Catcalling is not a Compliment, it’s Harassment

By Brittany Soto

Since our center has been promoting the “Meet us on The Street” event all throughout this week, focusing on the issues of gender-based street harassment, I wanted to turn my attention to one of my biggest pet peeves; catcalling. Catcalling is when an individual whistles, shouts, or makes sexual comments toward another individual as they are walking by. Women are often the ones faced with having to deal with this ridiculous issue. The fact that I get a little nervous when I decide to get dressed up because I don’t feel like getting harassed, is a problem. Women shouldn’t have to feel self-conscious or nervous every time they get dressed to head out the door or every time they pass by men on the street.

The most common defense that men have against this issue is that catcalls are their way of “complimenting” a woman’s looks. Going up to a woman and telling her she’s beautiful is one thing, but shouting “damn!” “hey sexy!” or whistling and honking the car horn as a woman walks by is a different story. Catcalling can even get to the point of being dangerous if women decide defend themselves or ignore the cat-callers, because often they will get offended causing them to act in an aggressive or intimidating manner by name calling or going as far as assaulting women. THIS is harassment.

What men need to understand is that catcalling is not cute, funny, or complimenting. It’s degrading, demeaning, and disgusting. It lets women know they are being objectified and looked at as nothing more than a piece of meat. It makes women feel as though they have no rights or values. Women are not dogs to be whistled at and they are not sexual objects. Women are more than their looks. Women have the right to be treated with as much respect and dignity when walking down the street as any man. Women deserve to feel safe.

For additional information on how women are fighting cat-calling visit: http://www.womensmediacenter.com/fbomb/how-i-took-a-stand-against-catcalling

Two Months of Change

by Ann Varner

Two months ago, I started working at the UMKC Women’s Center. I had no idea how much I was going to learn in such a short period of time. I knew that I supported feminism and I wanted to do more than support. I wanted to become educated and to use that education in my everyday life.

UMKC Women’s Center staff members Ann Varner (left) and Zaquoya Rogers (right). 

One of the first things I learned was to embrace my body and stop being so hard on myself. For the first time in a long time, my confidence slowly built up. When that happened, I started to look forward to getting up in the morning and putting together my outfits, jewelry, and makeup. With positive reinforcement from my friends and coworkers, my confidence continued to climb. I learned I enjoy participating in healing arts projects, even though I consider myself artistically challenged.  During sexual assault awareness month (April), I learned about Denim Day, as well as the documentary Audrie and Daisy. I had heard of rape culture before, but now not only am I educated about it, it’s something I’m passionate to fight against. Most importantly, I am finding myself thinking feminist thoughts and have been surrounding myself with sources to continue to learn. Looking back, these two months have taught me so much and already have started to change me for the better. I can’t wait to find out what will happen in the next semester.

 

Busy Week at the Women’s Center!

080-cropBy Kacie Otto

It’s been an eventful week at the UMKC Women’s Center! This week, we wrapped Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Denim Day visual displays on the Quad and at the Hospital Hill Residence Hall. We also had a tabling even in the quad where students could decorate denim squares to illustrate their commitment to taking a stand against sexual violence.

We recognize Denim Day because an 18 year old woman was raped by her driving instructor in Italy. He was found to be innocent because the victim’s jeans were too tight for him to have taken them off without assistance. At the Women’s Center, we say this is wrong and that all victims of sexual assault should be listened to and believed. We stand in solidarity with this victim and others by wearing denim to work on April 29.

Her-Art-Block-party-flier

 

Coming up tonight, the Her Art project will be at the Crossroads for First Friday. Stop by to create your own ‘Stepping Stone’ Art piece and learn more about empowering women in the Kansas City Art community.

Thank you for all of your support! We’re looking forward to seeing you tonight!

Denim Day

2015-Demin-Day-Drive-Flier-Arzie-editsEviteBy Kemora Williams

Did you know that the month of April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month? Do you know what Denim Day is? Well, in Italy during the 1990s an 18 year old girl was raped by her 45 year old driving instructor. The case against the instructor was overturned and dismissed because the Chief Judge argued, “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”

The women in the Italian Parliament were so upset with the ruling that within hours they took action and protested by wearing jeans to work. In April 1999, the first Denim Day was held in Los Angeles.

For Sexual Assault Awareness Month and in honor of Denim Day, the Women’s Center is hosting a Denim Day Drive for the entire month of April. Join this sexual violence prevention and education campaign and make a social statement by donating used denim to the Women’s Center. The drop off bins for your used denim are located at the Women’s Center, Oak Place Apartments, Johnson Residence Hall, and Oak Street Residence Hall. We’ll re-purpose your old denim by making them into visual displays that bear witness to sexual violence.

