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'Legitimate rape' lives on in Missouri: Rep. Rick Brattin wants proof before a rape victim can get an abortion

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Two years after Todd Akin sunk his candidacy for the U.S. Senate with his infamous "legitimate rape" utterance, the term still isn't a bad word in Missouri, at least as far as one lawmaker in the Show-Me State is concerned.

Rep. Rick Brattin, a Harrisonville Republican, wants to make sure women get permission from the father in order to proceed with an abortion. He pre-filed a bill in the Missouri House to pursue that goal when the legislature convenes in January. 

But what if a woman becomes pregnant after she was raped?…

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The Complex Phenomenon Of Being A Kansan Or Missourian In Kansas City

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The Kansas City metropolitan area is almost equally divided geographically and population-wise between two states —Missouri and Kansas.

But how does this state-divide define us as individuals within the community?

The house I grew up in is a block and a half away from State Line Road on the Missouri side, about a five-minute walk. And I’ll admit, I have strong "KCMO" pride (even though I’m a big University of Kansas fan). And when I’m in other cities I’m quick to correct people who misidentify me as a Kansan.

“No, no, I’m from Kansas City, Missouri,” I say.

But what’s that about? I mean, it seems so complicated. And I’m not trying to get into the history of the Civil War. I’m just trying to look at this question as it is today. It seems like a lot of people around here all have their own ways of identifying within this unique local dichotomy — a city straddling two states.

We put out an inquiry through our source network, TellKC, to address this question. We asked people how the state line impacts their identity.

Here’s what we heard back.

Terry Blastenbrei is from St. Louis Mo., originally. He’s a big University of Missouri fan, and a proud Missourian. He moved to south Kansas City, and then to Olathe, Kan., when he got married. Now he works for the University of Kansas, he wears his MU shirt at least once a week to work.

“People just get really over the top,” he says about the MU-KU sports rivalry. “Like when I first moved here I was like, 'Woah! You guys are a little too intense for me.'”

Blastenbrei admits that a lot of the sports conflict in the metro is all in good fun. And he’s proud of Kansas City, but sometimes people stereotype him if he tells people he lives in Olathe.

“People are like 'Oh, suburbia cookie cutter homes,' that sort of thing,” Blastenbrei says. And he thinks this stereotype isn’t fair.

“I think there is a lot of really great stuff in the metro. Not just in the city of Kansas City but of course Independence, and Olathe, Shawnee and Mission.”

Tim Kramps is a Kansan who grew up in Johnson County, Kan., in a family of farmers. Now, he lives in Missouri. He says he’s proud to be a Kansan, but that there’s a perception in the metro that if you’re from Johnson County, you’re a spoiled rich kid.

“I definitely did not come from money,” says Kramps. “Since I moved to Missouri, I’m more concerned about not feeding the state line divide. I tell people constantly, 'we’re one city,'” he says.

Robert Marin’s apartment is in the heart of downtown Kansas City, Mo., with a perfect view of the skyline. But his roots are in the Argentine neighborhood in Wyandotte County.

“I’ve got friends who since 16 years old have W’s on their arms tattooed — Wyandotte county, you know, Argentine, Armourdale, Central, Northside, Southside,” says Marin.

The Argentine was an area that attracted Mexican silver workers, mostly from the same state in Mexico, one hundred years ago.  

“So basically what you have in my neighborhood is third, fourth, fifth generation people, so everybody knows everybody,” says Marin.

He’s proud of his family’s history in Wyandotte County, and of Kansas, but he also sees this all as one city. And right now he prefers to live in downtown Jackson County.

The psychology of it all

I get where Robert Marin’s coming from. Honestly, I don’t want to live in Kansas, and there are a lot of people in Kansas who would never live in Missouri. We heard that a lot in response to the inquiry. We also heard complaints about taxes, schools, politics and praise for their agricultural roots, the abundance of culture and the sense of community. And, these are all things that could really be said about both states.

