Following the Grace Millane trial, what can we do?

White Ribbon Media Release
22 November 2019


Following the Grace Millane trial, what can we do?

White Ribbon acknowledges the unimaginable hurt and pain the Millane family has suffered, and will continue to endure following the guilty verdict handed down today.

“While one person that has caused so much harm is behind bars, this trial must do something to prevent violence towards women,” says Rob McCann, White Ribbon Manager.

“As a father, I am grateful the jury were able to understand the issue of consent. In my experience there are far too many people that do not understand the concept and the need for consent to be ongoing and active.”

“White Ribbon explains the concept using what is called the ‘cup of tea video’. In the video the act of sex is replaced with having a cup of tea. The video explains you can’t force a person to drink tea, people can change their mind about drinking tea, and if they fall unconscious they can’t be forced to drink the tea.”

“This is a really simple and effective way of teaching consent,” says Mr McCann.

“We also need to acknowledge that a perpetrator’s attitudes and behaviour will be known to their mates. Poor behaviour does not come from a vacuum and it is incumbent on all of us to call out bad behaviour when we see it. It might start off as disrespectful jokes about women while you are in a bar. That might not initially seem harmful, but the reality is that by saying nothing, you are actually sending the signal that the disrespectful behaviour is ok and all too often that behaviour escalates.”

“We are asking the public to intervene and disrupt other men’s violence.  This is commonly called bystander intervention.”

White Ribbon produced a video about how to help by disrupting other men’s violence. You can watch the video here.

The third thing White Ribbon is suggesting is that we talk about pornography with our young men and women.

“Pornography is becoming more violent and more readily accessible,” says Mr McCann. “We believe it is changing the attitudes and behaviour of our young men and women. If our young men mimic pornography, then they treat women as conquests rather than human beings. This behaviour might be seen by some as manly, but ultimately, it’s unhealthy and bad for both men and women.”

White Ribbon recommends you be clear with your children – tell them that porn isn’t real. That it doesn’t show any real relationships, and the sex is often degrading, violent or disrespectful to women. We recommend that you talk about what respectful sexual behaviour looks like – and how you won’t see it in most porn. White Ribbon has produced a video about talking with young men about respectful relationships and porn.

“Following the verdict we must take action to prevent violence. That means taking real steps such as talking about consent, disrupting other men’s violence or talking about respectful sexual relationships and pornography. Doing nothing is one option that is not open to the country with the highest rate of reported violence towards women.”



White Ribbon Media
Nancy Blackler 0272425318
Rob McCann 0212122953
Spokespeople Rob McCann, Mark Longley, Richie Hardcore, Anna Campbell, Karlene Jonkers


Additional notes:

Rape Culture
Refers to when society normalises sexualised violence. By doing that we accept and create rape culture.

Rape culture includes jokes, TV, music, advertising, legal jargon, laws, words and imagery, that make violence against women and sexual coercion seem so normal that people believe that rape is inevitable. Rather than viewing the culture of rape as a problem to change, people in a rape culture think about the persistence of rape as “just the way things are.”

White Ribbon focuses on changing men’s social norms to undermine their support of sexual violence. Having men break out of the Man Box prevents a ‘rape culture’ from developing.

Examples of Rape Culture

  • Blaming the victim (“She asked for it!”)
  • Trivialising sexual assault (“Boys will be boys!”)
  • Sexually explicit jokes
  • Tolerance of sexual harassment
  • Inflating false rape report statistics
  • Publicly scrutinizing a victim’s dress, mental state, motives, and history
  • Gratuitous gendered violence in movies and television
  • Defining “manhood” as dominant and sexually aggressive
  • Defining “womanhood” as submissive and sexually passive
  • Pressure on men to “score”
  • Pressure on women to not appear “cold”
  • Assuming only promiscuous women get raped
  • Assuming that men don’t get raped or that only “weak” men get raped
  • Refusing to take rape accusations seriously
  • Teaching women to avoid getting raped


Bystander Intervention
It is likely that many of the accused’s mates will have known of his behaviour or elements of it. As mates we have an opportunity to set the norms of what is ok and what is not.

