Tag Archives: Strength

“We Are Not Only a Mouth and Luring Siren We Are the Women”

Lately when things have been feeling a little gloomy or when my body and my mind has been feeling unambitious, I’ve been turning to reading poetry, listening to rap and hip-hop (with a conscious message) or watching spoken word for that extra motivation and wisdom.
It’s compelling because poetry and spoken word have typically been a world for me untouched and unexplored. I have always appreciated, been more than curious, and admired the powerful individuals inside it. With their booming voices and insightful word choices, whether their content be delivered through pencil or mouth, paint brush or spray can, rapping or singing, sign language or Spanish, I’ve always been curious.   When it comes to the message and the content they are spitting it’s okay to agree and disagree, for I’ve always loved to question and to be questioned. The beautiful thing about art is there isn’t a way to “do” poetry, to “do” spoken word, to “do” art. Yet despite my long lasting envy, there was a part of me buried under my insecurities that did not feel like this world of poetry was my territory, even if it was in my own bedroom.
But lately… I’m all up in that territory and I’m not gonna lie that shit feels great and I’ve never felt more inspired.
So a few weeks ago, when I was having a… we can call it one of my “unmotivated moments”  lying in bed, slowly eating ice cream, I stumbled upon this spoken word piece called, “Khaleesi,” by Tonya Ingram and Venessa Marco. (and sorry no Game of Thorn Fans this piece is not about that Khaleesi). But this piece, these two women really blew me away. Every day since I first saw it, I’ve watched it for motivation because as weird as it sounds, I’ve been spending a lot of time discovering my voice and how I want to be heard, even if it is scary.
My two favorite verses from this are:
“we are not only a mouth and luring siren
we are the women
who dare think of ourselves as more than a fuck
when we lend our thoughts to breath
we know often
we are speaking the words that will kill us
for we are then called
never a voice
just static sound”
I really also like the ending verse:
“This is our birthright
this is our inherit
we are women who capsize entire crowds
with the sayings of the wind
holy knuckles
of fight.”

So what or who has been motivating you lately? I would love to hear from you, even if you just post the link in the comments below!

pssst. other RLA’ers love spoken word and poetry too and hey, some of them even spit themselves (let me take you back in time and you can check out what they are writin’ or lovin’):







Just some Friday Fun Links that highlight spoken word pieces or poetry:






Also not only shout out times a million to  Tonya Ingram and  Venessa Marco.  but also Button Poetry (where I found this link). Button Poetry is a  Minnesota-based organization dedicated to improving the quality of performance poetry media. 

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Vagina Monologues 2013–Why are YOU Rising?

This week all across community theatres, universities, women’s collectives, and professional theatres is the 17th anniversary of the Vagina Monologues—a piece of art, empowerment, food for thought, remembrance and unity among feminists everywhere.  Though the show is controversial in many spheres, that has not been my experience as a cast member in the 2013 monologues at American University in Washington, DC.

In the show there are monologues about everything vagina related from sex to sex work, pleasure, anatomy and childbirth. There are personal narratives taken from stories of the 200 that were interviewed by monologue writer Eve Ensler.

Though there are many humorous pieces about sexual experiences, there are factual pieces about female genital mutilation, sexual violence and mass rape used as a systematic instrument of war. These pieces serve as a reminder to all of the atrocities that are happening in our world every minute and every second. These stories are memoirs of the women who are beaten, tortured, killed and raped. All across the world everyday 1 in 3 women, and 1 in 6 men are raped, not to mention the rapes and abuses of trans men and women that go unrecorded day after day.

Despite the many negative critiques and controversial debates that occur over the heteronormative and cis gendered framework of the Vagina Monologues, being a part of the 39-member cast of this years show has been an incredible experience. The sense of community, advocacy, support and friendship is unimaginable and something that I wish for all female identified persons across the globe.  The new addition to the show this year is a piece to jumpstart the One Billion Rising movement to end violence against women and girls together in solidarity called “Rising”. This piece along with the strong, powerful and inspiring cast moved me to write and share why I am rising.

I am rising for women everywhere.

I am rising for the one in three who will be raped or beaten in her lifetime.

