An End of Semester Reflection

By: Crystal Lum

My time here at the UMKC Women’s Center has come to an end. I have made tons of fun memories during this brief time, whether it was just managing the front desk or organizing a program. I was able to see the work that the Women’s Center puts into the community. I hope to see the impact that I left here through the work that I left behind.

One of my favorite memories of working at the Women’s Center was just being in the office managing the front desk. I would have one other staff member working beside me and we would have these talks about our hobbies and lives in general. It would always be so much fun talking about what we have done in our lives and what we plan to do after we finish school. It’s a bittersweet memory that I will cherish forever.

I really adore my team; they feel like family to me. I also really enjoyed working on the Menstrual Drive. I would like to think it was my most successful program. I saw the hard work pay off when I learned that we received donations far more than the year prior. I feel like that is one of my proudest moments, and I earned respect from the people around me. I have learned about how to create programs and events. It is not easy to create and manage different moving parts of a program. I also believe that my skills in communication through emails and social media marketing have improved.

After graduating, I plan to return home and work for a year. Afterwards, I will come back to school to work on my master’s degree in Health Administration (MHA). But I may aim for a dual degree and get a master’s degree in Business Administration (MBA).

My advice for future interns is to not fear asking questions. The staff are here to help you with your programs and support you in your college career. Also, don’t be worried about having fun, the staff are students as well. The workload may be a lot at first, but it is manageable when you get the hang of it. I will miss my team a lot, but I wish them luck in their future endeavors. I would like to thank Arzie for being a good mentor, she was understanding and made me feel welcomed.

Goodbye, Women’s Center!

By: Anel Sandoval

As an intern who didn’t know any of the staff before starting, I was very nervous about what to expect this semester. I was surprised to find out that I would meet some of the best people I’ve ever worked with. I felt so welcomed and that it was exactly where I was meant to be. I am so thankful to have spent my last semester interning at the Women’s Center, expanding my knowledge on gender equity, and learning new skills that I will carry with me in my future career.

The Women’s Center is a safe place where I was able to express my feelings without any judgement. I’m going to miss the staff so much. I am thankful they understood my sarcastic humor and tolerated my obnoxious laugh – because they made me laugh a lot! I’ll miss discussing the movies we recently watched with Arzie. I will miss discussing our favorite childhood Barbie movies with Emma. I will miss talking about Harry Styles, Taylor Swift, and Tik-Toks with Anabelle. I will miss my “mom”, AKA, our wonderful grad assistant Alison, who we went to for help, to vent, and to laugh with.

I will miss Crystal who has been my other half this semester as we are in the same journey as we complete our last semester at UMKC as health sciences majors. I couldn’t do it without her! Name a better duo, I’ll wait. Last, but not least, I will miss Chelsea, who is the perfect new fit to the Women’s Center as the new Sr. Program Coordinator.

For those who are joining the Women’s Center’s staff in upcoming semesters, just know you are in good hands. Good luck to everyone!

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!

 

Someone’s Gotta Say It: The Word “Girlboss” Needs to Die 

By: Emma Sauer 

It’s been some time since I wrote one of these blogs, but I’m coming in hot today with an irritating trend that isn’t going away anytime soon. 

When’s the last time you walked into Target, TJ Maxx, Kohls, or any one of those conglomerate department stores? Have you noticed all those mass-produced t-shirts, tumblers, bags, book-ends, blankets, pillows, posters, and planners have one particular word plastered across them? Something like this:

Source: Amazon

Ugh. Girl Boss. Just typing that out feels like I’m manifesting the worst kind of cutesy faux feminism. Anyway, let me tell you why I hate this word so much. 

The word “girl boss” is a word ascribed to any woman in a position of leadership. It’s vague enough that it can mean a lot of different things, whether it’s a female CEO, business owner, or a middle aged white woman at home selling her Lularoe leggings. I also see it from time to time in Instagram bios or other places on social media. 

So, my main problem with cutesy phrases like “girl boss”, “boss lady”, or “she-eo” is that they’re infantilizing. (And also make for hideous interior design.) A woman in a leadership role shouldn’t be made into a huge deal— at least, not in a way that doesn’t recognize her accomplishments for what they are. When a man is in a leadership role, we don’t call him a “boy boss”, right? That just sounds silly and dumb. Same thing for “girl boss.” It’s dumb, and it makes me roll my eyes. I’m all for lifting up women, but instead of vaguely virtue-signaling with a sparkly pink “GIRL BOSS” plaque on your desk, do the work to focus on specific gender inequity issues.

