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Monday, 16 April 2012

Sexual Violence Prevention Workshop

On Wednesday 16th May in Margaret Room 2, Queen’s Building from 6pm to 8pm, Exeter University Students’ Guild will be hosting a 'Sexual Violence Prevention Workshop' in order to brainstorm strategies and possible campaigns to help improve student and staff safety on campus and ultimately make Exeter University an assault and harassment free zone.

Professionals Fee Scott from the Devon Rape Crisis Services and Beverley Weston from Devon and Cornwall Police have kindly volunteered to help lead the workshop. Guild Officers will also be present. The structure of the workshop is designed to help facilitate a three-step process:

1. Students and staff are invited to come to the workshop and express their concerns and opinions about sexual safety in Exeter.
2. The police, Devon RCS and Guild Officers will explain processes that are already in place and discuss how these can be better publicised/linked up/expanded upon and what new strategies might be able to be put in place to improve on this.
3. Guild Officers will discuss possible implementation strategies along with a timeline for the coming academic year.

The event is open to all students and staff at Exeter University.  The workshop will operate as a quasi-focus group so input from those at the university will be invaluable.

If you have any queries, points you would like to raise in advance or cannot make it but would like to contribute, please email me at gender-equality@hotmail.co.uk.

Monday, 2 April 2012

Gender Equality Society poetry competition winner: Quen Powell

The Gender Equality Society hosted a poetry competition open to all Exeter University students.  The theme of the competition was EMPOWERMENT.  We saw some outstanding entries that showed great thought, talent and inspiration and choosing between them was really difficult.  However, after much thought, the winner was chosen as Quen Powell with her poem ‘V’.  Congratulations Quen!

Quen read her poem on stage at the Empowering Women Day exhibition and was presented with her £25 cash prize.  For those of you who were not able to attend, here is the winning poem!

V

i

This is your shame, and every woman's shame.
The 'v' pinned silent between my groaning thighs
is for violent, vacillant, vacant, vain.
Not for virginal, virtuous; virtually tame.
Fend off the wolves, choke back the ruby cries
of bellowing, writhing lust, shivering pain.
I reign my pleasures, draw the flesh in tight,
I seek out the mercy and the holy light,
again, again, again,
again, again.

ii

Wanton, wanting beneath that neat triangle of hair, curled-gold sweet, uniform,
like a field of wheat. Warm is her flesh, her form, her tight dense heat.
The minutes rush, flushed mouth drips dark with guttural cries
the orrr the gaz the mmmm between her blushing thighs
a fire burns low in her, jewel-bright embers
so close – no mind – but the flesh remembers
she thrashes in the arms of the cold night air
she is undone; whines in prayer;
for more – oh God –
 for more, my God,
oh more.

iii

Midnight, the hand on her shoulder, under her chin, fingers press bruises into the skin,
she breathes the drunken damp of his breath. His eyes are like her father's eyes
they scare her half to death, and just do it he says,
please, Jesus, please.
eases her underwear down to her knees. He's done this before.
he strokes her hair, nuzzles her ear, his whisper is a wordless
roar: sofuckinggoodyoubeautifulwhore.
All silver in the moonlight glazed
with sweat; her bare legs parted
(stop)
Oh love,
if he was going to stop
then he never would have started.
you wanted real life, an Eastenders drama
now you've scars for life, the grey void of post-trauma.
her skin takes his orders; purple,
aching, swollen
all she could have given him is spoilt now and stolen
as he pushes her open – wide now, wider
a Hammer horror story crawls scarlet from inside her.


iv

I wrote my love letter to an unborn child in sweet-spun shaking moans
in wild throes , in a crimson ache that only woman knows.
Mother knows best, and at my request, we build the nest
to house our little starling, sparrow, feathered darling.
Our egg is laid, it breathes beneath the skin.
I have built her a home of my blood to nestle in.
Be kind to me. I am a vessel for astounding beauty
with purpose and with duty I paid all prices
made slick wet sacrifices of my monthly pains
in cotton pads, cellophane package, lurid sunset sin
thrust far in the dark of the sanitary bin
the gods woke from their ancient sleep
breathed off the dust from their golden cup
drank up, drank deep, deep, deep
and saw my longing to be true
but how could it be false
my love for you,
sweet baby
pulse with my pulse.

v

This is my joy, and every woman's joy
A 'v' for vocal poised against my hips
for visceral, vulnerable, but never broken.
Not for vacuous, victim; virtually a toy.
I feed the wolves with my passionate lips,
bellow my love, let pain scream black and spoken
I dream my pleasures, steep myself in sin
I seek out the beauty and the heart within
that deadly crime
of lust, the curse
of skin.

Women: empowered!

What a fantastic day of empowering women!  Both the exhibition and the play were a great success.  Hundreds of people helped raised hundreds of pounds and dozens of volunteers need to be thanked for help making such an inspiring day possible. 

The exhibition saw approximately a couple of hundred people through the doors of the Great Hall throughout the day with over 20 different stalls.  Furthermore almost £200 was raised for Devon Rape Crisis Services – their first official fundraising event.  And this is of course a running total – we hope to add to that in the very near future.  In the evening we filled the Freddie Mercury Room for a rehearsed reading of the play ‘Seven’ and raised over £100 for victims of domestic violence in Devon with no recourse to public funds.  An inspiring discussion after the play has led to the possibility of Exeter University students forming their own ‘Seven’ group to help continue the fundraising and awareness effort.   If you would be interested in being part of this group, please email gender-equality@hotmail.co.uk with your name and email address. 

All that’s left to say is a personal thank you to all the wonderful volunteers and enjoy the photos!


Thank you to… 

University Staff: Will Page, Emma Payne, Sara Bennett, Helen Booker, Orlando Murrish 

University services: Estate Patrol, Campus Services, Events Exeter, Print Services, Rob Court, Alex Mattingly 

Student volunteers: Harriet Wicks, Lucy Patterson, Lindsay Lyon, Michael Cope, Gemma Mehmed, Rob Sturgeon, Faye Walker, Mira Moore, Carlus Hudson, Phil Smith, Charlotte Whipp 

Local volunteers: Sandhya Dave, Sonia Rashid, Kim Chenoweth, Cllr. Moira McDonald, Mary Lidgate, Jake Ceileachair

Everyone else: All the exhibitors, play performers, visitors, poetry competition entrants

Above: Devon Rape Crisis Services

 Above: Devon and Cornwall Police

 Above: Exeter Liberal Democrat Students

 Above: Gender Equality Society

Above: LGBTQ 

Above: SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone)