I did not label myself a feminist until after grad school. I had my feminist click when I was 12, but feminism was a considered a dirty word…I had myself convinced I wasn’t one of “them”. I certainly made some feminist moves in high school. No girls soccer team? That’s okay, I’ll play with the boys. Of course I’m running for Student Council president, why wouldn’t I? I got PISSED that the first College Republicans meeting was going to be a cigar meet up because it exposed a patriarchal society. Fight with Professor Israel about hidden cameras and consent involving alcohol? Hell yeah! But I never attended a Take Back the Night, never set foot in the Women’s Center….I didn’t need feminism.
But I was so wrong…all those moments of realizing it was not fair that I was harassed for being the only girl on the soccer team, not fair that there were people who thought less of my opinion because I was female. When I started grad school and moved into my first professional positions, I realized that there were ideas, words, an entire movement about what I was feeling.
I attended my first Take Back the Night the first time I ran one. I was a little at a loss since most of my knowledge about TBTN came from Katie Roiphe’s The Morning After: Sex, Fear and Feminism. (Which, by the way, I’m a little afraid to read again because my beliefs have changed so drastically since the first time I read it.) “In it, she attacked the anti-rape activists then advocating for blue-light safety systems, date-rape education, and holding Take Back the Night rallies, all of which Roiphe saw as fear-mongering that cast coeds as modern-day Clarissas, all weak and wobbly and awaiting their defilement in the hands of their Delta Tau Delta Lovelaces. Roiphe’s feminist proclamation was that women loved sex too, and that “rape” was often simply subpar sex.” (Rebecca Traister, Salon, 2007) Luckily, that Take Back the Night didn’t echo the idolized victimhood I had come to fear. Instead, it was empowering.
The next year, we took that empowerment to the next level. And this year, not only did we have perfect weather, we had an enthusiastic crowd and students that were so excited to talk about the GOOD things, the Green Dots, they were experiencing on campus. We had acapella, poetry, speeches and whole lot of yelling. And it wasn’t just women. Our men’s group, 1in4, had 15 guys there, other women brought their boyfriends, one of our male professors marched with us.
I love these events…I go home so inspired and ready to do more good work. Here’s our crowd!