MU participates in White Ribbon Campaign

International campaign encourages men to fight against gender-based violence.

The Relationship and Sexual Violence Prevention Center is currently sponsoring a two-week White Ribbon Campaign on MU’s campus in an effort to include men in the initiative to end violence against women.

According to information given out by the RSVP Center, men who choose to wear the white ribbon make a personal pledge to never commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women and girls.

According to its website, the White Ribbon Campaign, an international project based in Canada, acts to engage men in the fight against gender-based violence.

The campaign aims to discuss domestic violence, healthy relationships and masculinity with men and boys, Communications Manager Clay Jones said.

“We feel this is important because, for too long, (people thought) the violence conversation is one only women should be having,” Jones said. “We do not agree. It’s a fundamental human rights issue.”

Tuval Dinner, the White Ribbon Campaign’s community and youth engagement manager, said the movement is especially important on college campuses because of the high rates of sexual and relationship violence.

He said attending college is a privilege for men and a privilege that requires responsibility and maturity.

“There’s a long and sad history of violence against women on campuses, not just in the U.S., but around the world,” Dinner said. “Some women have horrific experiences in their college years, which are supposed to be fun and explorative years but end up being demoralizing.”

The international campaign began in 1991 after the École Polytechnique Massacre, also known as the Montreal Massacre, which took place on Dec. 6, 1989. According to a report by the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, shooter Marc Lépine entered a classroom where he separated men from women and then opened fire on the women.

This incidence sparked the idea for the campaign, Dinner said, which is based on the idea that a majority of men do not condone gender-based violence. Dinner said this majority often does not speak in defense of women.

“We want to change the culture of silence surrounding this issue,” he said. “We let our brothers off the hook and give them a lot of power by not saying anything.”

Dinner said the White Ribbon Campaign does not aim to place blame on the general male population for the acts of only a few men but intends to present helping the cause as a valuable opportunity.

“Research has shown that when you make people feel ashamed, they don’t want to change,” Dinner said. “We don’t want to give that feeling to men.”

Because many women’s centers and rape crisis centers are centered around women, the White Ribbon Campaign seeks to find ways in which men can show their support, Dinner said.

“We find a place to plug men in,” he said. “We encourage men to be part of the change because men have a really important role to play in ending violence against women and girls.”

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