Anti-Rape Organization Contacts Justin Timberlake About “Take Back The Night”

Liz Pelly | July 14, 2013 - 1:42 pm

“Take Back The Night” is the name of an internationally held, decentralized march and rally that raises awareness against sexual violence and rape culture in general. “Take Back The Night” rallies and candlelight vigils are popular amongst feminists groups on college campuses, and have been happening around the world since the late 70s. In 1999, The Take Back The Night Foundation was created, seeking to “end sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence, sexual abuse and all other forms of sexual violence,” reads the foundation’s website. “We serve to create safe communities and respectful relationships through awareness events and initiatives.”

So it came as a surprise to the Take Back The Night Foundation (and lots of feminists everywhere) when Justin Timberlake released a song last week using the same name. But of course, having nothing to do with the causes of the organization. “Everyone at Take Back the Night is really shocked, because normally, we get asked when people want to use the name,” Take Back the Night Foundation Executive Director Katherine Koestner told Radar. “Normally entities as large as Justin Timberlake do very kind and thoughtful things to support our cause.”

“We have some big concerns,” Koestner continued. “For example, all of a sudden on Wikipedia, Take Back the Night has a different definition. That’s not been helpful. The lyrics are definitely very sexual and not at all clearly anti-sexual violence. ‘Use me,’ for example, is not a great phrase for anyone affiliated with the organization.”

“We tried to contact him through his website and got no answer,” she said. “Then we sent him a letter Friday from our legal counsel saying ‘You used our name without our permission.’ They got back to us and said they’re sorry. His agent said ‘Justin’s a good guy! He’s a family man!’ They claimed he’d never heard of us before he wrote that song. I don’t know what country he’s been in. I suppose it could have slipped off his radar screen somehow. Somebody working for him definitely messed up.”

“Usually people are pretty mindful because no one is actually ‘for’ sexual assault,” she said. “This whole thing with Justin is just really unfortunate and we’re hoping it can be amicably resolved.”