Poets to perform feminist show to end campus sexual assaults

Both comedy and poetry are largely used to entertain and enlighten, but in some cases, can be used to educate and inspire.

“Studies predict that if women stopped buying cosmetic products and services, every economy in the world would collapse overnight. Well then, this is a call to collapse the economy,”  Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood said.

This was part of just one of many performances by feminist poets Falley and Gatwood from their show, Speak Like a Girl. The University Program Council (UPC) will sponsor this event in the Volstorff Ballroom Feb. 10 at 7 p.m.

Falley and Gatwood use spoken word poetry and comedy to critique modern creative media for what they see as demeaning to women in the Speak Like a Girl performance. In these hour-long shows, they focus on issues such as sexual assault and body image by analyzing the media’s portrayal of women.

This media and pop culture ranges from video games to movies that have been criticized for being sexist and for being what has come to be referred to as “rape culture.” In the past, Falley and Gatwood have incorporated these social issues into talks about video games, beauty products and even selfies. In addition to bringing awareness to women’s issues, their show also calls to mind problems surrounding race and LGBT+ issues.

UPC contacted Falley and Gatwood to perform at SDSU last October after seeing them perform at the National Association for Campus Activities Conference in Michigan last year.

“Their performance really struck a nerve with me because of all of the sexual assaults that have happened on campus last semester,” Cole Hinz, UPC Social Awareness Coordinator said. “I thought this was just a really important event to bring to campus considering what it could do to raise awareness.”

Prior to being a part of Speak Like a Girl, Falley and Gatwood were part of a spoken word team in New York City. The name of the show, “Speak Like a Girl,” came from a play on the ‘like a girl’ phrase that is popularly synonymous with weakness.

The Feminist Equality Movement (FEM), a pro-women club on campus, promotes issues of body positivity, eating disorder awareness and domestic abuse among other issues. Members of the group have been looking forward to “Speak Like a Girl.”

“I think people tend to associate feminism with this radical movement that hates men and I think people want to stay away from it because of it,” said KayCee Lynn Shepardson, president of FEM. “In reality, feminism is about equal rights. Feminism definitely isn’t dead and it is still needed, so we’ve been really excited for Megan and Olivia to come here to SDSU.” 

The duo’s presence will bring something new to campus as UPC has never sponsored a women’s awareness event for students and community members, Hinz said. UPC members were also interested in how Falley and Gatwood delivered their message through performances infused with comedy, “drawing people in and then hitting them with the facts,” Hinz said.

A workshop, Consent Isn’t Sexy, It’s Mandatory, will run prior to the event at 6:30 p.m. It will focus on educating students on consent and sexual assault through discussion and physical activity. Both Falley and Gatwood will be leading this workshop as well.

“Not just women’s issues but I think equal rights awareness in general needs more of an emphasis on campus,” Hinz said. “I haven’t had to deal with this issue before [sexual assault], but hopefully this will encourage people to speak up when things like this occur on campus.”