One Hundred…Tampons in Space

By Morgan Clark

I recently saw a TikTok that made me laugh, but was actually kind of disappointing. In this TikTok the creator made fun of NASA for sending one of their female astronauts into space with 100 tampons… for just a single week!! Yup…100 hundred tampons. I could not help but laugh at that. NASA–a company that takes pride in having intelligent scientists and making ground breaking, world changing discoveries–sent this woman with a surplus of tampons for only a week. I had to look further into this.

In 1983 America sent up their first female astronaut, Sally Ride. This was a huge deal because many NASA scientists did not believe women were suited to be astronauts. Prior to Ride, there were requirements that specifically excluded women from becoming astronauts. These requirements included things like: having an engineering degree and graduating from jet pilot programs, which, during that time, the military did not allow women to do. This meant that by default, in order to be an astronaut, you had to be a man. This was challenged in the 1960’s by the Woman in Space Program, a privately funded project founded by two scientists who believed women were a better fit for space because they were able to fit more comfortably in the small, cramped spacecraft. Soon this project was turned into a program that resulted in 13 trained women who passed NASA’s selection test. Unfortunately, the program was abruptly canceled in 1962 which stopped the 13 qualified women from actually becoming astronauts.

It was in 1978 when Sally Ride and five other women were chosen to join NASA’s class of ’78. (After the suspicious shutdown program in 1962). Although Ride and her other female classmates were officially invited by NASA to take part in the program and go to space, they were met with some hesitation from the older astronauts. Being the first time that many of them had female co-workers it’s not all that hard to imagine why the men would be a bit put off. The new girls on the scene made it work though, and those like Sally Ride, pushed right on through to the top.

Ride was deployed to space with four crewmembers in June of 1983 on the Space Shuttle Challenger on mission STS-7. It was during this launch that NASA recommend sending 100 tampons with her for the week-long journey, and it they weren’t joking. When Ride was interviewed after her voyage she was mainly asked about the make-up she took into space with her. “Everybody wanted to know about what kind of makeup I was taking up. They didn’t care about how well-prepared I was to operate the arm or deploy communications satellites.” Sally stated in her 1983 interview with Gloria Steinem. Although Ride faced many obstacles regarding her sex, she went on to become a well-known astronaut. Not only for being the first American woman in space, but also by assisting in the investigations of the Columbia and the Challenger shuttle disasters. She also aided NASA in strategic planning and continued to do so until she retired. After which she became a physics professor and author. Ride passed away in 2012 leaving behind a legacy that is still inspiring young women everywhere.

Looking Deeper at Our Phenomenal Feminist: Betty Dodson

By Morgan Clark

When you hear the phrase “sex-positive” do you ever think of who coined the phrase? I know I haven’t. Not until one of my team members sent me her pick for our social media campaign Phenomenal Feminist Friday. Betty Dodson was a pioneer of her time, a feminist who was a sexologist that taught women (and men) the worth of self-pleasure, as well as to embrace sex as something that is natural and healing.

Betty first started as an artist at the Art Students League of New York. There, Dodson was making erotic paintings and freelancing as an illustrator for lingerie ads. She then married an advertising executive but was soon divorced because she did not believe they were sexually compatible. At that time her artwork was not doing well in the industry. That’s when she began hosting workshops for women where she showed and told them how to please oneself.

BodySex was the name of the workshops she hosted. In these workshops’ women learned that vaginas came in different sizes, shapes and colors. Dodson believed that teaching women about their bodies, and how to navigate them, was her form of activism. Dodson said “If women could learn to pleasure themselves properly, they could end their sexual dependence on men, which would make everybody happy.”(New York Times, 2020). During this time Betty was vilified by conservative feminists. When teaching a class in Syracuse she was greeted with hissing after showing big displays of the vagina. But she continued to teach women about their bodies for several years.

In 1987 she published “Sex for One: The Joy of Self-Loving” which eventually became a best seller and was translated into 25 different languages. In this book she speaks about masturbation and how women should learn to view it. That it is a way to love oneself and a possible a way to heal oneself. She also writes in the book about techniques for masturbation using the instructions that she usually used in her workshops. Betty passed on Halloween this year but her works still continue to empower and educate women. BodySex will continue to be hosted several times a year via Zoom by Betty’s work partner Carlin.

