Olivia Gatwood & Megan Falley: Speak Like A Girl founders

Speak Like A Girl is an interactive, feminist poetry show that uses spoken word to entertain, educate, and inspire. These poems juggle issues ranging from street harassment to body image with humor and grace. Last week, we were #blessed with Megan Falley and Olivia Gatwood’s presence when they were brought by Real Women, Real Bodies to perform. They are some brilliant, hilarious, and beautiful women who bring rape culture and your personal identity to the fore front of the conversation. They make these topics comedic while raising some real points. After their show, we sat down with them and asked them some questions about their lives, their show, and their awesome attitudes towards the issues in our world today.

 

How did you two start this and how did you get the idea for it?

Olivia: “We were on a poetry slam team together in the summer of 2014, so naturally we wrote poems together. The way we wrote was just so easy, it was like accessing a different part of our brain by writing together, and we kind of agreed on everything. Then the summer ended and we finished and a couple months went by and I was getting ready to graduate college and Megan was working as a full time poet and she just texted me in the middle of the night and said, let’s go on tour and we didn’t know what that meant really so we started brainstorming themes and we came up with “Speak Like A Girl” and then pretty quickly, after our first show, we realized it was a little bit bigger than a four or five month tour so we went all in and created a movement, I guess.”

Megan: “Yeah, we realized Speak Like A Girl meant we had to fill these very large, pink stilettos. We had to kind of understand what that meant, because it wasn’t just a poetry show...Speak Like A Girl, what does that mean, ya know? Then we built a show in that direction”

 

What is the biggest thing you want people to take away from “Speak Like a Girl”?

O: “I think for me, I want people to understand and look at the world around them with a more critical eye. Also, for them to understand that they can play an important role in changing it and for them to feel empowered to do so with whatever skills or creativity speaks to them. Just so people they can make a difference and that there’s room for change in the way that we think and talk about rape, sex and the body.”

M: “There’s a famous quote that says, ‘Art is about comforting the disturbed and disturbing the comfortable’ and I think our show really aims to do that. People in our shows who raise their hands to say they were catcalled and they felt unsafe, and who relate to our stories and poems feel validated that they were not alone in their experience and that other people may not have, feel enraged and want to help them.

 

Since finals are coming up, how did you handle the stress while in school?

O: “I don’t think I was aware of how stressful it was until I left. And then I was like, “Wow, wild life.” I think that it’s hard and I don’t think that should be downplayed and I don’t think that that should be underestimated. I also think that it’s too hard, I think we should easier on students and I hope that students can be easy on themselves and nice to themselves and know that the world goes on after college. What you’re studying now might not be what you end up doing and you might use what you’re studying now to create a different job. I think the best part about college and the part I miss the most is that it’s encouraged to be curious, and having people tell me to be curious and you can look at college as an opportunity to do that. That can be a really beautiful thing.

M: “I think for me, my senior year of college was in 2010, and at the same time while trying to graduate I was writing a book and while that made me infinitely more stressed, it also was helpful to have a creative project, something that I loved to do, was something nice to come back to and a reminder to take time for yourself and to do things you love.”

 

Olivia, we know your dad graduated from UW. Has your dad ever described UW to you, and is it different than what you expected?

O: “So when my dad first came here, the first thing he saw was a billboard that said ‘East or West, Beef is Best. Welcome to the gem in the bosom of the plains.’ He was coming from the east coast and my dad is a very nature-oriented person so he loved the open space and he’s a long-distance runner and ran by the scene of Matthew Shepard almost everyday, obviously before it happened, and that ended up being a huge moment in his life after it happened when he recognized the fence and knew it so well. I think he grappled a lot with how conservative it was and really loved the natural energy and really hated the social energy, but found a lot of beautiful things here. He worked for the radio station and loved that, met some great friends, and I think he was really excited that they were bringing us because it meant there was a changing climate on campus. He’s really stoked that we’re here and it seems like it’s changing, and becoming more progressive and has room to have those conversations.”

These women are inspiring and bring something different to all these conversations. They are empowered, strong, and hilarious. I hope we see them again soon because, in their words, “Princess got work to do.”