Speaking Up & Speaking Out with Fleassy Malay
You’re in for an absolute treat today so buckle the F up! We’re getting a huge dose of mind-bending, questioning of purpose, where do we fit in and how do we live honestly wisdom from a true sorceress of the spoken word, Fleassy Malay. This girl can speak in a way that keeps you hanging off every, single word and there were a few moments throughout, that I just couldn’t stop myself from crying. This woman is an absolute force to be reckoned with. Her dedication to helping those who feel they can’t speak out, do exactly that in a safe and supportive environment, is such a beautiful mission and purpose.
Two times TEDx speaker and viral poet, Fleassy Malay is an Internationally renowned, evocative and powerful spoken word artist, speaker and coach. A global advocate for Women’s rights and a fierce voice for the power of authenticity and courage as a social change tool. Founder of Melbourne’s acclaimed Women’s Spoken Word event, Mother Tongue. A passionate, powerful, vulnerable and honest performer who’s words, workshops, and courses leave a profound impression.
Some Topics That We Cover:
- It’s not honest if you’re living your life behind a mask
- Finding the courage to just exist in a way that genuinely feels authentic to you
- You can’t please everybody, so stop trying to
- Quit trying to be a “nice girl”. She doesn’t really exist
- A lack of self-worth is directly related to feeling you have no voice
- It’s healthy to speak outside of your comfort zone
- Be aware of when it’s not safe to speak up, and be okay with that
- If you have a strong online presence, how can you use it to speak for those who have no voice
- How Fleassy’s poem “Witches” was the right poem for the right time in history
- Exploring who you truly are, how you want to show up in the world, and the steps you need to take to get there
For our podcast listeners, Fleassy is offering 10% off her RISE course program using the code DYNAMO10. Sign up here
Where to Find Fleassy:
Website – http://fleassymalay.com/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/fleassymalay/
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/FleassyM
Debut album – ‘Unhear This’ is an enchanting mix of powerful spoken word and evocative music, featuring electronic beats, traditional folk melodies and sexy bass liners.
Spoken word videos – http://fleassymalay.com/listen/
TedX Talk – Why your words are more powerful than you think
TedX Talk – How being face-blind made is easier to see people
Rise Speaker Training – http://fleassymalay.com/rise-speaker-training/
Read the Full Podcast Transcript Below
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Angela: Hello everybody, it is me Angela Gallo and you are tuning into my podcast Slaying The Status Quo in Total Fucking Style. An audio sensory feast that I have curated explicitly to celebrate every girl, woman, and non-binary powerhouse impacting the world, changing their communities and doing a heap of good simply by showing up as their most expressed selves and challenging the status quo. So buckle up, hold on to your womb, your panties or whatever the hell it is you’re wearing including your birthday suit because it’s going to be one hell of a ride.
Hello everybody, you are tuning in to another fire, “Fuego” episode of Slaying The Status Quo In Total Fucking Style. Today we have Fleassy Malay, and she is basically the absolute personification of brain fuckery, mind-bending orgasms, that come from the tongue of a true poet sorceress. The ways that she has impacted me in just a few short months since I originally heard, Witches which has gone viral, which we will talk about, is really profound. A lot of my personal power has come from expression and that expression has come directly from lyricism, poetry, and reclamation of anger that the birds of conviction and of courage. I feel like she’s really just fuckin rocking and rolling when segueing into these exact descriptions.
Without further ado, let us welcome the incredible tongue twisting and mind-bending Fleassy!
Honey, thank you for being here. How would you describe yourself in terms of title before we kick it off? Obviously, you’re an artist, that’s not even a question, but how would you describe or introduce yourself to my audience?
Fleassy: I am a full power poet, speaker, coach, you have a mask let’s take it off, let’s find our voices.
Angela: Okay, so now that you’ve described that so eloquently I want to bring this into what it means to challenge the status quo and how it is that you are specifically challenging the status quo, bending norms, giving a big roaring, “fuck you,” to everything that is considered parameters, societal construct with the work you are doing?
Fleassy: I think the first step of that is not the work that I’m doing out in the world, but who I am. I’m a woman who has a voice that’s constantly challenging the status quo. As a career woman who has a voice, challenging the status, as a femme queer woman who has a voice doing it again. as a single mother who isn’t just sitting in the kitchen giving up on life like I fucking want to sometimes is challenging the status quo. I think that beyond all that is the commitment to honesty that I have and that deep commitment to my honest experience, to my truth, to my story, to owning my shit, owning when I’m not in integrity, to trying my hardest and doing my hardest. At least practicing what I preach in the world around me and then taking that out into the world and sharing that with the world.
I have this whole thing around the fact that we’re living in a world of bravery, of brave faces. This world where we all wear these masks and we tell everyone that we’re all doing good and everything’s good, but I feel like screaming we’re screaming our fucking hearts out saying, “Somebody see me,” and I’m done with that world. I’m done with those masks. I’m done with bravery.
I’m about courage. I want to show what’s true to myself out into the world like Brene Brown says, “Courage is to tell the story of yourself with your whole heart,” and I really believe that. I see it in mother tongue in the event that I see it in the work that I do, and the effect of my spoken word and my poetry on people and on other peoples on me. When we show up with courage in the world, that shit changes, we change as people. How much compassion and connection we have between each other changes and the way that we can treat each other shifts dramatically. I believe that if we were living courage there’s no way we’d be doing the shit we’re doing to each other in this world.
