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Calgary

Youth Have Always Been Idealistic. They May Not Understand The Complexity Of A Situation

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Alberta

Raising the Bar and Drawing the Line – Men for the Eradication of Violence Against Women

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On December 6, 1989, 14 women were brutally murdered in a gender-based attack on a mechanical engineering classroom at Montreal’s École Polytechnique institution. In an event now widely known as the “Montreal Massacre”, a man entered the classroom armed with a semi-automatic weapon and shouted, “you are all feminists,” while proceeding to open fire on the students.
The tragedy at École Polytechnique sent shockwaves around the world. The horrific event gave rise to a global dialogue regarding the deeply entrenched issue of gender-based violence and its many forms in modern society. 

In 1991, the White Ribbon Campaign was established in Toronto in honor of the 14 women who lost their lives in the Montreal Massacre. White Ribbon is now the largest global movement of men and boys working to “end violence against women and girls, promote gender equity, healthy relationships and a new vision of masculinity.”
With a focus on intersectionality, the organization aims to understand and be an ally to all those who experience gender-based violence and discrimination in a multitude of ways. This means educating the public on and standing up against violence, racism, homophobia, transphobia, misogyny and more.
The White Ribbon itself is a historical reference to breaking the silence, and represents a pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about any form of gender-based violence

In the era of MeToo, harmful narratives often emerge in response to discussions of gender-based violence, particularly on the Internet. These include statements such as “not all men” and “men experience violence too” in response to shared experiences of violence perpetrated against women.
White Ribbon aims to increase education and understanding of disproportionate struggle by highlighting how the affirmation of struggle and suffering experienced by women is not the negation of male struggles in a similar arena. “Absolutely not all men have used violence,” states Humberto Carolo, Executive Director at White Ribbon “but all men have to be a part of the solution.” 

“We have to change our responses. Instead of saying not all men, we need to say YES, all men need to step up, speak out, challenge their own behaviors, intervene when they can, and learn about these issues and how they affect women in their communities and around the world.” 

Carolo has been on the front lines of gender-based violence prevention for his entire career, including 16 years with White Ribbon. According to him, his commitment to eradicate gender-based violence is both personal and professional. Being raised in a home where he and his family experienced violence has contributed to a deep conviction that men can – and must – be a part of the solution.
“I am a dad,” he says, “I have 3 sons. I promised myself I would do everything in my power to raise the next generation so they would not go through the things I went through, and the women in their lives would never experience the things the women in my family, and community, did.”

Raising sons to understand the complexities of gender-based violence, while teaching them how to be a part of the solution is a monumental – and absolutely essential – task, rooted specifically in education, discussion, information, and practice.
“The existing process of socialization teaches men and boys in our society to be tough, to be strong, not to cry, to always be in control and always fight back,” says Carolo. “If we as men cannot deal with our feelings and emotions in a healthy way, it results in the extremely toxic use of violence, anger and control that is very harmful to those around us – particularly women and girls.” 

To introduce solutions to a centuries old crisis, tailored educational initiatives are required, according to Carolo. Specifically, teaching men and boys to witness, notice, and accept that what is happening is problematic, while providing them with the tools and knowledge to address the issues and intervene wherever it is possible, and safe, to do so.
White Ribbon’s Draw the Line Campaign provides a series of potential situations and next steps designed to educate students, parents and teachers on the safe and appropriate actions to take in instances of sexual violence. This includes why, when, and how to draw the line. 

Ways to Draw the Line

  • Communicating with a friend to let them know their behavior is not okay 
  • Alerting others to a potentially dangerous situation
  • Reporting the situation to someone you trust
  • Calling 911 in situations of immediate danger
  • Supporting the individual who has been affected by the violent actions

In the 30 years since the launch of the White Ribbon Campaign, the organization and its allies have grown and evolved alongside the changing times. Particularly in response to movements such as MeToo and Black Lives Matter, White Ribbon has continued to develop educational tools, campaigns, and resources to increase awareness, understanding and accessibility. The original call to action, which encourages men and boys to wear white ribbons and sign onto the pledge, remains in place, but is now supplemented by multi-dimensional approaches designed to address systemic factors of violence at their roots.  

The White Ribbon website provides a host of resources for learning how to be an ally, how to respond to ongoing movements for women’s safety and equality in a productive way, how to understand and talk about consent, and so many more. For more information on White Ribbon and how to join the movement against gender-based violence, visit https://www.whiteribbon.ca

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If You Stand Up In Defence Of Oil And Gas You Risk Looking Like A Climate Change Denier

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