We asked these people to tell us about feminism
‘We should be able to have our cleavage or legs out and not fear getting raped’
Hundreds of protesters marched through the centre of Bristol the other week in a “Reclaim the Night” march, with the aim of raising awareness of sexual violence and harassment.
These are some of the people who were there.
Imo and Maya (sixth-formers)
Imo: I’m passionate about women’s rights. I know someone who has been the victim of sexual abuse.
She was sexually violated by a friend and her family suggested it was because of what she was wearing. The way she was treated afterwards made me angry and want to get involved.
Maya: The main message to come out of tonight is that it’s not our fault. We can dress how we want and it is not an excuse to be violated or used.
Alice Phillips (Equality, Liberation, and Access Officer)
I feel it has gone really well. It was such a positive atmosphere and so many people came which is fantastic.
I feel like the main message is that everyone should feel safe on the streets at night and we shouldn’t blame women for attacks that occur. It’s always the fault of the perpetrator.
I’d like this to become an annual event in Bristol as it’s such a positive thing. We’re also trying to create “consent workshops”, which would be another big step.
Raphael (FemSoc secretary)
I think the biggest thing to come out of tonight is changing attitudes. We’re willing to act on obvious incidents, but don’t feel comfortable if we are bystanders to an incident on the street. We don’t act on it.
There has been a fantastic atmosphere tonight, and a very welcome environment. There was this wonderful feeling of everyone being together and fighting for this cause.
There was some talk on Facebook that men shouldn’t come to the event, but though women-only forums can be useful, it would marginalise groups such as transgender in an event like this.
I believe men have an important part to play in feminism, but it’s important for us to realise our views predominantly come from women who have suffered.
Emilia, Rosie, Flo, Adiba, Emma, and Mirim (students)
Emilia: In 2014, it’s a joke how women are viewed and perceived. It’s crazy I don’t feel safe to go out on the streets in my own hometown.
The first question asked to victims shouldn’t be: “What were you wearing?”
Rosie: The atmosphere has been so amazing! We thought we’d get judged for coming in our underwear but everyone has been so supportive, and way more people have come than we expected!
Flo: We’ve come in our underwear because skin does not mean yes. We should be able to have our cleavage or legs out and not fear getting raped.
These are our bodies and this is the first time I’ve felt so safe. Look at the statistics, so many women are subjects to sexual violence. It’s awful!
Adiba: The message of this march is that if you take the piss we’re going to get angry!
It’s true though, because we’ll stand up for our rights even if you keep assaulting us, and we have to tell people to fuck off and not to touch our bodies.
Emma: We shouldn’t need men around us to make us feel secure on the streets, we should not feel uneasy by ourselves.
I don’t want to not go out because I feel threatened and I don’t want to have to tell men I have a boyfriend in order for them to respect me saying no.
Mirim: Women are the victims of the patriarchy, and while its easy to go with the flow, it’s important that we go against the grain and make our voices heard.
Women need to come together against the patriarchy who tell us what to wear. I find it’s the men in my life who tell me how to dress.
Jo (Union Affairs officer)
The night has gone amazingly well, I’m so impressed. I think over 500 people came, which is fantastic.
Quite often people think sexual harassment is something that doesn’t affect them or their friends, and I think it’s powerful to see how many people have suffered from it.
Students coming together and saying that this isn’t ok is very powerful.
My brother is in halls and was shocked when I told him people shout at me on the street. I think a lot of students don’t quite know what really goes on.
Hattie Stamp (FemSoc president)
The main message to come out of tonight is that gender inequality is a real issue in our society, and students can clearly come together to tackle it.
I would encourage those who don’t believe this is an issue to go online and look at the statistics. One in four women will experience sexual domestic abuse in their lifetime.
You can’t argue with the facts, this is clearly a prevalent issue.
Todd and Bert (fourth-years)
Todd: I came here to make my presence felt and views heard. We only heard about it at the last minute but felt we should come.
I’d absolutely encourage other students to get involved with things like this, and it’s important for the university to listen.
Bert: The march was good fun, even if it was a little wet. Everyone was really positive and in the spirit of things.
We are here to show solidarity and support, but not lead and over-power the event.
It’s an important message, and one worth travelling for. We had a two hour bus ride and missed the entire walk but at least I’m here now, so it’s worth it.
I’m here with my boyfriend and we were nervous because on Facebook leading up to the event there were some people saying men aren’t welcome, but I don’t think it would be fair to exclude men from feminism.
These people convey a message of safety and hopefully that’s what women will have when they go out at night.
I love the event and would definitely encourage as many people as I know to come and get involved next time.