Spotlight on TBTN Performers – Maria Isabel Garcia Castro

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Take Back the Night, an annual event organized by SACHA — Sexual Assault Centre (Hamilton & Area) — is a powerful opportunity for all woman-identified individuals to actively build connections, assertively reclaim our right to safety, and courageously stand up against sexual violence.

This year we’re celebrating Take Back the Night in Hamilton on Thursday, September 18th at Hamilton City Hall.

More details about the event here.

We’re highlighting the amazing performers that bring life to and share their skills with us during our TBTN rally.

Maria Isabel Garcia Castro is a Zumba instructor in Hamilton and will be getting folks moving and bringing the energy to our TBTN rally.

Maria Isabel Garcia Castro

Why do you march at TBTN?

I march for me, my mother, my sisters, my friends, coworkers, and students! I march for those without a voice, because I feel I have strong voice and can scream to the world that for sure we are NOT ALONE and that we reclaimed our right to walk without feeling scare or being abused.

How did you start leading Zumba?

After attending a few classes from another great instructor in the Stoney Creek area, I realized Zumba was something I like to do as my job. I became and instructor on April 16, 2011, a few weeks later I started to do my own little class at the basement of a church downtown Hamilton. I sometimes had 3 people, sometimes 8, sometimes none, but I kept that class going for 6 months.

Now I teach an average of 13 classes a week.

What excites you about leading Zumba at Take Back the Night?

That I can reach out to people, especially women, who have never been able to explore dance and fitness they way I did! I have found a way to feel free! To be alive and to care about me through Zumba, and I want others to feel that too!

Do you have a particular TBTN memory that you would like to share?

I remember I was able to take my boys to take back the night and they were really excited to be there, I felt safe and strong walking with them and the whole group down the streets! We chant together that we are not afraid. I was grateful for the opportunity to show and teach my kids from a very young age that we are equal and that we need to respect each other.

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Students Speak Out – Part 3

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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’s Take Back the Night (TBTN) was a much more positive and empowering experience than I had expected it to be. I volunteered at TBTN as part of my course at McMaster University and I am so glad that I got the opportunity! Having such a large group of women gathered together like that and speaking out against something that is such a massive issue in Hamilton, and the world at large, was fantastic.

I have never been in such a large and fantastically vocal group of women! I was, however, pretty shocked by the lack of knowledge and tact that some people seemed to have. At one point, before the rally began, I was standing on the outskirts of the group when a man came up and asked, “Hey lollipop, what’s all this ‘bout?” (Lollipop? Really?) So I explained to him that TBTN is for women speaking up against sexual harassment and violence. His solution to all of our problems? “Well don’t go out at night then! Use your brains!” Profound. This sort of mindset is all too common in our society and events such as TBTN set out to eradicate rape myths and victim blaming.

One of the many positives about this experience was the female space. It is clear that in our everyday lives we spend most of our time in extremely male dominated patriarchal spaces. As much as we don’t want to believe it, this holds true on university campuses (Currie, 1994).). It seems to be quite impossible to find a public space that is dedicated solely to women or that is at least truly egalitarian. TBTN creates that space and it is extremely empowering. It creates such a fantastic vibe, especially knowing that you are at an event that was organized and led by powerful women in our community. It is so important to have strong female role models.

I will definitely go to TBTN again! It was such a great experience and one that I believe all girls and women should get the pleasure of taking part in at least once! And remember, A DRESS IS NOT A YES! 🙂

— Kirstie

References
Currie, D, H. (1994). Women’s Safety on Campus: Challenging the University as            Gendered Space. Humanity and Society, 18(3), 24-48.