Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Take Back The Night

Way back in the eighties, I attended a planning meeting for a Take Back The Night rally.  I had been at the previous year's rally, but felt it was preaching to the choir. I came to the planning meeting armed with a few ideas, like reaching out to fraternities and sororities to be involved as co-sponsors, or have the college radio station play all female artists the day of the rally. I mentioned the ideas, but didn't follow up or try to persuade the small steering committee group (mostly "wimmen") to adopt them. It was later decided that no men would perform during the rally, so my friend who had an excellent anarcho-femist-punk folk song entitled "Take Back The Night" wouldn't be allowed to sing it that evening due to his having the wrong sort of genitalia. I gave up trying to convince the young women of my media savvy and went to the rally late in a fit of passive aggression. The only thing I remember from that night were some idiots along the march who had a banner mentioning "Ayn Rand" and "Rape" stretched out in front of their apartment.

Since then I've come to realize that the event wasn't about persuading young men (and women) to reconsider their sexist attitudes or outdated views of male-female relations. The point wasn't to make a big media splash or even raise awareness by toning down the more strident atmosphere to make sorority or fraternity members feel more comfortable during such an event.  The type of expression and framing of ideas fit the needs and attitudes of the women who ran the event and had to live with the reality of sexism and sexual predators.  The event organizers and most likely the individuals attending the rally wouldn't be interested in my ideas because it didn't match their priorities or concerns.

Now 30 years later I have 3 daughters of my own who aren't interested in hearing me pontificate about sexuality or the way the world works. I talked my two 14 year olds into singing some reworked chants I remembered from years ago. "Wait a minute" said one as she scanned my scribbled lyrics. "Is this a rape song?"