Today is White Ribbon Day

Today, in Australia at least, is White Ribbon Day – a day aimed at rasing male awareness around, and action towards the prevention of violence against women.

So, check out their website (I’ve linked to the Australian one) and educate yourself about violence against women and do something to help bring about cultural change when it comes to violence against women.

And in an interesting and somewhat related link, check out this article from the Guardian on research into lyrics dealing with sexual violence and it’s impact on women.

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7 Comments on “Today is White Ribbon Day”

  1. Daran Says:

    Define “Violence Against Women”.

  2. Daran Says:

    From the Guardian article:

    What about “gangsta” rap and hip-hop, and their alleged encouragement of aggressively misogynistic attitudes? “That’s been written about elsewhere,” she points out, “and it worries me that there’s usually a racist element to these discussions. Black artists are condemned, while white bands like the Rolling Stones and the Stranglers get away with deeply unpleasant lyrics.

    There’s a sexist element too. Women get away with some deeply unpleasant imagery.

  3. JNgaio Says:

    Daran, why do you need a definition? I’m a little baffled by that question.

    Anyway, that’s an awesome website. I love this whole move to put it to men to change their attitudes, instead of women being blamed as if it’s their problem alone.

    Also found the song lyric article pretty interesting – though a little shaken to realise that Tori Amos song is about her own experience. It’s a song I’ve often had to skip on my playing list because it puts me in a dark head space. I just read about the fact that this was actually a fan she offered a ride home and just…holy crap. I always get this sick, horrible feeling when I find out a friend of mine (and this happens all too often) has been raped or sexually abused. This gives me a similar feeling of horror and helplessness to learn about.

    That said, God, it’s awesome to hear that that song helps women open up. Along with websites like the one above, I think that’s a positive sign of (I hope) changing attitudes about these issues.

  4. JNgaio Says:

    Kind of sort of related but I think the Amanda Palmer “Oasis” song is wonderful in its irony, humor and incredible sense of pain behind the curtains: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8C17yfGyJjM

    …I have no real reason for sharing this except that Tori and Amanda are some of my strong, female, singing heroes for singing about stuff I care about. That is all!

  5. Daran Says:

    Daran, why do you need a definition? I’m a little baffled by that question.

    Let me offer three possible defintions:

    1. Any/all violence which victimises women.
    2. Violence to which women are particularly susceptible.
    3. Violence where women are targeted.

    A street attack upon a woman would meet definition 1, but not 2 because women are much less likely than men to be attacked in the street. Shop robbery might meet definition 2 if women are the majority of workers exposed. (I don’t know if this is true or not.) Neither would meet definition 3.

  6. Lush Says:

    Your example of street violence is an excellent place to start because it shows that certain public/private locations can affect men and women differently. Some men may experience the number of assaults disproportionately to women, but the way in which some women are targeted differs from that of men.

    Like you said, men are more likely to experience street violence. But, they are not as likely to experience abuse or sexual assault at the hands of a partner. Which is why this movement started in the first place, because it didn’t happen to men very frequently, there weren’t very many effective avenues (legal or social) to tackle rape, domestic violence and ‘crimes of passion’.

    This does not mean that men don’t experience abuse and sexual assault from partners or other intimates. This is the main issue I have with the violence against women meme. Gender benders, queer looking men, transgender women and transgender men are almost always left out of the equation and the movement loses a bunch of colorful, powerful allies.

    Was your original question an attempt to extract a working definition of ‘violence against women’ to include people who are harassed due to their gender and don’t fit the definition of ‘women’.

    Or are you someone who is looking to distract from the point that YES there are people who identify as women in the world who experience violence due to that identity.

    If you are the a dude, a dudely dude… or even a doodely doodely doodely dude… and have experienced violence because your gender presentation didn’t match what your dude peers thought it should, then I totally understand where you are coming from when seeking an inclusive definition.

    If you are an individual who has never personally experienced gender violence and therefore couldn’t recognize it…

    even if it happened to millions of people and they started movements about their shared experiences …

    then wrote tons of books, sang songs, created websites and wrote blogs about their shared experiences …

    If even with all this knowledge openly available and you still don’t recognize/relate/care…

    then shove off and go buy yourself a clue… they are on sale today.

    ~Luscious

    • Daran Says:

      Like you said, men are more likely to experience street violence. But, they are not as likely to experience abuse or sexual assault at the hands of a partner.

      That is debatable. There is a huge body of research showing that men and women abuse and are abused by their partners about equally often. Other research, using different methods, show women being abused more often. I have yet to hear a convincing argument from either side why one set of research methods should be regarded as more valid than the other.

      My opinion is that both bodies of research present valid but incomplete views of a complex reality. I think both the statement that men “are not as likely to experience abuse or sexual assault at the hands of a partner” and the contrary statement that men are about as likely to experience it are overly simplistic, and it frustrates me that debate so often tends to get bogged down into an “oh no it isn’t”, “oh yes it is” pantomime between these two positions.

