Students Speak Out – Part 1

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This year at TBTN, fourth year McMaster Sociology students volunteered at the event.  They helped out by  helping to serve food, carrying giant puppets, marshalling the march, and cleaning up after the event.  We truly appreciate their amazing energy and all of the work that they got done.  Some of the students shared their thoughts with us after the event.

This year was the first year I not only participated in Take Back the Night (TBTN), but it was the first year that I had even heard about the event. Based on my experience of TBTN, it is evident that this event is successful in bringing together a large amount of women identified folks to unite against violence towards women. Though there was a large attendance, I believe that more folks would come out if there was more media coverage of the event. Media coverage plays a significant role in the perceptions of violence as a social issue, so it is crucial for events such as TBTN to be considered newsworthy topics and be covered in media.

I am not sure why I had never heard of this event before, because as I have learned, 2012 was TBTN’s 31st year in Hamilton. I am not sure whether it is due to a lack of promotion if it is something that I had never focused my attention on. Despite the fact that I had not noticed any publicity berfore TBTN, I figured reporters would be at the actual event. When I arrived at City Hall, I did not notice many news reporters or news stations there. I was surprised, as I thought this was newsworthy. After TBTN, I went home and waited for the eleven o’clock news on CHCH. I anticipated that there would be an informative and somewhat extensive news story about the march, as the media is supposed to reflect what is happening in society. I saw TBTN as a newsworthy topic and it is a local event, so why wouldn’t it be on the news?. It was a disappointment to see that the only news coverage that Take Back the Night received was an extremely short cell phone video. It was clear that no news reporter was there to cover the march. Personally, I believe that local news channels should be capturing events such as these, as violence against women is a very important issue that media tends to ignore.

It is evident that violence against women is often ignored in the media. Lack of media coverage results in a lack of awareness, lack of education, and lack of knowledge of resources available to the public. Increased media coverage would result in increased awareness, increased participation, and an overall increased in education about the topic. The increase of information would also result in an increase of societal support to those women who have experienced violence. It is crucial for media to increase their coverage on the topic of violence against women, as media exposure influences perceptions of social reality and social acceptance. If media were to expand its coverage on this issue, the views of violence against women would change. Society would be able to gain a better understanding of survivors of sexual violence, and myths about rape.. In the future, I think that it would be beneficial for TBTN, along with other like events, if local news stations were there. This would allow the general public to gain information regarding what is going on in their community to gain awareness about violence against women.

Although there are times when violence against women is portrayed in the media, it is crucial for the information that is given to be accurate, as it plays a huge role in shaping societal attitudes. It is important that this information is not distorted, as wrong information will mislead the public and prevent the society from being supportive. I think that if TBTN was to be reported in media, more accurate information regarding this topic would be available. Reports of women who are survivors of violence would be able to share their stories, and provide accurate and informative accounts of their experiences. This would provide the public with real stories, about real people. I think that hearing these stories on the television, or reading them in newspapers, would force people to face the facts of violence against women. They would see that it is a serious societal issue and one that needs support. Media needs to increase their coverage of the topic, while ensuring that the information given is accurate.

Overall, my participation at TBTN was unlike anything I had ever experienced before. It was truly an eye opener to be part of a group of women identified individuals who all feel so strongly about violence against women. Marching alongside these individuals created a feeling of empowerment inside me and I can say that I will be back there again next year! Participating in this event has provided me with an increased knowledge about the issue and it is a shame that local media failed to provide the same to the rest of the community.

— Dana

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