February Reclaim The Night Marches

// 18 January 2009

Both Bristol and Manchester are hosting Reclaim The Night marches next month.

Reclaim the Night NORTH will take place on Saturday 21st February and kicks off at 19.30 from the University of Manchester Students Union on Oxford Road:

Women are told to stay at home, told not to drink, told what to wear. We have the message ‘Whatever we Wear, Wherever we Go, YES means YES and NO means NO’

Start at the University of Manchester Students’ Union at 7.30 and march to reclaim our spaces.

Rally and performers will follow in the Academy, speakers include:

– English Collective of Prostitutes

-Women Asylum Seekers Together

and Helen of Troy will put on a club night to celebrate RECLAIMING.

Personally I’m disappointed that the march is not women-only, or that there isn’t even a women-only section. I think being accompanied by men ruins the visual impact of the event – I want to assert my right to use public space without needing or feeling like I need or being told that I need a male escort. It was also a shame that women’s voices were drowned out by men’s in the mixed section of last year’s march. But I understand that some women prefer to have a mixed genders march and I do hope it’s a success.

The Bristol march has been organised by the Bristol Feminist Network. It takes place on Friday 20th February and begins with a vigil on College Green at 6pm. The march itself kicks off at 7pm, heading through the city centre, across Castle Park, along Old Market and ending at the Trinity building at 8pm. There will then be speakers, music and dancing at the Trinity for the rest of the evening. There will be women-only (including trans women) and mixed gender sections to the march.

Bristol Feminist Network report that:

The march comes at a particularly pertinent time, following the recent spate of sexual assaults and rapes in the Clifton area. During the period of the attacks, women were urged to avoid being alone at night, to stay at home and keep in well lit areas. This typical media reaction to sexual violence teaches women that their freedoms should be curtailed due to male violence.

So get out onto the streets and show the world that it is not women’s responsibility to stop rapists: our freedom will not be curtailed by male violence or the fear of male violence.

Please spread the word.

Comments From You

Grace // Posted 18 January 2009 at 10:13 pm

After some initial confusion and panic as a Birmingham Fem I have done a bit of googling and I think that this is supposed to say Bristol Feminist Network. Am I right? None of those roads or areas are familiar to me and our RTN has been postponed to later in the year…I hope!

Laura // Posted 18 January 2009 at 11:28 pm

Sorry, Grace, I was writing this in a bit of a rush and somehow got Bristol and Birmingham confused! All the details in the post apply to Bristol, not Birmingham.

Natasha Price // Posted 19 January 2009 at 11:38 am

“I want to assert my right to use public space without needing or feeling like I need or being told that I need a male escort” I don’t think having a mixed march sends this message at all – rather it sends the message that men care about sexual violence and want to see it stopped, that men are friends and partners and supporters of women survivors, that men are also victims of sexual abuse. While I support women who need and want women only spaces, separate is not equal. Unless men are equally committed to preventing sexual violence unfortunately it will continue.

Harriet R // Posted 19 January 2009 at 12:23 pm

Natasha, I completely agree. I think it’s essential to show the population at large that it’s not just a bunch of “crazy man-hating hairy-legged feminists” who care, but also loads of men, who believe that your gender shouldn’t prescribe what you can and can’t do.

It’s a difficult balance to get – it’s important to show that women are “doing it for themselves” but at the same time communicate that it’s not just women who care about these things, and that feminism is for everyone. I think having a women-only section to lead the march is quite a good way of doing it. Hopefully any men who want to be involved will understand the reasons.

polly styrene // Posted 19 January 2009 at 3:32 pm

The problem with saying “we need to show men care”, is surely that it implies if the march was women only it would be considered less valid. IE a cause supported by men is seen as more legitimate because women’s protests are ‘crazy’ or unimportant. What if you are a ‘hairy legged man hating feminist’ ? Is your opinion invalid? It sounds very much like the criticisms levelled at the London University beauty contest protesters to me.

Reclaim the night marches started as a protest against women being told to stay inside after dark to avoid the ‘Yorkshire Ripper’. The point was that women said men should have a curfew instead.

The purpose of political action is surely not just to achieve good PR.

Cockney Hitcher // Posted 19 January 2009 at 4:23 pm

I agree, Polly, re hairy-leggedness!

There are still people who don’t think women should be walking around alone after dark. I had an argument with my dad a couple of years ago when we passed a woman walking alone. It was winter, the UK, and about 5:00 in the evening, so it was dark. My dad starting going on about how dangerous it was for her to be alone and that women should stay in after dark unless properly accompanied etc. etc!! My dad isn’t a misogynistic person, but he clearly hadn’t thought of the damaging-to-women implications of his beliefs.

The Reclaim the Night marches are women-only in order to counter the above attitude, to promote the idea that the streets after dark belong to women as much as to men and that we don’t need men to look after us.

Anna // Posted 19 January 2009 at 6:21 pm

‘Hopefully any men who want to be involved will understand the reasons.’

If they don’t, they shouldn’t be within a mile of the march.

Natasha Price // Posted 21 January 2009 at 8:10 pm

I respectfully disagree with the anon ladies above (Polly and Cockney) above. I don’t think allowing men to join the march (which I can’t imagine men would want to do unless they cared about the issue) is saying them caring matters *more* than women. I think that not allowing men to join is divisive. My comment at the end of my above post, that unfortunately men must be involved to end sexual violence, is a statement of fact: women cannot stop rape on their own, men must stop raping in order for there to be no more rape. Having men stand up and say “I care about sexual violence and I want rape to stop” is equally important as women saying it.

Laura // Posted 21 January 2009 at 10:22 pm

“men must be involved to end sexual violence, is a statement of fact: women cannot stop rape on their own, men must stop raping in order for there to be no more rape. Having men stand up and say “I care about sexual violence and I want rape to stop” is equally important as women saying it.”

I agree, Natasha, I just don’t think a “Reclaim The Night” march is the right place to do this – I think it would be better to have a ‘these hands will not harm women’ type march/demo that isn’t about ‘reclaiming the night’ for women. But I guess it takes enough effort to organise just one demo let alone two. Would be nice if men could organise their own thing, but I spose a lot of pro-feminist guys are fairly isolated and supporting women’s activities is a way to get into this kind of activism.

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