NCFM Australia Liaison Greg Andresen, Mixed feelings on the demise of White Ribbon Australia
Media release – for immediate release – 8th October 2019
Last week brought news of the demise of White Ribbon Australia.
Some commentators have celebrated White Ribbon’s demise, finding positives in the fact that an organisation widely perceived as anti-male has failed. Others have been saddened by the news, lamenting that there will now be a gap in the area of primary prevention of some men’s violence against women. Our feelings are mixed.
We desperately need individuals and organisations working in the primary prevention space, but are concerned that White Ribbon failed to acknowledge the frequency and severity of family violence against males.
There is no need to attack male victims in order to support female victims.
The damage caused over the past decade by White Ribbon’s downplaying of the numbers and experiences of male victims of family violence; their use of false and misleading research and data; and their seemingly blind focus upon gender equality and patriarchy theory was immense. Their use of these techniques in school programs was especially dangerous, teaching young girls to fear boys, when the data shows that girls and boys are just as likely to use relationship violence, and they are just as likely to have witnessed Mum hitting Dad as the reverse.
The ABS Personal Safety Survey shows that between 2005 and 2016, the proportion of men who reported experiencing current partner violence in the last 12 months rose 5-fold, compared to a 50% rise in the proportion of women who reported experiencing it. This would indicate that the lack of attention to male victims of family violence by programs such as White Ribbon, Our Watch and ANROWS may be worth addressing so that all victims receive support and attention.
Rather than seeing the demise of White Ribbon, we would have preferred that they were genuinely honest in their approach and methodologies: continuing to work to prevent the use of violence by some men towards women, but in a way that supported rather than undermining and discrediting male victims of violence and abuse, that cited more balanced and complete data and peer-reviewed research, and that targeted all the causes of domestic and family violence.
We hope that from the ashes of White Ribbon may rise such a grass-roots organisation. It would be even better if this organisation could be broad-minded enough to work to end all family violence, not just some men’s violence against women. We believe our society has the capacity to support all victims of family violence, whether young or old, male or female, gay or straight, rich or poor, wherever they live.
Greg Andresen, Senior Researcher, One in Three Campaign, 0403 813 925 or firstname.lastname@example.org
You can download a copy of this media release in PDF format from here.