Hundreds rally in the rain to shine a light on sexual violence in society

Patrick Kempfer, Opinion Editor

The rain was of little concern to those in attendance, as literally hundreds came out in support of the Take Back The Bike Path Rally. Several ongoing chants could be heard from the crowd that stretched from Dickinson to Livingston streets, but one that resonated more than any other was the bellowing call, “YES MEANS YES, AND NO MEANS NO – However we dress, wherever we go – YES MEANS YES, AND NO MEANS NO – However we dress, wherever we go!”

There are many whose systemic, rape culture tendencies, whether they are aware of them or not, speaks against the best interests of women everywhere, and that fact has been made apparent in the city of Madison.

On Sept. 12, along the Capital City Bike Path, near the Livingston cross street, a Madison woman in her 30s was walking alone around the midnight hour, was attacked from behind, subdued, pulled into the bushes, raped, mercilessly beaten, and left for dead.

Ignorant statements have been uttered by some, that a woman shouldn’t have been walking alone at such a late hour, as if to suggest that going out past RAPE O’CLOCK should be a common sense practice, and victims of rape should just know better. Well, this is simply another example of how Rape Culture works itself into the “thinking” of people, and that so called thinking delivers the same reprehensible rhetoric: blame the victim, blame the victim, blame the victim.

When speaking with neighborhood residents, Tiffany Nicole Bender, had this to say of her attendance, “It’s ridiculous that this shit is happening around all of us and in my neighborhood. There’s no excuse for rape!”

It wasn’t just women marching their right to move freely through the city in which they live, hundreds of men were also in attendance, supporting this critical mass. One such man, Garth Olmanson, said, “I’m here to stand with women,” and, really, nothing more need be said, however, it was one women’s statement that brought the truest reality of why the event took place. Oona Mackesey-Green epitomized that reality in her words, “I marched in support of the woman who is healing from the attack. I marched with the hope that a story of victimization could become a story of collective empowerment.”

This is an ongoing issue, and it is not exclusive to any one gender, race, age, or class. Rape affects us all.

There are those, too, who see the need for improvements in the collective attitude of a society wrought by misogynistic oppression, who are however, too complacent to take action against the status quo. As of today, a resounding number of Republicans voted to defund Planned Parenthood, a long standing advocate for the victims of rape, and the healthcare of women. Historically, men in power have sought to keep women from obtaining any power of their own, and many believe that acts of violence against women, including, but not exclusive to, rape, are showing their dominance in the most explicit way imaginable, and this expression of violence will likely continue to be part of the human experience.

Nevertheless, all is not lost. There seems to be a guiding light at the end of this narrow tunnel of rape culture. Data suggests that violence, in all its forms, have decreased in recent decades, as the use of technology has shown a light on existing violence like never before.

Still, with such a horrific example of such violence having taken place in our backyard, the news hits us that much harder.

While looking at the sea of faces, walking together in unity, for the victims of the past, present and future; for women; and for all people, the feeling was that of quiet, loving sorrow. As the march came to a stand still, and a moment of silence for our city’s rape survivor commenced, when the wave of empathic quietness poured over our soaked hearts, and the rains washed away the despair, like the tears of the millions of victims, both survivors and casualties, a swell of strength came upon us all, and in those moments not a single one of us was afraid of the night.

Editor’s note: For those survivors of domestic violence, a new student organization is looking for supporters. Get Your Purple On is a developing organization, dedicated to educating the general public about Domestic Violence and Domestic Abuse. The also provide resources and support for victims. GYPO will host social events and parties, as well as public outreach work.

For more information about GYPO, using your Madison College student email address, send your first and last name to [email protected].