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, And for Good Reason.

By: Amanda Johnson

We hosted a Denim Day table on April 23 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

We hosted a Denim Day table on April 23 as part of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

Every 2 minutes, someone is sexually assaulted in the United States. Nearly 1 in 5 women and 1 in 22 men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime; 1 in 6 women and 1 in 33 men experience rape in their lifetime. Think about all the people you know- think about your family and friends. Does this startle you?

Unfortunately, reality paints a darker picture than what these numbers say. We live in a world where victims are prosecuted, where by-standers capture rape on their phone for laughs rather than for evidence, and where rapes go unreported and rapists go free. Why is it that, in a culture that knows rape is wrong, it is so prevalent?

Sexual violence isn’t comprised of a series of isolated events perpetrated by individuals. It’s engrained in our culture. As scholar Thomas Macaulay Millar wrote, “It takes one rapist to commit a rape, but it takes a village to create an environment where it happens over and over and over.” This is a culture where sexual violence is a normal occurrence and rape can be used as a humorous term- where rape victims can “deserve it.”

I’d rape her,” is defined by the Urban Dictionary as synonymous with “I’d tap that.”

Those Broncos got raped at the Super Bowl, amiright?

No. No. No.

Rape isn’t tantamount to losing a game. It isn’t a term to use when you find someone attractive.

The lines are being blurred between what constitutes condoned and consensual behavior and what sexual violence really is. In a survey of high school students, 56% of girls and 76% of boys believed forced sex was acceptable under some circumstances. It turns out, when you replace the word ‘rape’ with ‘forced sex,’ a lot more individuals will admit to committing it, being victims of it, and finding it acceptable under certain conditions. We are a culture that normalizes rape, yet, we don’t even seem to understand what it means.

Throughout the last 10 years, the National Crime Victimization Survey has reported that only approximately 30% of rape survivors report the incident to the police. Of those rapes reported to the police only 16% result in prison sentences. This means that only 5% of the time, a man who rapes ends up in prison. Unfortunately, when looking at institutions like university campuses, the numbers get even worse. The Justice Department estimates that even fewer than 5% of completed and attempted rapes of college women are reported to law enforcement officials. This number is even more staggering when you consider that 1 in 4 women will be the victim of sexual violence during her academic career. In these instances, 9 out of 10 women knew their attacker.

Despite the increased prevalence and need for victim services, universities most often  lack adequate policies and fail to provide for victims of sexual assault. The Campus Accountability Project, started by Students Active For Ending Rape (SAFE), showed the sad deficiencies in adequate sexual assault policies. Over 80% of policies received a C or below, with none making a grade higher than a B+. Nearly one-third of the policies didn’t comply with federal regulations, and only 40% had a dedicated full-time staff member dedicated to sexual assault prevention and education. In a world where victims are prosecuted, less than one-third of the policies stated that a victim’s dress and past sexual history are relevant during investigation.

In recent years, many universities have gone under fire for directly mishandling or covering up cases of rape and sexual assault- many times making national headlines such as Harvard and Yale. Some, such as Dartmouth, have even seen a decline in applications because of the negative attention. It’s time for universities to take a stand against sexual assault and provide the responsiveness that victims deserve.

We ended Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, a Men's March to end rape and sexual assault.

We ended Sexual Assault Awareness Month with Walk A Mile in Her Shoes, a Men’s March to end rape and sexual assault.

Tides are starting to turn though. Fortunately, this year, President Obama has issued a task force to directly deal with sexual assault on college campuses, and Sen. Claire McCaskill has conducted national surveys on the issue and has lead a bipartisan effort through the legislature to combat sexual assault in the military and now on college campuses. This effort is aimed at implementing new regulations that force campuses to adopt and change policies. Moreover, it seeks to provide additional resources to help universities be able to provide crucial services for those affected by sexual violence.

Many campuses have already made a stride towards victim services as well as prevention. Thankfully, the University of Missouri-Kansas City is one such school. It offers many services and support on campus for victims, awareness, and prevention. The UMKC Women’s Center and the Violence Prevention and Response Project seek to strengthen the university and community response to gender-based and sexual violence. Together, and in collaboration with other campus and community offices, the Women’s Center and Violence Prevention and Response Project provide vital training and education on prevention and response, resources and services for those affected by sexual violence including a safe place, referral information. Unlike many universities, UMKC offers a full time Victim Services Adjudication Advisor, Michelle Kroner. Her office, as well as the women’s center, is available to any student.