      Which is why this movement started in the first place, because it didn’t happen to men very frequently,…

      That claim is unsupported by evidence. Even surveys which show that women are abused more than men, still show a significant minority of men being abused. The National Violence Against Women Survey, for example, found that “approximately 1.5 million women and 834,732 men are raped and/or physically assaulted by an intimate partner annually in the United States”.

      A more accurate statement would be “…because it was assumed not to happen to men very frequently…”

      there weren’t very many effective avenues (legal or social) to tackle rape, domestic violence and ‘crimes of passion’.

      That three-clause sentence is a bit hard to parse, but I think you’re saying that that there weren’t many effective avenues to tackle these kinds of violence, (I agree) and that this is because they mostly effect women. (I don’t agree. I think there were other reasons for the lack of effective avenues.)

      This does not mean that men don’t experience abuse and sexual assault from partners or other intimates. This is the main issue I have with the violence against women meme. Gender benders, queer looking men, transgender women and transgender men…

      I’m not any of those, but that did not stop my former partner from punching me as hard as she could when she was angry at me.

      …are almost always left out of the equation and the movement loses a bunch of colorful, powerful allies.

      I’m somewhat perturbed by this remark. I would say that the movement marginalises and erases a bunch of victims who are every bit as entitled to be seen and centred. That it loses allies is a very secondary consequence, to my mind.

      Was your original question an attempt to extract a working definition of ‘violence against women’ to include people who are harassed due to their gender and don’t fit the definition of ‘women’.

      My original question was an attempt to elicit a more critical examination of an ill-defined, unexamined, and highly problematic term.

      Those who don’t fit the definition of ‘women’ are explicitly excluded from ‘violence against women’. They can’t be included in it. Phrases like ‘domestic violence’, ‘intimate partner violence’, ‘sexual abuse’, and even ‘rape’ are nominally gender-inclusive. In practice, they are highly gendered, and the systematic use of these terms interchangeably with ‘violence against women’ operates to reinforce the erasure of victims who aren’t (construed as) women.

      Or are you someone who is looking to distract from the point that YES there are people who identify as women in the world who experience violence due to that identity.

      I’m looking to do several things. Firstly I want to draw attention to the fact that there are men in the world who experience violence due to that identity. ‘Gender-based violence’ is a nominally gender-inclusive term. But in practice, only those forms of violence which are (percieved to) victimise women in particular are considered under the rubric. You would have to look long and hard to find, say, the systematic abduction and execution – frequently after torture – of tens of thousands of Iraqi citizens since 2003 framed as ‘gender-based violence’ even though 95% of them (97% of those tortured) are male.

      Secondly I want to object to framings which operate to erase the minority (or in some cases, the majority) of the victims. I do not advocate a “violence against men” framing for the kinds of violence which mostly victimise men for precisely this reason.

      I’m not “looking to distract from the point that YES there are … women in the world who experience violence due to that identity”. But if my efforts to draw attention to the men in the world in a similar position has that effect, then so be it. I do not agree that the sex least likely to suffer violence overall are entitled to priority over those more likely to suffer from it, in terms of visibility, attention, and activism. The idea that they are is nothing more than chivalry dressed up as progressive. True progressives should recognise these traditionalist ideas for what they are, scrutinise them more closely, and, upon finding them wanting, reject them.

      I would also question whether those “looking to distract from the point that YES there are … women in the world who experience violence due to that identity” are as numerous as they might perhaps appear. I think there are a lot of men who have a strong sense that there is something wrong with the way these matters are discussed but who lack the ability to conceptualise and articulate their objection coherently.

      If you are the a dude, a dudely dude… or even a doodely doodely doodely dude… and have experienced violence because your gender presentation didn’t match what your dude peers thought it should, then I totally understand where you are coming from when seeking an inclusive definition.

      I have, and not just from my dude peers. I have a vivid recollection of being kneed in the balls by a teenage girl, who was clearly only defending herself against my unprovoked attempt to stop her smearing chalk all over my school blazer. Overt physical violence aside, the ostracisation and taunting was pretty much across the board, genderwise. Even at forty-five years of age, I still get that sinking feeling in my gut whenever I see girls of that age in the street.

      The abuse and occasional physical violence I experienced from my first girl friend was more directly a result of gender presentation not matching what my dudette peers thought it should. Had it done so, I might not have been so starved of intimacy that I was willing to endure the abuse just to get the limited and highly conditional portions of intimacy she was willing to grant.

      If you are an individual who has never personally experienced gender violence and therefore couldn’t recognize it…

      I do not agree that ones ability to recognise gender violence is necessarily tied to having experienced it. It was years after I left that experience that I was able to recognise it as domestic abuse, because the “violence against women” framing had denied me the ability to make that connection. More generally, there are plenty of people who have suffered gender-violence who do not or cannot recognise others who have suffered it, particularly those forms as likely to be perpetrated against doodely dudes as they are to the less doodely.


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