The Settings Change, but the Story Doesn’t

By Caitlin Easter

I recently came across an illustration by Kasia Babis that made me think about the state of women today in relation to where we were as women when the Salem witch trials were happening. This got me thinking about the oppression of women that we see incessantly perpetuated throughout history, and why things don’t appear to be getting any better.

The image was a two panel comic strip with a witch being drowned and a man saying, “If she dies, she’s innocent, if she survives she’s a witch.” The second panel depict a woman holding a sign that says “#MeToo” and a man saying “If she seems ok, nothing happened. If she claims it was an assault, she’s just seeking attention.”  The artwork can be viewed at: https://thenib.com/how-sexual-assault-claims-are-like-a-witch-hunt.

While we may no longer be placed on ducking stools for behavior that is deemed inappropriate by society (aka white men), we are now put on trial to defend ourselves and our stories. Perpetrators might be the ones literally on trial, but the burden of proof and behavior has always rested on the shoulders of the victim. While going from being on trial and killed for being a “witch,” to being grilled at a trial that is not our own because of our “decisions” might be a step in the right direction, symbolically it isn’t that huge of a leap towards what we need to see.

At what point in history did we stop trusting women? Have we just always had this innate distrust for this entire diverse group of people? Women aren’t trusted by doctors when we say that there is something wrong with our own bodies, and we aren’t trusted by society when we talk about our experiences. Why is the scope of women’s expertise concerning ourselves and our environments seen as something that has such an incredibly limited quantity? In the future, when I talk, I want to be heard. A women’s experiences are just as valid as a man’s.

“Your silences will not protect you….We have been socialized to respect fear more than our own need for language. I began to ask each time: ‘What’s the worst that could happen to me if I tell this truth?’ Unlike women in other countries, our breaking silence is unlikely to have us jailed, “disappeared” or run off the road at night. Our speaking out will irritate some people, get us called bitchy or hypersensitive and disrupt some dinner parties. And then our speaking out will permit other women to speak, until laws are changed and lives are saved and the world is altered forever….Once you start to speak, people will yell at you. They will interrupt you, put you down and suggest it’s personal. And the world won’t end. And the speaking will get easier and easier. And you will find you have fallen in love with your own vision, which you may never have realized you had…And at last you’ll know with surpassing certainty that only one thing is more frightening than speaking your truth. And that is not speaking.”

― Audre Lorde

 

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Martha Coffin Pelham Wright

By Ann Varner

Martha Coffin Pelham Wright was one of five women who planned the first women’s right convention and presided over numerous women’s rights and anti-slavery conventions (womenshistory.org). She is known for her contributions to humanities and was inducted into the Women’s Hall of Fame in 2007. Wright was born in 1806 to a large family with “a strong female role model in her mother, Anna Folger Coffin, and the Quaker tenets of individualism, pacifism, equality of the sexes, and opposition to slavery, young Martha was well prepared for her future role as an abolitionist and suffragist” (womenofthehall.org).

On July 19th and 20th of 1848, she and five other women held the first women’s rights convention in Seneca Falls, New York. Following that historic event, Wright went on to continuing activism in women’s rights and the abolishment of slavery. She worked with the American Anti-Slavery Society and was the president of the National Woman Suffrage Association. Wright passed away in 1875 but was able to witness the abolishment of slavery. There is a Women’s Rights National Historical Park in Seneca Falls which has a life size statue to commemorate her. The statue shows her as pregnant because when she held the women’s rights convention she was six months pregnant with her seventh child.

Picture from womenofthehall.org

Celebrating Women’s History Month: Rosa Parks

By: Brittany Soto

In honor of Women’s History Month, I wanted to focus my attention on Rosa Parks. Most people are familiar with who Rosa Parks is but to those who aren’t, she was a civil rights activist who was best known for courageously refusing to give up her seat on a bus to a white person during a time when segregation was legal. She was thrown in jail as a result of this incident, sparking the infamous Montgomery Alabama Bus Boycott. Her vital role in this movement helped bring attention to the mistreatment of colored people and fought against racism and segregation. Her courage and leadership served, not only as an inspiration to people of color, but to ALL women. She was dubbed the second most popular historical figure to be talked about in schools according to a survey by American
students. (Wineburg, 2008).

