DW Recommends: Take Back the Night

Jamie Foxx Covering Phil Collins “I Can Feel It (The Air Tonight)

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Saying you are against rape is the most obvious thing on the planet.

It’s a given that half of the fun of sex is that someone wants to fuck you..right? And who wants to forcibly traumatize another human being during that process

So the problem is…why is our city the rape capital? I mean not even “murder capitals” like DC, Gary, Indiana, New Orleans or Detroit are competing with our cities men on this level of ineptness sexually.

So I sent an email to email OSU feminist group WARR and asked them why people mock & marginalize legitimate concerns about something few would advocate but is a consistent problem. Stephanie Diebold & Peggy Kittile were kind enough to answer my query about this in general, as well as the Tucker Max protest & today’s Take Back the Night March. (Click here for to view the flyer that has information on Take Back the Night)

ME:Is feminism a humanism?
WARR:While feminism could be considered a form of humanism, we do not use the term humanist. We feel that it obscures the people being oppressed and the people doing the oppressing.

I was milling around the other day, and found students protesting Tucker Max’s OSU appearence. What makes Tucker Max different other performers that OSU has brought her like, say, Ludacris. Ludacris on a song said “How you not gonna fuck. Bitch I’m me. The Goddamn reason you are in VIP”.
What are some of the things the make Tucker Max such an enemy?

It’s really hard to hold accountable every artist or speaker who contributes to rape culture and says hateful things about women. We’re so surrounded by it all the time that we would be spending all of our time protesting or planning protests if we even attempted it. One of the members of WARR brought our attention to Tucker Max’s visit during a WARR meeting, and as a group we looked through his writings and decided we needed to take action. We understand that he’s popular with many college students, but most of the people in WARR had never heard of him. It was almost just chance that we found out in time to put something together.

My friend Heather told me that OSU doesn’t provide money to support the health costs for rape survivors. So do you find something flawed with the school paying for people like Tucker Max to speak but not to add rape victims?
Absolutely. It really says something about how OSU values its students that it can find the money to bring in someone who promotes rape culture but can’t find the money to support rape survivors. It’s really a glaring reminder that patriarchy is, unfortunately, still alive and well.

In the Lantern, Tucker Max said something to effect that more women came to his show than the protest. This reminds of something I hear a lot…Men often claim that women like to be treated in a derogatory fashion. What do you make of that idea? I think most things boil down to charisma more than a desire for abuse.
If you look at the language being used against WARR right now, we’re being called bitches, dykes, fat, and ugly. People are saying we just want attention from men and can’t get it, that we should go home to our cats, and so on. Women know it’s their brothers, their boyfriends, their friends, who are saying these things about us. It takes a lot of courage to stand up to that, because it means direct confrontation with loved ones. There are also women who have bought into those values, who blame the victim as a means of self-protection, because it allows them to believe that they can protect themselves. If a rape survivor did something wrong to be raped, then women who don’t “do something wrong” won’t be raped. It’s a much less scary reality to live in than the one where you know that rape can happen to anyone, and they didn’t do anything to cause it. The only reason someone is raped is because there is a rapist in the room.

A couple years ago, The Other Paper reported Columbus as a “rape capital”, with the concentration of rapes centering around the OSU campus. We also have experienced several serial rapists.
Rape is the one crime that situational ethics can’t even justify then. And this is constant problem.
Where does the marginalization of this issue stem?

It stems from the fact that if you think about how many women are raped, you also have to think about how many men are rapists, and how many men espouse and endorse attitudes that condone rape. Since men are more likely to be in positions of power than women, this leads to the silencing of their victims. Women are further silenced by victim blaming and lack of education and honest discussion around sex and consent, and what that means. Rape is also a deeply personal, deeply painful trauma, and many survivors find it difficult to share that, and are reluctant to come forward for fear of being isolated or disbelieved

Another Other Paper article recently told the story of Feminist activist writing “someone was raped here” around campus.
What is your opinion on the graffiti?

WARR as a group does not promote or endorse vandalism, but obviously the people who did this had a message to share about the prevalence and silence surrounding this issue. Many of us found it jarring to walk through campus and see these tags, but we found it empowering as well. It was good to know that WARR isn’t the only group fighting for a world where consent is the norm, and as a group that deals with the topic of sexual violence on a daily basis, it felt like maybe other people were sharing a little bit of our reality.

How long has Take Back the Night existed on the OSU campus?
We aren’t exactly sure when Take Back The Night started at OSU’s campus, but we still have t-shirts dating back to the early 90s, and know that there were Take Back The Nights staged in the 80s as well. We’re actually planning to do some more research into WARR’s history after Take Back The Night has been completed this year.

