Every Man Can Do
Help End Men's Violence Against Women.
Listen to women...learn from women.
path starts with listening. Who knows better
about violence against women than women who experience it? Studies tell
us that, in most countries, 50 to 100 per cent of women have experienced
physical or sexual violence.
violence by asking a woman who trusts you how violence has affected her
life. Then, if she feels comfortable to talk, sit back and listen. Your
role isn't to challenge her on the details, nor to debate whether something
really should have bothered her or not. It is to listen. Simply trust that
if she tells you something hurt her, then it did hurt her.
And turn to
your local women's organizations. They have a wealth of accumulated experience
and knowledge. Talk to them. Read their publications. Contribute financially.
Learn from them.
Learn about the problem.
against women includes physical and sexual assault, sexual harassment,
psychological abuse, or emotional abuse. Not all violence leaves visible
scars. Emotional violence includes regular subjection to demeaning jokes,
domineering forms of behaviour, and sexual harassment.
of violence have a greater physical or emotional impact than others. But
all forms of violence contribute to the very real fear and suffering that
women in our society endure. The basic rights that most men enjoy - safety
in their homes, ability to go out at night, a job free of harassment -
are a source of fear for women in much of the world.
The fear is
greatest in women's own homes. A common myth is that most violence against
women is committed by strangers. In fact, women are most at risk from men
they know--husbands, boyfriends, fathers, relatives, employers, and care
Most men love
and care about women. And yet frightening numbers commit acts of violence
against the women they say they love. It occurs throughout the world, among
the rich, the poor, and the middle class, and among those of every nationality,
religion, and race.
Learn why some men are violent.
are not naturally violent. There have been societies with little or no
violence. Studies over the past century have found that half of the tribal
societies studied had little or no violence against women, against children,
or among men. Furthermore, even today, in many countries the majority of
men are not physically violent.
something that some men learn. Men's violence is a result of the way many
men learn to express their masculinity in relationships with women, children,
and other men. Many men learn to think of power as the ability to dominate
and control the people and the world around them. This way of thinking
makes the use of violence acceptable to many men.
acts of men's violence are a pathetic attempt to assert control over women,
children, or other men. Paradoxically, most violent acts by men are a sign
of weakness, insecurity, and lack of self-esteem combined with a capacity
for physical or verbal domination and a feeling that they should be superior
and in control.
Women are not
immune from committing acts of violence. Women's groups have spoken out
against the problem of violence against children, which is committed by
both women and men, although most sexual abuse of children is by men. Women
too can be violent against men or other women, but it is far less common
than violence by men.
In many violent
incidents, men have been drinking alcohol. This might be because alcohol
unleashes feelings, fears, rage, and insecurities that some men, cut off
from their feelings, cannot handle.
doesn't cause violence. Genes don't cause violence. Ultimately, it is the
attempts by some men to dominate women, adults' attempts to dominate children,
and some men's attempts to dominate other men or groups of men. Violence
is a way of asserting power, privilege, and control.
Wear a white ribbon.
will occur if we each accept personal responsibility to make sure it happens.
As men who care about the women in our lives, we can take responsibility
to help make sure women live free from fear and violence.
Each year men
around the world are wearing a white ribbon from November 25, the International
Day for the Eradication of Violence Against Women, for one or two weeks.
(In Canada, we wear the ribbon until December 6, the anniversary of the
1989 massacre of 14 women in Montreal.)
Wearing a white
ribbon is your personal pledge never to commit violence against women.
It is a personal pledge not to condone acts of violence, not to make excuses
for perpetrators of violence, and not to think that any woman "asks for
It is a pledge
not to remain silent. It is a pledge to challenge the men around us to
act to end violence.
Wearing a ribbon
provokes discussion, debate, and soul-searching among the men around us.
The ribbon is a catalyst for discussion. It is a catalyst for change.
Challenge sexist language and jokes that degrade women.
jokes and language help create a climate where forms of violence and abuse
have too long been accepted. Words that degrade women reflect a society
that has historically placed women in a second class position. By reflecting
this reality they once again put women "in their place" even if that isn't
of the most difficult things for men is to learn to challenge other men.
To challenge sexist language. To challenge men who talk lightly of violence
against women. And to challenge men who engage in violence.
Learn to identify and oppose sexual harassment and violence in your workplace,
school and family.
harassment refers to unwanted sexual advances or sexually-oriented remarks
or behaviour that are unwelcome by another person. Flirting and joking
are fine if they are consensual and wanted. But sexual harassment poisons
Support local women's programmes.
is ultimately about inequalities of power. The same action done by a woman
might not bother a man because, in general, our society has not given women
power over men.
Men can join
women in opposing sexual harassment by supporting efforts in our workplaces
and schools to create a healthy and productive environment.
the world, dedicated women have created support services for women who
are survivors of men's violence: shelters for battered women, rape crisis
centres, counseling services, and legal aid clinics. Women escaping violent
situations depend on these services.
These and other
women's organizations deserve men's support and our financial backing.
That's why we encourage local White Ribbon campaigns to raise money for
local women's programmes.
Examine how your own behaviour might contribute to the problem.
you've ever been physically violent against a woman, if you've committed
sexual assault, if you've hit, pushed, threatened, kicked your spouse or
girlfriend, then you have been part of the problem.
If this happened
long ago admit what you did was wrong and make amends if possible. But
if your violent behaviour has any chance of continuing, then you urgently
need to get help getting to the root of your problem. Don't wait until
it happens again. Please act today.
Many men will
never be physically or sexually violent. But let's examine ways we might
try to control women. Do we dominate conversations? Do we put them down?
Do we limit their activities?
not you've ever been violent, all men must take responsibility for ending
all forms of violence.
Work towards long-term solutions.
violence against women won't happen over-night. Real solutions are truly
long-term solutions. This is because men's violence against women is rooted
in inequalities between men and women, and in the way men learn to be men.
to combat men's violence against women (such as laws against rape and battering)
are very important. The police and courts must diligently enforce such
But this is
not enough. Let's work together to change our attitudes and behaviour.
Let's challenge the institutions which perpetuate inequality between women
men be better men by getting rid of our suits of armour, that is, attitudes
which equate masculinity with the power to control. Let's make positive
changes in our relationships with women, children, and other men. Let's
involve men as caregivers and nurturers of the young.
attitude, behaviour, and institutions take time. And so we must look at
how we raise future generations. We must teach our children, by example,
that all forms of violence are unacceptable, and that for boys to become
men, they do not need to control or dominate women, men, or children.
Get involved with the White Ribbon Campaign's educational efforts.
White Ribbon Campaign (WRC) is the largest effort in the world of men working
to end men's violence against women.
The WRC is
a grass-roots effort relying mainly on volunteers. Because the purpose
of the campaign is for men to take responsibility for working to end violence
against women, it is an organization of men. But we greatly appreciate
the help and support of women.
organizing the annual wearing of white ribbons (starting November 25 for
one or two weeks), local supporters can do other things during the year:
Give talks in
schools, communities, and workplaces.
Raise money for
events to support positive roles for men.
Talk to young
people about building healthy relationships.
Start a local
White Ribbon Campaign and financially support the work of the WRC.
We encourage you
to contact us today to receive information on starting up a White Ribbon
effort in your community, school, workplace, or place of worship.