Reading about Betty I know that she was very important during those times. To be that sexually liberated and free at those times took courage. I know that women were not as open about sex back in the day. Not knowing about orgasm and even about their own vaginas. I am glad that Betty was able to teach women that it’s okay to learn your own body. I think me and Betty would agree that self-pleasure should not be shameful but embraced, everyone should know what pleases them, even and especially sexually.

It’s a Celebration!

By Morgan Clark

November 7th, 2020 was an historic day for many people, including me. It was the day that a woman, a BLACK woman, was elected as the next Vice President of The United States. Kamala Harris has made history, not only by being a woman in the office, but being a woman of color elected by America. That statement alone feels so powerful to me. When I sat down and analyzed her win and what it means, it moved me to tears. America has not always been kind to people who look like Kamala Harris or who are darker than she is. Just a few months ago we were in the streets protesting to arrest the police officers who murdered Breonna Taylor, which is not the first unarmed black woman who has been killed by the police. During slavery, we were not even considered humans. We were forced to breed children instead of creating them. Children were taken from mothers and mothers were forced to breastfeed children that weren’t theirs. After emancipation, slaves were considered freed, but still faced oppression. During the 1800s women were not even able to vote. Many women fought against that law until the 19th amendment was passed. Women were able to vote, they just had to be white. Even during the fight for women’s rights Black women were over looked. It wasn’t until the Voting Rights Act was passed in the 60s that Black women were able to vote. This was also the time of the Civil Rights Movement. African Americans were advocating for the end of Jim Crow laws and equality. When it came to the important decisions the Black women were pushed aside, even though they were putting in as much work as their male counter-part. Even those in our communities have pushed us aside and tried to silence us. And although America has made progress in treating Black women better there is still a lot of work to be done.

So, you can see why having a Black woman in the Office moves a Black woman like me to tears. America has always tried to put women in a corner. Overlooking and overshadowing us, especially those of us with color. We are told that we are not capable of leadership roles because we are too emotional. And when they are in leadership positions, some play safe so they won’t come off as a b*tch. For black women, we are considered angry when we speak up in the work field. We must be the best versions of ourselves and live up to other people’s standards to get some of the same opportunities that those more privileged and sometimes even less qualified than us get handed. And that’s exactly what Kamala Harris did. She fought and worked hard and got all the way to the top. Her becoming the first Black Vice President in America sends a message to others out there. It tells young women that there is room for us at the table. It tells young Black girls that they are worthy and capable, no matter what she looks like. It tells me that there is some hope in America and the progression we have made over the past few years. Today I celebrate all Black women in America and let them know that I do see you.

Looking Deeper at our Phenomenal Feminist: Mindy Kaling

By Morgan Clark

Mindy Kaling is a 41-year-old American actress, best known from the very popular TV show The Office. In the show she plays Kelly, a boy crazy, airhead, customer service representative. Kaling was born Vera Mindy Chokalingam, and she has made her way up in Hollywood in her own way without and despite not sticking to society’s standard. Kaling is the daughter of two Indian immigrants who met in Nigeria and moved to the United States in 1979. She grew up watching sketch comedy television which helped develop her humor. Shows like “Living Color” and “Saturday Night Live” were some of her biggest influences.

In 2001 Kaling graduated from Dartmouth College with a B.A. in theatre. After graduating she moved to Brooklyn, there she shared an apartment with a woman named Brenda Wither. Together they created a satire named “Matt &Ben”, which went on to win the best overall production at New York International Fringe Festival in 2002. Their play had two years of success in Los Angeles, and it was Kaling’s door to The Office. The producer of the show Greg Daniel recruited her to help write for the show when it began and from there she ended up playing Kelly from 2005-2013. She also directed many episodes and became executive producer of The Office after many years. She did eventually leave the show that brought her up into the Hollywood scene, when she did she went on to become the first Indian American woman to ever write and star in her own show when she wrote and produced The Mindy Project, a show, in which she stars, about a doctor who is obsessed with finding a man. The show was on for five years before ending in 2017.


Throughout her career Kaling has spoken out about feminism and women’s right. She’s stated that The Mindy Project is “unconsciously feminist” because she is a feminist. (The character is loosely based on her). Even when it came to hiring she made sure to keep her staff diverse with a talented group of women. She has spoken out about her opinions regarding Hollywood and feminism, including how she feels women should not be applauded for doing their job in Hollywood because it should already be expected. Her platform just continues to grow, as she has gone on to be in many movies such as Ocean 8, Late Night, and A Wrinkle in Time. And now she has written two books which detail her own life, and in doing so empower women to be strong and, most importantly, to be themselves. She has and will continue to speak up for women’s rights, especially within the entertainment industry.

