Low temperatures did not deter approximately 200 men and women from gathering in Anisq’ Oyo’ Park to support breaking the silence about sexual assaults at the Take Back the Night closing rally and march Thursday night.
The event organizers passed out hot chocolate to the crowd while they enjoyed music, dancing and speeches meant to empower women. The event featured performances by the UCSB Dance Company, Naked Voices, Inner, Buttcheek Doofus, the Disposable Boy Toys and the Radical Cheerleaders, and concluded with a march around Isla Vista to publicly demonstrate against violence toward women.
“[The event] shows that we’re not going to take any crap,” sophomore psychology major Kirsten Magnussen said. “It’s nice to have this large gathering for such a good cause. Next year, hopefully I’ll be working on it. I definitely want to be a part of it.”
The Disposable Boy Toys, a local drag group of women, performed at the rally along with the Radical Cheerleaders, the local chapter of a national political feminist cheer squad. The Radical Cheerleaders encouraged girls to “Riot, don’t diet” and chanted “Pro-choice or no choice.”
Take Back the Night Co-Chair Tara Goddard said she felt this year’s event was well-attended despite the emotionally trying nature of events like the testimonials and workshops,
“This week went really good, very smooth. We always hope to make the event bigger and bigger each year,” Goddard said. “This event changes lives. We need to talk about this. We need to break the silence about sexual assault. So much silence; so much shame. At an event like this we realize no matter what sex, what class, what background, sexual assault affects everyone the same. There’s so much strength in that and that’s where our power to change things lies.”
Stephanie Merton, a Radical Cheerleader and one of the Disposable Boy Toys, said the performances gave the queer community an opportunity to contribute to the movement against sexual violence.
“We need to raise awareness and eradicate hate from this campus,” she said.