The Women’s Center is Happy to Welcome Mia Lukic to Our Staff!

By Mia Lukic

Hi Friends!

My name is Mia Lukic, and this is my second year at UMKC. I am in the Six Year Law program and am majoring in Philosophy with a minor in French. I am a first generation American and first generation college student. My family came to the US from the former Yugoslavia and I was born a couple years later in Saint Louis, MO. I am fluent in BCS (Bosnian/Serbian/Croatian) and am working towards fluency in French. I think another language is the greatest gift you could be given or give yourself!

I decided to go into law because of my passion for human rights, and as we know, women’s rights are human rights! The Women’s Center aligns with my personal beliefs and morals and I think it is a great place to surround myself with likeminded individuals and to learn and grow as a woman, student, professional, and feminist. I am looking forward to working with the awesome staff at the Women’s Center and UMKC students to foster positive conversations and contribute to the wonderful programs and social media sites.

After UMKC, I aim to work for a nonprofit that focuses on women’s rights. While I have been met with many lawyers and advisors who say that after my first year of law school I will change to a more lucrative track, I know my purpose is to help people and fight for those who feel powerless. I acknowledge it will not always be easy, but I know I could not do anything else with my life while there are still people in the world facing grave injustices.

I hope to use my blog posts to educate people about some of the causes most dear to my heart and cannot wait to work on my first official post!

Aspiring Latina Professional Joins The Women’s Center

By Adriana Suarez 

Hi, my name is Adriana Suarez. I am a freshman here at UMKC in the Undecided or Exploratory Program. I graduated from Sumner Academy of Arts & Sciences in Kansas City, Kansas. I am interested in a major with the sociology department as well a minor in Spanish, to maintain connection to my roots; being a young Latina professional. In the future, I hope to work in the non-profit sector. I decided to join the Women’s Center because I love culture and being around others.

While also being a member of the Latino Student Union, I hope to gain more involvement on campus through the Women’s Center. One of my goals is to become immersed in the culture at UMKC I love doing things to help others, and I have many interests including music and arts.

This last summer, I interned for the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City as an Activities Director. I worked on a team, creating lesson plans and teaching students grade 4- 6 in the KC Metro area. This experience led me to grow in both my personal and professional life. I loved working with the kids and being able to bring a smile to their faces.

Introducing Elise, The Women Center’s New Staff Member

By Elise Wantling

Hello all! My name is Elise Wantling, and my pronouns are they/them/their. I am a senior here at UMKC studying political science, with the goal of attending grad school next year either here or at the University of Kansas to get my masters in social work/social welfare. My plan is to become educated in non-profit management, and eventually open my own home for homeless LGBTQ+ youth. I transferred here from KU at the beginning of 2019 because, well, out of state tuition gets expensive after a while when you’re a Missourian studying in Kansas. While I enjoyed my time at KU thoroughly, I am also really enjoying studying here at UMKC! I am glad I found a school in Kansas City that has a strong political science program and an LGBTQ+ friendly campus.

I am excited to work with the Women’s Center to promote equity and equality for all genders. While I do not identify as a woman anymore, I have lived as one for about two decades and I feel like I have a pretty good grasp of the struggles women face. Being nonbinary, I also have the unique perspective of what it is like living outside the gender binary. I hope to use my unique gender related experiences to be able to help people of all genders live a better life. I am looking forward to blogging, working and planning events, and seeing everyone’s beautiful faces at the Women’s Center.

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

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: Deborah Tucker

By Brittany Soto

Deborah D. Tucker is best known for her efforts in taking steps to end violence against women. Her determination to advocate against violence began when she volunteered at the first rape crisis center in Texas in 1974. Since then, she has helped to create shelters, battered intervention programs and other services that aid women who are victims of domestic abuse. She went on to promote laws and policies in order to improve how law enforcement responds to these cases and became one of the co-founders of The National Center of Domestic and Sexual Violence. She has dedicated her life to advocating and speaking out against gender based violence and went on to receive many awards for her leadership and contribution to this issue. Among these awards, were the Domestic Violence Peace Prize, Standing in The Light of Justice, The Sunshine Lady Award, Outstanding Achievement Award, and her very own Deborah D. Tucker Staff Achievement Award.

Domestic violence is a serious issue that many women face and it’s people like Deborah D. Tucker who ensure this issue is never swept under the rug or forgotten about, It’s people like Deborah who act as a voice for the many women who are victims of domestic violence, and it’s people like Deborah who inspire me to want to help others and make a positive impact in the lives of others such as she has. In honor of Women’s History Month, I am proud to give a shout out to this amazingly compassionate woman.

Should Female Athletes Be Subject to Gender Testing?

By: Christina Terrell

Gender testing on female athletes has been around for some time now, however it has gone through phases. Gender testing happens to be the sex verification in sports, which grants eligibility for an athlete to compete in a sporting event that is limited to a single sex.

Back in the 90’s, it had been a mandatory and very extensive process. The gender testing process can involve evaluation by gynecologists, endocrinologists, psychologists, and internal medicine specialists. On a simple level, the athlete may be evaluated from their external appearances by experts. The athlete may also undergo blood tests to examine their sex hormones, genes and chromosomes. It was discovered that not all women have the standard female chromosomes, and this began to unfairly exclude some female athletes from competing in their sport.

