Giving the Ribbon a Rude Tug
All right, I just gave those White Ribbon people a piece of my mind in their comment box. The comment did not post up on the website, but I have preserved it for posterity below. Notice that I was not profane or abusive, but did make a half-assed effort to address them in their own ideological vernacular. I feel that the points which I raised could not be entirely ignored by them without the risk of their looking somewhat obtuse or arrogant. Ideally, the following would initiate a conversation in which I would control the direction of the narrative, although I do not expect that any "conversation" will ever come from this. Since the communique was not public, I have no doubt that it will be ignored. But never mind, it's the politics of gesture which counts here. I have preserved this for posterity, so it is part of the "permanent record":
"Why does the White Ribbon Campaign not equally call for a femininity that embodies the best qualities of being human? Are not women part of the human race too? Don’t we all need to cultivate our best qualities, in order to improve humanity? Focusing on men alone seems rather one-sided, wouldn’t you say?
"And do you not believe that women too are part of the solution and part of a future that is safe and equitable for all people? Isn’t it rather sexist to assume that women cannot also make a contribution along this line? Do you feel that women are simply not capable of such an achievement? Or conversely, do you feel that women are already doing enough, and that men are NOT doing enough? But isn’t that, too, a sexist attitude?
"Why not develop a safer and healthier attitude among women and girls as well as men and boys, and through that make the city a healthier and safer place to live? Do you feel that women and girls need no improvement in this department? Or do you feel they are simply incapable of improvement? Either way isn’t that rather sexist?
"Why should I take the White Ribbon pledge if that pledge does not address any of the points which I have raised?
"There are many harmful elements to popular ideas about what womanliness is, so why should the goal not include working with women and girls to do our part to change what we can, starting with ourselves?
"Please correct me if I am wrong, but White Ribbon appears to be a feminist organization. If White Ribbon wishes to gain a broader base of support, it should try to be inclusive of people in the non-feminist community, who might wish to address the issues you have raised without being implicated in a feminist ideological worldview."Here's a little activism idea for anybody who feels so inclined. Call up your local White Ribbon rep, get into a friendly chat, and then tell them that you like what they are doing but cannot consider any involvement unless they reconsider their clearly anti-male ideological slant. If they start hearing that particular message in sufficient volume, they might feel pressured to put out some diplomatic "feelers" toward the non-feminist community.
Update: Mr. Reading of Edmonton has supplied me with the following two contact addresses for Edmonton White Ribbon, and asks that you make use of them to speak your mind about the White Ribbon campaign in general:
Margie Marvin, email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Sacha Aldrich, Community Initiatives Against Family Violence, email: email@example.com