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Slam Poetry Show ‘Speak Like A Girl’ Changes The Conversation On Campus

PSU W.O.R.D.S., Writers Organized to Represent Diverse Stories, hosted “Speak Like A Girl” Monday night, a slam poetry duo that is inspiring young women on college campuses across the country. Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood, the creators of “Speak Like A Girl,” spouted a powerful chain of poems during a free show for Penn State Students in the Forum Building. Falley and Gatwood covered topics like feminism, gender roles, sexual harassment, and equality. Their movement challenges the social stigmas society places on young women and directly calls out problematic situations on college campuses.

Falley and Gatwood visited Penn State to represent the female community, and get the word out about what it means to do something “like a girl.” Their performance is described as “a feminist, interactive spoken word poetry show designed to change the conversation on campus.” The pair opened with a poem criticizing women’s roles in media, movies, and young adult novels, claiming that a significant amount of female characters are only created in order to complement the male protagonist character, and exist solely in relation to him.

Their drive to educate students on gender equality and address problems such as body image and abusive relationships is evident in the women’s candid poetry. Falley recited a poem titled “Fat Girl,” utilizing a humorous approach to tell the women in the audience to be body-positive. Falley and Gatwood also exposed and denounced public figures for rejecting the idea of feminism. After a poem slamming Lana Del Rey for calling feminism “boring,” the audience erupted in cheering, applause, and of course, snapping.

Falley and Gatwood took a short break from the humor and discussed rape culture and the problems that victims face when it comes to reporting rape. They asked the members of the female-dominated audience to raise their hands if they have ever experienced sexual harassment and whether or not it made them feel unsafe. After almost every audience member raised their hand, Falley and Gatwood delivered a heartbreaking poem about the high percentage of sexual harassment that occurs on college campuses.

“Our goal is to make college campuses safer and to note that most rapes happen between people who know each other,” Falley said. “We wrote this poem after a shooting that happened in a sorority house in California. A man wrote a 12-page manifesto about why all the women who wouldn’t have sex with him deserved to die. This isn’t the first or last time that this has happened. We wrote this poem to show that small acts of violence against women are all connected to one larger problem.”

“Speak Like A Girl” will continue its tour of college campuses through November. You can check out the duo’s website for more information.

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About the Author

Claire Going

Claire is a freshman broadcast journalism major and writer for Onward State. She enjoys reading, running, and a good cup of tea. She's from Emmaus, Pennsylvania and is a dual citizen. (Go Ireland!) You can contact her via email at [email protected] or on Twitter @claire_going.

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