And you know what? I find this whole “girl boss” thing totally disingenuous. It’s become a way for corporations to create merchandise and market themselves as being feminist, when in reality they’re destroying the environment, using child labor, and under-paying their employees.

Support Women’s Athletics at UMKC at Roo Up! With the Women’s Center

By: Crystal Lum

Hi Roos! UMKC Women’s Center is back with Roo Up! with the Women’s Center! The Women’s Center is a huge supporter of women’s athletics, and we want to hype up and show our pride to our athletes. It’s important to show our support to strive for gender equality in sports! According to the National Women’s Law Center, women who participated in sports were reported to have higher grades, score higher on exams, were more likely to graduate and improve in science classes. There is a dire need to stop perpetuating harmful stereotypes and myths that discourage girls’ participation in sports. We should not undermine their ability to feel supported, comfortable and equally respected while doing something they love to do. The lack of support from their fellow peers can drastically affect their morale. The current disparity between men and women’s sports must be addressed. Women’s games need to be publicized by the student body to recognize their hard work and to encourage them to keep playing.

If you want to join us, check out the following dates to support our women’s soccer and volleyball teams by attending the games and visiting our information table at the event. You can get a really cool pin and other awesome merch to show off! We will be attending these dates:

Roo Up! With the Women’s Center at Bark in the Park

Friday, September 16 at 6 p.m. at Swinney Recreation Center (Game begins at 7 p.m.)

Ticket information here

Roo Up! With the Women’s Center

Tuesday, September 27 at 6pm at Swinney Recreation Center (Game begins at 7 p.m.)

Ticket information here

Hope to see you all there!

Back to Basics #6: Can Men Be Feminists?

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 By: Anel Sandoval

We are bringing it Back to Basics this week! In this blog segment, we explain feminist terminology, myths, concepts and more! Today’s question is…

“Does a feminist have to be female?” 

Being a feminist means believing that women and men are equal and deserve equal rights. If you agree with that, then you’re a feminist. With that being said, all genders can be a feminist! True feminism is intersectional. Feminism spans across any and all genders, sexual preferences, or ethnic identities. And yes, men can be feminist allies too! 

“Why are men important in advocating for gender equity?”  

Men can be important allies to women in fighting for gender equity and promoting violence prevention. Women have been fighting for women’s equality for hundreds of years, but men also have a role to join in the fight as they’re not the problem, but part of the solution. One example of a self identified male feminist is former President Barack Obama. In August of 2016, President Obama penned his famous This is What A Feminist Looks Like where he reminded us that “it is absolutely men’s responsibility to fight sexism too.” His administration also took big steps to combat campus sexual assault and violence against women, improve equal pay protections, and actively promote women’s issues. 

“What can I, as a man, do to become an ally for women’s human rights?”  

 Great question! Here is a list of ways:  

  • Support women’s organizations such as the Women’s Center here on campus. We have many events you can attend this semester!  
  • Educate yourself on the history of women’s fight for equality as well as current issues.  
  • Start a conversation with women in your life. Listen to women who are fighting for their rights and ask them questions on how you can support them. 
  • Do not be a bystander to women’s violence. If you see it in your home, workplace, campus, or any public place, do not be silent, report it.  
  • Do not share sexist content that belittles or discriminates against women in any way. 
  • Advocate and educate others. Men can challenge other men in a way that women can’t, and if you use that opportunity to try to educate other guys, or just send the message that sexist attitudes are not okay, that can go a long way. It can feel awkward, but it’s worth it and very appreciated. 

Remember that absolutely anyone can be a feminist regardless of their gender and it is our duty, as society, to change the fact that women aren’t equal to men. To learn more click here

Back to Basics #5: What is the Women’s Center?

By: Emma Sauer 

Something I get asked a lot, whether at events, in the office, or just when talking about my job is…

What do you actually do at the Women’s Center?”

I’ll tell you! 

The Women’s Center at UMKC serves several purposes. Our office houses a wide array of resources available to the community, such as information on housing assistance, local shelters, and LGBTQIA+ resources. These are available either as brochures or links collected on our Campus and Community Resources tab. We also have a library, a lactation/self-care space, and a kitchen, all available to faculty and students. Of course, we’re also just open as a safe space for any marginalized students, and students are welcome to come in and just hang out. 

