Friday, October 28, 2005


There's a Reclaim the Night March in Auckland tonight. I can't go, because I'm not in Auckland, so I thought instead I'd talk about my ambivilant feelings about reclaim the night marches.

I can understand the power of a reclaim the night march. If you've never felt safe walking the streets of the city that you live in after dark, that fundamentally limits the way you can live your life. To come together with a group of women and challenge that idea, does show the strength we have when come together. I've always felt that power on a reclaim the night march, even if I've never felt particularly afraid walking the streets at night.

Despite this, I've come to feel that Reclaim the Night marches fundamentally reinforce the very notions of rape that we're supposedly fighting against. I may know women who have been attacked by strangers when they were walking alone at night, I've never talked to anyone about that experience. I do know women who have been beaten and raped by men they know, in their homes, in the man's home, or at a friend's.

It's not the night we need to reclaim, it's our bedrooms.

I'm sure that everyone who has ever organised a reclaim march has known this, and it has been talked about at every reclaim the night march I've attended. But the form of a reclaim the night march does reinforce a very limited idea of what rape is.

Women are taught to fear the wrong things, strangers, the night, being alone. The actual danger comes from the men we know, and fear isn't going to make us any safer. Downtown Wellington and downtown Auckland are relatively safe places for women, what stops us from having the freedom men do is the fear, rather than danger, a fear that does restrict the way we live our lives. I think we should be fighting the fear of the night, and reclaiming the rest of our lives from men.

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