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.
In my second year at McMaster, I took a sociology course with the majority of the class being females. On the very first day, the professor asked the question, ‘How many of you consider yourselves a feminist?’ In a lecture hall of about two hundred people, there were approximately five individuals who raised their hand. The professor then asked a second question: ‘How many of you believe that women should have equal rights as men?’ And with that, the entire lecture hall raised their hands. She responded by stating that the entire class then, were feminists. This little exercise really opened my eyes as to what a feminist is and what it is they are striving to achieve in society.
I think that being a woman and being a feminist in today’s society is something that is not easy to celebrate since it is so easily distorted into being a negative thing. That’s why I believe events such as Take Back the Night are so important in our society; to raise awareness for women’s issues and to dispel pervasive myths and stereotypes.
Participating in this event was such a wonderful experience for me and I really appreciated that issues such as sexual violence and patriarchy were being brought to the forefront. However, although we marched through the streets of Hamilton to raise awareness for women’s rights and show that we are strong women who deserve to feel safe in our community, we were still marching through a patriarchal society. This was made clear to me as I was marching through Hess Street chanting with the exuberant crowd when a man commented, ‘What the hell is this?’ What angered me about this man’s comment was the arrogance that it displayed. Perhaps he was caught off guard by the large marching crowd, but he did not question the march in a genuinely interested way. Instead, he demanded to know why in the world women would be marching down the street that he too was walking down. Although it would have also upset me to hear this man say something along the lines of ‘women ask for it,’ or, ‘women do not deserve equal rights as men,’ it was the fact that he approached this march with such antagonism that it really struck a chord with me.
I think it is very easy for people to push aside problems that do not directly relate to them. The answer is simple: Solidarity. Whether we have directly experienced something or not, it is our duty as women to acknowledge survivors who have experienced injustices and say that we will not live in an oppressive society. We can use our voices and our strength to achieve equal rights to men, to raise public awareness of sexual assault, racism, ageism and countless other issues in our society. All I hope is that at the very least, individuals will inform themselves of the issues rather than simply brush a marching crowd to the side and behaving arrogantly. Arrogance is not bliss, solidarity is.