By Katie Hibbard
April 4, 2013
Let Her Voice Be Heard is a yearly celebration of female authors, poets, essayists, musicians and women in general who inspire people everywhere. Every women’s history month, Lock Haven students, staff and townies congregate to share and listen to the teachings of women from the past and today.
This past Thursday, guys and gals of all ages, races and ethnicities attended Avenue 209 for the event. A wide variety of women were represented, including political commentator Molly Ivins, poets Sylvia Plath, Maya Angelou and Emily Dickenson, author Caitlin Moran, musician Ani DeFranco, and civil rights activist Audre Lorde. Several attendees also presented personal works, such as professor Dana Washington, who read an essay she wrote for the event, entitled “Imagination.”
When first asked to admit that they are feminists, only a small few attendees repeated aloud, “I am a feminist.” Once feminism was clarified as the “simple belief that women should be just as free as men,” as stated in Caitlin Moran’s book “How to Be a Woman,” it seemed as though everyone in Avenue 209 was shouting “I am a feminist!” by the end of the night.
“Let Her Voice Be Heard taught me to ignore the negative stigma associated with feminists,” Christina Hall, a sophomore social work major, said. “I’m glad I was there to witness it; the event inspired me to pursue a women’s studies minor.”
Another annual tradition tied in with this celebration is the presentation of the Virginia Martin Gender Issues Essay Contest award. This year’s first place winner was Amanda Cole, a junior phys. ed. major minoring in women’s studies. She received the winner’s certificate and a $250 cash prize.
“I received an email stating I’d won and I was surprised,” Cole said. “I’m not the greatest writer, but the topic was personal to me so there was some passion in the essay.”
Cole chose to write about women in professional sports and the frequent misrepresentation or under-representation of female athletes in the media. She said her major and her involvement in sports influenced that decision.
“It hit home for me,” Cole said.
Second and third place went to Paula Curtis and Zachary Zacharias respectively, though they were not able to attend the celebration.
To finish the evening, professor Tara Mitchell presented an excerpt from Audre Lorde’s “The Transformation of Silence Into Language and Action.” Its message made it a clear wrap up of everything that the Let Her Voice Be Heard celebration stands for.
“I was going to die, if not sooner then later, whether or not I had ever spoken myself,” Professor Mitchell read. “My silences had not protected me. Your silence will not protect you.”
Katie Hibbard is a sophomore majoring in communication and can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.