Sunday, February 03, 2008

Take Back the Night

The last march I went to was in April 1998.

I went to the Take Back the Night events and march tonight at Central Connecticut State University. Because I have been asked about what this event is, I'll give a little background info.

Take Back the Night is events/marching to protest: rape/date rape/acquaintance rape, sexual abuse/assault, sexual harassment, dating violence, and childhood sexual abuse/assault. The events preceding and following the march differ from college-to-college (or city-to-city), but there is always a keynote speaker who shares her experience, followed by others speaking out, and then the march. The one I attended tonight had dancing, singing, and a banner contest.

Tonight's events opened with a few short speeches, and then went into 2 latin dance numbers with these excellent sexy dancers. After another brief speech, The Ebony Choir was brought up to the stage where they sang two songs...the first one made me start to cry. After this, the keynote speaker came up. She had been gang raped by 4 football players at a university in 1998. She spoke mainly about her legal procedings because she is pressing charges. After her presentation, they asked that people from the audience come up and share. I listened to so many variations of pain. I saw a lot of women cry. One girl, this beautiful blonde who could have been a model, was sobbing like I have never seen before. That got me started. I can't stand to watch others suffer.

I went up on stage. I didn't know this chance was going to be offered, and I don't think I would have planned to go up if I did. The lights were so blinding up there. I could really only see the people in the first few rows...everything else was blotted out...but I had known the place was packed ahead of time. I did not get into specifics. I just stated the facts on two situations, I named the anger...I think I said the f-word in front of 300 people. The weird thing was, my voice was not shaking...or it didn't sound like it to me. Everybody who had spoke before me was shaky and crying. I could get every word out clearly. It was like an out of body experience. I did not cry. I was not nervous. I just thought the lights were really bright and that I was telling everybody about what happened to me at 15, and then one other time. I think part of the reason I got up there was to be a good role model for kalia...though now I must confess, what kind of role model says "fucking" into microphone at the student center? In front of the police?

I got off the stage and jetted past the TBTN counselors, because I did not want hugs or counseling, I just wanted to sit down. As I was getting to my table, I noticed Kalia had gotten up and was walking up on to stage. Here is her writing about the night. I am very proud of her. She does not speak in public, and I am very proud of the courage to not only say what she did, but to get up at all. I admire her honesty and coherence (and ability to not swear). I hope that speaking made her feel better.

After, we got glowsticks (!!!glowsticks are the best thing ever!!!), and went to march. Because of the construction on campus, we had an extra long walk, which I found enjoyable. I yelled, a lot. My throat is killing me, despite my effort to yell from the diaphragm. I'm kind of sore, but I feel mentally energized.

Oh, and I got a cool TBTN pin and a free bumpersticker that says: "Freedom is never voluntarily given by the oppressor; it must be demanded by the oppressed"--Martin Luther KingJr.

No comments: