Pour La Dignité de la Femme

Pour La Dignité de la Femme

The Active role of men in changing attitudes to violence against women par Chris Green


Forging New Alliances:
The Active Role of Men in Changing Attitudes to Violence against Women

By Chris Green, White Ribbon Campaign (United Kingdom)


Good afternoon.

I’m Chris Green and I’m the Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign in the UK.

The aim of this presentation is to explore why men should be active supporters of anti- violence initiatives and how they can get involved in anti-violence activism.

Firstly I will look at why it is important to involve men.

Secondly I will investigate how it is best to approach men in order to mobilise them.

Finally I will look at the examples of the way in which the White Ribbon Campaign is attracting men and young men to become involved in campaigning.

The statistics about violence against women are of truly horrific proportions. For individuals it is a human rights violation, but for the community it can be called civil war, or terrorism.

The World Bank suggests that globally violence against women causes more deaths and disability to women, aged 15-44 than cancer, malaria, traffic accidents or war.

In the UK, 1 in 4 women have experienced domestic violence, and it is been described by a senior police officer as their “core activity” as 25% of all violent crime is domestic violence. In the UK alone there are 3.29 million assaults each year against women, which is once every 10 seconds.

A child in a refuge for women and children gives some of the reasons they have experienced why men are violent:

·         because children run about

·         because they are jealous

·         because children turn on the tv

·         because people do not do things for them, like making dinner

·         because the house was a bit untidy or

·         because women go out

Here we see the justification for the violence, the excusing for the crime, and also here we can see the first reason why men need to organise – it is men’s responsibility – men commit the vast majority of domestic violence.

Secondly women want men to organise to counteract domestic violence.

In the short time that White Ribbon Campaign has operated in the UK, we have worked with the Government’s Women and Equality Unit, WomanKind WorldWide, UniFem, National Association of Women’s Organisations, End Violence against Women, Rape Crisis, and the Womens Resource Centre. They and other organisations have all welcomed the involvement of men in the campaign.

Thirdly men can act as role models for other men in mobilising against the violence. Far too many of our organisations, the military, business, the church, sport and the arts and politics have men in the most senior positions. These men can act as role models to encourage other men to take the issues seriously and join the campaign.

Moving on from why men SHOULD be involved to why they WILL get involved is crucial in terms of a motivation strategy – in marketing terms it is a move from being INTERESTED in something to taking ACTION about it.

The four reasons why men would want to involve themselves in anti violence against women activities are as follows:

Relational interest: If mothers, sisters, daughters are suffering the violence, then men are more likely to take action.

Personal wellbeing: It is in my interest to live in a peaceful society – one free of homophobia, liberated from strict gender stereotyping which creates huge pressures by dictating the way a man must behave to show he’s a man, and free to develop improved ways of relating to women, and new roles as carers and fathers.

Collective interests: I want to live in a better society – the costs of violence are huge– the costs of domestic violence estimated by Professor Sylvia Walby are 26 billion Euros a year consisting of 6.6 billion Euros easily measureable costs, and 19 billion in psychological, emotional and social costs.

And finally the Principle: It is wrong, or in the words of a 10 year old child from a Refuge for Women and Children: “This isn’t right and it isn’t fair”.

A large survey conducted recently in Sweden by Lars Jalmert discovered that Swedish men

          want to spend more time with children

          want more men working in daycare centres and schools

          want both men and women to be well represented in all workplaces

          agreed that men are opposed to male violence

          liked the idea of gender equality

          BUT want someone else to work it all out.

This is symptomatic of some of the attitudes that you find among men with regard to violence, and gender roles.

Yes we have the desire that something should be done about it, but aren’t quite concerned enough to move to the next step and do something about it ourselves such men believe that “it’s an issue for women, isn’t it?”

To motivate such men to change attitudes of their friends and relatives it is of no value to show anti-violence advertisements illustrating women getting abused. These men will quickly pass on to the next page of the magazine, or not read the slogan on the hoarding, as they do not see it as relevant.

As well as the benefits for men that we mentioned earlier, relational, personal, and collective benefits, there are two other crucial parts of the message – it must be positive and it must be relevant.

Positive: Wagging fingers and telling men “Some of you need to change your behaviour” is never going to achieve the results we need. The message must not condone any form of violent behaviour but it should talk about the fact that most men do not use violence; that men want to live in peaceful communities.

Relevant: The communication has to be rooted in the experience and issues facing the men involved.

I want in a minute to turn to consider the work of our campaign, the White Ribbon campaign, but it is important before we do that to look at the work of the EU Working Group on Men in Gender Equality. Niall Crowley the Chair of that group has provided a list of possible pitfalls in working with men:

          shifting focus from experience of women

          empowers men to maintain the status quo

          contradictions when men’s work is not felt to be supportive of women

          scarce resources

          not acknowledging diversity of men

This provides a useful checklist to help improve any work being undertaken with men.


White Ribbon Campaign

The White Ribbon Campaign operates in as many as 40 countries around the world, campaigning by men with men to educate and awareness raise and to put an end to violence against women. Each national campaign operates autonomously, and relies massively on voluntary campaigning and fundraising. The campaigns are particularly strong and vigorous in Canada and Australia. All the campaigns operate year round but concentrate on 16 days around the 25th of November the International Day to Eradicate Violence against Women.

Wearing a ribbon is a pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women.

In the UK there are three strands to our work-commitment:

Firstly, Mass awareness raising by large scale distribution of ribbons and leaflets around November 25th.

Secondly, Working to show legislators and politicians that men support the women’s movement in campaigning for changes in the law, political work in co-operation with Trade Unions to change behaviour in the workplace, with city councils to undertake awareness campaigns and promote increased funding for victim support and prevention programmes.

