Sunday, 25 November 2012

White Ribbon Day - the bruises don't always show

Today, 25 November, is White Ribbon Day in Australia.

White Ribbon is a campaign led by men against male violence perpetrated against women.  As I write, the counter on the website shows that almost 64, 000 men have pledged an oath "never to commit, excuse or remain silent about violence against women".  I know that I know some of them.

I am fortunate in my life to be surrounded by good men;  ones who take this oath for granted in the way that they live their lives.

I have felt unsafe in the company of a man once in my life.  It was at work, late one Friday afternoon when there was no one else around.  I had experienced bullying at the hands of this man before and this particular afternoon he entered my office in a red-faced rage, standing over me and shouting in my face.  He didn't lay a hand on me, but I was not confident that he wouldn't.  I found my voice, stepped out of my office into the corridor and told him to "back off" in a tone that said I wasn't in the mood to argue.  I think the tone of my voice triggered something and he stopped long enough for me to tell him I wasn't going to have anything to do with him when he was like this.

He left.  I was a frightened mess.  I called one of the senior men in the organisation and told him what had happened.  He helped me take charge of the next steps.

At the hands of men I've experienced sexual harassment, poorly judged "jokes", emotional cruelty and bullying. These experiences have all been in a workplace context.  I've also experienced bullying and emotional cruelty delivered by women.  When I needed support to address these issues there have been wonderful people, both men and women, who understood that what had occurred was wrong and were prepared to go public and be vocal in their support.

I've had men take on other men to right a wrong on my behalf, when the man who had done the wrong thing wasn't prepared to listen to me.  It was a shame that my message about acceptable behaviour had to be delivered by other men in order to be taken seriously, but I was pleased that the message was delivered.

Violence against women can take many forms.  The scars and bruises aren't always visible.  I don't think violence should ever be tolerated and I try to live my life according to this principle.

I feel personally very lucky, never to have suffered physical violence at the hands of a man and to have many wonderful men in my life whom I know would stay true to the White Ribbon oath if the situation required it - even if they had never heard of White Ribbon and the pledge.

The White Ribbon movement is a powerful and important symbol. Make your pledge today and honour the women in your life.

TO WIN a double pass to see "2 Days in New York" comment on this post, telling us where you'd like to spend two days and why.  Entries close next Friday, 30 November.  Winners will be announced on the blog.  Don't forget to check back and see if you've won - you'll need to provide your mailing address details.

Passes are valid during the season in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Gold Coast, Adelaide and the ACT.

Good luck!

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