‘Take Back the Night’ reclaims the F-WORD
Published: Tuesday, October 2, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, October 2, 2012 03:10
Feminists Working on Real Democracy (The F-WORD) will put on ‘Take Back the Night’ Wednesday, Oct. 3 with a few changes. The changes to ‘Take Back the Night’ are part of a movement by The F-WORD to advertise its gender-inclusivity, which also included a name change from Association for Women Students (AWS).
The name AWS may have caused Miami students to think that only women can be members of the organization and was not explicit that the organization is a feminist group, according to The F-WORD Co-President senior Tamika Turner.
“It’s sort of a play on the fact that people consider ‘feminist’ to be a dirty word or a label that they don’t want attached to them,” Turner said.
Vice President Taylor Slayback said The F-WORD does not exist just to support women but to support all oppressed groups.
“Men are just as affected by gender roles,” Slayback said.
However, Slayback said men’s gender roles are generally less oppressive than those of other genders.
The title of the organization also describes the group’s purpose, according to Turner.
“The Working on Real Democracy part alludes to the fact that without people on the basis of their gender, race, sexual orientation, or gender identity or a plethora of things if they don’t have equal social standing, regardless of what the law says it’s not really a real democracy, you don’t have that equal say in politics or the political structure in your own country if you don’t have equal social rights,” Turner said.
The ‘Take Back the Night’ event is about people reclaiming the ability to walk alone at night without fear of rape or sexual assault, according to Turner.
“As the name implies it’s about rejecting the idea that women don’t have ownership of the same public spaces as men do, that women should be afraid to walk out at night by themselves, that they should have these confined lives because of rape and sexual assault,” Turner said.
The event’s importance to Oxford is in part to raise awareness that rape and sexual assault is an issue at Miami University, according Treasurer senior Andrea Myers.
“A lot of people seem to think that Oxford is this safe little bubble of a town where nothing bad ever happens but every year before the time that we do this event there is always some sort of rape or sexual assault on campus,” Myers said.
Though it is most known for its march, ‘Take Back the Night’ is a two part event. The first part of the event is the speakouts, which provide chances for people who are victims of rape or sexual assault or are close to a person who is a victim of rape or sexual assault, to talk about their experiences, according to The F-WORD PR Chair junior Carleigh LaFrance.
“Above all it’s a place where people who have survived sexual assault can share their experiences with people who have similar or related experiences,” LaFrance said.
In the past, The F-WORD would host two separate speakouts, one for women and one for men. However, this year the speakouts will be held together in the same space to make them more gender inclusive, according to The F-WORD Co-President senior Becca Hartz.
“That [way of conducting speakouts] was not very inclusive of all people because there were issues of where does someone go if they are trans[gendered] or gender neutral, so this year we’ve decided that instead of having separate spaces we going to have just one space for everyone to come speak out,” Hartz said.
Vice President senior Taylor Slayback said The F-WORD wanted to make this change because the separate speakouts could cause confusion for people who are transgendered as well as those who do not consider themselves ‘male’ or ‘female.’
“Like me personally, I’m a trans-woman, and there was always this question of ‘where the hell do I fit in?’ should I be in the male speakouts or the female speakouts? Is it okay that I’m even in the speakouts?” Slayback said.
The goal of ‘Take Back the Night’ is to help all rape and sexual assault victims, such as members of the LGBTQ community including those of whom who have been victims of hate crimes, according to Slayback.
“We’re helping all victims of sexual assault especially since in the LGBTQ community there is a large incidence of rape and sexual assault,” Slayback said.
Slayback also said it is important to remember male victims.
“There are of course male victims of sexual assault, or incest, or any number of things and we need to be there for them too,” Slayback said.
The participants in the speak outs will sit in small groups so that they can discuss their experiences in a small group setting. If at any point a participant feels uncomfortable they can choose to move to a small group where they would feel more comfortable.