Tick, Tock Time’s up for Sexual Violence

By Zaquoya Rogers

Last night at the Golden Globe Awards, Hollywood elite strolled the red carpet in their finest black attire. It was no coincidence that everyone chose to wear black. The choice was very conscious as a show of solidarity and support for the Time’s Up Campaign against sexual harassment.  I first became aware of the campaign from a video on social media about a legal defense fund for sexual assault cases. Interested, I researched more. And what I found, I really loved.

Over 300 actresses, directors and writers including Shonda Rimes and America Ferrera, have launched a campaign to help fight sexual harassment. The Time’s up Campaign raises money to fund legal support for men and women victims of sexual harassment and violence. This in itself is amazing, but what really made me get excited for this campaign was that the target audience for this support is working class men and women. The founders described the effort as “unified call for change from women in entertainment for women everywhere.”

Many cases of sexual violence happen amongst regular working class people who do not have the financial resources to take action against their abuser. Taylor Swift stated in her sexual assault case “I acknowledge the privilege that I benefit from in life, society and my ability to shoulder the enormous cost of defending myself in a trial like this.”

Time’s Up has raised $13 million out of their $15 million goal. I absolutely support this because I believe that celebrities have a duty to help advocate for issues that many people are fighting for. They have the resources, the power and the following to actually make progress towards positive change.

Big appreciation for Netflix’s “Big Mouth”

By Zaquoya Rogers

Feminism is not hard to spot—its messages can be found in music, movies, and on TV. Recently, I appreciated the feminism in the new Netflix show Big Mouth, which is about a group of prepubescent teenagers finally going through puberty with the help of a “hormone monster.”

I had a “this show gets it” moment during the first scene, which showed a class watching a video on female anatomy. A female character named Jessi stood up and said, “How come in these videos, puberty for boys is the miracle of ejaculation, and for girls, we’re just a yarn ball of aching tubes?”

When another character named Nick commented that it was gross, Jessi responded, “Yeah, exactly, that why we need equal pay.”

After further watching the show, I realized there are many moments of feminism just like this one. In fact, Jessi’s mother was an obvious feminist and raised Jessi in that manner, as well. It fascinated me to see such a progressive type of cartoon that actually took the time to show and celebrate women empowerment, rather than making a mockery of it.

The only part of the show that made me raise an eyebrow was when Jessi’s mother resented her husband and turned out to be a lesbian. While this introduces positive diversity of sexuality, the only issue I had was that it sort of played into the stereotype that feminists hate men and are probably lesbian.

I wonder: If we present shows like this to our kids, will we be able to set a new foundation for their learning, erasing the brainwashing of misogyny and sexism at a young age?

Swipe right on a more feminist dating scene

By Zaquoya Rogers

Buzz… buzz… have you heard of Bumble?

Bumble is a dating app, sort of like Tinder, but it takes a very different approach. Created in 2014, Bumble has been under the radar, until there was a rumor that Amy Schumer met her current boyfriend on the dating app.

The rumor was debunked, but Bumble still gained some clout. Basically, how Bumble works is you swipe on profiles of people that pop up. Right for yes, left for no. In that way it seems pretty similar to Tinder, but instead it takes quite a feminist turn.

After two people match, it is up to the girl to start the conversation… and she has 24 hours or else… POOF!.. The match is gone. Many ask how Bumble came about and the reason is quite common and timely: sexual harassment in the workplace.

A woman named Whitney Woolf, essentially the co-founder and former CEO of Tinder, created the spinoff app. She dealt with immense sexual harassment and discrimination among her male co-founders. She was even put down by being told her “woman presence on the team made the company seem less legitimate.”

She then graced us all with the openly feminist app of Bumble. Bumble is feminist because it diminishes the doubt that women may have of being “too thirsty or forward” if they start the conversation first. In this case, you have to, girl! Woolf’s whole intention is to make a true feminist app that helps break that disconnect and social double standard in the start of new relationships.

