Two Steps Forward, A Hundred Steps Back

 

By Abbie Lewis

As if this pandemic hasn’t caused enough trouble, women all around the world are once again being set back. An article in the New York Times discusses how women with children make up much of the unemployed people right now. Women make up 56% of the overall job loss due to COVID, even though, before the pandemic, they only made up 43% of the overall workforce. Experts theorize this is due to the already struggling stance of women in the workforce, as well as the overall societal expectation that women are still responsible for the care of the household and children. With daycares and schools closing or switching to all virtual, someone must stay home with the kids and in most cases, it’s the woman. With everything women have going against them in the world, this seems to just be another obstacle that will set us back.

I know what some of you are wondering: Are gender roles really still that relevant? The answer probably varies on who you ask, but the reality of the situation is, there is still a wage gap between men and women in the workforce, and there is still an expectation placed on women to be the caretaker of the home, which is why men have been slower to step down from their positions at work to help with child care during this pandemic. Why must it always be the woman who steps back in her career choices if it comes down to one parent in a heterosexual marriage needing to? It’s not just men being unreasonable, the answer is also entangled in some institutionalized issues. Such as, in America, it only becomes harder for a woman to get another job once they’ve become unemployed, even if it is because of a pandemic. A 2018 study found that even after 1 year of unemployment women stand to lose 39% of their wage. That is on top of the gap they already face by just being a woman when compared to their male counterparts. I guess it would make sense for the one who makes the most money to continue their job, and that is often the male, which is a whole other discussion relating to how women are still behind in society.

With this year being the 100th year anniversary since women were given the right to vote, you would think we’d be further in society than we are. While the pandemic was certainly a shocker that we didn’t think would ever happen, even without it, women fight daily for the chance to be held as high as men are, in society, but especially in the workforce. As a woman, it makes me want to fight harder than ever and do whatever I can to make a name for myself and all my fellow ladies everywhere. This pandemic is just another hurdle we must jump over, but let’s jump super high and show everyone what we’re capable of!

 

Recovering From Invisibility: #SayHerName

By Morgan Clark

I was recently asked “in what way police brutally has affected you the most?” After pondering on the question, I came up with this answer: There were three death that truly shook my core. The first one was Trayvon Martin; his death lifted the veil that was covering my eyes. Although I knew racism did exist, I didn’t understand how much of an influence it had on our society still. The second death which affected me was Mike Brown; his death was the one that radicalized me. I learned how the media can villainize black life. His death was also the start of the Black Lives Matter movement. The third one was Breonna Taylor because her story (like others) was so sad. Being close to my age, her death was very close to home. Not to mention she reminds me of so many black women in my own life.

Recently the court released the verdict of Breonna Taylor’s case. Yet again American’s justice system has failed us. And although it was not surprising that they did not convict her three killers, it still hurts to see that she does not get the justice that she rightfully deserves. As a black woman it truly infuriates me to see this happens yet again. Sometimes it’s hard to interact with others because of this. I had Drill the week they released the verdict in her case and was so upset that I didn’t want to be surrounded by very opinionated white men. It made me feel hopeless for the justice system when it comes to police brutality. No matter what, or how innocent the victim is, there will be no justice. The process leading up to the verdict didn’t help either. Seeing Breonna’s death being turned into a trend as if it was the next cool thing to be a part of was very upsetting. Black Twitter was in an uproar when they discovered that Breonna’s death was turned into a meme. A meme…a form of entertainment. Something that was so traumatic made into a joke. If that’s not a good example of how our society handles black women’s lives, then I don’t know what is. To see all this happening day by day has been discouraging to say the least.

So, it was reassuring to have the “Say Her Name: The Invisibility of Black Women” event on Wednesday September 30th, 2020. It was a virtual safe space facilitated by UMKC organizations like Multicultural Student affairs and the Women’s Center to listen to and speak on issues for Black Women in our society such as police brutality and societal standards that degrade or limit black women. Being met with the same emotions I have felt validated my feelings and experiences more than anyone will know. To have a panel of Black women from different professional fields and different age groups who were all outraged and upset showed that this is an issue. That it does affects us in ways that sometimes we can’t openly express to our white allies. It was an empowering event to be a part of and I am grateful for those who put it on, and participated, especially in times like this.

COVID-19’s Impact on Women

By Jordan Tunks

COVID-19 is impacting everyone, but it is impacting women in a different way than men. When the shutdown began in March of 2020, things like restaurants, shopping centers, and movie theaters were being shut down one after another. These industries are employed mostly by women causing the unemployment rate of women to increase dramatically. According to Forbes.com, women accounted for 55% of workers that became unemployed in April compared to men at 13%.