Thirdly, media coverage: Celebrity endorsement in order to ensure that the white ribbon becomes a recognised emblem for men wanting a society of gender equality.

These media campaigns are essential to drive the cultural change, vital for improvements in the lives of women and men.

We do a considerable amount of our work aimed at young people, for the following reasons:

  • Young women are a high risk group for experiencing relationship violence.
  • The highest rate of sexual offenders is among men, age 21-25.
  • Adolescence and young adulthood are key times for disrupting negative beliefs before they become ingrained.
  • Opportunity to interrupt inter-generational cycle of violence.

In the White Ribbon Campaign we’ve undertaken some questionnaires with male university students and found that they overwhelmingly felt that they were in a strong position to challenge the existing violence condoning male culture.

How one national campaign took off - The White Ribbon Campaign in the UK

We started in the UK in 2004, very very slowly, and registered as a company in November 2005, building on the excellent work that Woman Kind Worldwide had done in white ribbon campaigning.

Our first big campaign in 2005 was with Manchester Students.

We obtained sponsorship from a large advertising site owner to place adverts, designed by students, near student activity centres. We then also had stands in the Students’ Union next to the coffee bar and offered young men free cakes if they came and did a questionnaire. Afterwards we asked them if they wanted to wear a ribbon, if they were prepared to sign it as a measure of their commitment, and if they agreed to have their photograph taken, which again adds to their commitment. Many of them also gave a donation to the campaign.

In 2005 we achieved the following:

·         40,000 White Ribbons sold

·         Worked with 60 organisations in UK and Europe

·         Contributed to 17 conferences and meetings

·         Educational work in Universities and Youth Clubs, and achieved some limited celebrity endorsements.

We are a completely un-funded organisation relying upon raising money by selling our ribbons and banners, so without being complacent, we were quite pleased with achieving this within our first year.

Then in 2006, I was at a major Health Service conference and a question from a member of the audience was very simple “Why aren’t you doing more?”

This is quite an appropriate comment, as most men and women have never heard of the White Ribbon Campaign, or changed their behaviour as a result of our campaigning.

So we redoubled our efforts, and received many endorsements from politicians, city council leaders, mayors, judges, police officers and fire fighters.

But young people have different role models.

Therefore in 2006 we developed our Sports campaign targeting opinion formers within sports clubs. Leading celebrity players like Paolo Maldini the captain of Italy have also endorsed the campaign. He said:

To pin the White Ribbon on the chest is like taking on the responsibility of captain, but in the more important game, that of life. Fair play it is an attitude that every sportsman must have when one plays a game, and the engagement not to use violence against a woman or a girl, never to raise the hands, and not to use the words in order to hurt and to offend is the attitude that every man must have in life every day. It is important not only for us to hold these attitudes. We must also bring to others’ attention and ensure that others our friends, our relatives and even men we don’t know – make this commitment. To be full engaged we must also take part in critical situations in order to stop violence and must condemn violent behaviour.

To wear the White Ribbon is like being, at that moment, a team captain, and like a good captain, involvement means respecting the more important values of life. When playing, the violence of one player damages all the team, and, therefore, also in life to ignore violence when we know that violence exists creates damage for all society. Therefore we have decided to come down to support absolutely, with you, the Campaign of the White Ribbon men against violence.

In 2006 we had four Premiership Football teams, a substantial number of other professional teams, as well as Rugby League and Rugby Union teams supporting the work. Liverpool FC for example ordered ribbons for every member of staff on Match Day, and had a half page announcement in the programme. Peterborough United had a page in the programme, PA Announcements, and young people going around the ground handing out ribbons and parading a giant wide ribbon made from material donated by John Lewis.

We are always looking for more sports celebrities in every country to endorse the campaign, in every sport.

We are also working with Trade Unions, music festivals and are looking for more areas to develop.

Our Sports campaign has some momentum now, so we are also moving to operate a campaign in the field of music and clubbing.

We distributed 250,000 ribbons in November 2007.

Our music campaign has the same approach to ensure that we get the message to where it will be heard not ignored. We have worked with nightclub door supervisors, who see a lot of violence, to provide them with information to hand out to women and men inside the clubs.

In a nightclub where I went to a benefit concert for White Ribbon Campaign, I was expecting to give a talk, but the manager of the nightclub gave a talk for 5 minutes about “Why everyone in the club should be taking action against domestic violence” a far more effective speaker than I would have been in that situation.

Wearing a ribbon is not enough.

In order that men do not merely pick up a badge or ribbon without knowing about the issues, all our ribbons and badges are now enclosed with a card giving some information about the campaign, the pledge they are making by wearing the badge, and details of the website.

We also undertake campaigning to support cultural change.

Money made from selling ribbons is used to support campaigning women’s organizations and show that men care.

Self education is a hugely important step in changing the culture of violence-and White Ribbon Campaign provides speakers for events as well as attending conferences for our own education. We also publish and promote games and exercises to help youth workers and teachers with long term cultural change objectives.

We support the work of the campaigning organization Object in campaigning against the objectification of women, and in particular their work to denormalise Lad’s Mags and get them reclassified as pornography. We are an official supporter of Reclaim the Night in London.

We have campaigned with North West feminists on Anti Rape demonstrations and leafletting, and have been a major speaker at Rape Crisis Conference Scotland.

We welcome partnership working and support and suggestions on how best to develop, expand and get the message across that men can be part of a culture of care; that men want to break free from typical stereotypical behaviours of how men behave and that men say “No” to all violence. Thank you.

www.whiteribboncampaign.co.uk; info@whiteribboncampaign.co.uk


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