Sanctuary for the Abused
Saturday, December 08, 2007
What is the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC)?
The WRC is the largest effort in the world of men working to end men's violence against women. It relies on volunteer support and financial contributions from individuals and organizations.
How did the WRC get started?
In 1991, a handful of men in Canada decided we had a responsibility to urge men to speak out against violence against women. We decided that wearing a white ribbon would be a symbol of men's opposition to men's violence against women.
After only six weeks preparation, as many as one hundred thousand men across Canada wore a white ribbon. Many others were drawn into discussion and debate on the issue of men's violence.
Goals and Focus: What does it mean to wear a white ribbon?
Wearing a white ribbon is a personal pledge never to commit, condone nor remain silent about violence against women.
Each year, we urge men and boys to wear a ribbon for one or two weeks, starting on November 25, theInternational Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women. (In Canada we wear ribbons until December 6, Canada's National Day of Remembrance and Action on Violence Against Women.)
What are the goals of the WRC and how do your volunteers accomplish these objectives?
We are an educational organization to encourage reflection and discussion that leads to personal and collective action among men.
Throughout the year, we encourage men to do educational work in schools, workplaces and communities, to support local women's groups, to raise money for the international educational efforts of the WRC.
We distribute Education and Action kits to schools and we maintain a website. We speak out on issues of public policy.
What happens during White Ribbon Days?
We urge men and boys to wear a ribbon, including one on their coat so the ribbon will be visible while they're outdoors. (In Nova Scotia we encourage men to support the purple ribbon campaign.) We encourage men to talk in schools, workplaces, and places of worship about the problem of violence.
Basic Philosophy: Is our only concern men's violence against women?
We are concerned about all forms of violence.
Our central focus is on men's violence against women. Comparing violence committed by women and by men, Statistics Canada (2000 Report on Family Violence) notes that the result of men's violence is five times as likely to require medical attention. Women are four times as likely as men to fear for their lives, and three and a half times as likely to be murdered by a male spouse than vice versa.
We are deeply concerned about violence against children, which is committed by both women and men (although men commit most acts of sexual violence against children.) We are concerned about the many forms of men's violence against other men, whether it's in a bar, on a playground, or in a sports arena, and whether it's because of someone's skin colour, sexual orientation, culture, or simply because they looked the wrong way. And we are concerned by any acts of violence by women against men, although these are comparatively rare.
Does this mean you think that men are bad? Are you male bashers?
We don't think that men are naturally violent and we don't think that men are bad. The majority of men are not violent. Researchers have discovered many past cultures with little or no violence.
At the same time we do think that many men have learned to express their anger or insecurity through violence. Many men have come to believe that violence against a woman, child or another man is an acceptable way to control another person.
The problem does not stop with physical violence. There are forms of emotional violence--from sexist joking, to sexual harassment at work, to other domineering forms of behaviour. By remaining silent about these things, we allow other men to poison our working and learning environments.
The good news is that more and more men want to make a difference. Caring men are tired of the sexism that hurts the women around them.
We're not male bashers because we're men, working with men, who care about what happens in the lives of men.