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

Welcoming New Student Assistant to Women’s Center

By Brittany Soto

Hi, I’m Brittany!

I’m currently in my senior year here at UMKC and I’m about to receive my undergraduate degree in Psychology with a minor in Sociology this spring. I transferred to UMKC from Johnson County Community College in the fall of 2016. I’ve heard nothing but good things about UMKC from people I know who have attended here, which is why I ultimately chose to transfer to UMKC to pursue my undergraduate degree. My interest in Psychology began as a teenager, at an age where topics such as peer pressure, bullying, and changes to the mind and body where often discussed. These topics not only sparked my interest in Psychology and Sociology, but also led me to develop a passion for wanting to help others and make a positive difference in the lives of others and/or become a part of an organization that contributes to making a positive difference. Growing up, my mother always taught me the importance of women’s rights, especially when it came to self-worth, respect, and equality. Having this instilled in me, I am honored to be a part of the UMKC Women’s Center and I hope to continue to learn and grow throughout my time here. I am also looking forward to seeing what I will get to experience while working here as well.


Healing Arts Workshop: Defining Boundaries

By Thea VoutiritsasHealing-Arts_Defining-Boundaries

We’re just one week away from our first Healing Arts Workshop! Join us on Wednesday, January 27th for art-making activities designed to transform and empower you. We will be in the Miller Nichols Learning Center Lobby, 800 East 51st St. from 11:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Women’s Center Welcomes New Staff Member!

By Torshawna Griffin

TorshawnaHi, my name is Torshawna Griffin. I am a second year student studying Mechanical Engineering. I chose UMKC because of the prestigious engineering community and the distance from home, not too far away but not too nearby.

I am happy to be working in the Women’s Center because I have watched so many women in my life go through various hardships. I feel that working in the Women’s Center will give me the resources and experience to be able to give advice to different women, both young and old.

This semester I hope to continue to fight for equal pay for women on Equal Pay Day, and to encourage everyone to love their body, big or small. By the end of the semester, I also hope to know and share more about what it means to be a woman in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field. So, come visit me in the Women’s Center!

New Women’s Center Student Assistant Wants to Make a Difference

mopaulllllHello! Howdy! Hey! Hi! My name’s Morgan Paul and I’m a new addition to the Women’s Center! I am a first year student at UMKC and I chose to come to here because I knew that it was a LGBT friendly campus and very innovative. I chose the Women’s Center for the same reason. I want to make my time here count,not only by being involved, but by really making a difference. I plan on majoring in psychology and minoring in women’s and gender studies, and would like to go on to get my master’s degree in queer theory/human sexuality. My final goals are to help queer youth and fight the inequities in this world. I am so excited to be able to attend and assist with all of the wonderful events that the Women’s Center has to offer and I hope to see you there!

Meet Anna-Maria: Her Art Project Intern

GE DIGITAL CAMERAHi! My name is Anna-Maria Kretzer, and I am a new intern here at the Women’s Center.  I am a graduate student studying art history with the intent of becoming a curator.  I will be helping with several arts related programs including the Plaza Art Fair, the Her Art Exhibit, and continuing work on the Women’s Equity Quilt Project.  The Her Art internship combines my two favorite subjects: art and feminism.  It is a really great opportunity to learn about organizing arts events, and I am really excited about the coming semester at the Women’s Center!

Women’s Center Hiring for Spring Semester Work-Study

Attention UMKC students! The Women’s Center has 2 work-study positions open this spring. If you have a passion for women’s advocacy and want to work with an awesome staff, please consider applying for these positions. We need your energy and enthusiasm to assist with events, the Her Art Project, public relations, violence prevention, and/or blogging and social networking. You MUST have a work-study award from Financial Aid to qualify. Click here to download an application. Contact Arzie Umali at 816-235-5577 or umalia@umkc.edu with questions or for more information.

She Said/He Said: The Modern Male Feminist

She Said:
by Patsy Campos

I have to admit that when I think of the term “feminist” I do not automatically think of men. However, I would love to see more men advocating for gender equality. Whenever a man says he is a feminist, he is rising from the crowd of timid men by supporting equality among males and females. Some men still cling to traditional gender roles, but I know that most men would support gender equality for everyone. At the Women’s Center, we have many male supporters who participate in our programs and it is truly amazing how much these men really want to help eradicate gender oppression. I admire men who advocate for gender equality, despite their male privilege. Many men I know realize that sexual assault is something that shouldn’t be taken lightly. The gender pay gap and the motherhood penalty are also important obstacles that men and women should work together to resolve. Instead of being judged by their gender, all people should be judged by their character or skills. That is why I like working at the Women’s Center because I learn about feminist ideas from diverse perspectives.  

He Said:
by Devon White

Let’s cut to the chase:
I’m black.
I’m a male.
I am a feminist.
I’m a male feminist!
Wait a minute—what the heck is a “male feminist”?

