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Event celebrates V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women

NOW and Spectrum clubs at Hagerstown Community College sponsored the gathering

February 14, 2013|By C.J. LOVELACE | cj.lovelace@herald-mail.com
  • Linda Smith, secretary/treasurer of the NOW Club at Hagerstown Community College reads a poem by Eve Ensler Thursday during the V-Day women's advocacy event at the school's student center.
By Colleen McGrath, Staff Photographer

Tears rolled down Maria Edmonds face as she read her original poem titled “After,” written as an outlet to her experiences as a victim of domestic abuse.

The emotion on Edmonds’ face, in her voice as she read — even in her breaths between words as she collected herself — was palpable.

“I started writing out of desperation to heal,” said Edmonds, president of the National Organization for Women (NOW) Club at Hagerstown Community College. “And I just felt like writing poetry was an appropriate vehicle to express emotions that I really have a hard time containing sometimes.”

As a way to raise awareness about the topic, a group of about 30 people — including men and women of all ages — gathered inside HCC’s student center Thursday night to celebrate V-Day, a global movement to end violence against women.

“Violence against women historically has been something that we don’t talk about,” said Linda Smith, secretary/treasurer of HCC’s NOW Club. “And we feel that it’s really important that people start to recognize, first of all, that it exists and then start to do things to address it.”

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Sponsored by the college’s NOW and Spectrum clubs, the event featured music by the band, “Luscious Purr,” several videoclips depicting the dangers, pains and challenges faced by millions of women victimized by abuse, and empowering poetry readings in support of the V-Day movement.

Smith said V-Day was started about 15 years ago by Eve Ensler, the creator of The Vagina Monologues, and it has grown worldwide with many events taking place between February and April.

The local event also served to recognize One Billion Rising, a worldwide campaign to end violence against women on V-Day’s 15th anniversary, and it was only fitting to take place on Valentine’s Day, Smith said, “because it’s a day about love.”

“And if we’re going to love women, then we need to help them with these issues of violence,” she said.

Before Edmonds’ poem, Smith read a poem that was written by Ensler in response to the brutal rapes and fatal beatings of women in India earlier this year.

Although she practiced reading the poem before Thursday, Smith could not fight the tears in her eyes either as she recited Ensler’s powerful words.

“I read it the other day to Maria and the tears did not come, but tonight, with everyone there, I just became very emotional,” she said. “You can’t help but feel that way because ... through the poem you can feel the pain of the people who have gone through these kinds of issues.”

Ending violence against women is a topic that people “need to be thinking about all year long,” Smith said, but both organizers were happy to see the nice turnout for their first-ever event.

Smith said she hopes to make it an annual occurrence every Feb. 14.

“It makes me feel good because usually domestic violence is something people don’t want to talk about and just turn the other cheek, so to speak,” Edmonds said. “I think that it is amazing that there are so many people here on campus who feel as passionately about this subject — about this event that we had — to show up.”

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