As guests entered Sykes Theater on Wednesday, March 4, they were greeted with women’s empowerment songs and pictures of powerful women playing for the West Chester University “Women Speak.”
This was the second year the event has taken place on campus and was co-sponsored by the Student Activities Council and the Women’s Center. Elana Benitez, Contemporary Issue Chair of SAC and event coordinator for Women Speak, said it was “really important to make sure this event happened again this year because I knew that it had such a positive impact on the campus last year.”
To kick off the event, the lights dimmed and a video of Dove’s “Like a Girl” campaign came on the screen. The campaign acts to encourage people to stop using the phrase “like a girl” in a negative connotation and to encourage men, women, boys, and girls to stop diminishing girls and women’s abilities. This was the theme of the night.
Benitez started the event with opening remarks explaining that the purpose of Women Speak was to “give women on campus the opportunity to share their stories, empower, and be dominant.”
Six female WCU students shared their different experiences, monologues, dances, and poems about being a woman at WCU.
The students talked about body image, abusive relationships, speaking up, and self-confidence. Each performer took the stage and inspired the audience with their words and actions.
Olivia Miller started the performances with a dance to a spoken word piece entitled “Barbies.” She reminded the audience that “body shame is something that’s taught” as she powerfully took over the stage with her movements.
Arianna Cummins then shared her relationship with an emotionally abusive boyfriend. Her story focused on the way she felt in the relationship and what she learned. She shared that she made a lot of “sacrifice” for her boyfriend and finally realized the way he treated her was “not how you treat someone you love.” Cummins ended her monologue with hope saying, “I do have some self-worth left; I do have self-love left.”
Shanae Roberts followed Cummins. Roberts shared a dramatic, attitude-filled, and empowering poem, “Far From Average.” The poem talked about how Roberts and other women should never consider themselves just average and what “being a bad chick” meant.
After Roberts took the stage, Clare Haggerty shared a monologue, “Have a Fat Heart: Changing the Way We Treat Fat Women.” In her comical but serious words, Haggerty talked about real events that she has experienced as a “fat” woman and told the audience that “you don’t need someone to validate you.”
Ariana Sanchez, then, performed a spoken word, “Rise Above.” Sanchez’s spoken word inspired women to not fall to society’s limitations but overcome them. She stated, “I’m a woman with endless possibilities intact.”
To end the performances, Benitez returned to the stage to discuss the dating app, Tinder. Though Benitez spoke in a comical tone, her words were serious; “Sex feels good, being loved by someone feels better, but being loved by yourself feels even better than that.”
When asked why she chose to discuss Tinder, Benitez explained that the popularity of the app in our generation for hooking up “further perpetuates this really horrible idea of what dating is. As a generation, our dating culture is kind of messed up.”
Benitez hopes that people got a lot out of Women Speak. “I want women to feel empowered and important. I want men to hear these stories from women and understand that even though they themselves may not be participating in these harmful actions concerning women, they can help stand against the actions and make a difference” she said.
Colleen Curry is a fourth-year student majoring in communication studies. She can be reached at CC763513@wcupa.edu.