent a biopsy in which her cancerous cervix cells were snipped and sent to the lab of Dr. George Gey. Researchers were amazed by what they found. Henrietta’s cells were incredibly unique. They had the capacity to survive and multiply at a rate far above ordinary cells. Her cells doubled every 20-24 hours, where other cells died. Effectively, her cells were immortal.

Without the knowledge of Mrs. Lacks or her family, John Hopkins Hospital shared her cells widely with other scientists, biotech companies, and institutions. These cells were called HeLa cells, and were the first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory. Her family was not made aware of this for 20 years.

Both the way Henrietta Lacks’ cells were obtained and used is appalling, but at the time, it was completely legal. Unfortunately, it was not the first or the last time an African American would be exploited by the medical community. For example, 12 years before Henrietta was born, the Tuskegee Syphilis Study began. Forced sterilization policies targeted African Americans and other minority women, lasting until the 70s. The historical context of how scientists acquired the HeLa cells is one steeped in centuries of racism. I can go on and on all day about how wrong this was, but what’s done is done. HeLa cells have been in use longer than Mrs. Lacks even lived. Her descendants continue to tell her story, and as recently as October 2021, they are currently suing Thermo Fisher Scientific for commercialization of HeLa cells.

Henrietta Lacks’ story is disturbing and sad, but her legacy lives on.  She has contributed to modern medicine and science in countless ways. HeLa cells have helped scientists understand more about the human genome, leukemia treatment, and vaccines. Her cells have even been used to test the effects of gravity in space. HeLa cells have saved lives, and my intention is not to take away from that. Rather, if you’ve read this far, I hope I’ve sparked some interest in you to learn more about Henrietta Lacks. She’s much more than a cell.