Speakers encourage women to be bold

Heather Scarlett

Senior magazine journalism major Sasha Parker read “Nothing from Nobody” by Tara Betts aloud to an audience at the Student Center last night. The program, “That Takes Ovaries: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts,” was put on by the Women’s Studies Program

Credit: DKS Editors

In the 1960s Kathryn Byrne’s mother, a 5-foot woman with “breasts the size of Dolly Parton’s,” divorced her husband and opened a salon where she sold vibrators at the front counter in a clear glass jar.

She took a lot of grief for it, but stuck to it, said Byrne, a Ph.D. candidate in the English department, as she waved around a cucumber symbolizing a dildo.

The predominately female audience of 30 to 35 people who attended “That Takes Ovaries: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts” heard about topics ranging from vibrators to racism.

That Takes Ovaries: Bold Females and Their Brazen Acts has its origins in a book written by Rivka Solomon. Solomon, who was supposed to be the guest speaker for the event, was unable to attend.

The evening’s main message was to be bold.

“The goal (of the event) is to make women and particularly young women aware of greater possibilities in their lives for resistance and personal action against sexism,” Kathe Davis, director of Women’s Studies, said.

Valsa Balaji, international educator through the Department of State, which sponsors the International Educators Program, read a story by Ruchira Gupta about the Red Light prostitute district of Bombay, India.

The book relates how girls were subjected to having sex with 25 to 30 men a day, had cigarettes put out on their breasts and bottles inserted into their vaginas.

Balaji said the story hit close to home for her because she is from India.

“I felt a responsibility to read (the piece) to a community far from the place where the crimes are being committed,” she said.

Abeer Khalaf, an international educator from Iraq, said she believes women endure and suffer more, which is why she wanted to attend the event.

“In Iraq we have lost many of our men so women have to take over many roles,” Khalaf said.

“Maybe by listening to others I can learn (from them) and one day I can do something to help Iraqi women,” she said.

After the speakers finished, audience members were encouraged to share their own stories of adversity and empowerment. Speakers were then awarded the Golden Ovum – a clear egg filled with Ferro Rocher chocolates.

Junior English major Heidi Bauer, a speaker for the event, said women have been programmed by a patriarchal society to not speak in their own voices, which is a reason to have the empowerment program to encourage women.

“Rivka says, ‘Courage is contagious,’ and that is what I hope, that (by) hearing the stories, the audience will be inspired to tell their own stories and go out and be brave,” Davis said.

Contact religion reporter Heather Scarlett at [email protected].