Ohio University “Takes Back the Night”

13May10

Every April Ohio University students recognize “Take Back the Night” week, which, according to the Ohio University Facebook event page for Take Back the Night week, is “an annual event to raise awareness about sexual assault and feminism.”

Last month, OU celebreated TBNT week, just as they do every year, publicizing heavily the capstone event for TBTN week, which is a peaceful and nonviolent march and rally that takes place throughout the most popular uptown areas of OU’s campus on a crowded Thursday night.

This event is interesting to me because, now that I have gained the Gandian knowledge that I currently possess, I can see the significance and effectiveness of marches and rallies. Gandhi is one of the first significant public figures to have demonstrated public and nonviolent marches and rallies in order to not only draw attention to his cause, but also to help participants of his campaign feel a physical and tangible set of efforts and results being conveyed through their actions.

The march that I have spent the most prominent amount of time studying is the Salt March. The Salt March was used as a demonstration by Gandhi to prove just how ludicrous were the anti-salt making laws imposed upon the Indians. In garnering thousands of Indians to march hundreds of miles, Gandhi realized that both the physical action of marching combined with the symbolic significance of the march would be an effective tool is coercing his opponent; he was right.

Gandhi and his followers during the Salt March. Photo from virtualclassroom.org.

Even decades after the era in which Gandhi’s campaigns made front pages, nonviolent, peace-seeking groups still use Gandhian ideals and tactics throughout their campaigns for peace.

However, TBTN’s campaign was not all roses and sunshine. In fact, their main conflict mirrored some conflicts that both Gandhi and King faced in their nonviolent campaigns, and that includes the decision of whether or not certain sects of people should be discluded from the march and and rally. In Gandhi’s case, he had a hard time distinguishing between whether or not well-trained nonviolent activists from his ashram should be the only activists who thoroughly carry out his campaign, because they are the ones who will ensure the most effective campaign given their lengthy training in nonviolent resistance.

As for King, many African Americans felt betrayed by King’s decision to allow white Civil Rights supporters to march among the AFrican American majority; they felt the inclusion of whites in their rallies and campaigns was deceitful, and also undermined their entire mission. Many African Americans wanted to prove that they could fight for their freedom without the help of the white man. Likewise, King gain criticism for allowing children to march, participate and even get arrested on behalf on King’s nonviolent campaigns. MLK says he made the decision to allow children to march after he began running out of activists who were being carted away to jail, and after he realized that many children were just as impassioned about the cause as adults.

TBNT organizers had a similar conflict in deciding who they might allow to participate. Much to the chagrin of the males on OU’s campus, the original plan for TBNT week was that males were allowed to participate in all TBNT events throughout the week with the exception of the capstone march and rally, with the TBNT organizers wanted to dedicate solely for women, as the main issues of TBNT week focus around feminism and discrimination against women.

Men and women alike were outraged by this decision, demanding that men be given the same right to march as women; many claimed that by not allowing men to march, TBNT was implementing the same forms of discriminating that they continuously fight so hard against.

Eventually, OU’s sect of TNBT agreed to allow any and all people who wanted to the privilege of marching. The fact that small-scale, local organizations faced the same smorgasbord of problems as Gandhi and Martin Luther King (and even in situations that so closely mimic Gandhian events), is interesting and telling of society. Nonviolence campaigns obviously incorporate a trying process of planning, but in the end, the efforts and results of such campaigns are more than likely worth it.

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