Psychologist Kym Bennett says to try and look at the state line situation how an alien in outer space might look down at us. We have a lot more in common as a region than people might be willing to admit.

“You know if you were looking down from above, Metcalf doesn’t look any different. Nor does Wornall on the Missouri side- so it’s interesting that we have this dividing line that’s really artificial,” she says.

Bennett says we’re all trying to create an identity, and the sources from which you draw to create that identity are going to differ by person.

“Some people will draw heavily from their geographic origins, others may look at cultural origins or ethnic origins more so,” says Bennett.

She says we create ‘in-groups’ and ‘out groups’ all the time. Most often without even being conscious of it. We tend to draw upon things that are salient to us — like where we’re from — to feel good about ourselves and feel connections with others.

“You have an in-group for your political identity, your school, your neighborhood, your race,” says Bennett.

This is normal behavior, she says, and you can reside in more than one ‘in group’ at any given time, which can be good for your mental and physical health. But it does have its negative aspects too. Like when you assume everybody in the outgroup is the same and create stereotypes. It’s also hard because things change — places, perceptions and ourselves.

“I really consider myself a Midwesterner now. Much more than I think I thought I would have,” says Bennett who is originally from Southern California. She’s been living in Overland Park, Kan., the past six years.

“If you see your kids living in an area, or born in an area, it maybe transforms how you see that area,” she says. “I’m going through that now. I have two kids, and you know, they’re from Kansas.”

Bennett says it’s fascinating how quickly a group of people identify their various in and out groups. And an example she gave, and one a lot of other people brought up in our inquiry, is how the region responded during the Royals post-season.

“That was something that unified us, as opposed to the state line that divides us,” says Bennett. “But isn’t it interesting how the out group shifted. It shifted from I’m a Kansan, and I’m a Missourian to, I’m a Royals Fan and not a San Francisco Giants fan.”

Here’s the thing: About two million people live in the Kansas City metro. The area encompasses two states, nine counties, about 120 different smaller cities, tons of historic and new neighborhoods. There are so many different ethnic groups, cultures, sub-cultures, languages and even some Giants fans.

And the thing is, everybody has their own story and identity. It’ just so personal.

And those diverse facets and complexities are actually a part of what connects us all in some way as Kansas Citians.

This story is part of KCUR's examination of how geographic borders affect our daily lives in Kansas City. KCUR will go Beyond Our Borders  and spark a community conversation through social outreach and innovative journalism.

We will share the history of these lines, how the borders affect the current Kansas City experience and what’s being done to bridge or dissolve them. Be a source for Beyond Our Borders: Share your perspective and experiences on the state line with KCUR.

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How To Talk to our Daughters about Women in Refrigerators

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A few months ago, I was driving my almost-eleven-year-old niece to a family wedding. As she reveled in finally being tall enough to sit in the passenger seat and have a grown-up conversation with her aunt, we chatted about school and sports and the My Cat From Hell marathon we’d left behind at the hotel. Then she smiled up at me and said, “I saw something in the news about Batgirl.”

My niece doesn’t need me to introduce her to comics. She and her younger sister are enthusiastic readers, and they’ve benefited from the recent boom in graphic literature (see Oh Comics Episode 5) aimed at middle grade readers. They love Babymouse and Princeless, El Deafo and everything by Raina Telgemeier. They’ve seen enough of my toy collection to know capes are my thing, but this was the first time I got to field a question about superheroes.

