I’#146;ve written two rants about Take Back the Night already, and this shallbe the third and final column to discuss this event. This retrospective accountwill hopefully raise more awareness about the issue of sexual assault and inspireattendance at next year’#146;s event.

The march and vigil were held Tuesday night, and I would just like to thank(this time in print) everyone who attended. The evening saw over 200 peoplegather together to protest violence against women. Blowing whistles and wavingflashlights, this mass of women and male supporters circuited all the residentialquads chanting and drawing as much attention as possible. So if on Tuesday around9 p.m. you heard shouting, here is your explanation. Chants such as ‘2,4, 6, 8, Real Men Don’#146;t Rape’ and ‘Whatever we wear and Whereverwe go, Yes Means Yes, and No Means No’ resounded throughout the campus.Marchers returned to the union for a candlelit poetry reading, then moved intothe union ballroom for the vigil. To the soft glow of Christmas lights, rapeand sexual assault survivors told their stories. This part of the event is impossibleto describe to anyone who has never attended. It is simultaneously depressingand empowering, traumatizing and cathartic.

Women are finally able to break the silence which surrounds issues of sexualviolence. Many who spoke were telling their stories for the first time, seekingcomfort in the presence of fellow survivors and supporters. Take Back the Nightdoes not deny the millions of men who are also victims of sexual violence, but9 of 10 victims are women, and this event is designed to empower this majority.For the many men who did attend this year’#146;s march and vigil, I appreciatedyour presence as supporters, whether you yourselves were victimized, or youwere there because you care about the women in your lives. Sexual violence isan epidemic in this country, and the only way to raise awareness, is to openlyacknowledge its existence. Despite the media’#146;s cavalier attitude in displayingsex, our society is still unwilling to deal with the realities of sexuality:rape, STD’#146;s, assault, homophobia, incest, HIV/AIDS, pedophilia, and thelist goes on and on’#133; We think that if we don’#146;t talk about it, it doesn’#146;texist. By ignoring the problem, it will go away. In the history of humanitythis hasn’#146;t worked, nor is it a solution today.

The only way America will reduce the statistics of 1 in 4 women and 1 in 30men being sexually assaulted is to talk about it. We have to educate childrenand adults, people of all socioeconomic classes, races, religions, and backgrounds.We have to break the silence that surrounds these taboo topics, throw off theshame and victim blaming that our puritanical society heaps upon survivors ofabuse and assault. It is only when American society acknowledges its deep-seatedproblems with sex that it can change the practices of its members. Take Backthe Night and Sexual Assault Awareness Month (the month of April) are only smallsteps in the fight to break the pervasive silence surrounding sexual violence.