I am rising for those that I love and care about who have been assaulted, those that have been raped, or abused, those that have not given consent.

I am rising for those who were coerced into a sexual act by someone familiar.

I am rising for the one in six men who are raped.

I am rising for the child who has seen their mother beaten

I am rising for the war on women, for the mass rape that occurs all around the world, not only in underdeveloped nations.

I am rising for the Ianfu Comfort Women—the women of the “Say It” monologue.

I am rising for the women who are silent and have never told a soul about the day or the night that changed their lives forever.

I am rising for my friends, family members, past teammates and cast members.

I am rising for you. I am rising for me.

I am rising for women everywhere and I will not be silent.

I am rising for the women who cannot kiss their girlfriends in public for fear of being discriminated, abandoned or shamed.

I am rising for the trans community and those that do not fit a gender binary.

I am rising for the allies.

I am rising for the children, for the young people and for the elderly in nursing homes.

I am rising for the able bodied and for the disabled.

I am rising for the sex workers and those who are trafficked into the sex trade.

I am rising for you and you and YOU.

I am strong and I am rising to stop this violence, hatred and tragedy.

I am rising and will continue rising.

Why are YOU rising?

 Written by Maria Schneider

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Wounded and Standing: Voices of Palestinian Women Pt. 1

“The only thing I know is this: I am full of wounds and still standing on my feet.”

N. Kazantzakis

This quote reminds me of my beloved aunts eyes last Palestine, as she told me the story of our family’s expulsion to Lebanon in 1948 and our struggle to return to our village. So often the world forgets about the efforts of women in conflicts and history. As our fathers, husbands and sons went off to fight a war we would never win, the women alone were left behind to care for the children, the elderly and the sick. They alone had to figure out how to feed their families, protect their children from the bullets of warring armies and find safety in the darkest of nights. In her eyes I saw sorrow and fear, but beneath her breathe as she repeated the story of her mother-in-law, there was strength not even words can describe.

My family is from Eilaboun, which today is in modern Israel. In 1948, the Zionist forces came to our village after members of a neighboring Bedouin clan captured two Jewish soldiers and beheaded them in the village square. With all of our men gone, either to find work in the cities or fighting against the invaders elsewhere in the country, only the women, the children and the elderly remained in the village. Entering into the village fully armed, the Zionist took their revenge on the young boys of our community. The soldiers came to each home, ransacking and grabbing all boys of the age 13 and up. My Great Uncles mother had to think fast as her only son had just reached the age they sought.

Searching through the wardrobe of her daughter, my Great Great Aunt grabbed a dress, some heels and a headscarf. As she was hurrying to dress her son, her daughters were applying light make-up on his face to cover his boyish features. Soon the Zionist broke down their doors, forcing the family to evacuate their home. Surrounded by their neighbors, no one spoke of the young boy dressed in women’s clothing. Unseen, the Zionist left the boy untouched as they moved on to the next home.

After each home was searched, a handful of young boys where taken to the village square and in the same place their own brethren’s lives were taken, they massacred those boys. All that remains are the bullet holes resting in the side of the old church. The rest of the village was herded into trucks and transported to Lebanon with only the clothes on their back.

Although my Great Great Aunt had protected her family for that night, the family was still broken. Her beloved husband and father of her young children was still in Haifa, where he worked. Unbeknownst to him, his family was no longer home and his search for them would only begin. After hearing of the misfortune of his village, he would keep his ears to the radio day in and day out, in hopes the Arab Army Radio would announce the location of his family, wherever they may be.

However, my Great Great Aunt was not willing to living without her family united. Making a daring decision, she prepared her children for the dangers walk back to their village. Cloaked by darkness and silence, with gun fire in earshot, they would navigate together the rolling hills of Upper Galillee by foot… That is where my Great Aunts’ story stopped, as she and her husband, the young boy in women’s clothing, choked on the tears of their saddened memories.

“Khalas” (trans. Enough), they both gasped as they drank their evening coffee preparing for my departure to America. Through all the violence and pain, as mothers and minorities, the women in my family though wounded, stand strong. And I am their proud descendant! My name is Maxine Anwaar and this is my first post on behalf of the mothers of my homeland, Palestine.

Written by Maxine Anwaar

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