If you hear someone say something disrespectful or display unhealthy behaviours such as harassing women, telling inappropriate jokes, picking a fight, etc., there are a few things you can do to challenge the language or behaviour. By doing nothing we are effectively condoning the behaviour. You can use one or more of the 4Ds;

  • be Direct – challenge them verbally ‘that’s not cool, bro’
  • Distract – get them to do something else, or ask a question of the person who is on the receiving end of the unhealthy behaviour to engage them in conversation (useful if you don’t feel safe being direct)
  • Delegate – talk to someone else about what is going on. Ask their friend/parent/workmate/boss what they think of the behaviour and if there is anything they can do to address it. Work together to see what you could do.
  • Delay – it might not always feel safe to intervene or challenge at the time, depending on the situation, so you can ask them later about whether they realised their behaviour was harmful, or ask the person who might have been on the receiving end how they are.
    (Adapted from –
  • Watch and talk to others about this resource – Who Are You? (for older teenagers)

Get support for yourself


The need to educate your young men and women
When it comes to issues such as pornography and sexual relationships, adults need to have conversations about respectful sexual relationships and consent with our young men and women. By keeping silent (whether through embarrassment or a lack of knowledge or fear) we are allowing third parties such as pornography, media, or their mates to educate our youth. The information they receive can be harmful and often does not ensure they know what they are seeing is NOT real. Many young men are presenting with issues such as erectile dysfunction because the porn they are watching is so violent or extreme and real life does not create the same excitement. Young women are presenting with incontinence issues due to the extreme sex they think they need to participate in. There are also real issues with the increase in violence within porn with physical hitting, strangulation and treating women as receptacles for men’s pleasure. The key issue is that we have to have these conversations. White Ribbon provides information in the Toolbox Section – Respectful Sexual Relationships and Start with Respect at (this includes ages and stages information), a video on talking about sexual relationships and pornography with young men You can also use the Cup of Tea Video to talk about the issue of Consent

All these resources are freely available.


What causes the violence

Violence is not about people losing control. Intimate partner violence is about power and control. Violence is a tool used to keep control in a relationship.

It is rigid ideas about gender and gender roles that contribute to men’s use of violence against females.

Even with 80% of family and intimate-partner violence incidents going unreported, New Zealand still has the worst rate for this violence in the world. Our country also has the third highest rate of sexual assault in the world. This indicates that too many New Zealand men still express their masculinity through dominance and power over women.


Specific links between masculinity and violence are:

  • Where a culture expects masculinity to involve dominance and toughness there is male violence against females.
  • If an individual man over-conforms to perceived male gender expectations of strength, power and domination, he is more likely to rape women.
  • There’s more sexual violence where men and women have segregated lives, a belief in male sexual conquest, strong male bonding, high alcohol consumption, use of pornography, and sexist social norms.
  • Sexual violence serving as a tool for men and boys to prove their manhood, achieve the social status of a “real man,” and establish power over others.
  • When men believe that they are not – or are not perceived to be – “masculine enough,” they may use intimate partner violence to overcompensate or conform with gendered expectations.

White Ribbon believes young men can be socialised into having unhealthy attitudes and behaviours. This occurs through the media we watch, society’s expectations and the #UnspokenRules that surround us. Our November Campaign focuses on Challenging the #UnspokenRules such as Boys Don’t Cry, Toughen Up and Be the Man.

These #unspoken rules put pressure on boys and young men to behave in certain ways and dismiss “unmanly” behaviour, leading them to suppress their emotions and their individuality. This affects how our boys and young men feel about themselves, and how they treat others. It affects how they approach their relationships, and can lead them to act disrespectfully – even violently – toward their partners.

We have the opportunity to use our voices as parents, caregivers and influencers to speak up over the #unspoken. By saying out loud to our boys and young men that it’s ok for them to be who they are, we can encourage them to define themselves as men who have respectful relationships – protecting our whole community.


The campaign will focus on undermining these unhelpful #unspoken rules, and promoting healthy masculinity (and Respectful Relationships) as an alternative.

  • Healthy masculinity is rejecting unhelpful stereotypes and #unspoken rules about what it is to be a boy or man.
  • Healthy masculinity is about being kind, empathetic, finding peaceful resolutions to problems.
  • Healthy masculinity is about boys and men being confident in who they are without feeling pressure to be a certain type of boy/man.
  • Boys and men can still be ‘brave’, ‘have muscles’, assertive, tough, love rugby, enjoy time with other men and boys, enjoy a ‘pint’ with the lads. But boys and men should also be free to express sad emotions, enjoy cooking, dancing, gardening and anything else that does not fit into gender stereotypes.
  • Healthy masculinity is treating everyone with respect and having Respectful Relationships (which always include consent).
  • Healthy masculinity is recognising that people express gender and sexuality in a variety of ways.


White Ribbon promotes respectful relationships to prevent domestic and sexual violence against women. Respectful relationships are based on:

  • Equality between men and women. Gender equity in personal relationships and all social spheres, reduces violence against women.
  • Flexible gender behaviour for all. Having men breaking out of the Man Box and choosing their own masculine identity prevents their use of violence.
  • Non-violent communication. Men being emotionally aware and expressive gives them alternatives to aggression.
  • Enthusiastic consent for all sexual activities. Having willing participation is crucial to preventing sexual violence.


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