Doan be ribbin da ribbon

I’m wearing a white ribbon on my suit today, as part of the anti-domestic violence campaign. About this time last year, a CIS-funded visitor attacked the wearing of ribbons as what he called conspicuous compassion. Paul Comrie-Thomson argued that:

"for the vocal majority, quietly getting on with the job is no longer good enough. In today’s climate, it is beholden on everybody (and particularly those in public life) to show by outward and visible demonstrations of feeling that they care"

(A month later, amidst the outpouring of donations that followed the Tsunami, Gerard Henderson used his trademark perfect-hindsight technique to go for the jugular.)

I don’t expect my white ribbon to make a huge difference today. I’d guess that domestic violence perpetrators are underrepresented in my building. We don’t know a whole lot about the demographics of men who hit their partners, but given that men who mistreat women are themselves often dissatisfied with their lives, it’s probably the case that those in better-paid, more flexible jobs are less likely to go home and take out their frustrations on their family. Indeed, even if the rates of offending are the same, it’s certainly the case that people around universities know the right answer to the question "it’s OK for a boy to make a girl have sex with him if she has flirted with him or led him on" (1 in 6 young Australians apparently think the answer is yes).

Still, a white ribbon is an easy symbol to be proud of, and for the small chance that my wearing it today might spark an interesting conversation, I’ll have it on my lapel.

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6 Responses to Doan be ribbin da ribbon

  1. Sacha Blumen says:

    I don’t reckon it’s beholden on anyone to show conspicuous compassion – this sounds more like Paul Comrie-Thomson’s personal opinion.

    I do dislike the people trying to sell you something for some worthy cause almost every day though! Well, ok, it’s about once a week. There’s a whole industry devoted to it. Anyone who goes through Kings Cross or Martin Place train stations (in Sydney) on a weekday will know what I mean.

  2. Evil Pundit says:

    The problem with white ribbons isn’t conspicuous compassion, so much as the fact that they are a form of hate speech against men.

    The campaign site repetitively talks about men’s violence, while ignoring women’s violence — and even implies that people who don’t wear a ribbon are just as bad as those who actually beat women.

    It’s a disgusting example of demonisation of the male sex, as well as an attempt to induce guilt in innocent men. All men and women of goodwill should boycott this campaign and condemn it in public.

  3. Andrew Leigh says:

    EP, as Andrew Norton pointed out in comments on his posting, yours isn’t an argument against this campaign, merely a reason why you might want to start your own campaign.

    For what it’s worth, my guess is that what matters here isn’t frequency, but damage done. In that sense, the page you linked to is measuring the wrong thing.

  4. Mork says:

    Jeez, EP, you poor little petal.

    I’m going to wear a ribbon just for you!

    What’s your favourite colour?

  5. Shaun says:

    I’m afraid I side with EP on this one.

    The media focus is worthy but misdirected. If women are as likely to use violence as men, the best way of reducing violence is to focus on ways in which men and women can communicate without resort to physical force. By attempting to make this an issue only ‘for men’ (ignoring the fact that these are often two-way confrontations), does women a great disservice, because as Andrew points out, women suffer far more greatly in violent arguments.

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