|Image courtesy of The Sundial, California State University, Northridge|
An October 1979 edition of what is now the Miami Student discusses one of the first “Take Back the Night” marches hosted at Miami University’s Oxford campus. The event was sponsored by the local chapter of the National Organization for Women (NOW) and Miami students. According to the article written by a student staff writer, the march drew a crowd of about 120 men and women.
Though the crowd was mixed with males and females alike, the event was intended for women. An anonymous NOW spokesperson told the newspaper that “[rapes in Oxford are] a serious thing. We’re talking about women’s lives.” The article continues to emphasize the effects of sexual assault on women. In fact, candles and flashlights were carried by marchers as “signs of mourning for women who have been raped and assaulted.”
The march also included a musical performance by Therese Edell, a Cincinnati feminist singer who wrote an original song for the event. The night ended with participants walking to a spot where a Miami student had been assaulted in the weeks prior to the event.
In the years since this early “Take Back the Night” march, we have gained a better understanding of sexual violence on college campuses. That is, women are not the only victims. We now understand that men and trans people are also raped and sexually assaulted. In fact, “1 out of every 10 rape victims are male” and “21% of transgender, genderqueer, nonconforming college students have been sexually assaulted” (RAINN).
The “Take Back the Night” march still occurs each year on Miami’s campus, but it is now sponsored by a student organization called Feminists Working on Real Democracy (F-WORD). The event has adapted to modern times and takes a more gender-inclusive approach. All students, regardless of gender identity, are invited to participate in the event.
Though certain aspects of “Take Back the Night” have changed over time, the initial message remains the same: sexual violence is an issue at Miami University.
Sunday, September 25, 2016