I attended my first Take Back the Night March in 1989, in my junior year at a private (formerly all-male) university with ivy climbing up the walls of its Gothic buildings. The stories I heard from sophomores and seniors and graduate students were a sobering reminder of why, whenever I walked back at night from the library or the office of the campus news magazine I helped to edit, a male student always accompanied me. I appreciated the companionship but I also felt, if a woman can’t walk across the grounds of this campus and be safe, what kind of school is this?
University administrators knew they had to do something. In my senior year, they hired a counselor for victims of sexual assault at the counseling center and poured all kinds of funds into awareness and prevention efforts.
That was more than two decades ago. But college and university campuses still aren’t safe for women. High schools aren’t safe for women. A University of North Carolina student faces honor court charges because she talked about being raped as a freshman. As Care2 blogger Jessica Pieklo has written, rape culture is thriving on college campuses.
There is one big difference between 2013 and 1989: the widespread use of the internet and social media sites that have given survivors of rape and sexual assault a way to voice their experiences, their rage and a whole lot more — a way to fight back. One great example is how, after someone started offering “advice” of a more than patronizing sort to women to be “safe” on Twitter using #safetytipsforladies, women stepped in and took over #safetytipsforladies. Some of the best:
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