Men, women partner up to showcase gender justice

GVL/Bo Anderson

Andrew Sciacchitano performs a scene during That Takes Ovaries!

GVL/Bo Anderson Andrew Sciacchitano performs a scene during That Takes Ovaries!

Kari Norton

What have you done that takes ovaries? Before you jump to conclusions, this statement is not intended just for females.

Grand Valley State University’s Women’s Center made sure to point out that men can be just as nervy and courageous – and do things that take ovaries – in this year’s presentation of “That Takes Ovaries: Bold Women, Brazen Acts.”

The two-day event took place on March 22 and 23 – one night in Allendale and one night downtown – and featured several acts that told the stories of brave men and women standing up for their rights.

“That Takes Ovaries!” addressed mothers taking a stand for their children and families, women being proud of their sexuality, and even a girl in a wheelchair fighting for a cause.

The student started a “Pee Protest”, where she would go to the bathroom outside because her university did not have wheelchair accessible bathrooms. Her actions led to media involvement and the construction of a brand new bathroom. All it took was “a girl, her wheelchair and a full bladder.”

Half of the play was from Rivka Solomon and Bobbi Ausubel’s book and the other half included personal stories from GVSU’s campus and community. During the Fall semester, people could submit their accounts and the ones that fit best with the play’s mission were chosen.

“We make sure that the submissions are in line with the mission of the play and we work to find a wide variety of scenes that capture individuals’ diverse experiences,” said Assistant Director for the Women’s Center Brittany Dernberger. “We try to select some scenes that highlight men’s role as activists for gender justice since the scenes in the original book focus primarily on women.”

GVSU student Jason Michálek’s submission “Consent” was one chosen from GVSU’s community and he also went on to direct and perform in several others.

“I was involved last year too. I found out about male involvement from the director and was immediately interested,” Michálek said. “I’m glad our production was expanded to showcase many issues and involve many people.”

Michálek’s skit showed men taking a stand and not following the crowd when it comes to sexual acts. It clarified that women are not the only ones that face gender injustice.

The issues, some being controversial, were ones that audience members could relate to and a psychologist was present in case some of the stories hit too close to home.

“I liked it from beginning to end,” GVSU student Aminah Muhammad said. “Family destroyer stood out to me because breast cancer is the family destroyer in my family, so I can relate.”

Following the performance was an open discussion where audience members could stick around and talk about any topics that stood out to them.

One audience member in particular, a 70-year-old woman, said she was glad that these issues could be talked about now-a-days. Others pointed out that everybody has their own unique story and just because they differ doesn’t mean they aren’t still bold.

“I love seeing those involved in the performance come to identify themselves as activists and understand how participating in theatre for activism can impact our community,” Dernberger said. “I hope (people) feel empowered to take action in their own lives.”
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