It was 7am in Wisconsin when I spotted it. Andrew O’Keefe, Australian comedic talent and All Round Good Guy, had written a piece about what questions men need to ask themselves about violence against women.
It is exactly the kind of thing that needs to be read widely but for me, there was just one small problem. Daily Life defines itself as a women’s publication. Even if the piece made its way under the nose of a member of the woman beating public, it doesn’t make up for the fact that the piece was, by nature of its publisher, targeted at women.
It was another in a long line of pieces written by Good Blokes about violence against women aimed at women. (See also: Charlie Pickering in Mamamia.)
Women don’t need to be told the questions men need to ask themselves about violence. We don’t need to be told how many of us are being killed by our partners or exes. We don’t need to be told because either the reality of it, or the potential of it is part of the female experience.
Both O’Keefe and Pickering wrote their pieces as part of their role as White Ribbon Australia ambassadors. This is an exclusive boy’s club. I can only imagine they have poker nights to which no women are invited. In the lead up to White Ribbon Day in November each year, these men are trotted out, promising to start a dialogue between men about the culture that permits violence against women. This is a good thing.
All I ever see of this organisation or its ambassadors is Good Blokes patting each other on the back. Rarely, if ever, have I seen White Ribbon tell a story of female victimhood. The key message seems to be: there’s good guys, and there’s those who can become good guys.
And that just makes the mansplaining of violence against women in Daily Life and Mamamia so infuriating. Not only does White Ribbon fail to show men the reality of their violence against us, their PR puts the onus back on to women to recruit men to the good side. The only time I can think of a White Ribbon ambassador getting featured in the gender-neutral press is Sam de Brito’s expressions of sympathy for men who kill their families.
Looking at White Ribbon’s content strategy, you see women who must be catalysts for their own salvation and men who must be forgiven if we fail.
Here’s to November.
Please note: The title would have been super clever had I been able to embed a picture of the Stonecutters from The Simpsons. WordPress is broken so can you please just picture it in your heads? Thanks.