By Mike Jones, Staff Writer
The audience laughed, some cried, and many snapped in support of the readers poetry covering topics ranging from
abuse, suicide, neglect, and ignorance.
Just another moment in Southern Oregon University’s “FemFest”- an annual event designed to bring awareness to gender inequality and bias.
Students Sean, Acella, Victoria, and Beckah each recited their own poetry in a slam. The competition had no goal beyond fun, support and trying out techniques to deliver strong messages. They had topics around the dark side of failing to recognize gender issues but they also spoke to self identity, cultural awareness, friendship, and heroism. The room had a definite vibe–filled with positive energy and what appeared to be a captivated audience. The poets gave each other high fives and boisterous comments on and off stage. This poetry slam called FemSlam, was just one of several small events held in the larger FemFest.
FemFest is held to promote awareness towards gender, cultural and emotional discrimination. FemFest is part of a series of events marking this week from November 16th to the 20th as “Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Week.” The point of this week is to educate students and the community of Ashland on what being Trans or Gender Non-Conforming is.
The Women’s Resource Center (WRC) hosts FemFest, allowing students to participate and watch, “Our staff worked so hard to make this happen,” said Sasha Santo, Programs Manager for WRC. The event was held in the Rogue River Room of the Stevenson Union and ran late into the evening.
FemFest, while opening space for all issues of gender also touched on topics of feminism, rape, sexual phobias, biases in cultures and people.
The WRC aims to allow students a safe place to enjoy their own self identity. It also has information on various topics such as feminism, reproduction options, how to combat oppression and inequality for everyone.
The various resource centers of SOU donated varying amounts of support for FemFest, and continue to give time to make this week a time for promoting further education on gender related topics, “All resource centers of SOU want to have more student participation,” said Santo. “In the future, we want to see students involved across campus to help the community in different ways.”
To get involved in a club, go to the section of the SOU website. To keep updated on this week’s events for “Trans and Gender Non-Conforming Week” and future events from the WRC, go to the Women’s Resource Center Facebook page. The WRC also has a Snapchat called “souwrc” for updates.