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Hey Hey! Ho Ho! Rape Culture Has Got To Go!

posted Oct 24, 2019, 8:51 AM by Lydia Miller   [ updated Oct 26, 2019, 7:32 AM by Daniel Pieczkolon ]
About a month ago, I had the incredible opportunity of going to and participating in my third March To End Rape Culture. The March To End Rape Culture is an annual event that typically takes place on the last Saturday in September in Center City at the Thomas Paine Plaza. It goes from late morning to mid-afternoon. We first gather at the plaza where you are greeted with pop music about women empowerment. There is always some form of a big dance party happening in the center of it all. There are booths throughout the plaza that are in support of different organizations. They also always have a therapy/counseling tent where you can go and talk to somebody if at any point in time you get triggered by the topics. Before the march begins, they have a few key speakers who tell stories, poems, even play music and dance. The event is the most inclusive and welcoming place for everybody.

Across the street, unfortunately, we are counterprotested by the Westboro Baptist Church. For those of you who don’t know about the Westboro Baptist Church, they are a religious organization who spew hateful language and tell everyone that they are going to Hell for anything you can think of. They protest the march every year. They typically are protesting right on the plaza and invading our safe space, but because they had so much backlash the past few years, they were all the way on the other side of the street with their own protest. The creator of the event told us that this was the first year in about five years that they weren’t in the same space as us, which is a huge accomplishment.

After we hear from the speakers and their stories, we start on our walk. We walk all throughout Rittenhouse Square. It is about a two/three mile walk in total. We go all the way around City Hall and basically go in a big circle that leads us back to the Thomas Paine Plaza. The walking is the most empowering part. It’s made up of hundreds of people together shouting together chanting about ending rape culture and dismantling the patriarchy. Many of us have signs and posters with anti-rape culture slogans. It’s so much fun while walking also because everyone comes out of their stores and restaurants to watch us and cheer us on. We get a lot of support from the community during the march and it’s just incredibly uplifting and powerful.

As we get to the end of the march and gather back in the plaza, we are met with more uplifting music that makes you want to dance again. There’s more speakers at this point. There’s also always a big dance group that does a performance and some form of live music. There are points during the event that get pretty emotional and difficult to be a part of, but the majority of the day is about strength and empowerment.

I’ve met a lot of my friends from participating in the march and have learned so much about feminism and the harsh realities of rape culture. It’s also a great opportunity to get into Philadelphia and be in the city. Being in Glenside, I find it difficult to find extra time to get into the city and really spend a good amount of time there. It’s an experience that I really recommend everyone go to at least once. It’s definitely a bit overwhelming at points in my opinion, but it’s also electrifying and just a lot of fun. I absolutely recommend it to anyone who is looking for something different and eye opening.
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