It’s Okay Not to be Okay Right Now.

By Mia Lukic

A global pandemic. Nationwide protests. An election. The everyday, mundane life annoyances. It is no surprise that most people are on edge and struggling right now. When will the pandemic end? When will we see our families and do the things we like again? Who will be the next president of the United States? Will we know immediately or will this take days, weeks, months? How will the choice impact my rights? The safety of our friends and families? The state of our environment?

A study conducted by CARAVAN and The Maple Counseling Center reported that 52% of people reported that their mental health has been negatively impacted by the 2020 presidential election. 64% when it comes to Gen Z and 57% when it comes to Millennials (healthline).

Not only that, but the Pandemic has been detrimental to mental health as well. A Total Brain survey announced today that 83% of women and 36% of men had experienced an increase in depressed moods. 53% of working women and 29% of men have experienced an increase in anxiety since February. The effects have been disastrous for everyone, including and especially women.

The CDC reports:

“Stress during an infectious disease outbreak can sometimes cause the following:

  • Fear and worry about your own health and the health of your loved ones, your financial situation or job, or loss of support services you rely on.
  • Changes in sleep or eating patterns.
  • Difficulty sleeping or concentrating.
  • Worsening of chronic health problems.
  • Worsening of mental health conditions.
  • Increased use of tobacco, and/or alcohol and other substances.”

So what do we do when we feel like everything is awful and there’s little we can do?

Remember to put yourself first. Your mental health is important and self care is mandatory. Despite the world not pausing and deadlines and due dates persisting, find time to do what makes your heart happy. Go outside, draw, read, watch a show. Many websites suggest a social media cleanse or limiting news/politics.

Hopefully you can find time to pause and take care of yourself, and remember that you’re not alone in feeling this way. It is expected and okay to be frazzled, anxious, angry, or however else you are feeling. There are so many people that care and want to be with you through all of this. The UMKC Counseling Center has great resources and opportunities to speak with professionals, and know that 105 Haag Hall always has a listening ear and a helping hand.

 

Women Who Lead: Activism Through an Intersectional Lens – Panelist Mahreen Ansari

By Mia Lukic

Tune into the “Women Who Lead” Panel Discussion for an invigorating conversation with a panel of diverse group of local women leaders, Thursday November 5, 2020 6:00 – 7:30 pm

Use the link below to register

https://bit.ly/37Q8EMi

As the event gets closer, and even as the event passes we would like to highlight our panelist for their extraoridnary work in our community, and for their extraordinary work in this event! The first panelist we would like to highlight is Mahreen Ansari, a junior at UMKC pursuing her undergraduate degree. Mahreen is studying Political Science and International Studies with a Pre-Law emphasis. Vice President of both the Student Government Association and UMKC’s College Democrats chapter, Mahreen is passionate about climate justice and is a community organizer with Sunrise Movement Kansas City. Through her climate justice work with Sunrise Movement Kansas City, she hopes to create space within environmentalism for BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, People of Color) and other traditionally excluded groups. We had a chance to sit down with Mahreen one on one and ask her some more in-depth questions about her work in the community. The following is that interview!

 

What motivates you to keep working towards justice in a time where the country is so divided, and many people choose to reject the realities of social issues and/or scientific fact?

For a long time, I always felt like “well someone has to do the work!” But with a global pandemic and the beginning of the uprisings this summer, I have felt so burnt out because I just have been doing and feeling a lot. So, I have shifted my thought process to “someone has to start it” and I’ve just been rolling with that. I feel like with that thought process it’s easier to recognize that work must be done and it’s important that all of us find ways to contribute to this rather than just taking it all on by ourselves. Being a part of different organizations that are dedicated to different aspects of the fight for social justice as well as having friends who are as committed to this fight as much as I am helps so much because you don’t feel alone. It’s important to recognize the importance in the work you do and having a support system for yourself. I know that, for many of us, we are living in shocking times where it feels like it can’t get any worse, but honestly, the people who came before us have survived this, and worse, and that resilience is something that we have inherited from our predecessors. I always try to think of my support system, my work, and my ancestors to keep myself motivated. I do want to remind everyone though that rest is necessary, and you shouldn’t feel ashamed for taking time for yourself.

How does your intersectional identity as a woman impact your outlook on the world and certain issues?

