Take back the what?


We are spread out across the field, singles and pairs and other small groupings. This seems a little bit off to me, though many of us are strangers and our purpose for meeting is such that we might have reason to be wary of strangers. Of course, we also have every reason to come together, to become one group, to eschew isolation. As it is we are a thousand points of light, each illuminating our own few square feet. Little circles of hope in a darkness that has nothing to do with the shorter fall days. We shouldn't stand alone, the thousand points of light is great when you are looking at the world from on high, but while you walk among the fields and the trees, down the streets and through our homes, they fail. We should gather, we should organize, we should come together and form a great blazing beacon. All activism is political, and all political action is, in part, about shaping perceptions. We get together because we want to change the memetic background of society and to do so it is nearly as important to appear to be winning as it is to be winning. An interesting part of memetics, at least among humans, is that the when your memes appear to be popular they often bring other people to accept your memes.

*chuckles* The library computers shut down and I went home and went to bed (well, several hours after that, but still...)

*The Next Evening*

I've come back and I am troubled by something that troubled me while I was writing the original notes for this post. The whole time I was there I was keeping part of myself disengaged so that I'd be able to write about it, and my experience was thus colored by a constant analysis of the hows and whys of the events. It comes out somewhat critical (I like the above imagery, but it distinctly suggests a "here's how it should have been done" tone to the post. I'm not going to change that in the rest of my post, but I want to be clear, in case I get distracted and fail to put enough focus on it, it was a good event run by skilled people.)

The music was a neat introduction to Take Back the Night, a rally and march that, as I understood it was to increase awareness of rape and violence, not exclusively as they are perpetrated upon women, but with a focus on that as a women's issue. (Clumsy wording and not quite true, but it stays.)

Okay, the new dean of women's affairs or some similar meaning of the acronym (OWA) gave one speech. I've been listening to some really wonderful speekers recently who were also great speech writers or who had excellent speech writers. Almost everyone suffers in comparison to, say, Martin Luther King. I occasionally get West Wing syndrome, specifically, I sometimes thing "oh hey, I could be a speech writer and that would be fun." It was in full swing while I was listening to her. She had a really good speech, content wise, she just needed to polish it a little. She spoke about how the issue of rape had changed (possibly only perceptionally) from something that involved a stranger attacking a woman in the dark to something that is done mostly by people the victim knows. Take back the night elicits images of the attacker in the shadows while the reality now (and possibly always) is that most rape is acquaintance/friend/date/party rape and the most common weapon is alcohol. (I'm not sure that this shadow isn't deeper than the darkest alley in the darkest night in all the world, but I digress.)

After making sure to reinforce the fact that men can be the victims of sexual violence, the speech definitely went on to imply (mostly via word choices) that rape was something that happens to women and that is perpetrated by men.

I also found myself triggering on the use of conflict and military terminology in the presentations, but honestly, on further reflection, I'm happy to keep the terms of conflict of socially masculine concepts in this particular discussion.

The second speaker was Toby Strout, the directer of the local women's shelter. She's a stronger speaker and I didn't take many notes on her speech. I did note that I want to think more about "teaching empathy." Also? She had the best quote of the evening. The IDS managed to fudge it and only misquote part of it, but they tried. She said about rape and domestic violence (and any other way that people deny the absolute right of other people to be secure in their selves) "the one thing you can not do and consider yourself a citizen of the world is nothing."

Sadly there were two fliers for the chants for the actual walk and I grabbed the one that was more gender (woman) specific. Mostly the one I didn't grab was the one that was used.

I got one after the event though.

(I also bought one of the shirts. I modified it to make the slogan more inclusive. I'm like that some days.)

1 Women Unite!
Take Back the Night!

2. Yes means Yes, No means No!
Whatever we wear, wherever we go!

3. Claim our bodies, Claim our rights!
Take a stand, Take back the night!

4. We are women, we are men
Toghether we fight, Take back the night!

5. We have the power, we have the might!
The streets are ours, Take back the night!

6. We are women, we are strong!
Violence against us has lived too long!

7. Many voices, breaking silence!
Demand an end to all the violence!

The march was fun, the guys walked in the back and since we mostly all grabbed the wrong flier (not that there were enough of us anyway mutter...) we discussed activism and other points of interest.

When we got to the court house, we broke into two groups, the men and the women. Most of the guys peeled off before our part started. The women gathered and had a discussion of their experiences with violence, we gathered on the opposite side of the building and had a fairly broad ranging discussion.

I understand the need for protected and exclusionary spaces (though I think that they generally should be kept to an absolute minimum. I generally find the value of a more diverse set of cscfs is of primary importance. That's why I oppose gender segregated learning environments beyond the high school level (and I'm not in favor of them below that point.)
I don't think that protected exclusionary spaces and public events mix, but like all of my minor gripes about the event, it fades in important next to the awesomness of the whole thing.

After the discussions, we headed back to Dunn Meadow and I helped with the cleanup of the tables and such. There we demonstrated one of those basic physics things. I'm fairly heavy. The tables were pretty heavy too, but they don't really compete. Most of the people cleaning up were women. They weren't nearly as heavy as I am. I had a much easier time carrying the tables than they did (I team carried them with the other guy who helped clean up. I'll get back to him in a minute. Let's just say for now that he's on the list of "neat people I met because I came to this event") It isn't that we were signifigantly stronger, it is just that moving objects is amatter of matching your momentum to the object's momentum, and my momentum provides me a pretty big advantage in that particular contest. Thus I can carry fairly heavy objects and not get tired because I'm bigger than they are.
After cleanup about 10 of us went on to Noodles or something like that. It's a decent noodle shop on Kirkwood. The noodles were okay, not worth the price, but not bad. The conversation, on the other hand? Excellent. After that we fragmented even further, leaving Ethan (possibly? I know his name starts with an E, also the guy I was talking about above, a browncoat, and my kind of geek. We spent a fair amount of time talking about blogs and bloggers.) myself, Indara (the president of the WSA), and Olivia (again, not absolutely sure about the name, it started with an "o". I'm bad about those things. I know Indara's because I had to look it up for something else.) and we went down to Baked. This is an absolutely awesome cookie place. Their sugar cookie dough is amazing.) We went on to talk until like midnight and all headed off to the winds. (Olivia, if you run across this, Fosse was killed by humans, I went and checked the next day.) I met a bunch of good people doing good works. This was amazingly energizing. Sorry I skipped out on the GoodWill Brie, but you should have too.

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