A woman’s place is where we meet

By Krista Malden

Women unite, take back the night, in our unity is our might. Women unite, the time is right, in our unity is our might. Women unite, stand up and fight, in our unity is our might. Women unite. Take back the night!

On Sept. 26, 700 women, and a few men, stood together in Calgary to protest violence against women at the annual Take Back the Night rally and march. Women walked the streets of downtown Calgary with their heads held high screaming, chanting and speaking out against violence, rape, sexual harassment, racism, poverty and family violence.

End it, end it, end the silence. Stop it, stop it, stop the violence!

Take Back the Night has taken place annually since the 1970s, and has been commemorated in Calgary since 1981. This rally and march is designed to allow women to gather together one night every year to talk, scream and walk the streets unescorted, and gives men the chance to show that a change is needed.

"This is a good time to come together as a group, to be together as a group and to have the visibility and the voice," said five-year supporter Tracy Mckee. "I think it is very important that we continue to work against violence against women and other issues of discrimination. It’s all content really. We’re talking about human rights issues, but it’s specifically talking about women’s safety."

The rally started in Memorial Park on 4th St. and 12th Ave. The route continued to 1st Ave., to 8th St., to 17th Ave., then to 1st St., back to Memorial Park. While women were Taking Back the Night, male supporters lined the parade route to support women who feel they’re unable to walk the streets at night and feel safe.

"I’d like to see changes made in the way life is for women," said a male supporter who wished to stay unnamed. "The fear involved in walking alone anywhere at night, even in their own homes, even in the day time. Of course the respect value there, you know I’d like to see that change. I believe it is important for men who are supportive to show themselves visibly during the march on the sidewalks. It helps to show other men who would support it but otherwise they’re uninformed and they might have an easier time agreeing with it or accepting it."

We don’t ask for rape, we don’t provoke the violence. We don’t ask for hate, now. We stop the silence.

There were speakers and singers at the rally who discussed poverty, along with other issues and personal stories. One group that supported the rally and march by walking and singing songs were the Raging Grannies. The Raging Grannies are a group of women who sing songs about social justice and protest. There are 14 groups across Canada, but no real names are used.

"Raging Grannies don’t use real names, but someone asked us to come," said Spice Granny. "We’re glad we’re here. We’re not just daytime Grannies, we’re nighttime Grannies as well."

While walking the streets, the protesters got a lot of support from passing cars honking their horns and people on the streets. However, there were a couple of men who did not appreciate the loud feminist actions and they booed and mocked the women. The protesters kept chanting.

Yes means yes. No means no. However we dress, wherever we go.

The rally and march had a great turnout this year from both men and women. Most marchers said they were especially pleased with the male supporters at this year’s event, although it is hoped that next year’s event is better publicized.

"The only problem I can see is I wish there were more people, and I would like to see more men supporting us," said local supporter Suzanne White. "I wish it was better publicized. I only saw one poster around the community."

According to Organizing Committee member Brenda Wadey, there was a lot of financial support this year, but all funds came from the T-shirt sales and donations.

"The women’s community, labour board and businesses all supported the Take Back the Night rally this year," said Wadey, adding that the rally was the best way to reconnect with the women’s community.

No more patriarchy. No more shit!

Monika Augustin, a crisis counselor who meets assaulted women at the hospital, is a five-year member of the Organization Committee for Take Back the Night. She said that Take Back the Night helps women relieve the fears they may have about the issues they face.

"I am here because of what I see every day," said Augustin, who chalked the streets with the female symbol. "I am here for personal reasons, and of course, ’cause I am a woman."

"I just want to say you’re going to hear about patriarchy being put down tonight," said White. "But as Durmen Gree said, ‘the opposite of patriarchy is not matriarchy, it’s fraternity and it’s women who are going to find the trick of co-operation.’ We’re not against men, we’re with men. We want to be together."

In the home, on the streets, a woman’s place is where we meet!

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