Take Back the Night in Ann Arbor

The origins of Take Back the Night (TBTN) might be traced back to late 19th century England, where women marched to protest the violence they were experiencing on the London streets. It was not until the early 1970s that the concept made its way to the U.S. The first North American marches were held in Philadelphia and New York (1975 and 1976, respectively) in response to a surge of violent crimes against women. The slogan “Take Back the Night” was adopted by anti-pornography protesters in San Francisco in 1978. This term and what it stood for became the foundation of a movement.

The TBTN movement enables survivors to speak out about their trauma. Women across the country are able to confront and publicly express anger at sexual violence (including rape, assault, harassment, and intimate partner violence), violence against children, violence against women, and victim blaming. Take Back the Night events generally includes a vigil for women affected by violence as well as a march. Marches are currently held in the U.S., Canada, Latin America, India, and Europe.

Ann Arbor’s Take Back the Night Survivor Speak Out and Women’s March and Rally are taking place next week. The Survivor Speak Out is the first event, which will be happening on April 4th in the Sophia B. Jones Room of the Union. The Rally will happen soon after, on April 6th, featuring Senator Rebeckah Warren, who is working on a bill to combat sexual assault and support survivors, along with 2 slam poets, with the march immediately following.

While Take Back the Night was originally a women’s only movement which men were kindly asked to not take part in, it has become a universal one. TBTN now represents a battle against sexual violence in the gay and transgender communities (as well as among the community of women), and takes into account that men can be victims and supporters. Consider joining protesters on campus and in the surrounding community. This grass roots movement is so important, and each event is mighty. As someone who is finishing up her first (and hopefully not last) Women’s Studies class, I cannot stress the importance of activism. Just the concept of coming together to march is itself a protest against rape culture and betrayal by our administration (on the federal, state, and university levels) when responding to and handling cases. There are so many institutionalized notions about sexuality and intimacy at work in our society, and the only way to “de-institutionalize” them is to make them visible. To show that these things are not normal.

It is not normal that 1 in 5 women are sexually assaulted on undergraduate campuses. And that of those 20% of female students, 90% do not report the sexual assault. In a National Intimate Partner and Sexual Violence Survey done by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 in 2 bisexual women, 1 in 6 heterosexual women, and 1 in 8 lesbian women reported being raped in their lifetime. 1 in 2 bisexual men and 2 in 5 gay men reported experiencing sexual violence other than rape in their lifetime. And if the majority in power will not protect women and the LGBTQ community (or at least won’t work hard enough), then we need to protect each other and fight for administrations under which we will not have to worry about this protection. There should be nothing to protect against.


*Note: As we fight for justice, it is important to keep in mind a vision of what justice would look. What does justice against gender violence look like for you?