Apr

17

Chanting The Night Away

Written by

“Tonight,” declared one of the Take Back the Night organizers before the march, “we reclaim the streets!” And for the 21st time, anti-sexual violence marchers (about 200 this year) took to the streets around campus with a mix of chants and whistles, adding a dose of public emotion to their campaign against sexual violence.

Unlike last year’s version, there was little groundbreaking about the march. For the second year in a row, though, men were allowed to march from the beginning, although a woman-only “safe space” zone at the head of the march remained in effect (when TBTN organizers decided to go equal gender last year, Columbia’s Sexual Violence and Prevention people objected, saying that some survivors preferred marching without men and so the safe zone was created). Men remained about 10-15% of the whole group.

As the group turned off of Broadway onto 116th, the chanting began in earnest: “What do we want? Safe streets! When do we want it? Now!” and “University silence perpetuates the violence” were two particularly common ones, though sometimes the back and front of the march had two rhythms going. But the most ear-splitting effect was when the group used its whistles as a whole – the high pitches bouncing off building facades split this writer’s ear drums quite effectively.

As the march snaked (at various points) along Broadway, Claremont, Amsterdam, and the various cross streets between 113th and 120th, bemused observers hung out of their windows, or stared at the passing marchers. Bwog heard about ten different groups of bystanders having the same conversation: “What’s going on?” “It’s some sort of anti-sexual violence march” “Oh yeah…” Each show of support, though, including from those along frat row (where organizers told Bwog that in decades past was sometimes a site of catcalls), strengthened the spirit of the marchers, who responded with even louder whistles and chants.

After pausing for a traditional moment of silence in the middle of campus, the march returned to Barnard at around 11 p.m. for the speakout in LeFrak gymnasium, always the most powerful part of the event. Students gathered in a pitch-dark room to hear survivors tell their tales from behind a curtain until early in the morning, with audience members (many survivors themselves) often breaking down in tears from the stories.

– photo and story by JCD

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15 Comments

    • are you

      agreeing or disagreeing with that article?

      • agreeing  

        TBTN is symbolically nice or whatever. But let's not act like rape is absolutely RAMPANT at Columbia. Also, the "safe zone" is really offensive, especially to the men who made the effort to come out last night. Just because they have penises they can't be in the "safe zone"? These guys are a fucking threat? What, are they going to rape somebody during the TBTN march? Absurd. You should be ashamed of yourselves. And as a previous poster noted-men can be raped, too. What if one of those men was a victim? I suppose the fact that he has a penis makes him a lesser victim.

        From the article:

        "If the one-in-four statistic is correct—it is sometimes modified to “one-in-five to one-in-four”—campus rape represents a crime wave of unprecedented proportions. No crime, much less one as serious as rape, has a victimization rate remotely approaching 20 or 25 percent, even over many years. The 2006 violent crime rate in Detroit, one of the most violent cities in America, was 2,400 murders, rapes, robberies, and aggravated assaults per 100,000 inhabitants—a rate of 2.4 percent. The one-in-four statistic would mean that every year, millions of young women graduate who have suffered the most terrifying assault, short of murder, that a woman can experience. Such a crime wave would require nothing less than a state of emergency—Take Back the Night rallies and 24-hour hotlines would hardly be adequate to counter this tsunami of sexual violence. Admissions policies letting in tens of thousands of vicious criminals would require a complete revision, perhaps banning boys entirely. The nation’s nearly 10 million female undergrads would need to take the most stringent safety precautions. Certainly, they would have to alter their sexual behavior radically to avoid falling prey to the rape epidemic.

        None of this crisis response occurs, of course—because the crisis doesn’t exist. During the 1980s, feminist researchers committed to the rape-culture theory had discovered that asking women directly if they had been raped yielded disappointing results—very few women said that they had been. So Ms. commissioned University of Arizona public health professor Mary Koss to develop a different way of measuring the prevalence of rape. Rather than asking female students about rape per se, Koss asked them if they had experienced actions that she then classified as rape. Koss’s method produced the 25 percent rate, which Ms. then published.