Angela: My brain is just being like, can you just take me to the sermon of Fleassy and like, can I just come to the shrine and worship at everything that is what you say. First of all, totally echoing the chambers of your heart, and your mind, and your soul. For me, two things here – finding the courage to be, to do, to act, to just exist in a way that genuinely feels authentic to you, is the ultimate challenge of the status quo. As you brought it into just something as simple as being a woman with a voice is a challenge to the status quo, being a femme queer woman, there is no greater truth here. The fact is that it’s not about your work per se in terms of professional, your body of work is your literal body. Your best body of work is your body. It is the ways you exist within your body that is the body of work. The ways you just so beautifully presented that in the ways you exist is where the beginnings of your challenging the status quo and your reinvention starts. Then the way it bleeds into everything else you do is, where it sticks and where it cements. I absolutely love that so much.
I noticed that so much of your work is the kaleidoscope, it’s the non-severed right? You’re about coaching and then you’re teaching people how to reclaim their anger, then you’re doing bits about the courage, and harnessing their courage, then it’s erotic poetry. There are so many facets of you and each one of them adds to the kaleidoscope of your vision, your heart, and your energy.
Why has that been important? Why has bringing every single part of yourself to your body and to your work, been so vital in the ways you show up?
Fleassy: Because segregation doesn’t work. It doesn’t work in life and it doesn’t work in ourselves. To segregate myself up into consumable pieces and give them to the right people, it’s like giving someone only part of a picture. The one that I think you and I have talked about, this character, and it’s a woman who I work with a lot and that is, “nice”. The nice girl, the good girl.
We are so brought up to present the nice girl to the world. How we speak, what we say and the kind of things that we do. I’ve never met her. I’ve worked with women for so many years now and I’ve seen thousands of women go through my work, and I’ve never met the nice girl once. Yet we’re all desperately trying so hard to fit into what society says she should look like, or she should sound like, her job, who she should sleep with and how she should sleep with them. It doesn’t work and what we do is we end up compartmentalizing ourselves until we’ve actually lost touch with who we really are and then we wonder why women have mental breakdowns when they get into their late 30s and 40s. It’s because we spent so much of our life pretending to be somebody other than who we are. It gets to a point where it’s do or die and I don’t want to do that to myself or anybody else to do that. We don’t need to get to breaking point before we remember who we are.
Angela: The nature of everything that I am passionate about right now and so convicted about is obliterating those masks and giving women and people an opportunity to be whatever the fuck it is they want to be by literally ripping the mask off that face for them if need be. Like this segregation, segregation is becoming the poised and separate version of yourselves. I call it breaking yourself into the Horcruxes like fucking Voldemort and sprinkling yourself all over the place to keep yourself alive. You think about the masks, the performance and all these kinds of things, and where your true self comes to be. When I look at self-reverence and the way to really give the biggest, “Fuck you,” to the world and challenge the status quo is to love yourself. It’s not radical self-love, it’s that reverence. It’s that giving space to yourself to be who you want to be because nobody else is going to give that to you. It is just remarkable to me that we are still chasing this idea of the nice girl, the nice woman, is she doesn’t even exist.
We’re all complaining about Maybelline wanting us to look pretty and brainwashing us, we’re all complaining about plastic surgery, the Kardashian’s and how we’re chasing this illusion of perfection. You are so distracted it’s not even funny. You’re chasing an illusion of this nice girl, the nice woman, and you are falling into it. You’re handing over your power voluntarily to be this unrealistic person.
Fleassy: This woman was invented by men. It’s not just passing the blame over to men. It’s not men. It’s patriarchal. This image of a woman was invented by a patriarchal society. A society which is mostly benefited by men and we as women and all people actually have fed into that. It is continually being sold to us and what I like to say for example is around sexuality is that we’ve had our sexuality taken from us at a very young age. We were told that we shouldn’t be sexual, we shouldn’t do this, we shouldn’t do that otherwise we’ll be a slut. We’re told you can’t do this, you can’t be this, and then they say, “You don’t know what your sexuality is. Let us sell it back to you. You can have this much sexuality, but if you cross this line then we’re saying that you’re exploiting yourself. Your searching for attention.
It’s a fine tightrope that women have to walk to be allowed to be sexual beings and it’s not just in sexuality, it’s in so many areas. Like the businesswoman, you can be a businesswoman but don’t be too aggressive because then you’re trying to be a man and don’t be so submissive because then you’re not going to be a really successful businesswoman. Don’t use social media too much or you’re too vain and vulgar. You’re constantly walking these tight ropes and being told how we should be presenting to the world and all it does is keep us simple. We start telling it to ourselves, and we start shaming ourselves and it becomes an internalized misogyny and internalized silencing.
Angela: Then we’re looking at literally the most refined level of pathological lying happening in a way where we are consuming the lies that we are believing, selling ourselves and taking back in all of this based on something that doesn’t exist, and constructs that don’t even make us happy. This is what I think is so comical, is the conversation tends to get so leaning towards conspiracy theory and radical feminist tones.
Fleassy: When you say it doesn’t make us happy, this is the core part for me because if you look throughout history, if you look at any planned marginalization of any people… We’re talking about slavery, we’re talking about racism, we’re talking about LGBTQ issues, we’re talking about gender issues. If you want to take away someone’s power you take away their voice, you want to take away their voice, you take away their self-worth because then you don’t have to do any work to silence them, they are silencing themselves. That is what is happening to women and that is what’s happened to women for hundreds and hundreds of years.