Since my Bat-curious niece had a birthday coming up, I decided to play “cool aunt” and shop for some comics. The story she’d seen in the paper was about the relaunched Batgirl by Cameron Stewart, Brendan Fletcher, and artist Babs Tarr. But this series focuses on Babs living on her own in a cool neighborhood, partying with friends and dealing with the perils of online dating. It seems not so much age-inappropriate for a fifth grader as uninteresting to her — at least to this fifth-grader, who likes slapstick comedy and her youth lacrosse league, and who thinks kissing books are gross.Cover of Batgirl Year One, art by Marcos Martin

Instead, I settled on the modern classic Batgirl: Year One, by Scott Beatty and Marcos Martin. It’s currently in print only as a double edition with Chuck Dixon and Javier Pulido’s Robin: Year One. It’s a downside that Babs has to share her book with some dumb boy (a fifth-grader’s opinion). But my niece lists Hermione Granger as a personal hero, and she doesn’t seem to mind that Potter kid getting top billing.

So I bought her the book. Her mother reports that she’s been reading it when she’s supposed to be getting ready for school. Cool aunt win!

But – what now? If she comes back and asks what happened to Babs next, do I say: “She kept on fighting crime and flirting with Robin and absolutely never got shot in the spine by the Joker in a story that wasn’t even about her”?

Kyle Rayner finds a note telling him his girlfriend is in the refrigerator

Green Lantern Vol. #3, Issue 54. Written by Ron Marz, Art by Darryl Banks

This did happen, though, in 1988’s The Killing Joke. According to writer Alan Moore, editors approved this story development with the offhand comment, “Yeah, okay, cripple the bitch.” My purpose here isn’t to provide a primer on the history of sexism in comics. It’s also not to argue about whether the phenomenon of “Women in Refrigerators” — wherein female characters are hurt or killed to provide motivation for male protagonists — is a real thing. That work has been done, and the “but bad things happen to men TOO” arguments can go elsewhere.

Yes, bad things happen to men in fiction. But it’s genuinely hard for me to come up with a female comic book character who doesn’t have something cruel and terrible in her history. Because of the context in which those stories occur, where women are often dismissed and always outnumbered, they can cause a special kind of pain.

All of the female comics fans I know have their particular sore spots: Gwen Stacy’s death in an issue where she barely has any lines; Sue Dibny’s rape and murder in Identity Crisis. My pet grudge is about the deaths (plural, because comics) of Jean Grey. I love the perky, optimistic Jean of Jeff Parker’s X-Men:First Class. I’d love to introduce her to a fifth-grader looking for heroines. But before long you get to the time Jean died because she was brainwashed and forced into fetish wear, which drove her crazy. Or the other time she died so that editorial could tie up an inconvenient love triangle.

Man holding woman, last panel says, "All I ever did was die on you"

. . . And also your job while you were playing psychic footsie with another woman (From New X-Men #150, Writer Grant Morrison, Penciler Phil Jimenez)

Of course, Harry Potter, which my nieces love, has its share of deaths and terrifying scenes, and it’s not without gender issues. Still, there is never a moment where a reader could seriously fear that Hermione — the bookish, assertive girl that my nieces identify with to a fierce degree — is going to be brutally killed in order to make Harry sad.

In the stories of superheroic women, there is good to go with the bad. If Batgirl hadn’t been shot, Barbara couldn’t have re-emerged as Oracle, the disabled character whose stories have been meaningful to so many. Grant Morrison’s X-Men run gave Jean that unforgivably dumb death scene, but it also portrayed her as a powerful, resourceful character who means a lot to me, and her death set the stage for the Whedon/Cassaday Astonishing X-Men series that got me into comics. The mix of positive and negative doesn’t stop on the page. If I hadn’t had to grapple with the conflicting messages in media I love, I’d be a lot less equipped to deal with a world that isn’t always friendly to women.

If my nieces want to get their heart broken by superhero comics one day, they’ve got as much a right to it as I did. I want them to know that they can be as resilient as Barbara Gordon, as fun-loving as Sue Dibny, as fearless as Jean Grey. I wish there was a way to do this without sending them out into a world that treats the characters they love and identify with as disposable.