        Koss’s study had serious flaws. Her survey instrument was highly ambiguous, as University of California at Berkeley social-welfare professor Neil Gilbert has pointed out. But the most powerful refutation of Koss’s research came from her own subjects: 73 percent of the women whom she characterized as rape victims said that they hadn’t been raped. Further—though it is inconceivable that a raped woman would voluntarily have sex again with the fiend who attacked her—42 percent of Koss’s supposed victims had intercourse again with their alleged assailants."

  1. sexism  

    people with penises can be raped..

  2. 1354  

    Speaking of rape, Bwog you missed possibly the event of the week, where Mahmood Mamdani debated Prendergast about Darfur, and claimed that rape in Darfur was no more of an issue than rape in USA, claiming that "armed men will rape unarmed women" anywhere, including in Iraq, and this is a larger problem of society.

    The crux of his argument was that all Darfuri activists must be like Save Darfur who work to promote US imperial interests and a dominant Judeo-Christian world order, and therefore are lie about the facts in Darfur to promote this agenda and bolster their funding.

    How you are not reporting on each and every one of his lectures is beyond me.

    • Sigh...  

      Because someone, a published and tenured professor who has written tree award-winning books on the matter *MAY* just have more insight than you on Darfur....ya big bag'o douche.

  3. the  

    the height of irony is that the traffic jams that ensued as a result of the Take Back the Night march blocked wailing ambulances and firetrucks each time they turned onto Broadway--chanting their support for "safe streets" and denying street access to emergency vehicles for 5-10 minutes at a time.

    • 2040  

      Hello penis-head. I'm assuming you didn't go to the lecture? Did you take the class? No? Well I did both. Brilliant people can say absurd things (see Shockley), and that is why I think they should be covered by Bwog.

  4. duh

    they pretty explicitly say at the rally before the march that men are also survivors of rape and sexual violence. isn't that what the change last year was about, a recognition of this?

    the women-led space is about creating an environment for a gender that is DISPROPORTIONATELY the target of sexual assault. i really fail to understand what is "offensive" about that.

  5. way to go  

    i think you just proved the point. men are also the survivors are rape and sexual violence, but apparently they do not deserve a safespace or any kind of environment. so what if women are disproportionately the target of sexual assault? you then get to turn around and say "sorry dude, i know you've been raped too, but i'm in the majority, so go to the back of the line."? additionally, by not allowing men, some of whom may be victims, into the safe space you imply that these men might make the space somehow unsafe. you effectively brand these men threats in doing so.

    way to go, dumbass.

  6. check your hypehns

    "anti-sexual violence" is not the same thing as "anti-sexual-violence"

  7. umm  

    I'm pretty sure the march did not block emergency vehicles. At no time was an ambulance or fire truck trying to pass us. BELIEVE me, we would have moved.

  8. More current data  

    There are no "set in stone" statistics about rape because the vast majority of rapes are never reported. In response to #5 however, there are many more recent studies/surveys/statistics available. The U.S. Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs: Violence Against Women would be a good place to start.

    http://www.ojp.usdoj.gov/nij/topics/crime/rape-sexual-violence/welcome.htm

    Also, thank you to Bwog for commenting on the serious scheduling errors of the university's various groups last night.

    • food for thought  

      I have heard that men are more likely to be the victims of rape when prison rapes are included into the numbers (I don't have the stats to back this up so you're free to disprove - but I've heard it cited once or twice)

  9. disgusted

    "Also, the "safe zone" is really offensive, especially to the men who made the effort to come out last night. Just because they have penises they can't be in the "safe zone"? These guys are a fucking threat? What, are they going to rape somebody during the TBTN march? Absurd."

    This makes me sick. If you'd gone to the speakout the other night you would realize why survivors of sexual assault may not feel comfortable walking alongside men when asserting their right to a safe street. I know that the TBTN group debated about whether to have the safe space due to some legitimate issues (i.e. some people don't identify as either male or female, male survivors, etc), but the decision was made because survivors requested it.

    So it's offensive to the men who "made the effort" to come out? Men who came to TBTN would not be offended for that reason, because they came to SUPPORT survivors, not get a cookie for showing up. Way to make this all about you.

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