Our self-worth has been diminished. It’s been taken away from us, it’s been ripped down. We don’t even need to be told we’re not worthy anymore because we just believe it. We pass it down to our daughters. No one has to silence us because we are already silencing ourselves.
Angela: That makes me want to cry, and vomit, and set the world on fire, and kiss your face. I truly mean this Fleassy, I am so grateful down in the guts of my loins that I can exist in a time and place where there are individuals like you that have this kind of energy. Where we have the technology to have these conversations, where maybe, just maybe my daughter and my son, and our children have a chance at experiencing what it means to live in a place that is expansive, and collective, and invested in the well-being, I mean genuinely invested in the well-being of everyone beyond just surviving at the baseline expectation.
It’s just an honor for me to be alive right now. I know that these conversations have been happening for a long time. This is not about reinventing the wheel, it’s about the fact that we have never been alive at a point in time where this level of technology and this level of freedom was available for women to speak up. Where people from marginalized communities have had the technology to speak up safely, to experience and to activate change, and to partake in activism in a way that didn’t require them to be vocal or unsafe in public locations. We are really at a massively privileged point in time regardless of where you come from, regardless of your stature, your socioeconomic class, your linguistic barriers or the social disparity. It doesn’t matter because right now there’s a rise up, which is coming from our voices being shouted, and our voices being used on a platform where we can hear each other’s voices.
Do you feel hopeful, or inspired, or even more on purpose knowing that your work is more accessible now, or your art can be heard by more people, or that we are having these conversations in a greater scale? Do you find yourself getting angrier, getting more hopeful? Where do you sit with that?
Fleassy: Firstly, I love your optimism that it doesn’t matter where we come from. I would contest it slightly. I would say that it’s a lot easier in the western world for people to access the internet and share our true stories. But there are still people all over the world who don’t have the access to…
Angela: Oh god yes. Sorry, I should have said. Modern, developed, privileged places is what I’m trying to say.
Fleassy: You know white, straight, men definitely still have more access to that stuff than other people do. We are not the first wave of women and this is not the first wave of time when marginalized communities, in general, are speaking up. As a queer woman in Australia, white, I’ve quite a level of privilege actually to be able to speak my truths as I have access to the internet, as you say, and seeing my work, seeing my art be received in the way that it has been over the last two years has been deeply inspiring. It’s deeply echoing of the need for it. I’ve got my poem Warriors and at the beginning of Warriors I read out a list of the women whose names I’ve heard of who have been murdered by men in Australia, just walking through the streets. I’m not talking about domestic violence, I’m talking of hatred. And it seems that list gets longer every couple of months. I know that the names that I’m reading off a barely a pinch of salt in the ocean of those who have been murdered and killed and hurt. Then you get poems like Witches. So the Witches poem has a line in it talking about we won’t sit any longer while you ponder on our rights. On our rights to give or not give life, on our rights to make another woman a wife.
Now in the last three years, I’ve seen people pondering on our rights to be able to marry another woman and it not being in my hands and not being in the hands of women. I have watched in the United States over and over again over the past few years our rights as women to have claim over own bodies, our own choices, claim over whether or not we have children, taken away from us. The recent stuff that’s been happening out there is intense on that level. So, on one hand, it’s so inspiring that my words are getting out there and it’s so inspiring to see other people’s words saying the same stuff, at the same time it’s so frustrating. It makes me want to scream. How has my poem become more relevant rather than less relevant? How is that happening? It should be becoming less relevant. It should be because more of us are speaking about it because more of us stepping forward that we should be needing it less.
It’s a double-edged sword. On one hand the beauty and power, the immense strength of women sharing their stories and seeing women get stronger, the amount of women that contact me every week telling me that my work has inspired them to leave domestic relationships, has inspired them to find their voice, and do all kinds of things is so enlightening and empowering. It also highlights the areas that we are still lacking in.
Angela: I really do feel moved by multiple things that you just said right now and I really just want to address something right off the bat before I go on. I am in this really strange place where America, for me right now is the scariest place to be alive. I’m Canadian. I’ve been in and out of America since the day I was born. I lived right by the border. I used to have the hugest dreams of living in America. At sixteen I left home and I moved to Hawaii. Hawaii in my brain was the furthest you could get away from the political drama and of course, that was something that came from my privileged white person brain, because then when I went there, I learned so much about culture and history, and everything has kind of dwindled since then. What I find is that especially within the last few years the conversation, the situation, the reality of the dynamic of what it means to be American and live in America is really fucking frightening and it almost feels like I’m speaking about a different planet a lot of the time.
I’ve been working in birth, postpartum and parenting work in Australia for five years and I work around trauma, abuse and grief that extends all the way from Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander and Indigenous sisters all the way to the most privileged white woman you can find in this country, and that’s horrific. Then you go to America and it’s a thousand times that. You go there and it is a place that almost robs me of the hope that I feel when I listen to your work.
It’s this existence and where you know, by no means do I want to be naive, we’re talking about a world, we’re talking about so many countries and so many people and you know, 9000 languages and, and individuals that we won’t even know that exist like this. I read this quote about that if you travelled the world every single day of your life and you went somewhere new every single day, you would still only see like 14% of the world. We don’t even understand how large this is. And, and, and then we don’t even understand how large scale the problem. For example, this week there are three black trans women that were murdered and nobody’s speaking about that in America. Right. And really highlighting the violence against black transgender women in one of those women was Malaysia Booker. I just want to say her name and it almost feels like I’m speaking about an alternate dimension.
