Dear interested reader of our humble little column: did you skip this semester’s Take Back the Night? Too much homework? Weren’t motivated? Binged that new Netflix show you’ve been meaning to watch instead?
Or did you think your gender was excluded altogether?
If you answered yes to any of those questions, step it up.
When I read in last week’s coverage of Take Back the Night (TBTN) that many male students on campus were under the impression that the event was female-exclusive, my heart sank a little bit. As someone who worked tirelessly alongside my fellow Dub members, countless advocates, and other volunteers to make TBTN and Purple Week a success, I immediately searched my brain to find where we had gone wrong to perpetuate such a misconception about attendance. However, I then I realized that nowhere was it stated in any way that there was a gender-specific attendance policy. Then I got pissed off.
If you, dear reader, are a male who did not attend TBTN because you heard it was a female-exclusive event, please, please, reassess your priorities. Unless the event is too emotionally difficult to you as a survivor yourself, you have little to no reason for not attending Take Back the Night, or any other event in which survivors of sexual assault are given back their agency and the opportunity to fight back against sexual violence.
I’m tired of people making excuses for rape culture. I’m tired of people, especially those with privilege, submitting to complacency on issues that are literally killing our fellow human beings. I’m tired of people using their ignorance as an excuse to stay complacent. I’m tired of people thinking that something like sexual assault is ‘not their problem.’ I’m just so damn tired.
Look, I know, or at least certainly hope, that most of you reading this do in fact care about the well-being of your fellow humans. I’m sure most of you agree that sexual assault is a horrible, terrible, intolerable thing, and I’m sure many of you don’t intentionally try to perpetuate sexual violence. But your lack of support for events like TBTN displays a sense of privilege and complacency that is nothing but harmful to the fight against rape culture.
Not attending an event like TBTN is frankly irresponsible as a young adult on a college campus: an environment where rape culture runs rampant. Especially as a cis, white, straight male, not attending and supporting survivors of sexual assault perpetuates harmful stereotypes about your community as well (not that that should be the only criteria for attendance). I, and many of my housemates, when advertising the event, stressed that TBTN is one of, if not the most important event to attend each semester. We weren’t joking.
Growing up in the society we live in, rape culture is instilled in us from a very young age; from problematic cartoons to playground games, there’s no way to escape it. We can, however, work together to unlearn it, and the first step in undoing the implicit misogyny instilled in us since birth is prioritizing events like TBTN that break the silence surrounding sexual assault.
Next semester, schedule one hour out of your week to attend TBTN. Hold off on that Netflix show for just one more night. Bring a friend. Make Take Back the Night a priority. You have no excuses, right?