Take Back the Night is a sex-positive, anti sexual violence activist organization serving Columbia University and Barnard College. We work year round to spread awareness of sexual assault and end rape culture on campus. Take Back the Night has four main events each year and, through the diverse focuses of these events, Take Back the Night is effectively working towards changing the culture and policies towards sexual assault, gender based violence, and other on relevant issues on Columbia University's campus.
Rape is a hate-crime. Sexual assault is an act of violence-not an expression of sexual desire. It is a brutal assertion of control that can happen in any relationship, to anyone, regardless of gender.
Sexual violence is an epidemic. Yet the institutions of our society insist on treating this violence as a series of unrelated, isolated incidents. This mentality dictates that we keep off the streets, that when we are harassed we should take it as a compliment, that when we are raped we should get over it. Most security advice offered to survivors is based on a "blame the victim mentality". Too often, the survivor is interrogated instead of the perpetrator.
They tell us it happened because we were on the street, or at home; because we were in the office, or in the classroom; because we were out at night, or during the day; because we were off campus, or our clothes were too tight; because we are queer, or we have the wrong kind of sex; because we are the wrong color, or the wrong class; because we are transgendered; because we are the wrong religion; because we drank too much, or were out studying too late; because boys will be boys; because we were not in our bedrooms, but in the wrong neighborhood. They tell us it didn't really happen because we were dating the person; because women cannot rape, because men cannot be assaulted.
There is no end to the list of excuses. Tonight we remind ourselves that there are no excuses. Excuses serve only to perpetuate the violence. They silence us by convincing us that we are alone, and by ignoring the fact that the violence we face is often interconnected-sexual violence is often motivated by the same hatred that fuels racism, classism, ableism, homophobia, and religious bias. Excuses silence men who have been sexually assaulted along with survivors assaulted by women. They deny our power of survival. These excuses focus solely on our fears. These fears confine us and make us limit our own activities instead of demanding an end to sexual violence.
The excuses end here. Tonight is a night of survival in the most active sense of the word. Tonight is a night of empowerment. We march together demonstrating the strength in our numbers. Sexual assault is disproportionately committed against women; it is often gender-based. Tonight we reclaim the streets as our own safe space. We march because everyone has the right to walk at night without fear. We shout to combat the silence that is forced upon us.
Tonight is also a night of unity. We march as a community to demonstrate our solidarity against the violence that affects all of us, as survivors, and as co-survivors who share the pain of our partners, our friends, our families and our community members. We march because we recognize that only together can we break the cycle of violence. With rage we march and with strength we speak.
Take back the day. Take back the night. Take back our bodies. Take up the fight.
Getting involved with TBTN my first year was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. I've made great friendships through this organization and I love being able to participate in activism and make an impact on campus.
I'm proud that I get to represent and lead this incredible organization to implement truly impactful programs with our thoughtful and driven club members. Our members are incredibly dedicated towards changing these issues, and I'm honoured to work with them on planning and implementing our events and initiatives and look forward to the community we will continue to build and use to precipitate change.