My femme identity gives me a broader outlook on the world, in the sense that I’m marginalized for it so it pushes me to want to build coalitions with people who are marginalized in the same or similar ways. It reminds me that all of these struggles are interconnected, and that the fight for social justice can only truly be won if we all work together. I also understand the how, where, and why women and femmes are marginalized in the ways we are because of that firsthand marginalization I experience from this identity, which helps me better recognize ways to battle it and advocate on my behalf.

What would you say to young female leaders who are just starting on their path to leadership?

I would encourage young women and femmes who are just starting on their path to leadership to stay true to who they are. We exist in a world where we’re encouraged to dilute our beliefs or practices to be more digestible for people, but that’s not why you exist. You should never have to dress a certain way to be taken seriously, or sound more polite when you speak so that people listen. We need to create and work on the world we want and that doesn’t happen through compromising who we are. Don’t be afraid to take up space in places dominated by men or masculine people because you have just as much, if not more, of a right to exist in those spaces. If you are criticized for how you react or interact within those male or masculine dominated spaces don’t let it phase you because the “criticism” that you’re facing has a large chance of being based off of negative biases.

Are there any programs/projects you are currently working on that you would like to mention?

I have two things I want to shout out. First, in my work as Vice President of Student Government Association at UMKC I have been working with the Office of Student Involvement and the Collegiate Panhellenic Council to bring in an outside organization to put together a workshop based around diversity and inclusion for students. It’ll give students the opportunity to engage in real introspection and critical reflection and explore the fluidity and ubiquity of race in American society. I’m so excited for this and I want to encourage all students to RSVP for it, the event is on RooGroups under “2020 Inclusive Student Leadership Retreat”. Second, I want to shoutout Sunrise Movement Kansas City, the climate justice organization that I organize with, for the amazing work they do. We’ve been working on pushing City Hall to pass a Green New Deal resolution for Kansas City that will not only push Kansas City to be a greener city but also to make sure that in that transition everyone in Kansas City is being accounted for and taken care of in it. I do a lot of the digital graphics for Sunrise Movement Kansas City which has pushed me to start my own series which explores a lot of race-related history and issues of Kansas City.

Where can people go to learn more about the work you do?

If you’re interested in joining or finding out more about Sunrise Movement Kansas City, you can check out our social media, all of our handles are @sunrisemvmtkc. If you’re interested in checking out the graphics I made about race-related history and issues in Kansas City, you can check out my personal Instagram @exotik.queen where I post my content.

 

Be sure to register to see Mahreen in the Women Who Lead Panel and keep checking in to learn about the other panelists!

Seven Masks, Seven Matches

 

By Morgan Clark

It was in 2018 when she made a big upset, beating one the greatest athletes of all the time at the age of 20. Winning the Grand Slam as the first Japanese tennis player for both men and women. Naomi Osaka, a Haitian -Japanese tennis player, has made quite a stir in the tennis community. Many did not expect her to beat Serena Williams in the first place, but absolutely no one expected the controversy that would follow Osaka’s win. During the match Serena was penalized three times, and some believe that the referee robbed her of a win. But those who watched the game know that Naomi earned that win.

Two years later the 22-year old tennis player is in the headlines again, causing another upset. But this time it’s in her activism. Because of COVID, Naomi had time to herself for the first time since her career took off. She decided to fly down to Michigan to partake in the Black Lives matter protests. Along with her boyfriend, Osaka protested police brutality disproportionately effecting people of color. Since then, Naomi has taken her activism to the US Open. During each game she wore a different mask that stated a name of an African-American who has been killed by the police. Their names were: Breonna Taylor, Elijah McClain, Ahmaud Arbery, Trayvon Martin, George Floyd, Philando Castile and Tamir Rice. Seven masks for seven games. Not only did she bring awareness to others about the racial injustice that is going on in America, she won the US Open. And although what she has done is truly brave, there are those who believe she should have kept the “politics out of sports”. In response to that Osaka tweeted “All the people that were telling me to “keep politics out of sports”, (which it wasn’t political at all), really insured me to win. You better believe I’m gonna try to be on your tv for as long as possible.” (Twitter 2020). As a young athlete it was not expected for her to win the US Open. Not only did she win the US Open twice she did this while spreading awareness on a mainly white platform. Fearless is what Naomi is, on and off the court. We can’t wait to see what the future will hold for her.

You Need To Watch “I Am Evidence”

By Ann Varner

HBO premiered a documentary called “I Am Evidence” on April 16. The documentary follows four sexual assault survivors and how they go through the criminal justice system. The documentary exposes the detrimental backlog of untested rape kits and the way sexual assault cases are handled by police departments. Mariska Hargitay produced this documentary. You may know her from the show “Law and Order: Special Victims Unit” where she is a lieutenant. Not only does her character play an advocate for survivors but she does the same in real life. The documentary aims to tell survivors that they have a voice and have not been forgotten.

Upcoming Event: Feminist Film Friday

By Megan Schwindler

The Event

End your week watching a movie and enjoying some free pizza and snacks with the staff at the Women’s Center. The event will be held on Friday, March 9 from 12-2 p.m. at the UMKC Women’s Center, 105 Haag Hall.

Make sure to RSVP to womens-center@umkc.edu or 816-235-1638 by March 7.

About Battle of the Sexes

After the sexual revolution and rise of the women’s movement, the 1973 tennis match between Billie Jean King and Bobby Riggs was coined, “Battle of the Sexes” and “became one of the most televised sports events of all time, reaching 90 million viewers around the world.”

“As the rivalry between King and Riggs kicked into high gear, off-court each was fighting more personal and complex battles.  The fiercely private King was not only championing for equality, but also struggling to come to terms with her own sexuality, as her friendship with Marilyn Barnett developed.  And Riggs, one of the first self-made media-age celebrities, wrestled with his gambling demons, at the expense of his family and wife Priscilla. Together, Billie and Bobby served up a cultural spectacle that resonated far beyond the tennis court, sparking discussions in bedrooms and boardrooms that continue to reverberate today.” You can follow this link to watch the trailer.

This movie shows that equality can only be achieved by men and women working together. It also serves as a reminder that feminism is not about beating or hating men, it’s about having the same opportunities and respect as men. As Billie Jean King put it, “That’s the way I want the world to look: men and women working together, championing each other, helping each other, promoting each other—we’re all in this world together.” After retiring in 1990, she was named to the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1987, and served as captain of the U.S. Olypmic team at the 1996 and 2000 Summer Olympics. She also earned the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2009.

Wonder Women: SHEroes, Freedom Fighters, and Women Who Kick Butt!

By Arzie Umali

untitledCurrently on display at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center is the exhibit Wonder Women: SHEroes, Freedom Fighters, and Women Who Kick Butt! Despite its title, the exhibit is not about comic books or video games. Nor does it feature provocatively posed damsels wielding weapons. This Wonder Women exhibit is about real life women who are superheroines of our art community doing what they do best: seeking truth and justice through the work that they create, driven by their passions and their creative spirit.

The Superheroines of this exhibit are local artists Michelle Beasley, Nedra Bonds, Nicole Emanuel, Ritchie Kaye, Eugenia Ortiz, and Sonie Ruffin. Each of the artists in this exhibit on her own is a wonder woman. They are activists, advocates, and change makers in the community who create art and imagery that evoke the strength, courage, and resilience of the empowered woman. Michelle Beasley’s works are each autobiographical, revealing her multifaceted life and a reality shared by so many women. Nedra Bonds’ textiles are portraits and portrayals of women past and present who represent the diverse history and struggles of women. Nicole Emanuel’s works take opposing views of wonder women: the superficial, fictionalized women depicted in her comic- book- covered, six-foot “Wonder Bra” versus the more natural, realist rendering of two women posed on opposite end of a large canvas. Ritchie Kaye’s larger than life photo of four properly posed women invites us to wonder about the varied lives of women, where what one see’s on the surface may not always be what rests below the surface.  Eugenia Ortiz’s works in sculpture and on canvas are rich with color and heavy with texture evoking the emotions of conflict, healing, and transformation. And Sonie Ruffin’s textiles tell stories of the African American experience and remind us of the multicultural world we live in and a past we shouldn’t forget.

Together the works in this exhibit create a conversation about women. The viewer is asked to join the conversation and consider the unique and diverse lives of all women, the experiences that they have, and the actions that they take that make them true wonder women.

A reception will be held at the Leedy-Voulkos Art Center on First Friday, March 7, 4:30 – 6:00 p.m. and will include a brief talk by each artists. The reception is free and open to all; however, registration is requested at https://wonderwomenartistreception.eventbrite.com. Wonder Women is sponsored by the UMKC Women’s Center’s Her Art Project. The mission of the project is to support the creative achievements of local women artists and advance gender equity in the arts. To learn more about the Her Art Project please visit www.umkc.edu/womenc/herart or like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/herartproject.