This month, when I give my nieces their holiday presents, I’ll introduce them to Ms. Marvel. Kamala Khan is a little older than they are, but she’s the kind of clever, flawed, and relatable heroine that they’ve come to love in their middle grade fiction. She’s a new character, and there’s nothing to explain away. She hasn’t been brainwashed and turned evil by a supervillain, hasn’t been discarded because she was the wrong corner of a love triangle, hasn’t died in the third issue of a crossover to raise the stakes.

I hope it stays that way.

Meanwhile, I want to know what you think – how should we talk to our daughters about women in refrigerators?

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Spider-Woman Gets Costume Redesign and WHOA DANG Is It Nifty - Where was this six months ago???

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See, now that’s how you make a Spider-Woman cover sexy without it feeling completely demeaning. Admittedly, I’m not sure how physically possible it is to bend like that, but the viewer isn’t being subjected the the full contour and shape of her sexy parts for no discernible reason, the clothes she’s wearing don’t appear to be spray painted on, and it actually feels like Jessica Drew has agency in her pose (what a difference visible pupils make, man). I could easily imagine Miles Morales or Peter Parker in that exact same position without having to make any changes to account for any Hawkeye Initiative-style awkwardness in form.

Plus, get a load of that new costume as designed by Kris Anka! Here’s some more from Anka and Javier Rodriquez, courtesy of USA Today:


From Kris Anka’s Tumblr

by Javier Rodriguez

by Javier Rodriguez

Practical leather jacket with superhero logo? Cute hair? Leggings? Marvel, admit it, you’re cribbing off of Batgirl right now. And we love it.

“As much as I’m a fan of spandex and it has its time and place, I felt Jess as a character could move away from that for a good long while,” Spider-Woman editor Nick Lowe told USA Today. Series writer Dennis Hopeless also noted that the series will now see Jessica Drew avoiding the more fantastical galactic elements of the Marvel Universe in favor of regular ol’ detective work: “You’ve seen her as a superspy and Avenger and soldier. Now let’s see this person as an old-school hero.”

It’s sort of unclear why the costume redesign didn’t just start with the Spider-Woman series premiere and will instead be kicking off issue #5, though it probably has something to do with the end of the Spider-Verse event, which will also soon bring us the ongoing Spider-Gwen title. But I also suspect that Marvel wanted to ingratiate fans after both the Milo Manara variant debacle and positive attention DC Batgirl redesign was getting—which, many speculated, was in turn a way for DC to catch up to the edgier youth-focused comics that Marvel has in rotation, like Ms. Marvel. And who said company rivalry never led to anything good?

(via Multiversity Comics)

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knittyBlog | Yarn-bomb Follow-up

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A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the wonderful yarn-bombing of the Tim Horton’s coffee truck.

We often hear about these types of projects – although less often of this size – but we don’t hear about what happens afterwards.

The Lettuce Knit team told me their story.

The project was commissioned by an ad agency, and their initial proposal had been to use the least expensive yarn they could find – entirely understandably. Sylvie, the owner of the shop, convinced them to use wool. Specifically, Cascade Eco wool.Sylvie was concerned about what would happen to the panels when they were taken off the truck, and she had a plan to stop them from just being thrown in the garbage…

Once the panels had been taken off the truck, Sylvie and her partner Angela enlisted the help of regular customer and laundromat owner Ruth-Anne. They carefully unpicked the seams,


Sylvie, undoing the panels


Ruth-Anne and her helper dog, Lucy.

and they used one of the giant washing machines to felt the panels.




Angela, with a felted blanket

The end result is a whole load of blankets that Tim Horton’s is able to donate to Convenant House, a local refuge for homeless youth.


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ResQte Of The Week: REALLY, Santa!

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unnamed (1)[I HAZ been a good kitteh this year. Well, except for…the times I NOM on this pillow. They put CATNIP on this. I swear.]

unnamed (2)
Photos taken at The Cat House on the Kings by Jess Lessard.


Filed under: Uncategorized Tagged: Cats, Christmas 2014, ResQte Of The Week
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