Joining Against Violence

by Stephanie Hogan | 11/19/01 6:00am

To the Editor:

The Nov. 16 column by Jeff Deck ("Against White Ribbons") makes several specious statements about Saturday's White Ribbon Day organized by both the Men's Project and the Women's Resource Center. In arguing that the campaign brands all men as rapists, he ignores the multiple purposes of wearing a white ribbon. The pledge asks men "never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women." Although wearing a white ribbon does entail a commitment not to perpetrate violence, it also carries a recognition of the problem and a responsibility to actively oppose anything contributing to or condoning these actions. A ribbon is not a "non-rapist" badge, but a sign of solidarity with women to bring an end to the problem.

Although most men do know that violence against women is deplorable, few men actively speak out or work against it; the onus of doing so almost always falls upon women. Men participating in White Ribbon Day commit themselves not only to support, but also to join women in the fight against violence.

Deck correctly asserts that wearing ribbons does not in itself prevent an act of violence from occurring. He fails to recognize, however, that ending a problem first requires acknowledgement of it and then active opposition to it. Discouraging men from wearing white ribbons amounts to encouraging them to remain silent about and eschew responsibility for combating the problem. Praise the many individuals -- both men and women -- who joined together this weekend to work against a problem that affects all of us.