This evening we had the privilege of attending Central Arizona College's third annual Take Back the Night event,
part of the well-known international movement that calls for the end of sexual violence and invites the public to join the college in its stand for safety and empowerment to "shatter the silence" and "stop the violence."
It began at 5 p.m. by the Pinal County Justice Court on Idaho Road,
where participants gathered
and heard a rousing and inspiring talk by Natalie Ehmka, founder of Pretty Feisty,
whose passion stems from her personal experience with drug and alcohol-related sexual assault - an incident that happened during her college years. An expert on sexual assault prevention, she had effective advice and support for young women and for those of us concerned about their health and safety.
Whistles were given out,
and the group marched with signs
over to the Superstition Mountain Campus of Central Arizona College,
where we heard presentations
by Apache Junction Police Chief Jerald Monahan, a consultant for the National Domestic Violence Fatality Review Initiative, who explained that most domestic violence victims don't report incidents because they fear not being believed and how police must take the attitude of "believe first." As the little girl sitting in front of us said, "Good job, Grandpa!"
The fabulous Divine Essence performed some powerful slam poetry and spoken word pieces dealing with topics like women's self-esteem and empowerment, domestic violence, and caring for the next generation as well as one's peers. She was quite charismatic, and it was nice to hear the sounds of New York City in her voice. On this day when the great poet Adrienne Rich has died, Divine Essence reminded us of how vital it is for the genuine voices of women to be heard.
In the middle of her own set, Divine Essence brought on Robert FlipSide Daniels, who also performed a couple of energetic pieces, one of which began sweetly as the story of a childhood crush but ended with an example of the unfortunate pervasiveness of domestic violence in our world.
Nev Kraguljevic, director of residence life at Central Arizona College, acted as MC, but spoke from the heart as the survivor of a childhood in a family where domestic violence took place.
This was the third annual CAC Take Back the Night,
with the earlier two events held at the college's Signal Peak Campus.
After all the speakers were given gifts by the college, little flashlights were distributed among the audience,
and we used our whistles to "make noise" and call attention to the issues regarding women's safety. Near the close of the event, we had a moment of silence to remember the many victims of domestic abuse and sexual violence among the women of the world.
We are grateful to everyone who contributed to Take Back the Night and are glad we got to attend. Adrienne Rich once said that what she and her sisters-in-arms were fighting to achieve was simply this: “the creation of a society without domination.”
Aunt Jennifer's Tigers
Aunt Jennifer’s tigers prance across a screen,
Bright topaz denizens of a world of green.
They do not fear the men beneath the tree;
They pace in sleek chivalric certainty.
Aunt Jennifer’s fingers fluttering through her wool
Find even the ivory needle hard to pull.
The massive weight of Uncle’s wedding band
Sits heavily upon Aunt Jennifer’s hand.
When Aunt is dead, her terrified hands will lie
Still ringed with ordeals she was mastered by.
The tigers in the panel that she made
Will go on prancing, proud and unafraid.
As Take Back the Night shows, we want a world where women can be tigers.
“Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers” reprinted from Collected Early Poems: 1950-1970 by Adrienne Rich. Copyright © 1993 by Adrienne Rich. With the permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company Inc.