‘Speak Like a Girl’

GVL / Courtesy - Madison Rhoades

GVL / Courtesy – Madison Rhoades

Ashlyn Korienek

Throughout the past decade, feminist voices have risen in volume. Celebrities like Beyoncé and Ellen Page have proudly claimed the title, however other public figures have rejected feminism entirely. Amidst these diverse perspectives, the national spoken word show “Speak Like a Girl” aims to teach students about gender inequality, with a modern twist.

On April 4, Grand Valley State University’s student senate will bring the intersectional feminist show to campus.

The co-founders of the show are Megan Falley, author of two full-length poetry collections, and Olivia Gatwood, a poet, fiction writer and a columnist at www.bustle.com and HelloFlo.

Together the spoken word duo performs an hour-long, interactive show focused specifically on college students. The show has a comical edge, but covers serious topics.

“Speak Like a Girl focuses on the issues of rape culture, and how the media and news handle sexual assault and consent,” Falley said. “It focuses on issues such as queer identities, sex positivity and body positivity. It’s a pretty comprehensive intersectional show.”

Maddie Rhoades, student senator at GVSU, said Speak Like a Girl is an entertaining and modern approach to attacking gender inequality issues. Even those who do not identify as a feminist, she said, should participate in the conversation.

“I think the word feminist has become a dirty word,” Rhoades said. “People hear ‘feminist’ and just shut down. This show is fun way to approach issues such as sexual assault, and pull in people who don’t pay attention to gender-related issues.”

GVSU’s Annual Security and Fire Safety Report displayed an increase of recorded sexual assault incidents on campus. In 2013, there were four reported offenses, while in 2014, there were 13 reported.

As a result, several advocacy groups on campus reacted with initiatives to promote change.

The Sexual Assault Response Team, comprised of faculty across campus, formed as a collaborative effort for prevention and educate GVSU on sexual assault. The SART looks at ways to create a safe environment for GVSU students on a weekly basis.

In addition, the student organization Eyes Wide Open, collaborates with Student Senate, the Division of Inclusion and Equity and the Women’s Center to spread awareness campus-wide. Rhoades works under the organization, as well.

“The past few years, we had an increase of sexual assault disclosure on campus. I think we have become a more supportive campus,” Rhoades said. “Speak Like a Girl says a lot of what Eyes Wide Open does, and with this, I definitely hope to see a better understanding of feminism across campus.”

Speak Like a Girl is Title IX compliant and provides several workshops for students to engage. Falley and Gatwood, after the show, will conduct a workshop called “Consent Isn’t Sexy, It’s Mandatory.”

The workshop covers campus Title IX requirements, and focuses on consent and rape culture through discussion and physical activity. The topics at hand revolve around three focal areas: The myths and realities of rape, becoming an active bystander and demonstrations on acquiring proper consent.

In addition, Falley and Gatwood said Speak Like a Girl travels nationally performing more than 100 shows year-round.

“Girls are getting raped on college campuses a lot,” Falley said. “The amount of education around sexual assault and consent on campuses is incredibly lackluster. That’s where Olivia and I come in as a Title IX compliant show with a notable approach to educate students.”

Speak Like a Girl will perform at the Mary Idema Pew Library’s Multipurpose Room at 6:30 p.m. with the workshop to follow.

For more information, visit www.speaklikeagirl.com.