Don’t be “insecure” about sex positivity

By Zaquoya Rogers

The hit TV series Insecure, created by Issa Rae, brings a modern, everyday phenomenon to light: the “Hoe Phase.” After the lead character Issa breaks up with her longtime boyfriend, she energetically reenters the dating scene, getting intimate with several new partners.

The Hoe Phase is a pop culture term used “to describe sexual liberation in the dating scene.” Women’s sexuality has often been taboo and kept in the dark, while men’s sexuality is built into who they are and praised by society. This stifles the fact that women are sexual beings and should be allowed that freedom.

This social expectation of women’s sexuality puts pressure on them to keep track of their “body count,” creating a perception that the higher it gets, the less valuable they become. Recently, however, I’ve noticed women embracing their sexuality, or “hoe phase.” In fact, the connotation around the words such “hoe” and “slut” has shifted, with the help of feminist celebrities and their advocacy. People like Amber Rose and Issa Rae change this cultural conversation through projects like SlutWalk and Insecure.

In an interview with Issa Rae, she stated there are three types of hoe phases. One: The people who don’t take part in “non-committed sexual activity and choose to wait on a relationship.” Two: The people who are fully engaged in being sexual with a number of people or “getting their numbers [body count] up.” Three: The people who dabble in casual, sexual liberation, but still seek intimacy.

No matter which of these categories, I feel that women having a hoe phase is healthy. It can build a sense of character and gives them the chance to figure out what they like or don’t like.

As long as it is safe, consensual and what you want to do, do it… literally!

Malala Yousafzai: Let this queen wear jeans

By Zaquoya Rogers

Malala Yousafzai has begun her first semester at Oxford University studying for a degree in politics, philosophy and economics. I am extremely excited for her and what this means for countries that do not allow women access to education.

However, over the past week, an alleged picture has been released of Malala wearing her normal dupatta sported with a pair of jeans. Apparently, it elicited quite the buzz, but not in a positive way.

Instead, people have been trolling Malala, stating that her style has taken on a “Western” influence. There are many negative and distasteful tweets about something as simple as a heroine, who was shot for advocating for education for women, wearing jeans.

This goes to show how women are constantly policed, especially for what they wear. I believe part of the reason why is society constantly tries to find a way to make women look and act within our definition of how women should.

An example that any girl going to high school in the US can attest to is the ridiculous school dress code. Many high schools do not allow girl to wear tank tops or spaghetti strap shirts, because female shoulders are too much of a distraction. So again, girls have to sacrifice their comfort for everyone else’s.

Similarly, during prom time, packets of what students can and cannot wear are handed out each year, most of these regulations apply to what women can’t wear.

But it doesn’t end there. Even if women want to cover up, they are discouraged. A friend of mine told me a story of how she was headed to an interview, and a person told her to show a little cleavage. They said, “It’ll help with your chances at the interview.”

So what is it that people want from women? Here’s a theory that I personally created for those who are having a hard time figuring it out: If you’re not the one wearing it, mind your own business.

About our staff: Zaquoya

                                                        By Zaquoya Rogers

Hey there! I’m Zaquoya Rogers, a sophomore interested in Health Administration with a minor in Black Studies. This is my third semester working at the UMKC Women’s Center, and it feels great to be back!

The UMKC Women’s Center has always been a safe space that allows for people of every background to come in and take part in our goal to educate about feminism. Working here in the past has helped me build awesome relationships with staff and students. Every day is an opportunity to learn and help others learn of our mission.

This semester, I am looking forward to reaching out to more students and sharing my knowledge about intersectional feminism. One by one, we can make the change!

British Singer NAO brings ‘Wonky Funk’ to life

by Zaquoya Rogers

Talk about #blackWOMANmagic! Nao, a black British singer raised in East London, has been all the buzz in her hometown. She started singing in high school, training the choir with their harmonies. Later, she attended the Guildhall School of Music and Drama to study vocal jazz. She then become a backup singer, but opportunity arose one night at a nightclub. A manager discovered her that night and she later released her first song in October 2014.

