Talk at UMass Amherst to Focus on How Women Can Resist Violence, Reclaim Empowerment

December 9, 1999

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AMHERST, Mass. - Two weeks after sponsoring a talk for men about ways they can combat violence against women, the University of Massachusetts is hosting a talk by UMass alumna Janet Aalfs focusing on ways women can resist violence and reclaim a sense of empowerment.

"Claiming Power, Facing Fear: Women Resist Violence" will take place Mon. Dec. 13 at 4 p.m. in the Campus Center, room 163C. In her talk, Aalfs will draw upon her combined background in martial arts, dance, and theater to discuss how women can resist the climate of fear that often arises in the wake of violent events.

A poet, writer, and fourth-degree black belt, Aalfs received a degree in women''s studies from UMass in 1979 and an MFA in creative writing from Sarah Lawrence College in 1990. She has conducted numerous "empowerment" workshops throughout the world, and since 1982, she has been both head instructor and director of Valley Women''s Martial Arts Inc., a non-profit martial arts school and community service organization in Easthampton, Mass.

Her poems, stories, and essays have appeared in numerous journals and anthologies, and her upcoming poetry collection "Reach" will be published by Perugia Press in the fall. "The campus has taken a number of steps to address men''s violence against women," says Marta Cal?s, interim director of women''s studies.

"Men have been challenged to join the struggle against domestic and sexual violence, but women need to continue examining their fears, finding their voices, and empowering themselves until we change the culture of violence in our society." Adds Carol Wallace, director of the Everywoman''s Center on campus: "Janet Aalfs'' combined background in reading, writing, thinking, and martial arts makes her an ideal speaker to address these issues."

The lecture is co-sponsored by the women''s studies program, the Everywoman''s Center, the Faculty Senate Council on the Status of Women, the Chancellor''s Office, the Office of Student Affairs, the Alumni Association, and the Office of Human Relations.