Importance of Taking Back the Night
Take Back the Night is an internationally held rally and march against rape, other forms of sexual violence, and domestic abuse. Historically, women have faced the anxiety of walking alone at night, and that is why Take Back the Night began. This event is held in order for survivors of such violent acts to come together and bond with each other, share their stories, if they wish, and heal the wounds left by their attacks.
We cannot express how important Take Back the Night is to have on campus. One out of four college women reports surviving rape or attempted rape since their 14th birthday. In a typical academic year, three percent of college women report surviving rape or attempted rape. This does not include the summer, when more abuse will occur. In the year 2000, 246,000 women survived rape and sexual assault. This computes to 28 women every hour. As such, this year, The Towson University Feminist Collective (Femco for short) hosted Take Back the Night on Wednesday, April 18, 2012. Our Take Back the Night was inspiring and powerful. Many survivors felt comfortable enough to lean on the audience and tell their story because under the lecture hall became a safe space. Through the cold and rain, people came together. There were people in attendance that the collective have never met before, as well as familiar faces, including staff from Housing and Residence life, students involved in the Student Government Association, the Towson University Police Department, students in Greek Life, and faculty from the Center for Student Diversity. Later on in the night after survivors shared, we marched around the campus screaming chants like “YES MEANS YES, NO MEANS NO, WHATEVER WE WEAR, WHEREVER WE GO!” We got many supportive honks, and our march was incredibly liberating. Finally, we returned back to our rallying space and reflected on the evening with a candlelight circle. All of the survivors that came out to the event expressed feelings of love and safety, which is incredibly important. It was an empowering night, and many transitioned from victim to survivor and from apathetic to activist. The Feminist Collective appreciates The Towerlight for sending out a representative and for all The Towerlight does when promoting student events and showing students who do not know the hard work that was put into these events. As a collective, however, we would feel uncomfortable if we did not address an instance that happened at the event. When survivors gain the courage to speak out about their story, they expect discretion and confidentiality beyond the audience. Unfortunately, a Towerlight photographer was not allowing that sort of confidentiality. Because the event was held outside, the photographer stated he could take pictures without consent. We recognize that this photographer is probably not accustomed to asking for consent of pictures, but it is our opinion that taking photos of the survivors while they are opening up their hearts and telling their story is inappropriate and unethical. These pictures being printed in any news source can lead to serious consequences far beyond not receiving a spread in the school paper. The attackers of the survivors could by chance see their photo and cause more harm and damage.
We believed The Towerlight honestly did not realize how many wounds they would open under freedom of the press. We apologize if the photographer felt any hostility, and it is unfortunate that he felt the need to leave when asked to stop, because there were many other photo opportunities at the event for the photographer to take advantage of, like the empowering march. We want The Towerlight to understand we do not have negative feelings towards them, and hope to work together again in the future. But it needs to be understood that a safe space was violated that night, and we would appreciate it if more was done to acknowledge it.
We appreciate everyone that came out, those who told their story, and those who were touched. The Feminist Collective looks forward to hosting this event again and keeping this event annual.