Speaking out: Fordham Survives with Staceyann Chin

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Women’s Empowerment at Fordham University Rose Hill presented the event Surviving in Numbers Speak out: Featuring Staceyann Chin on Tuesday, April 1 at 8:00pm in the packed-to-capacity Rodrigue’s Coffee House.

The Speak out allowed students and alumni to share their personal stories as part of the event scheduled in conjunction with Fordham Survives, a Tumblr campaign for students, faculty, and alumni to create a community by posting photos of allies and statistics about instances of sexual assault.

Eleven male and female students, along with alumni shared their original poems, stories and testimonials about what it was like to be a survivor of sexual assault, to know someone who had been sexually assaulted and what it meant to them to be an ally to survivors. These stories were prefaced with the notion that all ideas expressed were not the views of Women’s Empowerment, but the views of the individual performer.

Courtesy of Emily Rochotte.

Courtesy of Emily Rochotte.

The evening was emceed by Rachel Dougherty (FCRH ‘15), Core Organizer for Women’s Empowerment. The event concluded with keynote performer Staceyann Chin. Chin is a writer and poet whose accomplishments include the 2007 Power of Voice Award from the Human Rights Campaign and the 2009 New York State Senate award. She identifies as Caribbean and black, Asian and lesbian, woman and resident of New York City.

“I’ve seen Staceyann Chin live a couple of times and just feel so empowered afterward” said Dougherty, on bringing Chin to Fordham. “That’s the feeling that I wanted the Speak out to have.”

Chin performed personal stories and excerpts from her 2010 book The Other Side of Paradise: A Memoir.

“I have a memoir here and no one of color, lesbian, immigrant f—— gets a memoir unless some deep s— has happened to them.” said Chin about publishing her book.

Chin spoke openly about topics ranging from her own sexual assault, to feminism, and to relationships with others. As Chin told serious stories and lightened the mood with interspersed jokes, attendees nodded and snapped along in agreement with the points she made throughout the night. The focus never strayed away from Chin, the crowd keeping their eyes and attention on her as she offered advice.

“I can’t tell you how important it is to laugh at yourself. It really is hard to remain calm, because you never forget the tragedies that happened to you. Tragedies that enter your body like a f—— poison.” emphasized Chin. “You’re not ever going to forget it. You’re not ever going to get over it. But you can learn to manage it. And you can learn to pack the spaces that it left inside of you with good experiences, good friends. The ability to laugh. The ability to love. You have to learn to laugh. You have to learn to love yourself. You have to learn to love other people. You have to find good men in your lives.”

In addition to personal experiences and excerpts from her book, Chin shared short pieces from the play she is currently writing. Topics included her sexual assault by her cousin when she was a child, and finding a sperm donor for her daughter Zuri, not even two, who sat in the back of Rodgrigue’s for her mother’s performance. Chin also performed on the issue of cyberbullying and the patriarchy.

“This poem is for you if you’ve endured any kind of cyberbullying. This poem is for you if you have endured any kind of violence at the hand of the patriarchy,” stated Chin. “And this includes the men in the room because the patriarchy doesn’t just hurt women, it removes your ability to be human from you. It forces you to live in this one vein. Sometimes men need to weep and curl into a ball and be held.”

When asked after the show how she felt about the Fordham Survives Tumblr, Chin responded without hesitation.

Fordham Survives

Courtesy of FordhamSurvives.Tumblr.com.

“It’s f—— amazing. It’s f—— amazing, I’m glad it exists because it mirrors so much of that is happening in so many other institutions including educational institutions,” she replied.

Chin follows the Tumblr campaign, as was proven by a Facebook post she put up hours before her performance that night. The Fordham Survives post showed a student holding a sign that read “Questions Asked by the Fordham Administration During Investigation: What were you wearing? How many drinks did you have? Have you had sexual relations with this man before? Why didn’t you scream? Why do these questions matter? Doesn’t NO MEAN NO?!”

Chin commented, “What The F— does What I was Wearing have to do with What He Did to Me? #AskTheRightQuestionsMotherf—er.

All Fordham students, faculty, administration, and alumni are encouraged to speak out and share their story and view others’ stories on FordhamSurvives.tumblr.com.


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