A nasty, woman-hating group of men has created a fake White Ribbon website. Their goal is to spread myths about rape and violence against women, confuse people about the very real problem of men’s violence against women, and con people into giving them money. I’m very proud to reprint the response by the Canadian White Ribbon Campaign. And I’d like to encourage you to use this opportunity to make a donation to the real White Ribbon efforts in your country. Together we can create a future with no violence against women.

Today, White Ribbon became aware that a “so-called” men’s rights group has launched a copycat campaign articulating their archaic views and denials about the realities of gender-based violence.

Their vile sentiments – which include disparaging comments about women’s shelters and victim blaming survivors of rape – are completely incongruent with our values at White Ribbon.

Their misguided attempts to discredit others only make clear the extent to which they see the success of our equality-driven, evidence-based, ally-focussed work on gender justice as a real threat to their ill-informed, isolated views on this issue. This latest example is clear evidence of their insincerity and lack of commitment to developing compassionate solutions for the issues they claim to care about. It also showcases their real focus: attacking, harassing and directing anger towards others.

White Ribbon will continue to stand beside the thousands of women’s organizations around the world who see feminism as an all-encompassing effort to realize equality.

We will continue to support the efforts of men and boys in over 70 countries around the world who wear the White Ribbon as a pledge to never commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women and girls.

We will remain committed to the advancement of gender equality, and the dismantling of patriarchy, which is the real cause of so much pain for women and men around the world.

Allies and supporters: do not to be fooled by this copycat campaign. We are exploring all of our options, but we will not be engaging with this group in a public screaming match. They can remain a shrill minority. We will continue to engage with the vast majority of men who believe in gender justice, and want to be part of the solution. And we will do it with the same determination, conviction and passion we have shown for the past 20 years. We appreciate all the support and kind words we have heard from women and men across the globe. Please know that goes a long way, and that we will carry on with our effort to make the world a better, safer, more equitable place for all women and girls, men and boys.

Until the violence stops,

Todd Minerson, Executive Director

White Ribbon


October 23 2014

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This morning I had the pleasure of emailing my colleague Ziauddin Yousafzai to pass on my congratulations to his daughter Malala and to congratulate him and his wife Tor Pekai as well. Today Malala (along with the older child rights activist Kailash Satyarthi of India) was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Some have said she is far too young to receive this most prestigious of all prizes. But beyond a personal tribute to her courage, smarts, and sheer tenacity, I believe the award will show other young people not only the huge impact they can have but also how desperately they are needed to rid the world of its ills. (And besides, if you had heard the story of how, in a private meeting in the White House, she challenged President Obama to stop dropping drone bombs and start sending more aid to schools and hospitals, you’d have no doubt about her ability to stand up to those with power in the name of peace.)

The prize is also a tribute to Malala’s parents. Malala has often said she was inspired by her father Ziauddin, a teacher who stood up to Taliban threats and opened a school for girls and boys. On a number of occasions, Ziauddin and I have talked about how important it is to respect our children’s ideas and independence as much as safe and possible. But in their case, the word “safe” seemed ruled out from the start. Ziauddin tells me he never imagined in his wildest dreams that the threats against him would be carried out against any of his children.  As a parent whose moments of fear for my children’s independence centered around small everyday things like the first time they took the subway or streetcar on their own, it is not only impossible to put myself in the shoes of Ziauddin and Tor Pekai but, really, awe-inspiring.

Finally, the award is a rebuke to fundamentalists of all religions who want to turn back the clock and deny basic rights to girls and women. It is true, not all of them want to deny girls the right to an education. But all seek to maintain women as second class citizens and control over their own bodies and their own lives.

And, now that I think of it, it is the fundamentalists of all religions who bring inter-group conflict and war. Any challenge to them is, indeed, a boost for peace.

To Malala, her parents, and brothers: my most heartfelt of congratulations!


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Manisha Aggarwal-Schifellite is my research associate. You can find her on Twitter @manishaclaire

The new Marvel film Guardians of the Galaxy has been a “surprise” hit at the box office, earning over $100 million in North America since its release last week.

On the surface, GOTG showcases a new kind of superhero in Peter Quill, whose happy-go-lucky attitude (played with charm by Chris Pratt) stands out in a movie where almost every other character is hell-bent on revenge or a quick buck. On a quest to retrieve a magical orb from an evil overlord named Ronan, Peter is joined by a band of misfits including a talking raccoon and a giant magical tree, a vaguely alien being named Gamora and Drax, a man who wants to avenge his family’s murder at the hands of Ronan.

Actually, the movie’s plot isn’t important for this post, but then again, it’s not really important for the film either. In Guardians of the Galaxy, the soundtrack isn’t the only thing that’s vintage—the movie’s treatment of masculinity is disappointingly retro.

Over at Salon, Gavia Baker-Whitelaw talks about the ways GOTG portrays and promotes its female characters, arguing that while there are certain things that are laudable about the film in this respect, it feels engineered and ultimately doesn’t override the low-level misogyny that is played for laughs in the movie.

Much as Baker-Whitelaw thinks that GOTG fails women, I think it fails men as well. For a movie that supposedly represents a quirky new direction in superhero/space opera movies, GOTG relies on outdated and potentially destructive ideals of manhood.

As viewers, we don’t see how his mother’s death affects Peter as he grows up. The small references to his past are limited to a product placement (the Sony Walkman) he carries around with him, with tapes given to him by his mother, and we are supposed to take that as a sign that he hasn’t yet dealt with his grief. But any sadness he might have expressed is shoved aside to make room for him to show off his womanizing (by forgetting about a woman he just slept with), his virility (by making a weird black-light joke that goes on too long), and his fearlessness (fighting evil with a smile on his face). Any time he feels sad about his mother, he keeps the thought to himself, sometimes going out of his way to hide things from his friends (like his mother’s last gift to him, which Rocket the genetically engineered Raccoon finds on the ship). Being able to compartmentalize his pain is apparently how Peter can get on with his life, rather than dealing with his feelings in a healthy way.

Drax is another character who has experienced a great deal of sadness in his life. His wife and daughter were murdered by the evil Ronan, and his sole mission is to kill Ronan in retaliation. In one scene (perhaps the most emotional in the whole movie), Drax gets drunk and makes a reckless decision that almost kills everyone on the team. When pressed about why he did it, he starts to explain his feelings of deep pain and sadness at losing his family, and how those feelings cause him to act the way he does. Rocket Raccoon has no patience for this, snapping that everyone has “stuff,” and that the best way to get over it is to funnel his sadness into murderous rage, targeted to Ronan. Rocket’s remark is in character for him, but it shuts down any possibility of exploring Drax’s character, and also tells viewers that the most effective man is one who doesn’t access his feelings (unless those feelings lead to a climactic bit of violence).

For GOTG’s male characters, managing sadness (or rather, eliminating sadness) is achieved through anger, or rage, or a complete emotional shutdown. Wouldn’t it be more powerful to see a male superhero face his feelings, rather than see him punch them into submission?


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White Ribbon Campaign

White Ribbon Campaign

This year marks the 20th anniversary of the White Ribbon Campaign, men working to end violence against women.  What started as an idea three of us discussed around a kitchen table has now spread to 60 countries.  Visit www.whiteribbon.com or campaign sites around the world.
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