About 50 students, mostly female, erupted in laughter, snaps and applause after hearing the statement, “Just because you hold the door, doesn’t mean I’ll hold your dick!” in the penthouse of the Student Center around noon on Tuesday. The comment was made by Megan Falley who stood next to her equally raunchy and unapologetic partner Olivia Gatwood as they educated and entertained Brooklyn College students during an interactive poetry show entitled, “Speak Like A Girl.”
The two hour long show also highlighted student voices and featured the women of the official Brooklyn College slam team.
“I’ve been getting catcalled since I was ten,” said Jenna CarterJohnson, a BC slam team member, during one of her poems.
Following the slam team’s performance the duo of spoken word artists, Falley and Gatwood engaged students while sharing their stories in an attempt to “trick people into learning about feminism.” The team of two are both national poetry slam winners, published authors and currently tour the nation spreading awareness about women’s issues and the representation of women in the media and in society. During the show, they asked students to raise their hands if they ever felt violated or unsafe when being catcalled in the street, or if they had ever been followed home by an unwanted suitor. Only one or two hands weren’t raised enforcing the need to address the “high levels of sexual assault on college campuses.”
The issues were heavy as “Speak Like A Girl” included various poems on topics such as rape, sexuality, relationships, body shaming, the female orgasm and more, but students were kept laughing and cheering as the two poets spoke on the very themes used to oppress women and turned them into literary weapons for inspiration and empowerment. One of the poems was from the perspective of Princess Peach, a main character from the classic video game Super Mario
Brothers. Although comical and dramatic, the poem touched on some very real issues that women face when being recognized as only useful or relevant in the storyline of a man. They also read comments from their YouTube page aloud to emphasize how this society affects not only women but how men treat and respond to women who stand up for themselves and say no to unwanted sexual advances. Students responded to the outlandish comments by gasping loudly and applauding the two women for sharing their stories with the world.
“The more we start to portray feminism as a positive, empowering and ultimately happy existence, the more people will start to identify as feminists,” said Gatwood, after the show.
She believes education about feminism is important for “college students in particular, considering these are the faces of the next job market. These are the people who are going to be working in corporations in art and media and right now, the media is largely controlled by white men,” added Gatwood.
Falley and Gatwood who identify as two “cisgendered, ablebodied white women”were more than willing to admit that “feminism has been whitewashed” and acknowledge the different struggles of women of color and women who are transgendered. This gave them all the more reason to encourage women everywhere to speak out about the many issues that all women face.
The event was put together by the Women’s History Month Committee and sponsored by the Women’s Center which will be celebrating their 40 year anniversary in an upcoming gala being planned for the end of the month. In addition to the 40 year anniversary, the Women’s Center will also be hosting a yoga event focused on women’s health next Thursday in the Glenwood Lounge of the student center.
In their closing statements, Gatwood and Falley offered resources to women in the form of educational pamphlets with links to the National Hotline for Sexual Assault and a list of recommended poets.
Their very last poem was dedicated to selfies (pictures you take of yourself usually for social media) and self love. “Today pride is no longer a sin,” Falley and Gatwood chanted together in an attempt to lend their voices to empower women all over the world.
For more information on the “Speak Like A Girl” tour visit www.speaklikeagirl.com