By Damon Krane, Andy Grimm, Thomas Wright, Andrew Lombardi, Steve Kehnel, Matt Meyer and Rumzi Araj
Monday, May 8, 2000
The Post (Athens, Ohio)
Thursday, May 11, 2000
The Athens News (Athens, Ohio)
A recent decision not to allow men to join women in the streets for the annual Take Back the Night march in Athens has proven to be controversial. Some members of the Athens community do not know the motivation behind the ruling and have deemed it exclusionary. As males directly involved in reaching this decision, we feel that some clarification and justification of this ruling is in order.
It is important to stress that men were involved in the decision to have an all-female march, and the meetings were open to everyone. This consensus was reached through a series of discussions between all who were present.
From our discussions, we further defined the Take Back the Night events, keeping in mind that women at OU, and within this society in general, face very different circumstances than men. And as men who don’t have to be afraid to walk home alone at night on this campus, we need to realize that women have mote right to define the women’s movement than men do. Although we recognize that sexual assault is not just a women’s issue, on campus and elsewhere women make up the vast majority of victims and survivors.
It makes sense that women should lead the struggle against the oppression for which they are overwhelmingly the victims. Furthermore, the Take Back Night march doesn’t need men for it to be a legitimate event. For those who accuse the marchers of “reverse discrimination,” we ask you to compare the discrimination of a lifetime to the “discrimination” of a few hours.
For those who say that “two wrongs still don’t make a right,” we ask you to consider the obvious fact that women in this culture are socialized to think their accomplishments and desires are less important than those of men. Men, on the other hand, have been socialized to be assertive and feel confidently entitled to express themselves. Equality cannot exist where one group of people – men in this case – is vastly more privileged than the other. Therefore, participation by both genders in this march would not be promoting sexual equality so much as it would be perpetuating male privilege. Women uniting without men at their sides should not be viewed as a march against males. Rather, it should be seen as a march against male dominance and the sexual oppression of women.
Whether it is being able to walk down Court Street without being sexually harassed, having access to higher pay, or something as simple as being able to finish a sentence without being interrupted – as men, we benefit daily from male privilege. We don’t need to take back the night, it was never taken from us in the first place. It is not equality that men are being denied in this march, it is the privilege we regularly benefit from. After all, every other night of the year on Court Street is a white heterosexual male pride march.
As men, we realize that we are not the experts on what it means to be women in America; we fully support women s right to define their own concerns. The women-onlv TBTN march will be an opportunity for women to develop confidence, strength and solidarity to combat male privilege. If we want to support them, we need to step aside.
Many of this week’s events offer men a chance to better understand the experiences of women. By attending the men’s programming and other related events you can take a step toward preventing sexual assault and its underlying social causes. As for the Take Back the Night march itself, we encourage other men to join us in showing our support – not to protect women or to legitimize their march – but to support our sisters in a struggle against a culture that has told them they are worth less then men from the day they were born. Participants in the TBTN march’s accompanying men’s rally will meet at the Howard Hall site before the march. Our support demonstration will likely include silent vigils, signs and banners. For more-information, see the TBTN fliers or contact one of this letter’s writers.
Only be recognizing and addressing our role in perpetuating sexual assault, oppression, and inequality will we be able to work against it.