The theme this year is “Shatter the Silence”,
What does that mean?

This year’s theme of “Shattering Silence, Naming Names” is meant to encourage survivors to speak up and speak out about their experiences. We cannot combat an issue that we refuse to acknowledge. The “Naming Names” portion of the theme was added because for far too long, we have been afraid to say who was raping us. When someone has the courage to say they are a survivor of sexual violence, it is frequently met with sympathy, empathy, and sometimes pity, but when a survivor names the person who attacked them, it turns into, “But I had biology with him, he couldn’t have done that!” or “But that’s my brother! You must be lying.” or “Didn’t you date him? How could he have raped you if you were dating?” It’s important for us all to realize that just because the person named is our friend, our brother, our ex, our current, or generally someone close to us, does not mean that the survivor is lying. If we are to hold rapists accountable, we need to be able to say who they are.

I saw that there is a part of Take Back the Night called “Men’s programming” The idea of programming people is funny to me. What goes on during “Men’s programming”?

Perhaps it would be more aptly called “programming for men.” Neither Stephanie nor I are entirely sure what happens during men’s programming, as it is completely run by men, but it is generally a space where men can examine how patriarchy has affected their lives, in both privileging and oppressing manners. It is generally a safe space for men to explore issues of consent, sexual violence, and how to support women in the fight against rape.

What would a womyn expect from the “TaKe Back the Night” experience?
Take Back The Night is a place where a woman can speak freely about her experiences, move from victim to survivor, and feel empowered by and connected to the other women around her.

For people that need new voices, and have tuned out feminism because they think they have heard all that it has to say…
Who are some good example of 2009 feminists..
Books…blogs etc?

For books we would recommend:

Female Chauvinist Pigs: Women and the Rise of Raunch Culture (2006) by Ariel Levy

Full Frontal Feminism: A Young Woman’s Guide to Why Feminism Matters (2007) by Jessica Valenti
Jennifer Baumgardener also has several good books, including – Manifesta: Young Women, Feminism, and the Future by Jennifer Baumgardner and Amy Richards (2000)

As for websites and blogs, try:

INCITE Collective
Feministing
Feministe
Womanist Musings
The Feminist Agenda

And Magazines:
Bitch Magazine
Make/Shift Magazine

Ms. Magazine
Off Our Backs: The Feminist News Journal

and while not specifically feminist, Left Turn Magazine has a lot of relevant articles.
We would also recommend just getting in touch with the women and men on the front lines of this fight, whether it be through blogs, volunteering at the local rape crisis center (SARNCO for those of us in Central Ohio) or whatever other means available. Speaking to people who are already engaged in this fight is a wealth of inspiration and information.

  • Ramirez

    good interview Wes

  • Artful L.A. Dodger

    great fucking interview Flexly.

  • http://thatrudeboythisjustin.blogspot.com/ This Just In

    GARBAGE

    • Megan

      This Just In is a convicted sex offender

  • wes flexner

    rofl.
    you don’t know how many times i typed the phrase this just in and deleted it…

  • Twistan Shvan

    Rapists. Apologies. Music.
    These are the Facts of Life.

  • http://theotherpaper.com KittyM

    hey Wes,
    liked this, esp. your point about Max in comparison to similar performers who’ve been hired by OSU w/o protest. WARR raises important issues over how campus funds are spent–at the same time, there’s a censorial aspect to the changes they’re seeking. it was good to read their response.

    please follow up by attending “mens programming”/report back in full.

  • wes flexner

    kitty.
    i really loved your piece on “someone was raped here”.
    it’s cool that you aren’t letting this problem be swept under the rug.

    as far “men’s programming”. i am watching my little brother right now or i would be going from take back the night to kid cudi.

  • KittyM

    Kid cudi’s another OUAB act. missing both too to take the boy to the circus.
    clowns…..

  • Wes Flexner

    oh shit…kitty..
    i didn’t see the other paper until this morning…..
    everyone who has been asking me where this came from and hasn’t seen the other paper should check this out.

    http://www.theotherpaper.com/articles/2009/05/14/cover_story/doc4a0c249c64fdd646966644.txt

  • http://theotherpaper.com KittyM

    They make good companion stories. Anyway, your Q&A is great, nice to see something smart on the topic posted on a local mssbrd.

  • http://www.2sizeshirts.biz sam craighead

    i like this a lot

  • eh?

    Good article, but male on male rape is quite common too and should be addressed as well.

    Rape survival is not just a “feminist” issue, or specific to females and until that facet is addressed as well, rape culture will continue to be quietly condoned.

  • watchoutforgaymoslems
  • sibbs

    Tucker Max Rules

  • http://armyoflarry.com slowmoriot

    Dude, wes. Thanks for this, you rule!