UN Women Poetry Slam Addresses Gender Violence

Last week I had the opportunity to hear one of my good friends, Marianne Simon, read two of her poems at an event called “Slam Up to Violence.” This poetry slam, hosted by UN Women – Los Angeles, was created to address violence based on the intersection of gender and race and spread a message that condemns violence … against anyone.

In front of a camera and an audience of 80 (women and men), Marianne read her poems. She addressed the issue of rape and abuse in vivid and graphic detail. Her words were bold, uncomfortable, confrontational, and truthful. She spoke what others were feeling and many in the audience had gone through (in one form or another) and brought the audience to tears. She gave voice to the experience of the pain and shame and utter confusion that surrounds sexual abuse. And at the same time, she used her words to liberate others.

The truth-telling at this event was so moving and was just one aspect of the social change component. The other aspect was the discussion that came afterwards. Women and men of varying races, classes, ages and life experiences sat together and discussed what we felt was at the root of violence and what could be done to transform our society toward peace.

The most moving and healing aspect of the evening for me was being in the company of men who are working for ending violence against women. To hear their dedication and sincerity, and also their male perspective about the socialization and stereotyping that happens to them, particularly to young black men, opened me to new understanding and compassion for their experience. I no longer felt frozen in fear and anger around my heart when it comes to male violence against women, but rather a deep desire to join in more conversations with men on the issue so that we can heal the walls of separation that stand between us.

This separation, I believe, is one of the root causes of this violence.

I was also moved by each woman’s bravery to speak the truth of her experience of abuse, be it sexual violence or race-based physical violence and discrimination. Through their poetry, each one of these women turned their rage and anger into activism. Their un-silenced voices became an elixir of political power. Their courage to express themselves transformed them from victims to victors.

This is the vision I have for the future. As we women creatively express our truths, we go from feeling powerless to BEING powerful. Whether we are sharing our darkest secrets or glowing in the light of our greatest visions for ourselves and our world, we reclaim our feminine authority when we take the stage with our truth.

What does this look like for you? What is wanting to be expressed from your heart? From your soul? From the cells of your body? What does your truth look like?

We have a very special gathering coming up on Friday, February 6th at the Los Angeles Goddess Collective where you will have an opportunity to explore this. It’s an invitation to you to move through any fears you have around expressing yourself in your deepest truth in public, and to begin to embody your inner activist. It is also an invitation for those of you who already identify as artists to claim (or more fully claim) your political voice. And finally, it is an invitation for those of you who need some creative inspiration, to come get inspired!

It’s going to be a powerful evening. I hope you’ll come join us. Please find all the details here.

Tabby Biddle, M.S. Ed., is a women’s leadership mentor and coach, specializing in helping women find their voice. She is the author of the bestselling book, Find Your Voice: A Woman’s Call to Action. Learn more at tabbybiddle.com.