Monday, June 1, 2015

Voice and Community: Take Back The Night

Having events like Take Back The Night usually give me some sense of conflict – very glad that we are recognizing their importance in our society, but also horrified that they are necessary.  Having an epidemic of domestic and sexual violence perpetrated against women is bad enough; the fact that not enough attention is paid to finding remedies and solutions to this problem that we need wonderful and purposeful events like this to publicize the need for action is, at times, beyond comprehension.

In IMPACT courses, I regularly meet female survivors of gender-based violence.  As I listen to their stories and work with these individuals, I’m always impressed with their tenacity, courage, and strength.  Other things become apparent as well, such as the pervasiveness of this problem in our world, and the unconscionable depths of human behavior seen in the perpetration of these crimes.

From the stories I hear and read, two things of note rise to the front for me in regard to those who commit these crimes.  They rely heavily on two things – silence and isolation.  Sexual predators use these tools to maximum advantage.  That is why events such as Take Back The Night are so powerful and so necessary.  Take Back The Night emphasizes the opposite: voice and community.  Voice to acknowledge and call our attention to these issues, and community to set a standard where human dignity and respect are at such a level that we can someday no longer have to worry about sexual predatory violence.  It is my sincere hope that we can give voice to those who need and desire it, and role model a community that no longer tolerates the commission of these types of crimes.

There are many people who can give you, in far greater detail and context than I, why men commit acts of rape, sexual harassment, and violence against women.  But I will offer one thought on this subject:  they do it because they think they can.  And if we create an environment where voice is used to call out inappropriate behavior, to name bias when it is apparent, to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves, and community is used to give strength to the individual, to end the behavior of male sexual entitlement, and constantly strive for the greater good, perhaps we can make a difference.  Starting here, starting now, we can make a difference.

Rob Babcock, IMPACT Chicago Suited Instructor

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