Take Back The Night Carnival

Historical protest transforms into a sexual education carnival


Morgan Fuerstenberg graphic

Elliot Parsons, coordinator of the Patricia Doyle Center for Women’s and Gender Studies, hosted the annual UW-Platteville “Take Back the Night” event with a carnival theme in the Velzy Commons of Ullsvik Hall on March 22. The event was sponsored by the UWP Alliance and Noty Kitty, a sexual accessories boutique, in Galena, IL.

The carnival theme was chosen to be lighthearted in the face of a heavy subject, according to Isabelle Emerson, a PEER educator with the Dean of Students. The carnival supplied blue and pink cotton candy, snow cones, popcorn, water and Kool-Aid jammers. All the games were educational activities and included prizes. 

In the game “Big Wheel,” participants spun a wheel with the following categories: Get yourself tested, Barriers, Healthy relationships, Consent, Birth control and Resources. Players were 

asked an educational question about the topic they spun and won a prize for each correctly answered question. After three rounds, players had a choice of t-shirts with consensual-style aesthetics. 

The game “Consent Ducks” began with a player choosing a rubber duck from a pool with a number on the bottom. Sensitive consent scenarios that corresponded with the chosen duck’s number would be presented to participants. Players chose one of three solutions to the scenario, and if they chose correctly, could win a small stuffed-animal key ring.  

The game “Lube Toss” was meant to emphasize the importance of water-based lube and lube in general. It was a ring toss, but participants threw rings at lube bottles. If a participant successfully threw three out of five rings, they won a small container of flavored lube.

Additionally, a competitive three-round game was played. It began with sexual education questions, led into a timed event of filling a condom of a brand of the player’s choice with rice as full as possible without breaking it and ended in a sexual lingo bingo round. 

The Pioneer Players supplied performances on provided stage throughout the evening and played music between performances for the event. A raffle was drawn at the end of the night as well. 

The original notion behind Take Back the Night began in England in 1877, when there was a women-only protest against “violence and fear women encountered walking the streets at night,” according to montana.edu. 

According to takebackthenight.org, in 1975 in Philadelphia, Susan Alexander Speeth, a microbiologist, was nearly home from work when she was stabbed to death. Philadelphia citizens held a public march for her. “She was just walking home from work. It was dark. That’s why she was assaulted,” said Emerson. 

This sparked TBTN protests in the late 1970s in San Francisco, Boston and New Zealand and throughout the 1980s at Harvard University, New Orleans, Los Angeles and NC State University. 

Throughout the 1990s, TBTN protests were at universities and reached New Mexico in 1996. In the 2000s, more universities hosted TBTN protests and in 2004, London had its own. 

In the 2010s, TBTN protests reached the Bahamas, Virginia and Oregon. The protests continued to grow across the network of colleges in the U.S. as well. TBTN has “spread out worldwide,” said Emerson.