Then I also see the incredible work of people like Eric Harden and Leila Sat and Rachel Cargo and these amazing women of color doing this activism. Even in that level of horror and almost unreal level of shit that is happening there against our reproductive rights, there’s still an opportunity to show up online and share the message. That’s what I want to be clear about is that even amidst all of those things, there is a voice being given to people right now that is unprecedented. That is what I’m grateful for. I’m grateful for the fact that if you have access to the Internet right now, you do have an opportunity to use that voice.
And then I think about Nipsey Hussle being killed and the work he was trying to do in the back end to create that revolution, create that change and all of the people around the world. In fact today I’m speaking, at Plan International. They’re running this conference called Girls Get Equal. I’m teaching a workshop on how to use influence in social media to bring awareness to issues around the world. This is the kind of stuff that people need to understand. Even in a place of total despair, even in a place of total political monopoly and dictatorship, places where it is really, really terrifyingly scary just to be alive, I feel like we’re at a place right now where it’s either use it or lose it. Like I feel like there’s nothing left to lose anymore because all we do is keep losing.
So for my friends, my peers, my colleagues and everyone listening who is at a place where they are perhaps a part of a community or demographic and they’re tirelessly trying to activate change in their community, I see you and I’m celebrating the work that you’re doing. I’m celebrating the fact that you’re using your voice. For everybody else, understanding that not taking action is coming from a place of privilege, and not using your voice when there are so many people who wish they had even the opportunity to download Facebook so that they could talk about their day, it’s imperative that you use your voice.
I remember hearing your work for the first time and feeling like, that hope is what I’m trying to bring here. The hope of that permission, that being seen, that feeling like, “Wow, there are other people who feel this,” and not feeling alone. Your work is poetic and yes, it is profound, but I do feel like it’s deep-seated with a level of activism and advocacy that is challenging the status quo to the ultimate. There are not many spoken word female or femme queer people doing this, and the few that are killed me because they’re just incredible. I’m insatiable for this kind of stuff.
Fleassy: There is actually a lot online.
Angela: I’m saying in the public sphere.
Fleassy: Yeah okay right.
If you were looking up any slam or spoken word event in any city in America, and Australia, Melbourne where I am, we’ve got an event on every night of the week. Every single one of those events is fucking blowing my mind, blowing me away and I think that there’s another level of remembering that what gets fed to us is not all of it. Sometimes we have to search for it. One of the reasons maybe we can’t find them on the Internet is because you know that image of people lined up on a race track, and on one side there are four men and on the other side, there are four women. In the men’s side of the track, it’s a clear track, and on the women’s side there’s washing, a baby, there are some dishes and they’ve got to get through all this stuff before they can run. So what can we do then? What can we do for ourselves to make sure we’re accessing marginalized voices? How can we go out of our way to find those marginalized voices? And then how can we, if we have that privilege, what can we do to support the rise of voices that we want to hear more of?
Angela: You do stuff as well in terms of visibility and if you’re a person with a strong personal brand, it is your responsibility to use your platform to bring that attention, that visibility, and that awareness to people who need the help, need the support and need the light shone in their corner. Have you also noticed how the fear of being seen is just one of the most deeply problematic reasons that this mission doesn’t move forward?
Fleassy: Oh, massively. That goes beyond gender, it goes beyond all of it. Most people when they ask what I do, I would say, I’m a public speaking coach. That would be like the most minimalized description of what I do. A lot of people come to me because they’re afraid of public speaking. Now what I say to that and what I have discovered over and over again is no one, or very few people are afraid of the public and very few people are afraid of speaking, what they’re afraid of is being seen. What they’re afraid of is that true self being seen. That fear to be there because of a personal, social, or cultural silencing that has happened in their lives because of self-worth issues. Often that comes back to that fear of rejection, that deep fear that if I speak up, I will either not be heard or I will be heard and they won’t like what I say.
In that is primal fear of being rejected by the community, and what does that mean when we were rejected by our community? What if I speak up and my community doesn’t like what I said? To me personally in the privilege that I have, if I speak up and the community doesn’t like what I say, the most common thing I’m going to get is some dislikes on Facebook. Maybe my numbers will drop a bit. Yet there are places in the world where you are risking much higher stakes. Then we have layers of marginalization. I believe every single one of us on this planet has a marginalization that we are living with.
As women obviously we can bring the story of the witch hunt. This concept of the witch hunt and the modernization reality of that witch hunt that is happening now, with what’s going on in America, with what’s going on all over the world and the silencing of women. The idea that if we speak up about something, there’s a risk there of being strung up and burned at the stake. Figuratively and literally. You have men that have been told their whole lives they shouldn’t feel emotions, that they shouldn’t cry, shouldn’t express themselves and those men, if they do that, they are no longer worthy as a man, no longer worthy of existing. We see tangibly the effect that that’s having on our men and our boys, and as well the levels of suicide abuse, substance abuse and addiction that rises within the community of men because there is no space made in our society for men to be every facet of who they are.
