The Night Got Took
Written by Bwog Staff
“Do you all have your rape whistles?” We did—we had been asked three times—each time by an eager Take Back the Night marshal. They were roaming the mass of what Bwog estimates was about 300 girls who had gathered in front of Barnard Hall for the march last night and were decked out in purple t-shirts and bottled (for the moment) spitfire and fury. (Spoiler alert: Two Varsity Show people skipped through the gates, grabbed a few rape whistles, and darted back out.)
The marching soon began and taxi drivers and motorists pounded their heads against their dashboards in utter frustration as a hoard of students descended upon Broadway. Traffic—as far as the eye could see—came to a halt and passengers in city buses and taxis descended to the shrill whistles and roar of:
“Whatever we wear, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no.”
“University silence perpetuates the violence”
“Rape is a felony even with a CUID”
Old people were stunned; babies waving from windows were delighted, and the one dog that participated in the march seemed to have consented. Many stopped and offered support—one man pushed his head through the sun roof of his sedan and began pumping his fist and pounding the car horn to the beat of the march. His percussive effects were soon replaced by two girls who joined with drums.
More after the jump.
As the marchers made their way down Riverside Drive, a girl standing on the balcony of St. A’s daintily raised her champagne glass in tacit support.
The crowd over at Potluck House hung encouraging signs, as did the Pike brothers, and members of ADP, Delta Gamma, the IRC, and Sigma Nu.
Last night’s march was different from previous ones, as this year’s TBTN directors pioneered a movement to allow men to march on the streets alongside women. The idea didn’t go over that well with the Sexual Violence Prevention & Response people over at CU, and it took quite a bit of convincing for the march to have equal involvement of both genders. Ultimately, the TBTN leaders’ view that the event A.) shouldn’t force students to begin the march by deciding on a gender identity and B.) should be supportive of male survivors, won out. Though there was a compromise: the front of the march was women-led.
In all, the march was maybe 10-15% male, with Professor Dennis Dalton at the rear and a few boyfriends and Columbia Men Against Violence members scattered throughout. Compared to last year’s march, this couldn’t quite compare. Last year’s TBTN came shortly after the rape of a Columbia Journalism School student in her apartment in Harlem—a tragedy that both frightened students and galvanized 1,600 marchers to take to the streets, compared to this year’s 500 (this is TBTN’s estimate, Bwog thinks it was slightly smaller). Last year, as the march passed frat row, groups of fraternity members broke off and joined the crowd. This year, most of them were at the inter-Greek formal.
The evening came to an end in Barnard’s gym, where students inhaled a dozen pizzas and nestled in blankets while a speak-out—the most emotionally wrenching part of the evening—began. With the gym’s lights turned off, men and women stood behind screens and told stories of their own rape or sexual abuse, or that of a loved one. Girls in the audience, many of whom had similar experiences, began to cry, and others fell silent as they recognized the voices and speech patterns of friends telling stories they hadn’t heard. The event went on until 2 a.m. –AMP
-photos by Kate Linthicum