Take Back the Night

My friends know me for the sexist pig that I am or rather can be. I am OK with that. Somewhere in the dark, ichor filled cavern that is my soul, I think that I am actually a much nicer guy than that. It’s just so hard to see through the profanity and lust.

For example, being the nice guy that I am, I went to the Take Back the Night march at Ohio University with my friend Chris and his then girlfriend (now wife) Karen. At the time, the march was for women only and Chris did not want to be left standing behind by himself. So I went along. I didn’t think anything of it.

No less than three times during the night, I was accused by people I knew that I was there to pick up chicks. I explained that I was there for Chris’ sake and to support the march. You usually don’t hear much laughing at Take Back the Night, but I did after that explanation.

At the direction of a very loud woman, the women gathered and started the march while the men were left behind. Someone dressed in a lot of black gathered us all up and we formed a discussion circle. The moderator opened up the discussion with the topic of how we could comfort our friends after the march. It opened my eyes to the release of emotion that some of the women would be feeling after the march and I started to understand the whole of the march and why it was so important to some.

And then someone else crushed that empowerment by suggesting that all feminine and masculine forms of words should be banned and that only gender neutral words be allowed in all languages. Oh Christ. The moderator was only able to rope in that thread in the conversation by stepping in the middle of the circle and raising his voice.

In an extremely odd moment, a guy took advantage of the following silence to thank everyone for coming out. He noted that he saw a lot of friends in the circle. He said he was nervous. He paused and nodded. He said felt a lot of positive energy flowing through the men and that was great. And he said that he just wanted to say that he was bi-sexual.

Silence again. He sat there and nodded. More silence. Finally a very effeminate guy in the back of the circle yelled, “Good for you!”

Chris kept elbowing me to see if I was taking it all in or maybe to see if I was going to laugh. The self outing was followed up by a discussion about gayness and bisexualism and his statement that, “I’m not 50% straight and 50% gay… I’m 100% bi-sexual.” Thank the lord that the march returned and the women came over to pick up their friends, sheepish boyfriend, sheepish boyfriend’s friend and now bi-sexual friend.

As we walked uptown, small groups of women huddled together. Comforting each other. Tearing up pieces of paper with the names of the men that hurt them.

I’ll always remember the silence after the dude came out of the closet. You could hear the marching women chanting in the distance.

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