In 1991, a group of Canadian men held the first White Ribbon Day Campaign to commemorate the 2nd anniversary of the deaths of fourteen women murdered by one man in Montreal. The purpose of the campaign was to encourage men to use their voices not only to advocate for the rights and well-being of women, but also to speak out against gender-based violence and the toxic hyper-masculinity that often produces this violence. The White Ribbon Campaign is currently recognized in 60 countries and has collected over 5 million individual signatures pledging to address gender-based violence, acknowledging the active role men must play to bring it to an end. Community Works member organization, Jane Doe Inc. is spearheading the Massachusetts White Ribbon Campaign, and has been working hard to expand the initiative of re-imagining manhood in such a way that men are held accountable for abusive and violent behaviors and ways of thinking, rather than placing the blame on survivors’ actions or morality as is usually the case.
Jane Doe Inc. (JDI) has broadened the framework of the campaign to be more inclusive of individuals whose identities are positioned at the intersections of race, sexual orientation, ability, socioeconomic status and gender. The campaign pledge has been edited to refer to “gender-based violence” in addition to the original “violence against women.” This change expresses JDI’s commitment to creating a meaningful platform for the campaign to interrogate conventional and often harmful heteronormative standards which reinforce rigid gender binaries and inequities. The effort to craft a more inclusive campaign against gender-based violence will continue to focus on the gravity of men’s violence toward’s women, while recognizing men’s interpersonal relationships with other men and the ways in which men’s violence against each other reinforces dangerous gender stereotypes and patriarchal systems of power. The campaign’s broadened vision also promotes the connection between JDI’s efforts and the global movement for human rights.
This year, the Massachusetts White Ribbon Day event will be held at Boston’s State House on Thursday, March 3rd from 1:00 to 2:30pm. Among the exciting lineup of speakers are, Governor Charlie Baker, Middlesex Sheriff Peter Koutoujian and New England Patriots Community Affairs Executive Director, Andre Tippett. For more information, visit the White Ribbon Day website. While RSVPs aren’t required, you can check in here to ensure faster registration on the day of the actual event.