Every year, sometime between September and November, Take Back the Night (TBTN) takes place in many countries all over the world, a rally and march to protest against and create awareness around sexual violence and the fear of that violence women feel in public spaces, especially at night. Since its inception in San Francisco in 1987, the rally and march has grown to include protesting against all forms of violence, including intimate partner violence and street harassment, abuse that happens overwhelmingly to women-identifying folks. The systems that allow these violent acts against women to occur with such frequency are still firmly in place. They are not only sexist in nature but also racist, transphobic, xenophobic, classist, colonial, homophobic and ableist, which are sadly at the root of our cultural norms. This is why Take Back the Night remains ever-relevant today and ever- important, as a movement.
Each year in Winnipeg, we have our own TBTN march, organized by a group of community volunteers that are involved in various Feminist work throughout the city. Each year, we also pick our own theme around issues of sexual violence. This year we chose to go with “We Believe Survivors”, a powerful message to all survivors of sexual violence and really, a statement at the root of the entire TBTN movement. In our current cultural environment, one that normalizes sexual violence, survivors and their stories are often systemically, communally and individually, questioned, devalued or outright ignored. Survivors are routinely blamed for the violence they’ve endured and are silenced in many ways. TBTN is a movement that aims to shift this current culture towards one of consent and one free of isms; it creates a space for the voices of survivors and shows solidarity and strength in the cause to fight rape culture and toxic masculinity. The aim is to have women, non-binary folks, trans folks, people of colour and people with disabilities feel safer, not only in public spaces, but in intimate and private settings, as well. We need to believe people when they tell us that they have been abused and we need to support them. We must realize that the current culture we live in is one that encourages violence against women and devalues, degrades and disrespects them, and in doing so, disrespects all of humanity. We also need men, especially straight, cis-gender men, to listen to women and to act as allies by calling other men out in their sexism and abuse. This is a movement lead by women but we need our allies to pull together and support us in the creation of a new culture, and have people realize that, in this new environment, everyone would better thrive, not just women.
Please join us on Thursday, October 19th , at the University of Winnipeg’s Riddell Hall for this year’s Take Back The Night rally and march in support of survivors. Rally begins at 6:30 PM in Riddell Hall and the march will begin at 7:00 PM. The march typically takes 20 minutes and will take us into the West End and end back at the University of Winnipeg. The march as well as Riddell Hall are fully accessible. Aside from the rally and march, there will be speakers, music, a photo booth and snacks. All genders and abilities welcome.
If you’d like to donate to Take Back The Night, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Guest post from Erika Reis, Sexuality and Reproductive Health Facilitator with the Sexual Education Resource Centre