This intersectionality as well. Some of us carry multiple different things too. For example, I am a woman, I’m queer, I’m white and I’m a single mum. All of those things have their privileges and they have marginalization. When those things overlap, that’s what creates me as a being. I think that every single one of us, we have reasons to want to be silent. Like Maya Angelou just nailed it when she said, I might get the exact wording wrong but, “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story,” and she should know, she went silent for years. She didn’t speak for years after being abused. Absolute silence in her life and she went on to be one of the most influential voices in the world. I think when we hold back a part of ourselves, when we keep silent, the truth of who we are, that is a story that is not being told. We can speak up and risk the fires of the outside world, but in most situations, the effect of keeping those stories silent, it is the burning on the inside of us. Nothing will compare to that burning.
Angela: It supersedes anything that is gender, sex, the color of skin. It’s beyond this. It’s the ways that you betray yourself by speaking your truth, sharing your truth, by reviewing your self or self-deprecating yourself, by being seen or by not being seen. In my opinion, the most tragic thing that one can do is betray themselves and believe that betrayal is somehow guised in selfless martyrdom and sacrifice. The worst thing that you can do is ignore the person you are on the inside, is closeting and caging the beast and the magic that is trying to come out without cause. There’s his quote actually from Toni Morrison and it’s, “A writer’s life and work are not a gift to mankind. They are a necessity”. What is at risk when we aren’t seen and when we do not share our story. The fact that it has nothing to do with writing a pretty poem because it’s a nice distraction on a Saturday morning while you drink a cup of tea and you’re entertaining someone.
Entertainment is the byproduct. The gift is a byproduct. The necessity is the point. To be alive and to be within yourself, to lean into the realms of your fullest expression, to allow that to be seen by yourself first and foremost, and then to allow that to be seen by the world, and allow yourself to understand, that it is a necessity. What is at risk when you do not share that which makes you feel passionately furious? What is at risk and who dies when you do not speak up?
It is fucking hard to know within you that you have a message and you have a mission, and you are fighting against every single tide that you’ve been forced to swim in your whole life. I get it.
Fleassy: When we talk about courage it’s telling the story of yourself with your whole heart. That isn’t just words, this idea that Brene Brown has to tell the story of yourself with your heart. When I talk about living courageously, I’m not talking about telling the stories with your voice necessarily. I’m talking like what story are you telling with how you move through this world? What story are you telling by the clothes that you wear, by who you choose to give your money to, who you love, all of this stuff. That is us telling the story of ourselves with our whole heart. I think that also wanting to stick to this idea of not staying silent. I mean there is a woman out there listening to this podcast who actually cannot speak up because it is too dangerous for her. I just want to say that I’ve seen you and I see you.
The violence of the women before us, it’s what kept us alive. So there are times that we may need to stay silent to the outside world. But never stay silent to yourself. When it comes to being courageous, it’s telling your story to the world with your whole heart. You have to tell your story to yourself first, and the first step out of those situations is pushing the comfort zone, not the safety zone. You find safe ways to re-find yourself. Safe ways to find your voice.
I think that that is a really, really important thing just to put out there. Sometimes we speak up and because we’re a woman or we’re queer, the color of your skin, the size of your body, you speak up and someone might go crazy and just turn around and do whatever the fuck they want to you. It’s knowing where your safety zone is and where your comfort zone is.
Angela: Listen to what I’m saying right now and let it permeate every inch of your being. Courage is the story you tell with your whole heart. It is not something that can be looked at linearly. It’s not something that can be looked at one dimensionally. “I have to be seen? Are you going to put me on a public platform on a stage with a megaphone?” The answer is, no. What you just said is so profound. It’s about where are you buying your food, how are you cooking it and how do you look at yourself in the mirror in the morning?
If you are here right now listening, there is an opportunity for you to honor that truth within yourself, lean into a place and find that safe container and zone. The discernment I want to make here is there is a difference between finding a safe container and parameters in which you feel physically and emotionally safe perhaps from assault and violence or an intense confrontation, and self-sabotage or just waiting to never feel uncomfortable. There is a lot of glory and there’s a lot of growth that happens in being uncomfortable. I just want to make the discernment here between being unsafe literally and just being uncomfortable.
Fleassy: I have this perfect scenario that I play out for this. I’m in the center of the circle, there’s a circle around me that is my comfort zone. And then at the edge of that line is the safety zone. So from me pushing my comfort zone could be writing an erotic queer poem about possibly fantasizing masturbating about a woman and going to an open mic in the north side of Melbourne and sharing it on the stage, right? That’s pushing my comfort zone. But I do know that it’s north side Melbourne, so I kind of know that it’s actually going to be safe. I’m probably not going to get attacked. I might make people feel uncomfortable, but really it’s my comfort level on that stage more than anything else.
Pushing my safety zone is me getting that same poem, walking into a pub somewhere in the world or in Melbourne where there is a group of like skinhead people with, “I hate the gays,” tattooed across their forehead and me standing on their table doing the same poem. It’s about consciously knowing where our safety zone is and where our comfort zone is. For example, the Witches poem <link>, when I wrote that there was a fire in me burning, and I was like, “I can’t just have this on the page. This has to be spoken”. My body was shaking the moment I finished it and I went on Facebook and I put a post to my personal community, “Hey, I need a woman to call me now so I can read her this poem”. My friend Fenella, she’s a rapper, lives in Tasmania. She rang me up. She was like, “Babe, I’m on a bus. I can’t talk. Just tell me the poem,” and I did. I just read it to her.
