October 12th, 2005
Back to opinion columns.
Take Back the Night 2005
I attended the 2005 Take Back the Night rally/march/vigil on Monday night. I have attended several TBTN rallies, and the event is always moving. Selected pictures from the event are below. Note the orange banner, which I helped paint.
TBTN started with a candlelight vigil in Dunn Meadow remembering the women who have been victims of violence. One of those was Teresa Farrell, a Monroe County jailer who was murdered by her boyfriend a couple years ago. Next, the people in attendance (I guessed around 200) marched to the county courthouse and separate "speak out" events were held for men and women.
The annual march raises awareness of violence against women, such as rape and domestic violence. The question on everyone's mind was "what are we going to do to stop future violence?" Some of the demands include giving the campus judicial system more authority to deal with rapists. On the surface, this sounds like a good idea, so long as there due process is followed, that the accused are considered "innocent until proven guilty", and so forth. I would need to study a concrete proposal more closely before I can endorse or oppose it.
One of the complaints by TBTN speakers was that society blames women for rape. This is unfortunately true, and hearts and minds must be changed. However, I was uncomfortable that so much time was spent attacking educational efforts to inform women how to protect themselves. We are all responsible for our own safety. No one would think it inappropriate to tell someone not to leave their wallet unattended in a busy place, where money can be taken out of it easily.
I do not think it is "blaming the victim" to encourage women to take steps to make themselves safe, although I can see how it can cross that line. There is a large gray area here: how do you encourage women to take responsibility for their safey while making it clear that no matter what, they are never at fault if they are attacked? I do not have an answer for that question.
I think feminists, in general, make a mistake by supporting gun control. Responsible firearm ownership is the elephant in the livign room when it comes to self-defense for potential victims of rape or domestic violence. A firearm in the hands of a woman who knows how to use it can stop a rape from happening or deter a rapist from attacking. Responsible gun ownership should be encouraged as a way to stop violent crime.
I found it unfortunate that right after one speaker was applauded for saying the term "date rape" should be eliminated from our vocabulary, one of the chants in the march was "2, 4, 6, 8, no more date rape". I agree with the speaker that the term "date rape" should not be used, because it takes away from the seriousness of the crime. Rape is rape, and should be treated as such.
Another theme of TBTN '05 was that society needs to rethink masculinity. One speaker called for a position paid for by the university to educate male students on masculinity. As a Christian, I am wary of gender feminists who call for society to re-examine masculinity, because that tends to be a call for a breakdown of naturally (and Biblically) defined roles of the sexes. I question the need for a university-funded position that will likely be nothing more than a pulpit for gender feminists.
I do agree that society has a warped view of masculinity, a view that is nowhere near Biblical manhood and womanhood. You do not have to break down the proper roles of the sexes to make the very simple point that "real men do not abuse women". A man who loves his wife as Christ loved the church would not abuse her; instead, he will give himself up for her as Christ gave Himself for the church.
The march raised awareness, and now we need to move forward. Working to stop violence against women needs to be a year round task, not one night a year. One organization on the front lines of this fight is Middle Way House. Click here for information on how to donate to Middle way House.