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Monday, November 11, 2013

Take Back the Night Poem

I had the chance to perform recently at this semester's Take Back the Night event, which I was incredibly grateful for. Below is the poem I composed and read.

I don’t want to be afraid of the dark
I don’t want to be told I can’t walk by myself
can’t drink
can’t smoke
can’t flirt
can’t wear that shirt
can’t wear that skirt
as if my clothes are the ones at fault
I don’t want to be afraid of making friends who happen to be
because I don’t know if they might hurt me some day
I don’t need to hear my 81 year old grandmother telling me to not go out at night
and I don’t want to think how she probably heard that same talk at 18, too
don’t talk to men
don’t put down your drink
don’t dress that way
don’t trust a single person you meet
I really don’t need to hear about another
god damn
town of apologists
that victimize the attacker and
attack the victim
and for the love of all that is good
do not let me become
a number
a percentage
a statistic
meant to terrify and is all for naught

but what I want, oh what I do want
I want every person who decides that perpetuating the idea that being assaulted is something to joke about
to be smacked every hour of every day until they say I’m sorry
and they
damn well
mean it
I want my beautiful trans* brothers and sisters to know that they are loved
and that they are strong in the face of danger
and despair
I want my sisters to link arms
love one another
become a fortress of excellence and security
and let no one into that fortress if they are not wanted
I want my brothers to know
that being a man doesn’t mean
I don’t take no for an answer
but to acknowledge that they’ve fucked up
and to take some god damn responsibility
for their actions
instead of passing the blame to the innocent
I want the night to return to what it righteously belongs to
to warm blankets
tossed aside blankets
blistered heels from walking too far
good drinks
bad jokes
terrible movies
to held hands
crazy hair
loud music
soft music
music that fills the soul in an electrifying way that you can never feel from something else
and to a soft embrace
a good book
and finding triangles up in the stars on a clear night
but perhaps most of all
I want to tell my children that there are no monsters in their closets
or under their beds
and there are no monsters who roam the streets.

Adrianna McCain


  1. Adrianna, I only got to hear half of your performance of this, which I'm really sad about. But the portion I did hear was really amazing and I could tell it came from the heart. It has so many emotions, ones that I have experienced before too about this. I know that at the end you say that you wish that the night would return to being connected to positive experiences, but I think even just remembering that some nights can still be like that is important. Even when you get so angry about this bullshit, which should definitely be utilized as a catalyst to help you change things, it is also nice to remember that the world isn't all bad. We have people who love us, and we get to spend time with those people, and are surrounded by beauty everywhere in our lives. Thanks for reminding me that with your poem.

  2. I love that I can read this now in your voice, with your passion, and with my own experience. Your line about your brothers really spoke to me because really at the end of the day the lesson we should be teaching is, "don't rape." "don't take advantage." Men shouldn't be afraid of losing masculinity or superiority. So we do need to teach our brothers and our cousins and our friends the importance of mutual respect and the importance of humanity.

  3. I'm so glad you posted this, since I too only got to hear a small portion of it. I love this poem because there is so much truth in every single line. It is really inspiring to see people my own age speaking out about rape culture. I'd like to second Brooke's comment about reminders of the beauty in this world, thank you for sharing such a great poem with everyone there that night.

  4. Such a powerful poem! The amount of people you touched during your spoken word of this is what makes this event so amazing.

  5. This is a very powerful and well written poem. When I read it tonight, I remembered hearing you perform it on stage with all your gusto. I like how you bring up the fact that your grandmother is perpetuating these fears society teaches women, and how she probably heard it too as a young woman. It's all a cycle and usually unintentional. No one wants to hear that by trying to protect someone (telling a woman, "don't give men the wrong idea" etc.) they are actually endangering all women by perpetuating rape culture. That's why events like TBTN are important. Thanks for sharing!!!