University of Pennsylvania Students Take Back the Night!
On April 4, Women Against Abuse joined University of Pennsylvania students, staff and faculty for Penn’s annual Take Back the Night — a night to celebrate and honor survivors of sexual and relationship violence.
Take Back the Night is an international movement dedicated to raising awareness for gender violence, sexual assault, and relationship violence. Spurred by outrage following a surge of violent crimes against women, the first Take Back the Night in the United States took place in Philadelphia in 1975.
Speakers at this year’s Penn rally included Maureen Rush, Penn’s Vice President of Public Safety, who recalled memories of the first TBTN here in Philadelphia. She spoke of the need for trained and compassionate responses to survivors.
Acclaimed spoken word power duo Pussies, Pens, & Politics’ explosive, brutally honest portrayal of institutionalized violence against women and empowerment slam manifesto received enthusiastic applause.
Nina Harris, Violence Prevention Educator at the Penn Women's Center and a TBTN committee organizer, emphasized the need to “take it all back” — not just one night nor one campus, but women’s comprehensive right to safety from sexual violence.
Keynote speaker Leslie Morgan Steiner, a Penn and Harvard alumni and the author of New York Times bestseller Crazy Love, a memoir of surviving domestic violence, shared her experiences and tackled the misnomer that gendered violence survivors share a specific social location or personality type. She reminded listeners that relationship violence does not happen “on the first date; it happens slowly and insidiously, for the victim, and [often] for the abuser as well.”
Following the rally, event participants marched from 34th and Walnut streets to 40th and Spruce and back through Locust Walk. They carried signs reading “Real men/women don’t hit” and “Break the silence.”
In keeping with the “personal as political” feminist model, marching chants included those such as “I have a voice/ No means no/ Whatever we wear/ Wherever we go.”
The event culminated with a candlelit vigil and survivor speakout focused on community and solidarity.
Read more about Take Back the Night at www.takebackthenight.org/.