Now, more than ever, it’s important to remain active and to raise your voice against sexual assault. Sexual assault and rape has received national attention because of people like you. What UMKC and other institutions are doing is significant progress. But, it’s not a fix. Not yet. Remember, 1 is 2 many. If my article makes you uncomfortable: good. Be a person who seeks to change the system instead of ignoring it. Don’t be complicit. We can end the culture that perpetuates rape.

***

Author’s Note: Violence against women is a larger narrative than what simple statistics have to offer. It’s a culture that extends worldwide. It’s a world where one in three women will be raped in their lifetime- where sexual violence is more guaranteed than an education.

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Resources:

WEAR JEANS AND PREVENT VIOLENCE, DENIM DAY 2012!

by Armelle Djoukoue

[youtube]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vEsL_XVJ8mQ&feature=relmfu[/youtube]

In Italy in 1998, an 18-year old girl was picked up by her married 45-year old driving instructor for her very first lesson. He took her to an isolated road, dragged her out of the car, wrestled her out of her jeans and forcefully raped her. The offender was arrested and prosecuted.  The case made it all the way to the Italian Supreme Court and within a matter of days the case was dismissed. The driving instructor was released in a statement by the Chief Judge, which said “because the victim wore very, very tight jeans, she had to help him remove them, and by removing the jeans it was no longer rape but consensual sex.”  As news of the judge’s decision spread women in Italy and all over the world joined in proteset. In 1999 the state of California established the first Denim Day in the United States. The Denim Day campaign rasies awareness and promotes education about rape and sexual assault. 

To prevent sexual assault, each year the UMKC Women’s Center holds a Denim Day display and encourages students, staff and community members to wear jeans.  Check out our Denim Day display on campus today April 25th, in the quad.  There are NO excuses for sexual violence!  It is time to raise awareness, it is time to let the victims know that they’re not alone and it’s never their fault. So how can you raise Sexual Assault Awareness this April?  Simple, wear your favorite pair of jeans and make a statement!

Check out our event page for Denim Day! https://www.facebook.com/events/271488952914506/

For more information about the UMKC Women’s Center and our upcoming events please visit our website: http://www.umkc.edu/womenc/ or call us at (816) 235-1638

 

Denim Day 2011

By Bethany Reyna

Image copyright 2007, MU

In 1992 an 18-year-old girl in Italy was raped by her driving instructor. She pressed charges and won the case. Her case was later overturned at the High Italian Court and the charges were dropped because a High Court member believed that the jeans the girl was wearing were “too tight” for the rapist to have removed them without her willing assistance. To protest the court’s decision, the women of the Italian Legislator wore jeans to work.

In 1999 Peace Over Violence, a social organization based in California, established Denim Day. On April 27th people wear denim as a visible sign of protest against sexual assault. Here at UMKC we recognize Denim Day on April 28th with all universities, junior/high schools, businesses, and individuals. UMKC’s Violence Prevention and Response Project will have displays around campus of jeans that have been decorated to represent women standing up to misconceptions about sexual assault. There will be three displays on campus; one in Johnson Residence Hall, Oak Residence Hall, and in the Student Union.

By wearing denim on April 28th you can visually represent the need for sexual assault awareness by sharing with others of why you are wearing denim on that day. Check out the displays around campus and don’t forget to break out your favorite pair of jeans on Thursday, April 28th!

Have you heard about Denim Day?

Maybe you have heard murmurings, maybe you have seen it in the news, but do you know what it is really about? I didn’t until this April. In preparation for our Women’s Center events for Sexual Assault Awareness Month, I learned about Denim Day and what it stands for.

This year, Denim Day falls on April 22 and organizations and schools all across the nation will take part in events to show support for rape awareness and education.

Okay so you wear denim on a certain day, but why denim for rape awareness?

 It started in Italy in 1992.

 “In 1992, an 18-year-old girl in Italy was picked-up by her driving instructor to begin a driving lesson. Soon after, she was raped on the side of the road by the instructor. She pressed charges and won her case. The instructor appealed, and the case went to the Italian High Court.

In 1999, the Court overturned the conviction with a member of the High Court declaring that since the victim wore very tight jeans, the instructor could not have removed them himself; therefore, the victim must have willingly participated.” (Supportdenimday.com)

After the High Court granted the instructor an appeal in 1999, women in the Italian Legislature began wearing jeans to work in protest. By April of that year a social service agency in L.A. held the first Denim Day in the U.S.  The protest has now spread across the nation and is not only used to protest the case in Italy but to spread rape awareness and the need for rape education.

Seems pretty simple, right? But by wearing denim on April 22 and telling people about what it is and why they should wear denim too, you are not only showing your support for rape victims everywhere but you will also be helping to raise awareness about rape and sexual violence and the need for continuing education. So please do your part on Denim Day next Thursday, wear some denim and help spread the word.