Another huge thing our staff does at the Women’s Center is our programming– if you are a student at UMKC, you may have spotted us at one of the many events we host, co-sponsor, or attend. Examples of programs we’ve run in the past include running a menstrual product drive to spread awareness about the Pink Tax, promoting body positivity during Every Body is Beautiful Week, and the Their/Her Art Project, which exhibits and uplifts local female and nonbinary artists. Throughout the semester, the student staff are constantly planning new events like these to promote awareness of gender equity issues with the help of Arzie, our awesome director.

There’s even more to the Women’s Center I could go on and on about, but that’s another post for another time.

“So what’s the point of having a Women’s Center and doing all these programs?” 

 Well, speaking as a woman and outspoken feminist, the Women’s Center matters to me personally because it allows feminism to have a physical, vocal presence at UMKC. The Women’s Center is also important because it provides a safe space for marginalized groups on campus, and our programming throughout the school year means gender equity always has a voice. In other words, we want UMKC– and Kansas City in general– to be more feminist! 

“Feminist? What’s that?” 

… Oh boy. That’s a question for a previous B2B blog, my friend. And if you want to learn more about why women’s centers are so important to have at universities,  you can check out this great article from WIHE (Women in Higher Education). 

Unbothered. In my lane. Focused. Flourishing.

By: Emma Sauer

Hey Roos! I’m back for another round at the Women’s Center this semester, repeating my role as the Blog Editor. Over the summer, I interned at AltCap, a CDFI here in Kansas City. In case you didn’t know what a CDFI is (I didn’t), it stands for Community Development Financial Institution. A large part of what CDFIS such as AltCap do is lend capital to underserved and marginalized communities in Kansas City. Even though my time there was short, it gave me an increased awareness of the very real institutional barriers female business-owners and entrepreneurs face. Those barriers are even more present for women of color. This semester, we’re going to be promotig female business owners and entrepreneurs over social media, blogs, and our display board, so stay tuned!  

I’m so glad to be back with the Women’s Center in a space promoting gender equity and intersectionality. If there’s anything I learned over the summer, it’s that I always have more to learn about feminism, and I’m going to continue to educate myself further this fall!  

Talk soon, guys! <3 

Meet our new Intern, Crystal!

By: Crystal Lum

Hello! My name is Crystal Lum, and I am one of the BHS undergraduate interns at the UMKC Women’s Center. I am a senior here at UMKC and I am about to graduate this upcoming fall. I am majoring in Health Science with a minor in Exercise Science. I chose UMKC because I really liked the environment and the amount of diversity that the campus offers. Through my years at UMKC, I have made so many friends and experienced a lot of college life here at this institution. I have learned a lot about different cultures and met many people with different identities. Interacting with others and helping people in need is one of my passions. I love meeting new people, either through events or just through mutual friends.

I was interested in interning for the Women’s Center because their focus and goals aligned with my own personal values. The organization is inclusive to people regardless of their personal identity. I support their mission values, which are to advocate, educate and provide support services for women’s and gender equity. I am looking forward to planning fun and new events for not only the students and faculty, but for the entire Kansas City community to take part in. I hope for people to learn about what the Women’s Center offers, and for people to feel welcomed in this space.

My personal favorite things to do in my free time are hanging out with friends, attending concerts and visiting different coffee shops!

Welcome our new Women’s Center Intern, Anel!

By: Anel Sandoval

Hello everyone! My name is Anel Sandoval. I am a senior at UMKC and will be graduating in December 2022 with a bachelors degree in Health Sciences! I am a Mexican-American woman who grew up in Kansas City. I have three brothers, who all graduated from UMKC. Although I took a three year break for traveling and work experience, I decided to return to school and earn my degree. My mother moved to the United States from Mexico to give her children a better life and for that reason I want to graduate, because she didn’t have the opportunity to attend college. Attending UMKC has allowed me to stay close to my family and friends in Kansas City who have supported me through this educational journey.

When exploring the different options for internships, I learned about the Women’s Center and knew that I wanted to intern here and work alongside other people that work towards empowering women and advancing women’s equity. During my time at the Women’s Center I hope to gain more knowledge about gender equity and help educate, advocate, and raise awareness to these issues in our community.

When I’m not on campus I enjoy traveling, watching movies, hanging out with my family and friends, and cuddles with my elderly cat. I am so excited to work at the Women’s Center and take this experience with me to my next endeavors and I hope to meet many of you soon