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

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.

“Having Daughters is my Punishment..”

By Caitlin Easter

There is a huge discrepancy in our society between the way men and
women are expected to interact with members of the opposite gender. Society
tells us the “correct” way to behave with relational partners, but it is a very
gendered divide in how we understand and view the situations when people
don’t follow these guidelines. Our world is a lot more willing to forgive a man
who mistreats a romantic partner than a woman who should know better than to
treat a romantic partner poorly. It is almost expected of males to behave this way,
and no one blinks when men are accused of these fallacies.

I have often heard from parents in one variation or another “having girls is
my punishment for the way I treated girls when I was younger.” I have, however,
never heard the direct inverse of this statement. Women are expected to know
how to treat men even before they have sons, but society labels it acceptable for
men to have their learning curve so late in life. Given these—clearly—different
approaches to judging the outcome of a situation, why is it so hard for our society
to believe that we are not holding boys to the same standard as girls? Why is it so
hard to believe that we are raising the men in our society wrong, when even they
are haunted by the possibility of their younger selves’ behavior being directed
towards their daughters?

Holding boys to a higher standard for the treatment of others at a young
age will stop the perpetuation of this harmful cycle and help to teach boys to
treat women not just how they want their daughters to be treated in hindsight,
but also how they expect themselves to be treated.

Women’s History Month Trivia

by Thea Voutiritsas

This woman is a former stewardess and union leader who led a landmark sex discrimination case in the airline industry.

Answer: Barbara “Dusty” Roads

image via pbs.org

Barbara “Dusty” Roads is a former stewardess and union leader who led a landmark sex discrimination case in the airline industry. From a young age, she loved aviation, but gave up on that dream in her teens when her father told her, “You can’t be an airline pilot darling, they don’t hire ladies.” She thought becoming a flight attendant would be the next best thing. However, she claims it was not a career at the time; it was more of a transition between graduating college and finding “Mr. Right.” Roads wasn’t much interested in finding a Mr. Right, and preferred to stay with the airline.

When airlines began imposing age limits on flight stewardesses and forcing women out at age 32, she became frustrated. In an interview with PBS, Roads said,

It made me angry, it really did. It violated my sense of fair play. The pilots could work until age 60 and we were fired at age 32. Something was wrong there. It just violated my midwestern core value of fair play.”

“[These rules] were in place when I joined the airline in 1950. And it was a real strange thing, but we accepted the fact that we were fired when we got married. They expected women to get fat and ugly when they got married and had babies. They felt you wouldn’t devote as much attention to the job as you should. Pilots – men — could be married, but it was different for a woman.”

The airlines wanted to sell the image of a young, single girl that would appeal to male passengers. However, Roads wasn’t buying it. She became a union officer in LA, then a national officer, and soon wanted to become an advocate for all flight attendants. “Finally,” she said, “I was interested in all women. And now I’m interested in humanity.”  In July 1965, Roads and her fellow stewardesses were at the doorstep of the Equal Opportunities Employment Commission (EEOC). By 1968, the EEOC issued a ruling prohibiting age ceilings or marriage bans in the airline industry.

Lactation Spaces Available on UMKC Campus

At UMKC, private spaces are available for nursing mothers on campus who need to breast pump or nurse their babies.

While some women prefer to nurse their babies in a private, quiet, distraction-free environment, it is important to stress that this is a choice, not a requirement. Missouri law (R.S.Mo.191.198) gives a woman the legal right to nurse her baby in public. Please visit the Breastfeeding Law website for specific, detailed information.

Lactation Spaces are available at the following locations:lactationroom

Women’s Center – 105 Haag Hall; 5120 Rockhill Road.  Available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Student Success Center – Room 114; 5000 Holmes. Available Monday – Friday, 7 a.m. – 8 p.m. *A key may be checked out during these hours from the Student Success Center operations office, room 149.

Health Sciences Building – First floor, room 1305; 2464 Charlotte Street. Available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Dental School – Room 420B; 650 East 25th Street. Available Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m.

UMKC School of Medicine – Room M2-309; 2411 Holmes. Available during building hours. *Door code may be obtained from the GME office Monday – Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.