When the shutdown first began, childcare was not deemed as an essential service. This left many mothers in a predicament many men were not put in. This created a burden on women to figure out what to do with their children while they went to work, forcing some women to have to take off work and stay at home. This could lead to more problems at work if they were having to call off multiple times in a row. Fortunately, childcare was deemed essential after a month or so into the pandemic so these mothers and childcare workers could resume their schedule.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also impacted women’s mental health more than men. According to Forbes.com, 52% of COVID-related stress has had a negative impact on women compared to 37% of men. This pandemic has been hard on women in multiple ways, from figuring out childcare to losing a job and having to find another source of income. Men did not have as much of a setback as women, especially when it comes to employment. Many male dominated occupations were deemed a necessity, allowing them to continue working though the months of shut down. Men also typically hold higher positions at work, presenting them with the opportunity to work from home, which many women did not get. Due to these situations, women were and are being affected in very different ways than men during this pandemic. Do you feel like Covid-19 disproportionately affected you?

Trump vs. Biden Debate and Double Standards

By Emma Gilham 

The night of September 29, 2020, America witnessed the presidential debate between President Donald Trump and Candidate Vice President Joe Biden. Like many, I was a part of the population watching from my living room. Cozy in a blanket, I had little to no expectations for information or entertainment. Indeed, I would have rather re-watched NBC’s “Parks and Recreation” for the millionth time. Alas, the debate began, and I was tuned in. I won’t go into too much detail about the debate itself, as that has been widely addressed. With frequent interruptions, name-calling, and talking over one another, the candidates have been widely criticized for their breaking of standard debate decorum. In the end, I wondered how a womxn would have been treated had she been breaking as many rules as either debate candidates.

For this analysis, we can investigate into the not so distant past, to the 2016 election, Candidate Hillary Clinton. Tweets have revealed to us that Clinton often wanted to tell her opponent to “shut up”, as Biden did in his debate on the 29th. Clinton was assaulted with slews of nicknames and defamatory speech during her campaign, labeled “crazy”, “crooked”, and “heartless” just to name a few of the adjectives assigned to her by her opposition. It isn’t difficult to speculate how much worse these jibes could have been had she not held herself to a certain standard of conduct during public appearances.

I’m frustrated with the double standards womxn and minorities often face in the public’s eye. The pressure we place on the minority groups, of any arena, to be the absolute model is a tired trope. We must recognize that the traits, revered in our white, straight, men, are just as natural in our womxn. Leadership, dedication, boldness, anger, and frustration are traits all genders exhibit. No matter how you lean politically, it’s necessary that we acknowledge and amend the double standards placed on public figures, especially in politics.

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.

COVID-19, Sex Toys and Sexual Dysfunction

By Brianna Green

The COVID-19 pandemic has been a time of discovery and change. People are using this time to educate themselves in social and political matters. Some are also using this time as a moment for self-reflection. Now that our world came to a stop and is now working on a slower pace, it’s easier to look inside and ask questions of “Are you happy?” “Are you satisfied?” “Where can I get a little spice in my life?”

I cannot answer those questions for everyone, but I can say that some women are reevaluating their current circumstances. Psychology Today says that an astonishing 40% of women feel sexual dysfunction. Thirty years ago, it used to be as high as 78%. Although it has gone down, how is it that almost half of the women population feels sexual dysfunction? Well, according to the Merck Manual, a medical education site, some of the causes of sexual dysfunction in women include depression and anxiety, varies forms of abuse, distractions (such as work, family, finances), and culture. To explore on that last point, a woman might feel guilty or shameful about their sexuality if they come from a society that restricts them (Merck Manual). Unfortunately, living in America is still living in a double bind; or a place where women only have two problematic choices to choose from: being a whore or being a prude.

However, in a time of discovery and change and mainly living behind our closed doors, it doesn’t have to be that way. In fact, the rise in sex toy sales tells me that this is a good time for women to explore their sexuality and learn more about themselves. According to The New York Times sales have gone up dramatically, up to 200% back in April, for companies like We-Vibe and Womanizer. With sex toy sales through the roof, women are taking this time to find out how to be satisfied and what’s available for them to spice up their life. We should come out of this quarantine with a better understanding of our bodies and less shame in our sexuality.

Intersectionality, Love, and Basketball

By Abbie Lewis

Being a woman is certainly no easy task. We must hold car keys between our fingers from the store to our car, carry pepper spray to go for a run, work our butts off at a job and still not get paid as much a man, and all the while be expected to “smile more”. As a woman, we’re used to our everyday injustices, but some women have it worse than others and experience intersectionality. Intersectionality is when more than one of your attributes contributes to your criticisms and injustices. For example, we experience harassment for being women but sometimes women experience it for not only their gender, but their gender and their race, or their gender and their social economic status, or race and sexual orientation. The combinations are endless and sometimes women experience bias from all the above.

