May 4, 2010

Students rally to "Take Back the Night" from sexual assault

More than 40 students protested sexual violence at a Take Back the Night rally Thursday evening on the Barlett Quad.

The event, organized by the University's chapter of the National Organization for Women, featured speakers on sexual assault, a moment of silence for assault survivors, and a march through campus.

The audience was upbeat and responsive, cheering the speakers on. The rally marched through campus, yelling, “Yes means yes, no means no, whatever I wear, wherever I go.” Ralliers carried signs reading “Hell yes I’m angry” and “Consent is sexy.”

Second-year SSA student Ursula Wagner, a member of the working group for the sexual assault policy, referenced the recent vote on the University’s sexual assault polity. She celebrated the results, saying, “Yes, we’re angry about sexual assault, but we’re also proud about what that anger can do.”

A moment of silence was followed by a moment of rage, in which the participants, standing in a circle, yelled as loud as they could, an embodied reaction to the participants' reaction to sexuaul assault.

Speakers discussed the culture of victimization around rape. Jean Brumfield, a community organizer at Hull House, dismissed arguments that attractive women invite sexual assault on themselves. “We never say, ‘That’s a really nice car. Why’d you buy that car? You’re going to get jacked,’” she said.

Catherine Moore, a legal director for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitations, spoke about the need for political reform. "The fact that you’re here today means that you’ve rejected the flawed criminal justice system. You’ve rejected the lie that rape is inevitable,” she said.

Take Back the Night is an international movement, named after a 1977 speech given at an anti-violence rally in Pittsburgh.