Our View – Take Back the Night empowering

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Last Thursday, the Feminist Organization Reclaiming Consciousness and Equality (F.O.R.C.E) held its annual “Take Back the Night” event here on campus. Because April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, a large group gathered around Brotman Hall to speak out to sexual assault survivors who were among the many victims of sexual abuse and assault.

The rally, which began around 6 p.m., consisted of several credited speakers, including Yvonne Moore, the president and chairwoman of the Long Beach and South Bay National Organization for Women; Nancy Quam-Wikham, history department chairwoman; and Ashleigh Kline, Cal State Long Beach student and campus project prevention educator for the Sexual Assault Crisis Agency.

After the rally, participants marched through the dorms, shouting into megaphones and swinging signs above their heads in protest. Next on the agenda was a trip to the Puvunga burial grounds to set up a bonfire, where women were encouraged to tell their stories of sexual assault or abuse to fellow survivors who would understand all that they’ve gone through. “Take Back the Night” was a success yet again as silenced survivors finally found their voices.

All of that is just great, but let’s look at the bigger picture. Is it not a sad statement to our society that we must create an event specifically to help assaulted women regain their voices?

This event shouldn’t even exist because it is outrageous that so many women have been assaulted on our campus to begin with. We, as a community, should be asking ourselves, how did these terrible events occur? Where were our trusty campus police when we needed them? But most importantly, what kind of society do we live in where women are condemned for speaking up? Especially about something as psychologically damaging and emotionally scarring as being assaulted.

Aren’t we past all that second-class citizen nonsense? Hasn’t the feminine revolution already occurred? What happened to all that history? Has it made no difference at all?

It is completely unacceptable that women are still being treated as though they are somehow below the standard of men. And the fact that they can’t even comfortably speak up about something as traumatic as being assaulted shows just how little we’ve progressed towards creating an open forum where women can be candid about something as fundamental as their safety. But Take Back the Night is a huge step toward keeping the debate about women’s safety (and issues in general) alive.

As humiliating as any sexual assault experience may be, women have to realize that their voice is a powerful tool, and they shouldn’t be afraid to express themselves, especially in this day and age.

Women cannot expect to have everything come as easily to them as it does for men. That’s the sad reality of our culture. What women can do is speak up and do what it takes to succeed. Women will continue to be assaulted and degraded and manipulated by men. But all it takes is one strong, powerful voice to change that. So who’s ready to speak up?

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