That was my first step. Like, right now this poem feels like fire. I don’t know what to do with it. I read it to her, put the phone down and opened up Facebook Live and did it on Facebook Live. Doing it on Facebook Live was pushing my comfort zone. The first one was in my comfort zone, but I didn’t feel like it was pushing my safety zone because I’d run it through with one of my sisters. One of the people who I felt safe with. That one video reached like 100,000 people just off of a Facebook Live on my personal page.
That went crazy and it was from there that we ended up doing the big vid<check> which is the video that’s now at 2.8 million views. I guess what I’m saying with that is, when you take those little steps, they don’t have to be over a long period of time. That happened within the space of five minutes, but no one else can tell you where your comfort zone begins and where it ends and when you should take that step. Only you know that.
Angela: Honouring as well the instinct of the intuition because there’s a difference between your self sabotaging yourself by creating excuses and indulging those excuses, versus you’re spleen being like, “Hey, this is not a safe situation. Why don’t we do this instead?” I know for myself personally, I’ve dealt with a lot in the last few years sharing my messages online. I’m a queer, white woman, I’m covered in tattoos, I’m a little bit too loud and that has attracted a lot of really shitty energy. I’ve lost Instagram accounts, I’ve lost Facebook accounts, I’ve been harassed, I’ve had my phone called, I’ve had everything that you can imagine thrown at me, and I had to learn really fucking resourceful ways on how to be covert, how to create containers for myself and then slowly push further, further and further until I felt safe enough, which has been this year, to go beyond every container that I had and smash through all of those. Which of course comes with risk, but any visionary is going to have those.
Any person who has a big mission and message is going to feel this. I love that you bring it in to the starting small and also understanding that even starting small is not going to mean that you’re going to avoid judgment or confrontation, or that it’s going to make being vulnerable any easier, but there are ways that you can systematically, soulfully and strategically lean into that, create those containers and get ready for the quantum leap and climb those echelons in a way where you do feel safe sharing your message, even if it’s one friend at a time. You look at anyone who shares their art, it’s usually their immediate circle and then it goes from there. We all do this. I don’t even know one person alive who just thinks of an idea on the toilet bowl, refines it and puts it out to the world. We all test the waters and so because of this, that’s just such a really great way of making it easier.
I’ve got a question for you when Witches came out, we know the relationship we have with the word, those feelings of oppression, suppression, that history of witches, the history of healers and women and people. How did that feel putting that level of work out into the world? Did you anticipate that it would get the receivership that it had? Were you slightly terrified, challenging the norms and the views of what a witch was as you did that?
Fleassy: The story of writing it is, I was just driving to meet a friend and the words started pouring into my head. You know the Elizabeth Gilbert’s Tedx <link> where she talks about the genie and she talks about, I think it’s Tom Waits who’s driving along and a song comes in and he just shouts out to his genie, to the universe, “You know what? This is not a fucking good time for this. If you want me to have this song, you need to wait so I can actually write it down.” I felt like that. So I drove and I met my friend, we had a chai and then I went to the toilet and it started pouring in on the toilet and I was like, “Stop. No,” I went back and I finished my chai and I got in the car.
By the time I pulled into my driveway, I couldn’t stop it and it was flowing in. I ran into my house, sat down on my computer and typed it as it came into my head. I never edited it. What is on the Internet, came through and it was fire. It was burning in me and I wrote it on the page and I was shaking. I was like, “This can’t stay on the page. It has to be spoken”. I knew at that moment something had come through. Three days later the Me Too movement started. For me, that same energy was wanting to come down. The energy that in some people pop through as the Me Too, popped through to me as that Witches poem.
I don’t think I logically knew what that meant numbers wise. So I thought maybe, twenty-thousand people might see it. That would be mad. I remember saying that on one of the Facebook groups I’m on and this girl was like, “I see sixty thousand easily. Then to have it get to 2.8 million through Uplift Connect version of it that they put out there, plus another twenty or thirty thousand on Youtube. That’s not views, that’s individual new views.
I think I’ve been very lucky that I’ve never really had haters. I have had haters, but the haters that I’ve had come at me with stuff that makes no sense to me, so it doesn’t affect me. When Witches came out, the only negative comments I saw come through were from maybe extremist Christians saying that I was going to burn in hell, which doesn’t mean anything to me because I don’t believe in hell. Or they were from men saying, “What about the male witches?” Which means nothing to me because it’s a completely different conversation they’re trying to have with me. It’s definitely relevant, but it’s not the conversation that I’m having. The same with my Tedx.
When my TedX came out and I looked at the comments on that, it was people going “Never trust a woman with blue hair,” and I’m like, really? I’m here talking about being courageous and you want to tell me that you shouldn’t trust people with blue hair? You aren’t even in the arena.
The other thing with the Witches poem is I was 100% in integrity with everything that I said in that poem. The truth is when I listened to that poem, there is nothing in there that I don’t feel integrity with. I wasn’t afraid. I didn’t have fear. The fear I had was not knowing as an artist and a businesswoman what to do with the attention when it came at me, because I was not prepared for it at all. My Facebook page at the time had four hundred followers and I never used it. Then suddenly, Witches went viral and I had around three hundred people in a few hours trying to add me on Facebook as a friend. I transferred people over to my page and I’ve now got eleven thousand people in a year that follow me. How do I energetically deal with this? It was really intense the first few days. I could feel one and a half million people seeing my face and hearing my words. I had to check out of the Internet. I had to go and have a massage and lie down and be looked after.
