This year marks the twentieth anniversary of the White Ribbon Campaign, which was created in response to an act of horrific violence against women in Canada. The White Ribbon Campaign, which engages men and boys in the prevention of violence against women, now operates in over thirty countries. Australia is one of them, and this week, on the occasion of White Ribbon Day 2011, journalist Marcus Campbell called on Australian men to commit themselves to ending violence against women. One of the reasons men still refuse to make this commitment, Campbell writes, is that they don’t believe that the problem is as severe as it is:
While men’s attitudes are difficult to gauge, The VicHealth National Survey on Community Attitudes to Violence against Women 2009 found that 22% of men believed that rates of violence were equal between men and women and just under two-thirds of Australian men would describe violence against women as a “common” problem; alarming figures that hint at a wider scepticism about the clear contrasts between victimisation and perpetration rates in Australia.
Some simply do not trust the appalling national and state statistics that have either remained unchanged over the years or risen in some areas. Every time a journalist dares publish a figure that slightly widens the lens to better view the full horrifying scope of the issue, the internet comment backlash is merciless.
Some are still writing off instances of intimate partner homicide, rape and physical, psychological and sexual abuse as acts of individual irrationality or crimes of emotion or provocation. Men, along with wider society seem to shrug off the importance of the issue, like the way Facebook recently shrugged off calls to remove “rape joke” pages.
Some still do not believe the issue is as big as popular opinion would suggest, and that men are the “real” invisible victims of domestic violence. It is getting harder to avoid noticing some of the bizarre and often offensive claims in the numerous men’s rights websites out there.
Yes, some men honestly still believe that movements for nonviolence and women’s rights are part of a feminist project to undermine the rights of men.