The #SayHerName campaign was created in December of 2014 by the African American Policy Forum (AAPF), and Center for Intersectionality and Social Policy Studies (CISPS), and its goal is to bring awareness to Black women and girls who have been victimized by racist police violence. A lot of the times, these poor women and girls’ sufferings, or even their deaths, get swept under the rug and never discussed. This campaign is to make sure that behavior ceases. The topic most known right now by this group is that of Breonna Taylor. For those of you who don’t know about Breonna, she was an emergency room technician in Louisville, Kentucky and was watching a movie in bed with her boyfriend when police busted into her home, claiming they were surveilling the apartment for a drug raid, and Breonna was shot 5 times, bleeding out and dying on the floor of her apartment. Breonna was a victim of intersectionality, doing nothing but trying to sleep in her own bed. She was murdered for being a Black woman who maybe didn’t live in the greatest part of town. Breonna is not the only victim of intersectionality in recent news, there are far more, a couple of examples being Jacob Blake and Sandra Bland. Many are rising up to take a stand and spread awareness, including the WNBA.

The WNBA has always had to fight to be recognized and respected in comparison to the much more widely known and followed NBA. They are no strangers to standing up for themselves as women and a lot of them as Black women. The WNBA has joined with the #SayHerName campaign and is using their platform to spread awareness and get people talking They are wearing shirts and jerseys with Breonna Taylor’s name on them along with ones that say Black Lives Matter. The WNBA ladies are also making sure that before their games, they hold a moment of silence for the victims along with a photo and video montage.  An article in the New York times dives deep into their cause and platform and interviews specific players with their thoughts on everything as well.

I know a lot of the time, we think that we’re just one person or we’re too insignificant to really create any change. This is not the case. Women everywhere share the same struggle and therefore can band together and fight for what is right and what we deserve. We can use our passions and talents just like the WNBA ladies have done. Let’s keep fighting and spreading awareness until they can’t ignore us any longer.

Moonstruck: A Howling Good Comic

By Elise Wantling

Are you a fan of girls, gays, or ghouls? If you answered yes to any of those, you are going to love Moonstruck by Grace Ellis and Shae Beagle. This is one of the most recent projects of author Grace Ellis, who is also the author of the popular comic Lumberjanes. The comic stars Julie, a chubby, shy Latina werewolf who lives in a small college town called Blitheton, where she is a barista at a coffee shop. She works with her best friend Chet, a nonbinary centaur who is dashingly handsome and fabulously flamboyant. Julie is dating Selena, a fellow werewolf who is black, on the chubbier side, and full of confidence. There is also a full cast of side characters, monsters and humans alike, representing different races, body types, and species.

Currently there are two published collections of comics, Moonstruck Volume 1: Magic to Brew and Volume 2: Some Enchanted Evening. Volume 1 follows the gang as they struggle to find and battle a magician who steals Chet’s magic at a free community magic show. Chet deals with an identity crisis, as he doesn’t know who he is if he isn’t a monster anymore.

While Julie and Selena are hot on the case, things also heat up between them, and eventually boil over. They also get some help from their friend Cass, who helps them put victory in sight. In Volume 2 the gang rescues their friends Lindi, Ronnie, and Mark from some serious trouble. They also manage to get themselves into the middle of a rivalry between the fairy sorority and fraternity. Julie and Selena have some relationship trouble when Selena finds out that Julie is keeping secrets. Mark is also keeping a secret, which is accidentally revealed!

The comic has a diverse cast of characters, both main and background. I really appreciate the representation of a variety of races, genders, body types and sexualities. While Julie is a bit on the shyer and more timid side, she is still a strong female character. There is also positive representation of a healthy woman/woman romantic relationship that is not hyper sexualized or used as a joke. Chet and their love interest are also taken seriously and display a healthy (and super cute!) relationship. It is refreshing to see a comic with a truly diverse cast of characters, and not the usual formula of “all cisgender, heterosexual, thin, white people + one or two characters who break that mold”. The comic simply reflects the realities of the world, which is that people come in a variety of shapes, sizes, colors, and sexualities.

The comics are full color and beautifully illustrated. Each panel is a work of art unto itself and I personally adore the art style and character designs. It is easy to tell what is happening in every panel and not at all difficult to follow the storyline. Whether you’re a lover of strong women in media, cute art, the supernatural, or LGBTQ fiction, there is something in Moonstruck for everyone. I would recommend them for ages middle school and up, but they definitely appeal to the young adult as well as the adult crowd. Moonstruck tells simple, pleasing stories in a way that is easy on the eye. Volume 3 comes out February 11th, 2020, and I am counting down the days!