Angela: Having yourself be revealed in a way that you hadn’t even anticipated. Talk about taking your visibility, your understanding of visibility to a whole new level.
Fleassy: I don’t know if you know this about me, but I actually have a neurological disorder that means I can’t recognize faces. That was what my second TEDx was about. I already get social anxiety anyway because a lot of people know who I am and they recognize me from stage within my local community. But to have that shift to be wherever I go in the world if someone can approach me and go, “Fleassy, hey!” Because people feel like they know me really well and I haven’t got a clue who they are. So there was all of that going on to me, and then there was the business side of it. Like, I’m supposed to be leveraging from this and not knowing what the fuck that meant. I came to Australia with sixty-four dollars to my name in Thai Baht six years ago, and since then I have built an empire around mother tongue, I’ve birthed a child and all this other stuff. I’m not one of these people who came out of corporate and moved into the arts. I came out of the streets. I was living on and off the streets for years and so I was not prepared.
Angela: I love hearing the back story on things. I came to Australia with like three thousand Baht. Seriously. It’s really cool to hear that back story. I really want everybody listening to know that deep within themselves that despite anything that they are telling themselves about being an introvert or being quiet, there’s an opportunity for you to believe that you too can create something as monumental. I know there’s going to be lots of people listening who look up to you, who have been grossly moved by you, and I love that you’ve shared that about yourself.
Now Fleassy can we close off with two things. I think it would be so cool if you could possibly read off some of your work if you feel so inclined. Even if it’s a snippet. Then I’d like you to tell people where they can find you, how they can work with you, where they can buy your work and possibly just your last perspective, your golden nugget, your clitoral pearl of wisdom that you want to leave with everybody trying to Slay the Status Quo.
Fleassy: Would you like Witches?
Angela: I would love that.
Fleassy: Cool. I’d be happy to give you Witches, and I’d like to give you two pieces if you’d be up for it?
I fell in love about six months ago to somebody who is just fucking blown me away every day since then. I had been going through this journey with this human, this man for start. I fell in love with a cisman. We’re in a poly relationship. He has the capacity to have many lovers at once, and the shit that comes up in me in that story. So I wrote this poem looking at that and how the way that he responds to me, he’s actually Slaying The Status Quo.
“When I say “I don’t trust that you love me for who I am”
What I am telling you is “I have been told my whole life that I can not be loved simply for my self”
When I say “the other Woman is more beautiful, clever, inspiring, sexy, fun”
What I am letting you know is “I have been taught my whole life to compare myself to my sisters… so there are times that I no longer really know what’s true, and it destroys me from the inside out. That in these times I can not see my own light, can you help me? Remind me?”
When I say “I don’t think my opinion/feeling/experience is worthy of speaking”
What I am telling you is “I have been told my whole life to be silent/quiet/small. I have been talked over. I have been told I don’t know what I am talking about. I have not been offered opportunities to learn deeper about things purely on the credentials of my gender.
I have been told over and over again that what I feel and experience is not truth but the wildness of a woman’s landscape.
I have been told I could be institutionalised for those things. I have grown up to the sounds of women’s nails on concrete walls searching for a way out of their own emotions, for an escape from who they are, for a gateway back into acceptance”
When I am saying “I’m too fat/skinny/tall/short/queer/etc to do that”
What I am telling you is “I can not trust I am safe to do that, because society has told me, in so many ways, that I cant/shouldn’t. It is so ingrained now that I do not know the extent of my power, my capabilities.”
When I say “I can’t wear that because I’ll look like a slut”
What I’m letting you know is, my whole life my worth had been reduced to how I look, that if I do not look worthy, then I am not.
What I’m saying is that my sexuality has been stolen from me and sold back to me again with harsh guidelines…ones that if I cross I am left not worthy. That my sexuality is not mine to own but others to put upon me and I must be consumable in the most palatable way… else I risk judging eyes, whispered comment, groping hands, rape, death.
When I am saying “I struggle to hear you when you say that you love me”
What I am telling you is that I have been told not to love myself from the earliest months of my life. I have been told that love is conditional and I am in no condition to receive it.
That I can only be loved if I look, act, speak, think, and work in a certain way… and I know deep down that I am not, and never could be that. So I believe deep down, based on these conditions that I am not, and never could be worthy.
What I am saying is “I am unpacking all this bullshit.
I am a battlefield of scars trying desperately to grow poppies.
That I function.
I function really well.
But there are times when I have to sift through and counteract a lifetime of statements made about me before I can find the truth.
That I am still finding the truth.
That I’m still unpacking this… Every moment of every day.
When you sit there… and hear me say all this.
When I am wild, raw, crying… When I am closed, shy, small… When I am not in my most shining self
…yet still you bask in my glow
When instead of hearing “You are failing me” you hear “society has failed me and I can not help but project that on to you right now”
When you hear me
And in response
you tell me you love me
You tell me over and over again…
Uttering my light
Fueling my worth
Reimprinting my self back onto myself..
and then you walk away without judging me for being emotional, hysterical, slutty, bitchy…
You walk away carrying that compassionate incandescent image of me in your heart.
Hundreds of years
Of systematic silencing
Of cultural shaming
Of patriarchal wounding
Angela: Oh my Lord. That was stunning. You are stunning and everything you write is stunning. That just fits so beautifully to what we spoke about and how you are radically challenging the landscape of everything we know by challenging everything within yourself and letting an energy that challenges you. Fucking beautiful. Okay, please continue with Witches, and I’m going to keep crying.
