This week I was incredibly proud to be involved in an amazing event created and organized by the student organization of which I am currently President, Students Advocating Gender Equality (SAGE) of Penn State Altoona. The event was called Speak Their Truth, and it was an incredible success thanks to the hard work of our membership and thanks to the students who had the courage and generosity to share their experiences with us.
Speak Their Truth is an event that came from an idea that one of our members had to share the experiences of sexual violence in our campus community, but to have those experiences read by people of a different gender than the people who experienced that trauma in order to try to break through the gendered perceptions of sexual violence. In our anonymous submission process, we explained that mission but also allowed the people submitting experiences to specify the gender of the person reading their story.
I want to applaud the students who were brave enough to share their stories, some of whom had never shared their experiences before. In this first year, all the experiences shared with us were from women. I would also like to applaud our readers who, apart from me, were all young men.
In addition to sharing these lived experiences, thank you to the young men who read a series of catcalls. Also many thanks to a student who shared a beautiful, original poem about her experience.
If I were better an sharing genuine emotion I would probably write at further length about how it feels to have experienced this as a survivor of sexual assault. Catharsis doesn’t even begin to cover it. I look forward to creating a plan to share the framework of this event with other campus feminist groups.
And again, thank you. To all the people that I will not name because I will inevitably forget someone, you know who you are. Thank you.