On Tuesday, UA held their annual Take Back the Night event which protested against and raised awareness of rape and violence against women. How many Take Back the Nights do we need to have before our streets are safe? I don't see those little blue emergency buttons that student ambassadors tote as the saving grace of our campus community stationed in any dark alleyways.
Events like Take Back the Night break the cycle of silence that allow violence to persist, and even with a great turn-out they are not enough. Most of the population at the event was women, and not too long ago, Take Back the Night was a small group of women standing together in solidarity. Violence against women is not a ""woman's issue,"" it is a humanitarian issue.
If America is so advanced then why are we still raping our greatest asset? Why can't I walk to my car alone and not look over my shoulder and get goose bumps every time I hear a strange noise? Why do I hold my keys in a clenched fist, just in case I need to protect myself? Why am I not alone in this? Why do my sisters and mothers feel this way too?
I am going to Azerbaijan with the Peace Corps and people keep asking if I will have to wear a burqa. They say this as if it would be a terrible thing. As if I would be morally offended if I weren't allowed to show cleavage, my knees or my hairline. No, they don't wear burqas in Azerbaijan. Burqas don't bother me. What bothers me is seeing women who are perfectly beautiful with lots of clothes on, comfortable in their attire, wearing next to nothing because it is culturally demanded. What bothers me is seeing half-naked women on the covers and inside of magazines, while the men in magazines are allowed to have something on.
The Peace Corps releases a packet about your country and in it they describe the various patriarchal systems that are in place. It has become clear to me that this overt patriarchy will not be all that different from the country that I live in now. The difference is that they acknowledge it instead of pretending that things are so progressively better than any other country. The truth is that things are better here. This is what progress looks like and it's pathetic.
""People like to believe that there's no correlation between sexist thought and violence against women. Even something as small as walking up to a group of men and women and saying 'hey you guys,' is a really small form of sexism and it's demeaning to the presence of women,"" said Oprah Revish, a creative writing senior and co-director of ASUA's Pride Alliance. ""It is degrading and even small stuff like that builds up on this notion that men are so much better than woman.""
I want to yearn for a better time. A time of innocence, usually described as nostalgia for youth. But no such time exists. When we are innocent, that is the time that we are most taken advantage of. Our future, our children are being raped and they are growing up to be victims and survivors. They should be able to live without the burden of their past to carry around like a tortoise shell. Breaking the silence is one way to release yourself from the burden of trauma and America needs to stop pretending that they aren't running a patriarchy and own up to the pedagogy of our system and work within that system to protect all members of society.
-ÿAlexandria Kassman is a creative writing and Spanish senior. She can be reached at email@example.com.