Take Back the Night (also known as Reclaim the Night) is an internationally held march and rally intended as a protest and direct action against rape and other forms of sexual violence. It was originated by the feminist movement.
The first "Reclaim the Night" march was held in Belgium in March 1976 by the women attending the International Tribunal on Crimes against Women. They marched together holding candles to protest the ways in which violence permeates the lives of women worldwide. Other marches were held in Rome in 1976 as a reaction to recently released rape statistics, in West Germany in 1977 demanding "the right to move freely in their communities at day and night without harassment and sexual assault," and in 11 towns in England later in 1977 in response to the "Ripper Murders" in Leeds.
The first known "Take Back the Night" march in the United States was organized in San Francisco, California on November 4, 1978, by Women Against Violence in Pornography and Media and marched through the red-light district of San Francisco in protest of rape and pornography, which they identified with the sexualized subordination of women. Susan Brownmiller, a radical feminist journalist who participated in the San Francisco march, recalls,
Saturday evening [November 4, 1977] culminated in a candlelit "Take Back the Night" march (the first of its kind) through the porn district, kicked off by an exhortation by Andrea Dworkin. ... Her call to action accomplished, three thousand demonstrators took to the streets, snaking past Broadway's neon peeps, "adult" book stores, and garish massage parlors while Holly Near sang from an amplified truck and local artists weaved through the line bobbing surreal effigies of madonnas and whores.
– Susan Brownmiller, 'In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution, 301-302)
Events typically consist of a rally followed by a march and often a speak-out or candlelight vigil on violence against women. The marches are often deliberately women-only in order to symbolize women's individual walk through darkness and to demonstrate that women united can resist fear and violence. (Other marches include men; the organization differs as each event is organized locally.) The women-only policies have caused controversy on some campuses for the way they exclude participation by men and ignore male victims. Some activists believe strongly that all Take Back the Night Events should be open and inclusive of all genders and not segregated.
Wesleyan University in Connecticut notably allows men to participate in speaking on their own experiences with sexual assault. The event holds three speak-out circles during the course of the march, and although men are asked not to participate in speaking about their own experiences in the first circle, they are able to join in the subsequent ones. <http://www.wesleyan.edu/argus/archives/aa_archive_oct232001/dateyear/w4.html>
While the march began as a way to protest the violence that women experienced while walking in public at night, the purpose of these marches was to speak out against this violence and raise community awareness as a preventive measure against future violence. The movement has since grown to encompass all forms of violence against all persons, though violence against women is still the movement's main focus. The word night was originally meant to be taken literally to express the fear that many women feel during the night but has since changed to symbolize a fear of violence in general. This helps the movement incorporate other feminist concerns such as domestic violence and sexual abuse within the home. The march has grown from a widely publicized event taking place in major cities to an event happening internationally from large metropolitan areas to small college campuses, all advocating for the right of everyone to feel safe from violence.
Women are often told to be extra careful and take precautions when going out at night. In some parts of the world, even today, women are not allowed out at night. So when women struggle for freedom, we must start at the beginning by fighting for freedom of movement, which we have not had and do not now have. We must recognize that freedom of movement is a precondition for anything else. It comes before freedom of speech in importance because without it freedom of speech cannot in fact exist.
– Source, The Night and Danger by Andrea Dworkin
The march has since spread to many locales, and has also inspired an international online "Take Back the Blog" event regarding sexual violence and predation in both the physical night and the world of cyberspace and blogging.
On 7 November 2009 the first Take the Back the Night annual conference took place at Columbia University.
- "Official Online Headquarters" for Take Back the Night- Resources to assist with running TBTN events, calendar of some TBTN events.
- WMST-L: Take Back the Night, 1 of 2 (1995) and 2 of 2 (1997, 2001).
- Take Back the Night in NYC - Barnard/Columbia
- Take Back the Night - Ipswich, United Kingdom - (report on response to the 2006 Ipswich murder investigation)
- Take Back the Night - Will County, Illinois
- Take Back the Night at James Madison University
- Take Back the Night 2006 at UC Santa Cruz
- Take Back The Night March
- Ireland speaks at Take Back the Night rally (discusses men getting involved in a rally at the University of Virginia)
- The Rape Relief Files: Take Back The Night - Vancouver Herstory
- Reclaim the Night - London, UK
- Brownmiller, Susan (1999). In Our Time: Memoir of a Revolution (ISBN 0-385-31486-8).
- Dworkin, Andrea (1993). "Letters From a War Zone" (ISBN 1-556-52185-5).
- "For First Time, Men Will Join Full Take Back the Night March". Columbiaspectator.com. http://www.columbiaspectator.com/2008/04/17/first-time-men-will-join-full-take-back-night-march. Retrieved 2010-09-01.
- "Avon Foundation Newsroom". Avoncompany.com. http://www.avoncompany.com/women/news/press20090709.html. Retrieved 2010-09-01.