Originally published in December 2007.
“From this day forward, I promise never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women, sexual assault and domestic violence.” — White Ribbon Campaign pledge
Is that a pledge you can sign onto? I hope so.
At the Men’s Resource Center for Change, we care about men and support men. So it makes sense that from the earliest days of our organization that in addition to looking at how we could support men we would also want to address how we could compassionately but directly confront men who’d crossed a line in their behavior. Among the range of programs and activities we coordinate (including several drop-in support groups for non-abusive men), are batterers’ intervention groups in all four western Massachusetts counties. Why do we do this work? Because the epidemic of men’s violence against women compels us to do nothing less. Society needs to hold men accountable for their behavior, pure and simple. We also do this work because we believe in men. We believe in men’s capacity to grow, to learn, to heal, to change. (That’s why we also run groups weekly for non-violent men.)
Today we are committing to continue to that work by lending our name and experience to a new effort here in our home state of Massachusetts—the White Ribbon Campaign (WRC). White Ribbon was founded and launched in Canada, two years after the Montréal Massacre in which 14 women students at the Montreal’s École Polytechnique were systematically killed and 13 other students wounded by a lone gunman on December 6, 1989. One hundred thousand men wore ribbons across Canada that first year. Today, the WRC is a worldwide campaign in 47 countries, with well over 5,000,000 signatures and counting.
Our friends at the Men’s Initiative for Jane Doe, Inc. in Boston, and other colleagues and friends across the Commonwealth, have concluded that is “time for Massachusetts to join this international effort to engage men to help end violence against women, men and children. It’s a chance for all men—heterosexual, gay, bisexual and transgender—to challenge the to challenge the notions of masculinity that equate strength with violence and control and instead foster positive images of masculinity that will help us create a world free of abuse.” We couldn’t agree more.
Through the Men’s Initiative—and with the assistance of organizations including the Men’s Resource Center—Jane Doe Inc. is launching an annual statewide White Ribbon Day Campaign in Massachusetts on next February 14th. Valentine’s Day was specifically chosen to launch the campaign to highlight the need to combine safety and respect with romance and love. (On Valentine’s Day 2005, the Men’s Resource Center organized a full-page newspaper campaign headlined “A Valentine’s Day Message from Men of Heart” in which 155 men signed on to a message that urged “… creating a society where women are safe from violence every day,” and encouraged men “to reject a masculine culture of violence and to support an egalitarian culture of peace.” (To see the entire ad, which, provoked protest from some men who felt the ad’s text ignored abuse men experience, go to Men of Heart 2005).
- Invite men throughout Massachusetts to take the pledge (cited at the top of the page), put on a white ribbon and speak out against violence against women, sexual assault and domestic violence;
- Send the public message that men must and are taking responsibility to end men’s violence against women;
- Highlight the inspiring and creative work being done by and with men in nearly two dozen communities throughout Massachusetts and encourage their replication;
- Engage more men in transforming social norms that perpetuate and support sexual assault and domestic violence create an environment that promotes respect and equality by connecting them with their local Jane Doe Inc. member program and with JDI’s statewide efforts; and
- Raise funds to support the work of local victim services groups and the state coalition.