Home Social Justice More Male Participation in Annual Take Back the Night

More Male Participation in Annual Take Back the Night

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More than a hundred men and women on the grass of Scripps Amphitheater celebrated at the Take Back the Night rally Thursday night, encouraging students and faculty alike to empower survivors of rape and sexual assault and to reject the culture that allows such acts to continue.

Photo by Nikki Lanka

Student Senate Women’s Affairs Commissioner Emma Wright, who organized the event, said the event was more successful than she could have expected with a great turn out for the inspiring stories of survivors and allies.

“It’s what it’s all about,” she said. “I hope everyone was positively affected, and I hope everyone went away feeling powerful and inspired.”

Two survivors stood before strings of empowering phrases on note cards and t-shirts to project their experiences toward a crowd of all ages and backgrounds, between a capella performances by Title IX and Tempo Tantrums.

One survivor who spoke was sophomore Mike Outrich, who wishes to begin an organization on campus for male survivors. So far, he’s the only member. He wants other men in his position to understand the empowerment of sharing experiences and reaching out for help.

Photo by Nikki Lanka

“It’s a way of turning something horribly negative into something positive,” he said.

Will McFarland is the only male member of the OU Survivor Advocacy Program, and is glad that male survivors at OU may start finding their voice.

“It’s so important to just know that although the national attention is on women, men face the same struggle and need the same support,” he said.

But the significance of Take Back the Night is true to both genders.

“For me it means being able to support all my friends who are survivors of sexual assault, and telling them it’s not okay,” McFarland said, “and there are other people here to support them in their struggle.”

This was Ohio University’s 34th consecutive year of celebrating the night, which Women’s Center coordinator Susanne Dietzel explained in a speech.

“I think we’re one of the few communities in Ohio that has this long tradition of Take Back the Night,” she said.

She called on men to join in the fight for what’s typically considered a female-specific issue. That includes spreading the awareness Outrich hoped to prove with his speech: no one deserves to live in silence, and speaking out is cathartic.

“It’s very healing,” Outrich said, of speaking before such a supportive crowd. “I actually feel like part of a family.”

Dietzel cited statistics of 2-4 million battered women coming forth each year, a sexual assault occurring every two minutes, and 30 percent of college students living in abusive relationships.

“This event is not only about healing the pain that exists, but is literally about taking back the night,” she said.

As the sun set, the women attending lit candles, grabbed signs and took to a march through campus to spread awareness past the grassy seats.  Men cheered them on from the sidelines.

They marched down the streets now only lit by street lamps, determined to take them back.

Photo by Nikki Lanka
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