Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

TBTN Ends in Rally, March

TAKE BACK THE NIGHT TBTN Ends in Rally, March By Amanda McGrath Hoya Staff Writer

Charles Nailen/The Hoya Students march through campus advocating an end to violence against women as part of Take Back the Night week last Friday.

“Do you feel strong?” former President of the National Organization of Women Patricia Ireland asked the 80 or more members of the Georgetown community who braved the cold night in Red Square last Friday to show support for women victimized by violence. The Take Back the Night rally culminated a week of education and awareness about issues such as harassment and assault against women. Ireland, the evening’s featured guest, spoke alongside two Georgetown students who shared their stories of sexual assault.

Chalked messages of slogans such as “If she says no, it’s rape!” and “End violence against women” decorated the ground under the crowd’s feet for the rally and the march and speak-out that followed. Some of the Friday night passers-by stopped to join the rally and others continued walking. Of the crowd, more than 40 percent were male. The percentage of men at the event was more than in years past, according to Co-Chair of Take Back the Night Jessica Corsi (SFS ’03),. She said that male presence has increased over the years.

“Men can stop rape – they have a very important role to play,” Patricia Ireland said.

Violence against women, Ireland continued, is a violation of civil rights. She interacted with her audience, building momentum for her speech by telling on-lookers to shout out the names of the groups and organizations they represented. Ireland said violence against women is often a means of power and control meant to “keep women in line.” She also spoke about the Taliban’s abuse of women in Afghanistan, criticizing the U.S. government for turning a blind eye to the fact that the Northern Alliance, with whom the U.S. is allied, commits many of the same abuses.

“Where are the women’s voices, the ones that will be active in government [after the war]?” Ireland asked.

The two student speakers, Jessica Greenfield (COL ’04 ) and TBTN Co-Chair Jessica Corsi, shared their personal stories of sexual assault with attendees. Greenfield said the trauma of her assault resulted in an eating disorder. “My secret needed fuel, and starvation began to nourish it . the most important thing I’ve learned is that neither [my sexual assault nor my eating disorder] has to be a secret. They are parts of my life and part of me,” Greenfield said.

Corsi told her audience about the permanent effects of her history of sexual assaults. “It will not go away. You have to live with your trauma and strive through it . I wish not only to take back the night, but to take back my life,” she said.

Corsi said she felt having student speakers was important because it reminded students that there are survivors of violence against women in the Georgetown community.

Some attendees were victims themselves, others had friends who were speaking or performing, some came to see the event that had been advertised over. Others were simply waiting to meet friends in Red Square and happened upon the rally. Elizabeth Hutcheon (COL ’02) said opposition by some to the Take Back the Night event inspired her to attend.

“I was standing in line for New South. The two guys behind me were making fun of the flyers for Take Back the Night,” Hutcheon said. “I didn’t know what to say or what to do about it. It made me really angry.”

According to the Department of Justice, a rape occurs in the United States every two minutes. Ireland said she believed that if the numbers were so overwhelmingly high in assaults against men, the push for legislation and resolutions to end the violence would be much faster in its creation. She urged the crowd to support victims of assault and to raise their voices in the fight to end violence against women. “We all have to do something – not as individuals, but as a movement,” she said.

Gracenotes kicked off the evening with performances of songs by Dido and the Indigo Girls. The all-female a cappella group has been involved since the beginning of Take Back the Night seven years ago. Throughout their concert, members of TBTN handed out copies of the TBTN ‘zine which featured stories, poetry and art from members of the Georgetown community and focused on issues of violence against women. In its second year, ‘zine organizer Liz Trautman (SFS ’05) said the ‘zine was a considerable time commitment and will continue to be a part of the TBTN agenda in years to come. “It’s a good way to get publicity, to allow people to voice their opinions,” she said.

Many of the rally participants joined in the TBTN march that traveled a path around campus, past Alumni Square, and down M Street and Wisconsin Avenue Corsi said observers were very supportive of the march. “People were honking their horns, coming out on the store fronts, cheering us on,” she said.

A speak-out afterwards was attended by about 25 students who shared their personal stories of assault in what TBTN organizaers described as a safe and supportive environment of other survivors, friends and specialists from the Women’s Health Center and Counseling and Psychiatric Services.

Corsi said she felt Take Back the Night week was successful in its mission to show “real women confronting real violence.” She said the organization’s future plans are to bring the Vagina Monologues to campus for the fourth consecutive year.

More to Discover