 

How a 19nth Century Invention helped Liberate Women

By Maggie Pool

“Let me tell you what I think of bicycling,” Susan B. Anthony told a reporter in 1896. “I think it has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world.”

In 1897, protests lined the streets at the University of Cambridge to object to a vote that would allow women to attend the all-male university. The crowd launched rockets, threw eggs, and hung a stuffed representation of the “New Woman” from a building, later mutilating it in the streets. The feature acutely defining this “New Woman” was her bicycle.

Globally, the bicycle was a hot commodity in the 1890s. Bikes were cheaper and easier to use than a horse, buggy, or car. For someone making around $10 a week, buying a bicycle was an affordable and easy way to get around. So, how did this affect women?

Before the early 1900s, women’s roles didn’t extend beyond maintaining the domestic sphere. They cooked, cleaned, took care of the children, and generally only left the house when escorted by male, usually by a father or husband. This meant women had no involvement in things like business, politics, and education. However, the bicycle boom allowed women to be themselves without being ignored or easily segregated. With the taste of freedom fresh on their lips, women learned what life was really like outside the home. Thus, a new desire for women’s avocation was born.

Outside the home, the bicycle evolved more than women’s roles. It also revolutionized women’s fashion. Imagine trying to ride a bike outfitted in a corset, bustle, and multi-layer full-length skirts? It didn’t work out so well. Although viewed by many as highly scandalous, bloomers, baggy pants sewed into a big skirt, were the new fashion. For the first time, women were showing off their bare legs.

And, of course, the bicycle allowed quick mobilization for the suffragette movement. Alice Hawkins, a leading English suffragette among the city of Leicester went to prison five times for her acts in the Women’s Social and Political Union campaign. Women’s use of bicycles started with Hawkin’s use her own bicycle. She organized bike clubs that helped spread the word about female emancipation. Being able to travel gave her and other women the ability to do widespread canvassing to get their political point across.

Who would’ve thought that an invention as simple as two turning wheels could’ve liberated women more than anything else before?

Dorothy Arzer : Hollywood’s Most Prominent Woman Director

By Maggie Pool

Director, editor, and screenwriter, Dorothy Arzner is one of the most prolific woman studio directors in the history of American cinema. She was the only woman directing feature-length studio films in Hollywood in the 1930s. Her career spanned from 1919 to 1943. Arzner was one of the few directors to successfully continue their career from the silent era into the era of sound in film.  She worked on a total of 25 films, many of which have received significant attention from feminist film critics and queer theorists. Arzner began her career in the film industry typing scripts for the Famous Players-Lasky Corporation, later known as Paramount. After six months, she became the chief editor in charge of film cutting and editing. This led to Arzner’s first “big picture,” cutting and editing Blood and Sand (1922). This was the first film for which she undertook some of the filming.

Eventually, Arzner was entrusted with directing feature films at Paramount, all of which garnered much success. Some of these silent films include: Fashions for Women (1927), Ten Modern Commandments (1927), Get Your Man (1927), and Manhattan Cocktail (1928). Because of her triumphs, Paramount bestowed upon Arzner the directing role for the studio’s first sound film, The Wild Party (1929) starring Clara Bow.

Arzner left Hollywood in the 1940s and was all but forgotten until the 1970s, when feminist film theorists dug up her work, and she was brought to new recognition. Much of Arzner’s legacy lies in feminist critics analyzing her work such as Christopher Strong (1933) and Dance, Girl, Dance (1940). Christopher Strong is about female aviator, Lady Cynthia Darrington (Katharine Hepburn) and Parliament member, Sir Christopher Strong (Colin Clive). The two characters meet at a party and become instantly attracted to one another. Azrner’s direction leads you to believe Lady Darrington is willing to tie down her free spirit for love, but this dramatically changes. Rather than sacrifice her independence for a man, Lady Darrington broke the world record for height achieved in air, and removed her oxygen mask, causing her to lose consciousness and send the plane into a deathly nosedive.

In Dance, Girl, Dance, Arzner explores female stereotypes, such as women being just a “spectacle” for men and are either wrapped up in sexuality, grace, or innocence. The movie centers around two good friends, Judy and Bubbles who are both dancers. While Bubbles uses her good looks and sassy personality (sexuality) to get jobs, Judy is a dedicated ballerina (grace and innocence) and finds it more difficult to succeed in her chosen profession. Arzner’s Christopher Strong and Dance, Girl, Dance showcase the challenges women face while pursuing their passions and careers.  It is for this reason, that Arzner’s work as a female pioneer in the early ages of Hollywood has become an important area of film.