International Women's Day celebration brings discussion of oppression

“Power to the Pussy!”

Seven women clad in matching pink shirts and berets chanted on stage at SF State’s Knuth Hall March 10, as they demanded a revolution in name of this year’s 16th-annual International Women’s Day Celebration.

Art forms of all mediums – including theater, poetry and dance – were incorporated into the event, which aimed to empower women and raise awareness of current women’s issues.

This was the first year SF State hosted the event that usually takes place at The Women’s Building in the Mission district.

According to the ReVulvaLution website, the theme for this year’s performance, more than 900 people attend the event annually.  Loco Bloco, a nonprofit organizations that helped coordinate the event, collaborated with several other groups including The SAFE Place, a campus organization that is committed to combatting sexual violence; the Good Samaritan Family Resource Center; Mission Girls; and One3snapshot.

“Women are naturally creative creatures,” said Aleks Zavaleta, executive director of Loco Bloco. “So it’s a platform to be able to heal yourself as well as bring out education and awareness to the community.”

According to Zavaleta, the event has been steadily growing both artistically and professionally since it first began as a small potluck celebrating mothers.

Now the event is a full production where women who are unable to speak out against gender injustices are provided a space in which they can voice their frustrations through artistic expression.

Each year the event has a theme based on current issues facing women.

The theme of ReVulvaLution challenges women of all ages to recognize and shed demeaning stereotypes in order to create new perspectives of gender.

The issues of body image, sexuality and living with HIV were topics covered throughout the event, which ended with a performance from Loco Bloco’s all-female percussion band, L’Guerreras da Paz.

Kim Moon, a San Francisco resident, has been playing drums with L’Guerreras da Paz since 2006 after she was introduced to the free classes that Loco Bloco offered to the community.

The classes include stilt walking, drums, theater and dance.

She drummed on stage while her 8-year-old daughter and friend watched from the front row of the audience.

“She comes to practices with us and she loves seeing what women can do,” Moon said of her daughter. “This whole environment is probably one of the best gifts I can give her.”

Teaching a new generation of women about sexism and violence against women was the main focus of the event.

According to Zavaleta, society and the mass media form an eraser to the progress made by feminists from the past and girls often don’t realize that they are being boxed into stereotypes.

Brenda Lopez, a high school student from Pescadero High School, attended the event with 10 other girls from the group “Puente”.

According to their website, the organization provides essential services to the people of San Mateo’s rural south coast.

Lopez and her friends enjoyed the event, she said, especially the comedic relief provided by the Pink Pussies, who marched and chanted messages of revolution while wearing ammunition belts loaded with tampons.

But Lopez and her friends did more than just laugh, they learned.

“I realized that women are being put down and that women are usually against each other,” Lopez said. “I think that in order to be able to fight the world, women need to combine and we need to work together and then we will overcome.”

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