For those not familiar, Reclaim the Night marches started in the 1970s as a response to the insecurity the majority of women felt then, and continue to feel now, on the streets at night. The movement has evolved to focus on the wider issues of rape and male violence, and this Saturday scores of women will march through Birmingham's streets, continuing this important campaign for safety and equality.
Wait...did I say march? Why am I talking about marching when this is a cycling blog? Marching is effectively glorified walking, and as we well know, cycling is much more awesome than walking.
To answer my own question, if you'll excuse me, Reclaim the Night may not be a cycling event, but it addresses many of the issues we face as female cyclists, and of course, simply as women! (And also we kinda stole the name for our rides).
The spaces that we ride (or walk) through everyday, are often those in which we do not feel safe. This could be because it's late at night, because we experience physical danger from aggressive drivers, or verbal abuse because of our sex.
We also feel unsafe because we are told we are unsafe; as a group we are disempowered by society's view of our inherent womanly weakness. I don't know about anybody else, but I'm really sick of being told that I'm more at risk because of my unfortunate possession of female body parts. Whether it's where or when we can walk at night, or the fact that female cyclists or more likely to be causalities in bike-car collisions. The truth is that in some ways we are more at risk, and this really needs to change, but so does this perception of the weak defenceless woman handed down to us.
Whether on wheels or feet it feels really great to come together and say that we should not be at risk because we are women, but also to say that as women we can be strong, we can and will take action to reclaim the streets as a place where we are, and feel, safe.
So...before I start going on about 'sisterhood' and whatnot – here are some practicalities!
Reclaim the Night – Birmingham – October 16th
Meet 7pm Victoria Square for a women only march
Mixed sex rally and after party with music, food and stalls