By Rhia Perkins
"No more patriarchy. No more shit!" was one of many battle cries as this year’s Take Back the Night march made its way down Electric Avenue last Saturday night.
The rally and march promote solidarity between women and denounce society’s failure to protect them, say organizers.
"The primary goal [of the march] is to bring attention to the issue of violence against women," said march organizer Corrine Younie of Women Looking Forward. "This is a desperate issue in our community and the march is really successful in raising awareness. Secondly, it is to bring women together and empower them."
A group of students from the University of Calgary Faculty of Social Work attended the march to mobilize the faculty’s new Social Action Committee.
Fourth-year Social Work student Lee-Ann Lavoie-Kingyens saw the march as an important outreach project for a worthwhile issue.
"It’s a good way to protect against this violence against women," she said. "Social action is not part of the curriculum right now, but it’s good practice."
The SAC president could not be interviewed, as the event’s organizers discourage the press from speaking to men.
"Supportive men who come out feel very strongly that the issue can be sidelined by interviewing men," said Younie.
Men are also not permitted to walk within the ranks of the march.
"The March has always been very symbolic," said Younie. "It’s about women and children walking together without the protection of men."
Second-year Computer Science student Caleb Cook felt this exclusion undermined his support to the women in attendance.
"It’s unfair that they asked me not to walk," he said. "They let straight people walk in the Gay Pride March."
The rally featured speakers from several municipal and national women’s groups, The Women of Colour Collective and The National Action Committee on the Status of Women.
One of the more interesting groups marching was the Calgary Chapter of the National Leather Association, an organization which promotes Sado-Masochism.
"We’re here to march [for women] first of all, and secondly there is a huge misconception about what SM is," said group representative Christine Baker. "It is not abuse! SM is safe, sane and consensual."
The group distributed pamphlets supporting the practice, which they consider vilified by the media.
Mount Royal College’s Wimyn in Action, a feminist awareness society, also marched.
"It’s all about women supporting women," said Society President AJ Giesbrecht. "It’s powerful to be able to walk down Electric Ave., especially, and feel protected without men."
Amid cries of "I am my eggs," and "However we dress, wherever we go, yes means yes and no means no," the march continued to the Hillhurst/Sunnyside Community Centre for a post-march celebration and candlelight vigil to commemorate victims of violence against women.
According to Younie, the 18th Take Back the Night event had a great turn out, considering the cold weather.
Passerbys were impressed by the solidarity of the women.
"I’m glad that people are still fighting for women’s rights," said Paula Sanchez.