Since then, many labels have reach out to Nao to get her to sign, but this queen chose to start her own record label called Little Tokyo. Her unique sound blends with off-center pop-funk, electronic and R&B. Many say her “silvery voice glimmers like tinsel but lands like steel.” Nao calls her own sound “wonky-funk,” coining the term. Her debut album, For All We Know, was released in July 2016 and earned a Brit Nomination for Best Female Solo Artist.

The Grapevine talks Black Feminism

by Zaquoya Rogers

Many African Americans identify themselves as feminist, but what does that mean without intersectionality? Not only are black women fighting against sexism, but racism as well. Often the the two bleed into one another.  Feminism tends to leave out issues that are also affect women with different races, religions and sexualities. The Grapevine is a discussion panel that talks about various issues in the black community and I came across their two part discussion on Black Feminism. You can find the rest of their videos on YouTube, tackling topics like relationships, politics, and the Oscars.

Three feminist movies you may have missed

by Zaquoya Rogers

This weekend, I found out about these following feminist movies:

The Hours (2002) – A British-American drama film focusing on three women of different generations whose lives are interconnected by the novel Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf. Critical reaction to the film was mostly positive, with nine Academy Award nominations for The Hours including Best Picture, and a win for Nicole Kidman as Best Actress.

Daughters of the Dust (1991) – An independent film, and the firs feature film directed by an African-American woman to be distributed theatrically in the U.S. The film follows three generations of women on St. Helena Island as they prepare to migrate north. Cinematographer Arthur Japha won the top cinematography prize at the Sundance 1991 dramatic competition for the film.

Persepolis (2007) – A french animated film based on Marjane Satrapi‘s autobiographical graphic novel of the same name. The story centers around a young girl coming of age against the backdrop of the Iranian Revolution. The film co-won the Jury Prize at the 2007 Cannes Film Festival and was also nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature.

I haven’t yet watched them but it makes me ask, “What makes a movie feminist?” I took to Google to find out what criteria or guide to determine how the judgement is made. I found that there was a test called Bechdel test made in 1985 that states that to be a feminist movie, it has to have two female characteristics and one scene in which they  talked about something other than a man.

My reaction: *???!???!??* But later in my research, I found out that its intention was not to judge if a movie is feminist, but to determine if, personally, it is worth spending money. With feminism in film, it takes more than adding more women and allowing them to, you know, ACTUALLY talk about important things. To me, it is showing women as they truly are: independent, diverse, strong and empowered.

Women’s History Month Trivia

by Zaquoya Rogers

Who serves as the Chairperson and the CEO of one of the fastest growing Women-Owned Business in the United States and served as the Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship in 2014?

Answer: Nina Vaca

By Nina Vaca [GFDL (http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/fdl.html) or CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Nina Vaca is one independent Latina who is not only a civil leader, but the CEO and chairman of Pinnacle Group, which was named the fastest growing women-owned business in the U.S. 2015. Born in Quito, Ecuador, Vaca was inspired by her parents who owned several small business in LA. She attended Texas State University and graduated in 1994 with a Bachelor of Arts in Speech Communications and a minor in Business Administration. She later received education from Harvard Business School and holds honorary doctorates from Northwood University, Mount Mary University, Berkeley College. She currently serves as a Presidential Ambassador for Global Entrepreneurship (PAGE) through the United States Department of Commerce and sits on the boards of three publicly-traded companies. Vaca is part of the 2016 Class of Henry Crown Fellows, from the Aspen Institute, a new generation of leaders to positively impact society. Vaca is part of the 100 CEO Leaders in STEM publication by STEMconnector, in an effort to identify, showcase, and honor STEM leadership.

Vaca has also served as a Mentor for the Peace Through Business program, a business training and mentorship program for women entrepreneurs in Afghanistan and Rwanda.  In addition, she is a member of the Young Presidents’ Organization, the Women Presidents’ Organization, and the Dallas Citizens Council. She is also active in the Women’s Business Enterprise National Council (WBENC) – Southwest, as well as the DFW National Minority Supplier Development Council.