This is way too long to fit into a tweet, so here’s a post on the topic of men at Reclaim the Night London. Several people have asked me via Twitter whether men are allowed on the march, and if not, why not.
Men are encouraged to join us at the party afterwards. We’d also love to see our male allies at the Men’s Vigil (at the Edith Cavell Memorial statue by St Martin in-the-fields). The Men’s Vigil is always undersupported, and since there are so many lovely male allies saying that they’d like to come – please do! The women will give you an extra loud cheer as we pass by.
But yes, men are asked not to march. This isn’t meany-horrid-feminazis being arbitrarily nasty. It’s because Reclaim the Night is predominantly about women’s rights to walk by themselves, in the dark, and not be blamed for any attacks on them. Men face violence at night as well, but I have never, ever heard a police officer make a statement saying that a man has been mugged and therefore men in the local area should ensure that they always get walked home by a woman for their own protection. It would be counterproductive to march for our right to walk unchaperoned by male protectors – a right which quite frankly we should have by 2012! – if we are marching chaperoned by male protectors. And that applies whether or not those men are your best mate, your boyfriend, your father, or the best feminist ally you’ve ever had. If they are the best feminist ally you’ve ever had, they will understand this, and show their support with a beer / coke / cup of tea waiting for you at the afterparty when you get in.
To those who say men are attacked too, and ask why we’re not marching against violence against men too – because that’s not what RTN is about. It’s a single issue march, and that issue is violence against women. And be truthful with yourselves here: that’s a bit of a derail, no? We could go further: more people are killed by road traffic collisions than by gender violence in the UK every year, so why are we not marching against the car? Or against climate change? Well, because those are not what THIS march is about. Want to organise a march against generic violence against everyone everywhere? Go for it. I’ll bring a placard. Likewise, someone suggested a march against gender stereotypes: fantastic. It’s not like there’s only one march ever in a year – you organise, I’ll attend. But THIS march, this Reclaim the Night, is against violence against women, and organised to be on the Saturday nearest to the International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
I know there will be some women who are not prepared to march unless they are with a man: that’s fine; I respect that, and I hope they will come to the mixed party afterwards for the speeches and a dance. But equally, for those who are undecided, this is the reason men are asked not to march, and I think it’s a powerful one: we do not want to dilute the message of thousands of women and girls marching at night without male protectors. RTN is one of the most empowering events of the year (yeah, I would say that, I’m involved with it, but still) and I hope to see you there. 24 November, 6pm, Whitehall Place. Bring noise and enthusiasm.