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Did you know that: 90% of undergraduate college women who have been sexually assaulted knew the perpetrator, and that fewer than 5% of completed or attempted rapes are reported to law enforcement? (Fisher, Bonnie S. “The Sexual Victimization of College Women.” National Institute of Justice, U.S. Department of Justice. December 2000.) This is only one of the many shocking statistics that can be found on posters and flyers leading up to Take Back the Night. I’ve decided to interview Jen Levinson, a sophomore at Barnard College and one of the Co-coordinators of Take Back the Night to learn more about this event.

BB: What is take back the night?

Jen: Take Back the Night is an international movement that works to end sexual assault. At Columbia there is a student group called Take Back the Night that plans the annual Take Back The Night march, Sexhibition, and other events throughout the year.

BB: What happens during the march at Columbia?

Jen: Before the march starts we have a pre-march rally outside of Barnard Hall, and after that the women-led march walks all around campus and the general area for about an hour and a half reclaiming the streets and turning them into a safe space. In the middle of the march we meet for a moment of silence at the sundial before continuing on. Following the march, in LeFrak Gym (Barnard Hall), Take Back The Night conducts a speak-out where survivors, co-survivors, allies, and anyone else can share their experiences or thoughts [concering sexual violence and assualt]. Peer Counselors are available to talk to anyone who would like to (in person or on the phone) and Nightline extends their hours until 5 am that day.

BB: What do you mean by a women-led march?

Jen: With respect to the history of the movement, and by acknowledging the gendered nature of sexual assault, the Take Back the Night March is led by a section of those identifying as women–to create a safe and comfortable space as well as make clear that this is a women’s initiative. Following the women-led section the rest of the march is co-gendered.

BB: That sounds great! When is the march?
Jen:
The march is Thursday April 16th at 9pm at the Barnard Gates, the speak out begins in LeFrak Gym at 11:00 pm.

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You may not have a valentine this V-Day, but that doesn’t mean you’ve got no “V” to celebrate! Take a few moments to learn some facts about your vagina in honor of, well…yourself, and also in celebration of V-Day, an alternative holiday on February 14th.

1. Vaginas are like snow flakes. No two are exactly alike!

2. According to Discovery Health’s “Sexual Health Center,” it’s a common misconception that the vagina is a continually open cavity. Most of the time, the walls of the vagina are flattened against each other, like a collapsed tube. Only when the vagina is stimulated, do the walls open up, creating a hole or space.

3. 90 % of the nerves of the vagina are located on the outer 1/3 of the vaginal barrel, closest to the vaginal opening. This means that the inner, or deeper, 2/3 of the vagina have very few nerve endings and are less sensitive to touch.

4. You vagina is full of muscular tissue that, like the rest of the muscles on your body, can benefit from some pumping and toning! Kegel exercises are vaginal exercises that involve contracting or sqeezing your vaginal muscles, holding for a few seconds, then releasing. Try doing a couple sets of ten everyday! (You can also get a feel for your kegel muscles by stopping and starting a flow of urine. This is an action that requires contracting your kegels.)

5. When you are sexually aroused, blood flows down to a ton of blood vessels on the vaginal tissue. The now engorged blood vessels press against the vaginal tissue, pushing out natural tissue fluids. This is how the vagina becomes lubricated.

6. Planned Parenthood’s Dr. Cullins explains that the G spot is a small, spongy area on the front wall of your vagina (the wall closer to your stomach), about 1-2 inches beyond the vaginal opening. This spot is extremely sensitive to touch, and its stimulation may be involved in the vaginal orgasm.

7. If your vagina is healthy, it will produce fluids that are white or clear and have very little odor. The amount of fluid your vagina produces depends on your hormone level and where you are in your menstrual cycle—you produce the most fluids when ovulating.

8. If your vaginal fluids have a strong odor or appear discolored, you may have vaginitis, an infection or irritation of the vagina. Vaginitis is easy to treat! Just visit your doctor to clear up the problem.

9. V-Day is a global event that occurs annualy on February 14. Eve Ensler, writer of the Vagina Monologues, founded V-Day in 1998 to raise funds and awareness to help stop violence against women. “The V in V-Day stands for Victory, Valentine, and Vagina.”

10. You can buy tickets to Barnard/Columbia’s annual performance of the Vagina Monologues at the Lerner ticket box now! Performances are this weekend, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights from 8-10 PM. Word on the street is that President Spar is making a cameo on Thursday night only!

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