Missy Johnston, left, and Marilyn Robie, right, two members of The Bats, performed Saturday night as part of the ‘Take Back the Mic’ program aimed at raising awareness for domestic violence and rape. (Ben Kleppinger)

By Ben Kleppinger

It’s not every day someone tries to raise awareness about domestic violence and rape through rock ‘n’ roll and comedy. But that’s exactly what happened Saturday night at “Take Back the Mic.”Pop-folk singer Christine Lavin headlined the concert in Brock Auditorium, with the local band The Bats opening for her.

The Bats, a rock ‘n’ roll band from Lexington, started off the night with an oldies rock sound. “We do middle-aged women songs,” said Melanie Johnson, a guitarist and singer for the band.

Missy Johnston, a singer for The Bats, described what they do as “rock ‘n’ roll cabaret.”

“We just play whatever the hell we want,” Johnston said.

Craig Cornwell, The Bats’ drummer, said a big part of their show is comedy.

“If you don’t laugh, we guarantee there’s something wrong with you,” he said.

The Bats’ target audience is older women in their 50s, Johnson said.

The lyrics in the Bats’ songs showed how they aim for their demographic. During one of The Bats’ songs about growing old, a singer states, “getting lucky in the parking lot means we found our car.” In another song about unwanted feminine facial hair, backup singers complain, “this goatee just isn’t me.”

Between musical acts, students and other guests went on stage to read statistics about domestic abuse, rape and other discriminatory practices against women around the world.

Marta Miranda, director of the Women’s Studies program, said the goal of the night was two-fold: to have fun and celebrate “women at the mic,” and to raise awareness about the amount of violence women face nationally and globally.

The event was part of a month-long effort to raise awareness about domestic violence, Miranda said.

Richie Schiebelhuth, president of Men Against Rape and Sexual assault, was one of the students who shared statistics during the intermission. Girls are often aborted because parents want a boy instead, Schiebelhuth said. And many girls around the world are subjected to female circumcision and early marriages before they are ready, he added.

Meg Gunderson, the faculty sponsor at Eastern for Feminists for Change, said there are 82 million girls between the ages of 10 and 17 who will be married before they turn 18.

Landon Virgin, a senior social work major, said 21 percent of violent crime against women is committed by an intimate partner, and a woman is beaten every 15 seconds.

“I’ve always considered myself a feminist,” Virgin said. “But after having Marta (Miranda) for a teacher, she kind of took me to that next step.”

After the intermission, it was time for Christine Lavin to take the stage. Lavin, a pop folk singer from New York City, has released 18 albums, the newest of which is titled “Happy Dance of the Xenophobe.”

Many of her songs tackle controversial issues, including gun violence and protecting the environment. Lavin said she receives a large amount of hate mail, specifically about her song “More Than 1,000,000 Americans.”

The song is about the number of Americans killed by guns since Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy were assassinated in 1968.

“I do this song every show because I won’t back down,” she said.

Lavin said she writes about real events because she finds nonfiction more interesting than fiction. There’s no need to make up stories, Lavin said, because “there’s so much truly scary stuff actually going on.”

Lavin said it was a good experience for her to meet so many students concerned about violence against women.

Miranda said she feels good about the potential for change at Eastern. “We have some very powerful feminists on this campus,” she said.