The first time I participated in a Take Back The Night march, I was a freshman. I remember appreciating the symbology of a crowd of women flooding the streets at nighttime, proclaiming that they refused to be intimidated by threat of sexual assault. I remember chanting, “Women unite, take back the night” along with everyone else.
My junior year, I remember hearing the announcement that for the first time in recent memory, the march would be gender-inclusive. I hadn’t realized until just then that the event had not been open to all genders in the past, I just figured that only women wanted to participate. At the time, I was an editorial-writer at The Post, and our team struggled with what to say about Take Back The Night. We received letters from Athens residents who said the march should be preserved as a women’s-only space, and we agreed with them. We also heard from people who thought it was discriminatory to assume men, transgender people and gender nonconforming people didn’t suffer from sexualized violence, and we agreed with them too.
The discussion surrounding the event fascinated me because I could so clearly see both sides of the issue, and that is so rarely true of most other controversies. To my surprise, while investigating this project I found that other people shared my ambivalence. You’ll hear from some of them in the complete narrative.
I marched again this year, as an observer and a reporter. And I found that the chant I remembered from my freshman year had disappeared — and it had been replaced with: “Everyone unite, take back the night.”