Rosa Park’s courage and determination to challenge racism and segregation did not start with the bus incident. This is something that has been instilled in her since childhood. She was never afraid to speak up against the mistreatment of colored individuals by standing up against white children who
would try to harass or bully her. She was also the secretary of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) and continuously pushed to end segregation in schools and in public places. Despite the challenges she faced as being a fearless colored woman who was determined to fight for what was right, going as far as receiving daily death threats to her and her family, this never stopped her from fighting for peace and the rightful treatment of colored individuals. This just goes to show that doing what’s right isn’t always easy, but is necessary. Rosa Parks is now a legend and an
inspiration to women worldwide.

AAUW Scholarship Opportunity

aauwaward

Attention Students!

The Reentry Woman Scholarship Award sponsored American Association of University Women (AAUW) is up for grabs now! The award is worth $500 and is available to students who meet the following qualifications:

  1. The student has been out of school for at least five years before returning.
  2. The student is currently enrolled as a full OR part-time student.
  3. The student has not yet completed a bachelor’s degree.
  4. The student has completed at least 30 hours of undergraduate credit, 15 of which have been completed since reentry.
  5. The student has a GPA of 3.0 or higher.

Contact Arzie Umali (umalia@umkc.edu) for more information, or to submit an application.

DEADLINE: MONDAY, MARCH 20, 2017

Harsh Judgement

By Kacie Otto

I found this article today on the feminist blog Jezebel and couldn’t help but think about why women are so harshly judged by others no matter what choices they make.

Why do you think this couple has been trolled so harshly on the internet? Does anyone really ever have the space to be that cruel?

Comment below.

The Almighty GPA

Grades. Often, they can feel like the end-all, be-all of college life. What’s your GPA? How will this class hurt or help it? Will I be able to apply for a scholarship? Will I get it? Who’s doing better than me? If I can’t get an A in this class, does it make me stupid?

Image from Creative Commons on Flickr

Image from Creative Commons on Flickr

I often find myself thinking these questions. From a very young age, the letter grade I got on something directly fed into my self-worth and identity as a person. I know this about myself, and I’ve tried to temper the anxiety that stems from the need for The Almighty A (accept no substitutes, A minuses need not apply).

It’s not easy to escape from the pressure of society, my family, and most of all, the pressure I put on myself. My experience is not unique, either, and in all those I’ve talked to who share the same struggle, there’s a common thread: we’re all women.

Now, I’m not going to claim that there aren’t men out there who experience this, just that

very often boys and men are taught that they have value just for being who they are, for being a man: their opinion and experience is valid and important. Girls and Women, however, are more likely to find their value wrapped up in what they can bring to the world: being beautiful or smart or caring or desirable, and that’s the only way they can contribute to the world. We have to prove our worth.

When I was a child, I would get $1 for every A I got, and if I got a B in something, my parents wanted to know what I’d done “wrong” to get the lower grade. Did I not do my homework? Did I not study enough? The assumption was never that I struggled with the

material or it wasn’t properly taught to me, but rather that I’d just not applied myself. That there was a failing on my part as a person.

Over time, I internalized this to the point of being unable to handle it if I really DID find material challenging. I shouldn’t struggle with anything, and if I do, then maybe I’m not

as smart as I thought I was! Maybe I’ve just been lucky, or only smart enough to do the easy stuff, but now I’m in the big leagues and I can’t hack it.

It’s taken me a long time to realize and accept that a letter grade does not reflect my comprehension of the material, but rather my ability to memorize the right facts and spit

them back out on a multiple choice test. If I come out of this semester and my GPA isn’t a 4.0 anymore, that doesn’t mean I’m not a good student or that I’m stupid.

I am worthwhile. We are worthwhile as human beings, regardless of our achievements, and I think that’s a lesson many women go a long time without learning. Our personhood

and value is inherent, intrinsic, and inalienable. We are more than our accomplishments.