Approximately 100 students gathered Monday in Storke Plaza for the opening rally of Take Back the Night, a weeklong series of events aiming for female empowerment.
The rally began at noon and featured music by That Fat Frog, a dance performance by Indus, and a keynote speech by Tish Martz, one of the organizers. In addition to the kickoff party, nine workshops took place Monday afternoon, which covered a wide range of topics having to do with the effects of sexual assault on men, women and religion.
Carol Mosely, UCSB’s Rape Prevention Education Coordinator, presented the workshop “The Media’s Role in Rape Culture.” Mosely said the media imposes an agenda by selecting to publicize only certain issues and often chooses to exclude sexual assault.
“This is not a media-is-bad lecture, but rather a way to think about things differently and critically,” she said.
Mosely said the media’s avoidance of issues having to do with sexual assault creates a “spiral of silence” in which society remains quiet about certain issues pertaining to sexual violence. Mosely said the “spiral of silence” is inevitable in a culture where media helps to dictate and then reinforce the status quo.
One of the media’s faults lies in newspaper articles about sexual assault that focus on the fact that a victim was intoxicated, Mosely said. She said articles that warn women of the dangers within their community usually follow such reports.
“I would like to change the focus from the victims of assault to the perpetrators,” she said.
Take Back the Night is about bringing the issue of sexual assault into the open instead of hiding it, event organizer and junior English major Meredith Donin said. The slogan “Break the Silence, Stop the Violence” is a way to tell women sexual assault is not their fault and inform men it is their problem too, Donin said.
As a community we need to become involved in changing the rape culture because we are a part of it, said Stephanie Molen, a co-chair of TBTN and a junior music and psychology major.
“I’m involved because I know too many women who don’t have an understanding of their self-worth or an understanding of sexual assault. This results in self-blame,” Molen said.
UCSB graduate Jeff Bucholtz, coordinator for Men Against Rape, an organization responsible for the “It Effects Me” T-shirts recently seen on campus, said men need to take responsibility for sexual assaults because they are often the ones doing the assaulting. Men Against Rape also hosted one of Monday’s workshops.
“This is an event for women by women, but men should be here to show their support. I’d like to see other men doing the same,” Bucholtz said.
Take Back the Night events will continue all week. The largest event, a rally and march, will take place at 5 p.m. on Thursday in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park. The event will also include music, dance, self-defense instruction and keynote speaker Reanae McNeal.