Japan’s Defense ministry adds “women friendly” projects to the 2015 budget

By Thea Voutiritsas

Reuters/Toru Hanai

Reuters/Toru Hanai

As Japan’s total population declines, Self-Defense Forces has geared up to recruit more women. They have dedicated a portion of their 2015 budget to female-friendly programs, including building and improving daycare facilities on SDF premises, eliminating conventional mindsets about gender roles in the workplace, adding maternity dresses to the selection of military uniforms, and refurbishing the women’s bathing facilities. The SDF aims to create a family-friendly atmosphere that does not pressure women and families to leave after becoming pregnant. These efforts will hopefully increase the number of women in the Japanese military from the previous 5.6% recorded in 2013. For more information, visit qz.com.

Mind the Gap

By: Amanda Johnson

Since the early 2000’s, many states have been chipping away at the right of choice, creating almost an “underground railroad,”

More abortion restrictions have been passed in the last three years than in the last decade, according to a new report by the Guttmacher Institute, a reproductive health research organization.

From 2011 to 2013, a total of 205 abortion restrictions were enacted in the United States. By comparison, only 189 state abortion restrictions went into effect between 2001 and 2010. The report found that now 27 states are “hostile” to abortion, meaning that they have at least four kinds of major restrictions to legal abortion.

About half of the new abortion restrictions enacted in the last three years fall into four categories: targeted restrictions on abortion providers (TRAP), restrictions on abortion coverage in health insurance plans, bans on abortions at 20 weeks of pregnancy and limitations on medication abortion. States also passed mandatory ultrasound requirements, mandatory waiting periods before abortions, parental consent laws and requirements that abortion providers have admitting privileges at nearby hospitals.

The recent laws create severe burdens on the ability of clinics to keep their doors open. As of this past August, at least 54 abortion clinics have closed or stopped offering the procedure across the country since 2010 according to The Huffington Post’s nationwide survey of state health departments, abortion clinics and local abortion-focused advocacy groups.

This is widening the already existing gap for low-income women trying to legally access the procedure. 1/3 of women seeking abortion services must travel more than 25 miles. Additionally, abortion can cost as much as one month’s rent. Maybe more. New hurdles such as mandatory waiting periods and additional (and unnecessary) medical procedures pile on more costs for women who already face economic challenges. Now, a “medical abortion,” which requires two doses of a pill, requires a second appointment to be able to take the second pill when in the past women were allowed to do this at home. Abortions, a safe a simple medical procedure, can now require up to four separate appointments. This costs more time and money for individuals, who are unlikely to be able to afford it.

Fortunately for many individuals, volunteers and nonprofit organizations are stepping in to help overcome these new hurdles. In some cases, this involves giving women rides to clinics or putting them in hotels for the duration of their appointments. Unfortunately, more hurdles are yet to come. These newest restrictions are just the tip of the iceberg on a broader assault on a woman’s right to choose. It will take the help of more volunteers to ensure that women still have access to a right protected by the 14th amendment.

See how you can help by checking out these links:

http://www.fundabortionnow.org/funds/ACCESS-WHJ

https://www.prochoice.org/get_involved/volunteer_opportunities.html

 

Saudi Arabian Women Are Given the Right to Vote

By Bonnie Messbarger

This weekend King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia announced that he was going to grant women the right to vote and run in future elections. This is a major win in the fight for women’s rights in Saudi Arabia. The New York Times calls it, “the biggest change in a decade for women.” The last big change being a woman’s right to obtain her own national identification card back in 2001.

However, even with these new developments, Saudi women are still not allowed to go into public without a male chaperone (which is usually a male relative), they are not allowed to drive, and men generally prevent them from participating in any legal activities. Along with social acceptance, these things would still hinder women from being able to vote or run for election. Just as in the 1960’s when public education for women was introduced; it took years for it to be acceptable among the Saudi people.

So, how much is granting them the right to vote actually going to change when they are still under complete public control of men? If your husband, brother, or father refuse to take you to vote, or run for election, how are you to accomplish this on your own? While the right to vote, and run for election is a huge step in the right direction, there is still so much to do. We need more rights granted to these women. Something as simple as being able to drive a car, or go into public alone, which we in America take for granted so often, could be a huge turning point for these women in their journey for equality.

While the bigger picture looks a little bleak, the women of Saudi Arabia appear to be hopeful. The New York Times said, “Despite the snail’s pace of change, women on Sunday were optimistic that the right to vote and run would give them leverage to change the measures, big and small, that hem them in.”

We wish for more change to come sooner rather than later for these women. We will continue to root for you overseas!