Hilary Robinson talks to the organisers and artists of Reclaim The Night (below), plus reviews of the

Glasgow Soviet exhibitions (overleaf).


Reclaim The Night

As Reclaim The Night marches for a safer city for women. Reclaim The City puts out onto the streets. Hilary Robinson investigates.

Last week as I said goodbye to a woman friend at 1 1pm in Edinburgh we discussed whether she should walk the quick way across the Meadows. or the longer way by the road. ‘Ifl were a man. I wouldn't have to think about it‘ she said. ‘they don‘t know the halfofour problems’. Fishing my keys from my bag. 8pm one bright evening two months ago. just off Leith Walk. l luckily noticed a man who must have been walking in step behind me. who was pulling a mask over his face. Ninety-eight per cent ofwomen say they are to some degree afraid to go out alone at night. It‘s a figure that men should find shameful. and that should make them realise that the problem is their‘s. even though it’s been turned into another ‘woman‘s problem'.

The first ‘Reclaim the Night’ march in this country was in Leeds in 1977. when Peter Sutcliffe (the ‘Yorkshire Ripper‘) was murdering women. and police told women (not men) to curfew themselves. or go out only if accompanied by a man they knew. Presumably no irony was intended by this. The implication that all women should accept victim-status. and the fear generated. were the spur to that first march. Since then others have taken place. reclaiming ‘no-go’ areas for women; and in 1982 coach loads of Scottish women joined a mass reclaiming of Soho. But if anyone still needs persuading that the battles have not yet been won and that we are not in a utopian post-feminist era. that 98 per cent is the most eloquent argument.

A few months ago women discussing the issue in Glasgow instigated more Reclaim the Night marches for ll November and. in parallel. a ‘Reclaim the City‘ season ofworks by artists. ‘Reclaim the City' intends to make the issue visible in the appropriate place out on the streets. Eleven works by women (ranging from recent graduates to those who have shown internationally) were selected from open submission. Some men submitted proposals. ‘but‘ said Nicola White. one of the co-ordinators. ‘they were generally very abstract men‘s ideas ofwhat it must be like for women‘. The whole project attracted sponsorship from the Scottish Arts Council‘s Special Projects Unit. Glasgow

District Council‘s Festival Unit. and from - commercial sources such as Adshiel and Primesite.

Some pieces. like Karen Rann's performance ‘Night Games” will happen only on the night of the march; others will be around for some time. Susan Payne‘s poem-poster for the underground concerns the fear of rape. and includes the rape crisis line phone number. Working with bus shelter posters are Rose Ann McGreevy and Barbara Buchler. whose photo ofa laughing older woman bears the text ‘One thing about growing old.‘ she said. ‘is that men don't bother you in the street.‘ And she smiled. It may provoke controversy after all. older women do get attacked by men but it shows a positivity. strength and humour from a person normally represented as vulnerable and helpless. It not only makes the viewer think about the issue of women being hassled on the streets. it also raises the issue ofthe representation ofwomen in advertising.


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Pratibha Parmer‘s video ‘Sari Red” has been shown on TV and at film festivals in the US. and is used by teachers here; lasting 12 minutes. it will tour a wide range ofcommunity centres. It is in memory of Kalbinder Kaur l layre. an 18 year old Asian woman who was out with two women friends when three white men in a van shouted racist abuse at them. They shouted back; the men drove the van at them and Kalbinder was killed. ‘l didn‘t know her. but I was moved by her story‘ says Parmer. ‘l‘ve always shouted back against racist abuse too you have to. to retain your dignity and integrity. Some of us get killed for shouting back. She could have been any Asian woman. she could have been me.’ Forfurllzer details about artworks and venues. ('()I11(l(‘l.\'l('()l(l While (04/ 33/ I768); all women are invited to Reclaim the .\'iglu on November ll. meeting Blyllisn'oodSquare. (ilaxeon', (rpm; ('in I Hospital. Aberdeen. 8pm; Ilu' .l/eadou's. 1 [Edinburgh (cheek IlliSpltlt't’ lime ~ .llaggie J

Sinclair 6670713). 'I‘ake (ori'ltes’ and candles.

The List 10- 33