25th November is White Ribbon Day, United Nations ‘International Day for the elimination of Violence Against Women’ across the world, and begins 16 Days of Activism To Stop Gender based Violence and discrimination against women and girls. The programme ends on 10th December, International Human Rights Day.
White Ribbon honours men and their integrity. It engages boys at school, because boys grow up in domestic violence homes too. Lifelong negative impacts is caused by emotional abuse – being yelled or sworn at, called stupid, useless, beaten, denied education, food, necessities of life, emotionally neglected and unsure they were loved or even wanted. Harmed children harm people. White Ribbon validates men’s life stories and uses their bad experiences for good, serving as models for others.
Violence against women and girls affects men and boys too. It costs our nation, businesses and society far too much; none of us are truly free of its insidious reach. Please commit to this powerful, positive campaign by which we are changing society. Using the ‘Let it begin with me’ philosophy of personal responsibility, led by people of conscience can create change – by doing, being and leading others. Join White Ribbon and take a personal but shared vow ‘To never commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women and to actively promote gender equality.
A noisy minority of men can’t permit focus on equality for women. These are the ‘What about men’ counter- campaigners, who frequently decry any women’s gains as feminist plots, stats as mischievous, yet we all agree that stopping men’s violence even against men and boys would be world-changing. So, fellas, seek services where needed, but not by attacking already inadequate women’s services. Activate to rationalise our unwieldy legal systems to honestly hold perpetrators accountable which in turn would lead to less violence against women, children and men.
Society’s character, choice and leadership hold the answer, provided society commits to inclusion, and values difference. It means re-establishing values, being decent people who honour vows, obligations, contracts. People who recognise and respect rights and obligations equally. Who respect themselves? Who risk standing up for right, speaking words of support, and encourage the success of others. Do what’s right and positive. Stop overcharging for inadequate work. Reject bringing disrepute to others. I preferred assimilation to multiculturalism; it seemed to be a better melting pot of ideas and demands.
Eliminating violence and discrimination won’t ‘just happen’. It’s what we do, not just what we say. It’s how we live, not just the promises we make. It’s ‘do our laws, policies and procedures create a cohesive society?’ – Or fix what doesn’t. Do we truly recognise abuse, violence and discrimination in all its forms, and stop it if we do it? Do we like to win or be superior more than we want to eliminate discrimination and difference?
Are our entitlements more important than other peoples? That’s key to why men’s violence is so prolific – entitlement.
Stopping violence against women won’t happen unless we recognise and better address our own shortcomings and negative biases – about class, culture, wealth or lack of it, racism, homophobia, aging, disability, the changing roles and functions of gender. About female leaders.
Australia has an entrenched culture of bullying, violence and negativity. It is played out in playgrounds, schools, workplaces, sports teams, in the streets, in police, defence forces, parliament and prisons. Entertainment – watching people night after night, being blown up or apart. Other people’s sons and daughter slain for our entertainment. I despair of the militarism, the hatred, the need to control and dominate in the name of something or other. But it is our world today and we let it happen.
At home. Christmas, 2015. Pretty-in- pink little girls, ask for soft toys, fake kitchens, babies, make-up. Being pretty, roles being defined. Boys want guns, boats, rockets, building toys, superheroes, and activities. Gender promotes pro-male opportunity and female roles – not equality. Forward 20 years.
Judges frequently disbelieve a woman who returns ‘home’ to a man who used violence. It can’t be THAT bad, they say. In fact, women, indoctrinated in childhood to choose family, brainwashed to accept responsibility, blamed for causing the problem, trained to do the right thing. No one wants aggressive, dominant little girls. Or boys.
VOCAL’s Christmas Tree of Angels, 27/11 is our 16 Days of Activism event. For people whose lives have been harmed by loss, crime and tragedy. All welcome. 49262711.
CEO Victim Support Unit,
Victims of Crime Assistance League Inc NSW
White Ribbon Advocate
Newcastle Permanent/Lifeline Steel Magnolia 2005
Newcastle’s Woman of the Year 2010, and 2012