There has been a lot of debate about what it means to be a male feminist. Feminism is an organized movement that works to eliminate women’s oppression in social, economical and political positions. So, a male feminist is a self-identified man who supports these ideas and believes in equal rights for both sexes. A lot of people think that men have no role in feminism, but that couldn’t be further from the truth. According to Jane Pilcher and Imelda Whelehan, “This assumption that men, as part of the problem, should be part of the solution was a theme in early radical feminism, even though radical feminism is usually associated in the popular consciousness with separatism and man-hating1.” I feel that men must educate themselves on how their male privilege manifests itself in all ways of life, and the expectations they hold of the women in their life due to that privilege. We need to support and encourage men to respect feminist principles without making them feel emasculated for their advocacy of women’s rights.

Growing up in a predominantly female family, it felt natural for me to embrace womanism and feminism. I too experienced many of the struggles my grandmother, aunts, and cousins faced. Over time I came to understand that stopping the oppression of women is beneficial to everyone. We can’t progress as a society when we continue to marginalize on the basis of gender, race, or sexuality.  It takes effort to marginalize and oppress people; what if we used that effort instead to empower people, encouraging diverse ideas that will make our society better?

Like Patsy, I strongly believe in women’s equity and that “…all people should be judged by their character or skills,” regardless of their gender. In order to achieve gender equality, men should take accountability for our contribution to sexism and gender inequality. We have a tendency to blame the victim but if we want to solve issues such as domestic violence and the gender pay gap, men need to look within themselves and understand how they contribute to these problems. There is plenty of room at the table for anyone who wants to challenge the sexism, misogyny and patriarchal norms found among our communities and institutions. So, to my fellow male counterparts, I ask: What are you waiting for? Pull up a seat!
1Pilcher, Jane, and Imelda Whelehan. 50 Key Concepts in Gender Studies. London: Sage Publications, 2004. 50. Print.

Want to be a part of the UMKC Women's Center?

UMKC Women's Center Staff

The UMKC Women’s Center is beginning Volunteer Fridays this summer.  We need volunteers to help staff our front desk on Fridays from 9am to 3pm. There is no experience necessary, just a great attitude and enthusiasm for learning about women’s issues. If you are looking for a way to get involved with the Women’s Center or simply need to fulfill some volunteer requirements, this is your chance!

The Women’s Center is a great place to get involved. Here are some reasons why you should volunteer:

It’s THE place to learn about current women’s issues.

You can help make a difference in advancing women’s equity!

It is a way to get involved in your community and at UMKC.

It’s where the best conversations on campus take place!

You’ll be the first to hear about all of our upcoming events.

You’ll get to know our great staff.

It’s an easy way to get volunteer hours.

You never know who’s going to walk through the door…

It’s air conditioned!

There is an Einstein Bagel right down the hall!

What other place in KC can get 100 guys to walk a mile in high heels?

So, if you are interested in being a part of Volunteer Fridays, go to our website and download the volunteer application. Hope to see you soon!

So What If You Are A Man, You Are Still Important to the Women’s Center

“So why is there only a women’s center and not a men’s center?”

“How can a man benefit from a women’s center?”

These are just a couple questions the Women’s Center staff at UMKC receives from men who walk into our office.  We are constantly asked these questions because there seems to be a perception that men are not welcome in the Women’s Center or that the programs and services that we offer don’t have anything to do with them.   Could it be the name “Women’s Center” that deters men, or is it, perhaps, a certain chauvinism that makes men feel that they don’t need to be concerned about woman’s issues?

Here at the UMKC Women’s Center, our mission is to advocate, educate and provide support services for the advancement of women’s equity on campus and within the community at large. Although our primary concern focuses on women’s issues and the ongoing struggle for women’s equality, the center is also a place for advocacy, education, and support for both men and women who want to better understand gender issues.

Whether men know it or not, they can be a great asset to raising awareness for ongoing issues such as sexism, sexual assault, domestic violence, and other inequalities women endure on a daily basis.  Men too can have the power to help put an end to these issues. Besides being educated about issues like sexual assault, men can also take part in our events such as “Walk A Mile In Her Shoes”, or “Take Back the Night”, which are two of our events aimed at ending sexual and domestic violence.

So men, we do need your presence in the Women’s Center.  Women’s issues do impact you.  Think about it this way when you are questioning the importance of such a place to you: any of these issues like dating violence, could affect your spouse, girlfriend, mother, sister, niece, aunt, or cousin whom you love.  Each and every day these women you care about are struggling to make their presence more prevalent in society, to gain equality, and to feel safe.  With your help and your knowledge, there is another voice that has to be heard, and not just any voice, but the voice of a man who agrees with women’s issues and women’s equality.  If men continue to ignore such problems, then women will continue to face tribulations and endure not being heard by society.  Men, we need you to continue to raise more awareness about women’s issues. After all, women will always be a part of your life.