In the year of 2009, mandatory gender testing resurfaced when Olympic cross-country runner, Caster Semenya won her race by more than just your typical two seconds. but she won the race by way more than two seconds. The public, along with race officials, began to talk, saying that it could be possible that Caster Semenya was really a man and should be disqualified. When Semenya went in for her gender testing, her results came back that she was “intersex”, meaning she possessed both male and female chromosomes. The tests were leaked to the public and the best day of her career turned into the worse day of her life.

Since the incident with Caster Semenya in 2009, the topic of gender testing and whether to make it mandatory or not has undergone many changes and discussions. As of 2018 the decision has been reached to mandate gender testing for females who solely compete in middle distance races of 400 meters to one mile. The reason for this being that these races require evaluations of speed, power, and endurance which are the components measured by the gender test and determine differences between females and males when it comes to testosterone levels. In the end, there are some people who feel this is fair and others who do not because women cannot help if their testosterone falls outside the range of what allows them to compete in the female categories. As a result, gender testing will continue to be an aspect of what females in the sports industry must rise above.

Mass Media and Body Image

By: Brittany Soto

In a world that is heavy on technology and social media usage, it makes it easier to communicate and connect with others, but the question is, is the media always trying to spread a positive message to people out there in the world? This is especially true when it comes to body image. Advertisements such as TV commercials, for example, tend to emphasize that a person’s body should have a slim appearance to them and that they are less-than if they look any other way. This is far from the truth because, in reality, everyone has a unique body shape and structure and just because someone is thin, doesn’t necessarily mean they are healthy. These kinds of expectations that the media portrays can have a serious effect on an individual’s mental and physical well-being leading to low self-esteem and body dissatisfaction issues leading to even more serious conditions such as eating disorders.

Generally, women are thought to be the only ones who suffer from body image issues and eating disorders as a result of what the media portrays, but this can also have an effect on men as well. “Pressure from mass media to be muscular also appears to be related to body dissatisfaction among men. This effect may be smaller than among women, but it is still significant.” (National Eating Disorders Association, 2018). This is a growing problem since, nowadays, people spend the majority of their time on the media. I think it’s important for people to understand that what is portrayed on the media isn’t always the truth. I think it’s also important for people to practice self-love and self-acceptance, so they aren’t constantly measuring their self-worth based on the media. As human beings, especially as women, I think it’s important to emphasize these things when the media tries to tell us that we aren’t enough.

And So Ends a Season

By Chris Howard-Williams

It’s hard to believe my summer is almost over.  In many ways, I’m very excited.  As I’m writing this, I’m preparing to take my last final for my summer classes in just a few hours, and I couldn’t be more thrilled!  I have enjoyed my classes, but the pace of summer grad classes is intense, and I’m looking forward to a few weeks of having my evenings back before starting another semester of the grind.  I also just really like fall – the cooler weather, the colored leaves, and the pumpkin spice everything!  I long for the return of my favorite holiday, Thanksgiving, and all the food, family, and fun it brings.  For the most part, I welcome the end of the summer season, and this summer is no exception!

Well, except that’s not exactly true.  There is one part of my summer that I will miss, more than I ever anticipated – my work study job at the Women’s Center.  Eight weeks seemed like such a long time back in June.  How did it go by so quickly?

I’ve learned a lot this summer.  I’ve learned how I can best support feminism as a man.  I’ve learned how to smile and talk about the Women’s Center to tired-out freshmen and their parents after a long day of orientation.  I’ve learned the best area shelters to refer women to when they call for help.  I’ve learned the ins and outs of pig ownership (you’ll have to talk to Ann about this one), and I’ve learned that I have quite a knack for making rocks out of Sculpey clay!

But most of all, I’ve learned that UMKC has one heck of an amazing Women’s Center!  I feel privileged to have been a part of it in some small way.  If you’ve never checked it out, then you need to make your way to Haag Hall, room 105, immediately!  The people who work here have been some of the friendliest, most accepting staff I’ve met on campus, and I can’t wait to stop in and visit them in the fall.  It truly has been one of the most rewarding jobs I’ve ever experienced.

But seasons do have a way of ending, and sadly my season as a Women’s Center work study student ends as well.  It has been an honor to be here, an honor to research and write these blogs posts, an honor to find different issues and articles to post on the Women’s Center Facebook and Twitter pages.  I am thankful for my time here, and I know that I leave a different person than I came.  This has been a truly incredible summer season, and the Women’s Center has meant so much more to me than I could have imagined.  Here’s to hoping that the next season in my life will be just as great!

Summer Intern Works for Equity in the Arts

By Maleigha Michael

Hi, my name is Maleigha Michael. I’m from Parkville, which is within Kansas City and only about half an hour away from UMKC. I have just finished my first actual year at the University of Missouri where I am planning to major in Art History and minor in German.

I chose to apply for this internship because I wanted to gain experience in the Art History field through the Her Art Project, and learn and promote women in the art industry. Through MU, I joined the sorority of Kappa Alpha Theta, the first Greek letter fraternity for women. Our focus is on empowering other women and encouraging them to take leadership positions within their community. Being exposed to so many leading women this past few semesters has lead me to want to influence positive change and progress for women.

I’m very excited to have the opportunity to work in the Women’s Center over this summer of 2018! I hope to create a more positive environment that pushes equality around UMKC, to learn about gender representation in the art world, and to gain skills that I will be able to take with me after this internship is over.