FAQs

What about men? 

The focus of this march is violence against women.  Whilst we recognise that violence in all it’s forms affects all members of our community, women make up a large proportion of those affected.  According to the Scottish Executive men make up 91% of perpetrators of domestic abuse, whilst other figures estimate that 1 out of 4 women will experience gender-based violence at some point in her life.  We believe violence against women is not a “woman’s issue” but a people one.  

 Why feminism? 

We believe we need to use feminism in a positive way, to show young men and women who feel uneasy about jokes, images, and ways of behaving that there is an alternative.  We hope people will look beyond the stereotypes and imagine a world without female votes, women in university, access to contraception, access to employment, and the many other activities we all take for granted in Scotland.  Feminist activists fought these rights for us, and without feminism we would not live the lives we do today.  Feminism is far from dead in the year 2007 and we believe that rather than speak covertly about what has now become known as “the f-word” we should state loud and clear that yes this is a feminist issue, and yes we are feminists.  We, as male and female feminists, believe that our society is saturated with damaging myths about women and it is our duty as people to challenge these myths and speak out.  If you would like to know more about feminism and what “third wave” feminism is all about, these books and resources may be useful: 

Websites: 

Books:

  • Female Chauvinist Pigs by Ariel Levy   
  • Manifesta by Amy Richards and Jennifer Baumgardner  
  • Backlash by Susan Faludi           
  • The Beauty Myth by Naomi Wolf          
  • Overloaded: Popular Culture and the Future of Feminism by Imelda Whelehan  

What is reclaim the night?

There were the ‘Reclaim the Night’ marches where we sought to challenge the prevailing view that a woman raped or attacked caused her own pain, for she had been in the wrong place or dressed the wrong way or ‘asking for it’” Former deputy communities minister Johann Lamont November 2005.

Our aims for the march are under the umbrella movement of ending violence against women.  The UN and the Scottish Executive both recognise that violence against women can be prevented, and we believe that by continuously challenging myths around responsibility we can work towards this goal.

That rape prosecutions in Scotland and in the UK as a whole remain below 5% is horrific.  Women do not “ask” to be raped, verbally or physically assaulted, and we as a society should be condemning those who believe they do.  In Amnesty International’s 2005 report, one third of people questioned believed a woman is partially or totally responsible if she acts in a certain way. These people are our jurors, our police, our doctors, and ourselves.  We need to shout loud and clear- NO NO NO.    

A further aim of reclaim the night is that we hope to raise awareness of, and challenge, the myths around responsibility.  When people argue that a woman “asks” to be raped is damaging to both sexes.  It assumes that women are nothing more than sexual objects to be taken at will by men, and it perpetuates the dangerous notion that men are no better than animals and “cannot control themselves”.  We believe this to be false and at best damaging to individuals, at worst horrific for our society.

The UN special Rapporteur on Violence Against Women noted “ A woman who is perceived to be acting in a way deemed sexually inappropriate by communal standards is liable to be punished”.  By saying women “deserve” to be raped because she was drinking too much, in the “wrong” place, or wearing revealing clothing is a reflection that is it not individual men who are “deranged” rapists, but rather that as a society, we believe women should be punished for acting inappropriately.  We still believe that a woman’s sexuality is not her own, and if she believes it to be so, she deserves punishment.  This is of course unacceptable. 

Through this we hope to challenge ideas that women lie about rape.  At present, all research shows that women are as likely to lie about rape, as people are to lie about any other crime.  However, victims of burglary, theft and other crimes are not told “they must have made it up” or that “they deserve it as they had a short skirt on”.

 We also hope to raise awareness around so called “stranger rape”.  Women are brought up to believe that their own behaviour will protect them or put them at risk.  We are told to be scared of isolated fields, quiet alleyways and walking alone.  What we are not told is that 90% of all rapes and sexual assaults are committed by someone women know. (Rape Crisis Scotland) Why then are we warned of “stranger danger”?  Why do some still distinguish between “real rape” and otherwise?  These are questions we encourage discussion and debate on, and hope that the Reclaim the Night march will prompt some further debate around this issue.  A further aim of the march is to reclaim feminism.  We are proud to be feminists and we hope through positive affirmation of our beliefs, others will feel able to speak up, be heard and challenge social attitudes.

If you would like to know more, these websites may be useful: 

Isn’t this something that just happens?  

No!  We, as feminists, believe, like the UN, the Scottish Executive and Amnesty International, that violence against women is preventable, and that our brothers, fathers, partners and friends all have a valuable role in speaking out against this violence.  We believe that women’s position in society leads to violence.  Gender inequality in the workplace, in the home and in politics leads to an environment where the representation of women is seriously problematic.  We believe, again, like the Scottish Executive and the UN, that there exists a “spectrum of sexual violence” and that ideas around the roles of women and their expected behaviour create a culture in which women are devalued.  By promoting ideas that women are responsible for rape perpetuates the idea that men are somehow “entitled” to women and women’s bodies, as if women don’t hide away, dress a certain way, or get drunk, what else do they expect?  We ask-where does this attitude of entitlement come from?  An exercise that may be useful is from the moment you wake up, make a note of all the images of women you see, all the sexist jokes you hear, and if you are a woman, the times you are called “love” “sweetheart” or “darling”.  Think about going into a newsagent and seeing a “lads mag” – how does that make you feel?  You are on the bus and a woman in a bikini is pictured selling mobile phones – how does that make you feel?  You are at work and someone is reading a tabloid paper, you open it up and there is a picture of a semi-naked woman – how does that feel?  And how does it feel knowing we are the only nation in Europe to feature soft pornography in one Of our best selling papers?  Even if you yourself feel good or ok about these events, it enables us to start to understand how common, yet invisible, women’s sexualised bodies are.  We, as a society, don’t question this; we accept it as part of our lives, so much so that it barely registers with people.  We argue that it is vital to challenge this. We believe that these aspects of our culture combine with the unequal distribution of housework, the 70p to the £1 of women’s wage and the uneven representation of women in part-time, poorly paid and unstable work, in creating a culture of male “entitlement”.  However, we believe that as people have created this, we as people have the power to “un-create” it.

Why should men get involved? 

We believe that society is set up to benefit certain members over others.  These people are generally heterosexual, white, male, young and middle class.  We recognise that men from other groups can be discriminated against and believe that reclaim the night enables the less powerful to gain access to the most policed of all arenas-public spaces.  We also recognise that white, middle class, young and heterosexual men have a powerful role to play in challenging violence against women.  As members of the most powerful group, when they speak, they are listened to.  Many men are directly effected by violence against women, either through their mothers, sisters, friends or partners, and feel their voices are excluded from the debate. 

But reclaim the night is a woman’s march-isn’t it? 

Through our committee discussions we recognised that sympathetic or feminist men also require a forum for activism.  However, reclaim the night marches are traditionally women only, in that they aim to make women feel comfortable in public spaces without male protection or assistance.  We believe that men’s voices do have a role to play, and whilst we recognise the absolute importance of female collective action and women only spaces, we also believe marginalized men are discriminated against when compared to what we know as “hegemonic masculinity”.  This means that any man who is not able bodied, white, young and heterosexual may also find themselves victims of pernicious myths and stereotypes that limit their use of space.  In order to enable all members to participate, we have decided that the march will be half women only, and half mixed, allowing for female solidarity and collective action, as well as providing space for men.  Prior to the march we hope to organise a discussion group where men will begin to deconstruct ideas around masculinity and violence.

(For more information about masculinity, R.W. Connell’s Masculinities is very good).     

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