In the past they burnt us
Because they thought we were Witches
Just because we knew what to do with herbs outside of the kitchen.
Because we knew how to dance
How to seduce
How to pray
Because we moved with the cycle of the moon.
In the past they burnt us
Because they knew that we
So now we cast spells with our mouths
Pieces of our hearts spill out
It is incredible
The power of a woman
Who is not afraid to say
No we wont sit any longer
While you ponder on our rights
On our rights to give or not give life
On our rights to make another woman our wife
On our rights to be safe
To be paid an equal wage
To have a voice
In a place where we might actually make a change.
It is incredible
The amount of ways they have slayed just to keep us small
If they could of they probably would have burned us all
But they couldn’t with fire
So they did it with words
Laid down laws to determine the amount of our worth
Kept up in contracts
Separated our circles
Erased us from pages
And made labour saving devices
It is incredible
How quickly knowledge can fade
How much effort was invested
To lead us astray
But we will not come quietly
…Well… that is another thing they have tried to take away
Our rights to exclaim ourselves ecstatically
We…will not cum/come quietly.
We will open our mouths
Let our spells spill out
Cast poetic prayers into the the night
So every woman can hear the howl of her sisters delight
Reminding her that her voice deserves to be heard.
Let her jaw drop.
Let her shame stop.
Let her body scream
Under the self-pleasure of what it means
To be a woman who can speak freely.
You see words carry meaning
And they have fooled us for so long into believing
That “No” means “Yes”
So much so that I am almost impressed
I have finally discovered that they are right
So I have claimed back that “No” as mine
Because every “No” I throw
Against their forces
Is another “yes” I retain
For my own self worth
It’s a spell I cast
For my own protection.
It is incredible
The power of a woman
Who is not afraid to say
And this old witch
Well I am done with broomsticks
and “know your place!”
This witch knows that some knowledge just wont fade
That every woman is my sister
That through the hubble and the bubble
And the toil and the trouble
We grow stronger
When we cast our spells together
That we entered the fire
Now we rise from the ashes
And we are holding our candles
And lighting our matches
So that the night becomes lighter
And our voices can grow
Because we have remembered we are Witches
And we have learned to say
Angela: Can I keep you in my pocket and then can I put you on my dresser and you can just poetically recite all of my life? Could you do that? Can I engage you to speak my eulogy, is that possible?
Fleassy: Yeah. I’ll do your eulogy.
Angela: Before I wanted David Attenborough to do it and now you just shit all over David Attenborough.
Fleassy: Woah, I thought only gorillas and bats could shit on David Attenborough. leveled up in life.
Angela: You’ve up leveled babe. This is a fact. Sorry, David Attenborough in case you hear this.
Fleassy: I do still want him to be my granddad though.
Angela: God, I would most likely try and kiss him. I love him, but I love you more.
Thank you for sharing your energy, your love, your light, and your magic. How can people find you? How can they work with you?
Fleassy: If you want to work with me, you can do my Rise, my online program, Rise Speaker Training, which is exactly all this stuff. How do we claim who we are? How do we claim our voices? How do we start from a place of courage and speak from that place? You can find that on my website;. You can also follow me on Instagram and on Facebook.. I continuously put poetry up and do these Facebook lives and continuously share myself on those platforms for free. It’s such a pleasure to share my stuff with you.
If you want to do Rise, we do have a little code. Because you’re all absolutely epic humans that follow this wonderful woman right here, you can just use the code DYNAMO10 for a 10% discount. Then you get to come and join me and the incredible group, and it’s all genders inclusive because I believe everybody deserves a voice but it does come from a Feminist Woman Lens. I will say that.
Come and join us and speak your truth. It’s more than a program. It’s an online community almost because once you’ve signed up, it’s not like you do it once and then you’re off on your own. You’re part of the community, you can do it over and over and over and over again. As many times as you like with us. Every live round I do, you’re welcome back for no extra cost. So it’s a really beautiful, way to create a community of people who are all visioning.
Angela: I’m so glad you’re alive. I have had the sickest guests ever on this podcast. Like every single person blows my mind. Do you know what also is so strange? Every single one of you has referenced Brene Brown. That says a lot about the aspect of vulnerability, the aspect of leaning into that vulnerability, courage, conviction and all of the things, and why amplifying and sharing your mission and message is critical.
If you’re going to challenge the Status Quo, it’s got to be a part of the process. We’ve got to make love to that vulnerability. Dance and enjoy that process. Thank you so much. Obviously I’m kidnapping you to be speaking and moving people at my radical resurgence retreat in Bali in February 2020. This thing is just the biggest undertaking of my life, and not logistically. I mean soulfully. I love you. Thank you so much for being here. Have the best day.
And for everybody listening, if you know somebody who is actively Slaying The Status Quo in Style, please make sure to send them my way. Alternatively, if you are that person, hit me up firstname.lastname@example.org for a podcast feature. I hope this episode inspired you as much as it moved me, and remember that ass shaking is only as much fun as you make it. Have a great day. Bye guys.
If you have a body of work or mission, a message that has been founded on the basis of being the lone wolf and persisting in a state of conviction, and passion, and self belief, and ruffling feathers, and breaking the rules you and you know, getting down with your bad self, well I want to hear from you. Head on over to angelagallo.com or simply look below in the show notes and there’ll be a straight up link for you to get me your information and get the world your inspiration.