In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution (The Socialist Podcast) Heather interviews the internationally known poet Fleassy Malay. Heather spends some time fangirling and even breaks into tears near the end of the episode when Fleassy is kind enough to do a performance of her poem “Poppy”.
Fleassy Malay is poet who focuses on speaking your Authentic Voice
Fleassy joins the show from Melbourne Australia so its very late for her, but she was gracious enough to talk for a while. As Heather is chugging coffee trying to wake up, Fleassy is settling down with a cup of tea.
Fleassy Malay broke onto the international poetry scene when Uplift published a performance of her poem “Witches”. You can listen to that poem here. This extremely powerful poem spoke to the power of a woman who has the courage to say “No”.
Women and #MeToo
This poem flowed through Fleassy, demanding to be written. She was driving to a meeting when the muses of poetry screamed into her head. The lines poured forth as they are in the poem. Since it was such a bad time, she demanded the universe wait and give her inspiration at a more appropriate time. Thankfully the universe cooperated, and “Witches” was born at a time when so many of us need to hear it. Just 3 days after she finished this poem, the #MeToo movement began. Clearly this was something bubbling around the psyche of women around the world.
The #MeToo movement was empowering for many women, but since Fleassy had already poured her story out here, she pulled away from the movement. She self-isolated since it all felt too real for her. Much of the power of the movement came from untold stories. So many women carry those untold stories with them their entire lives. It was like a floodgate opening for women to share their truth.
The women discuss how troubling it is that women must rip themselves open and share their scares to finally be believed. Society does not put a premium on believing women. Women of color feel this even more. Toxic masculinity is rampant around the globe. Privilege, disrespect, and entitlement can be a toxic brew. The culture we live in seeps into us and forms us as much as the food we eat.
Niceness is a Lie
Fleassy discusses how her entire life she has been taught she does not have the “right” to say no. This poem is a celebration of reclaiming that word. Many women are taught to be polite to avoid being a “tease” or a “Bitch” of “unfriendly”. Fleassy says women are taught to be “consumable”. That niceness is a lie.
It’s a realization to see that an external “no” is actually a “yes” for your self-worth. This realization especially came to Fleassy after having a child and really seeing what not being able to say no feels like. No is a very underestimated word. It’s a way of expressing your authentic self. Which is very important for all of us to do. Fleassy leads workshop on how to speak authentically. The more authentic your voice, the more power you have.
You can sign up for RISE speaker training here. The next live classes start in October but you can sign up any time.
Society can be isolating. Heather, of course, blames capitalism. Speaking more authentically can help break down that isolation and make real connections. All voices deserve to be authentically heard. Fleassy jokes that Heather is one of those people who talks to others in checkout lines. Which is true. You can hear Fleassy elaborate on authenticity in her two TedX talks, which she recorded back to back. In her second of the two talks she talks about her disability which prevents her from recognizing faces and how that affects her connections with others.
Fleassy delivers a moving performance of “ Tall Poppy” which makes Heather start crying.
Heather and Fleassy discuss what this poem means to each of them. Then they discuss the activist community and how we all need to be lifting each other to shine. Activists struggle with their own self-worth every day. This can take a toll on those who try to fight to make the world better. Its easy when hating the system to turn that hate onto yourself. The key takeaway, is you are good enough. We all have the power to change the world.