Will Smith’s poor role modeling affirms use of violence

It’s not often you’ll get to see the Oscar Winner for Best Actor hit another man without a director yelling ‘cut’ afterwards.

What we witnessed was outdated male masculinity.

Those attitudes that Will Smith let rise to the surface in an unscripted moment, are why we need a reset, not with Hollywood elite, but with men. Too often we are taught as boys that we should ‘harden up’, that we need to be ‘tough’, that ‘boys don’t cry’ and too often we think the way to deal with issues is through anger and violence.

Those messages over time, and reinforced through media, help to put men in what we sometimes refer to as the ‘man box’. That’s the expectations that men must always appear dominant, tough and in charge. It’s a limitation that’s prescriptive and restrictive, where different behaviours are dismissed as being ‘not manly’. Worryingly, last year’s Gender Equality survey, run here in Aotearoa New Zealand with 1,250 participants, shows that 18% of participants (and 23% of men) agreed that showing physical or emotional weakness makes a man less of man, and 17% (21% of men) agreed that hitting out is an understandable response for a man when his wife or girlfriend tries to end a relationship. You can watch a video discussing those attitudes here.

Often a boy and a man will believe he needs to appear tough and in-control in front of other men. This is from a fear, real or not, that they’ll reject him, possibly violently, if he doesn’t fit in. Being told to ‘Man Up’ is to be reminded to get back into The Man Box.

We know that suppressing individual identities and diverse emotional responses is stressful. It’s also unhealthy as men who limit themselves by having to appear as tough and uncompromising often avoid asking for help when they most need it.

Believing in the rigid rules of masculinity are 20x more likely to predict committing violence, than any other demographic factors such as ethnicity, age or income.

Conversely, men who break out of The Man Box and choose their own masculine identity report that they’re less stressed, more satisfied with life and have happier relationships.

Will Smith’s actions provide us with an opportunity for a re-think about healthy masculinity. Where we reject the unhelpful stereotypes and unspoken rules about what it is to be a boy or man and replace them with being kind, empathetic and finding peaceful resolutions to problems.

Healthy masculinity is also 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, and have muscles, be assertive, tough, love rugby, enjoy time with other men and boys, enjoy a ‘pint’ with the lads etc. 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 rejecting the need to use violence. In New Zealand one in three women are assaulted by their partner or ex-partner in their lifetime, so there’s a real need to take action now.

To change attitudes and behaviour is always possible. In Aotearoa we achieved that with seatbelts (if you’re old enough to remember). But even with something as straight forward as that, it took a decade for people to stop thinking the government were interfering with their ‘rights’ and accept that seatbelts would save lives. Imagine how men feel when words like ‘toxic masculinity’ are thrown around. But the sad reality is, the outdated attitudes that help drive violence, whether it is men’s violence towards other men or men’s violence towards women, are ideas that need to be consigned to our past.

We need to create a ‘call-in-culture’ that speaks to the need for change and provides concrete steps for how we can create that change. The alternative is that once in a decade we will talk about this issue when the Hollywood elite behave badly or worse, when the next fatality occurs that is driven by outdated masculinity.

Rob McCann
White Ribbon Manager

 

Compulsory Consent Education Petition

Since I was young I have been heavily involved within White Ribbon fundraisers, activities, and awareness campaigns due to my dad’s position as a White Ribbon Ambassador. Growing up alongside my father supporting White Ribbon, I learned about the values, and the policies that White Ribbon supports. As I became a teenager, however, the policy and theory became reality as I watched some of my peers struggle with gender inequality, relationship violence, and family violence. At this point, it really hit home just how incredibly important it is to work together to support positive change at a government as well as a local level.

Over the years, I’ve continued in this journey, and also branched out, getting involved in many different charities supporting people in need, and agencies to introduce policies to support this end. I’ve gotten involved in running/joining groups and activities that I see great meaning in, such as Girl Up, World Vision, Youth Council, and more, each in their own way fighting against injustice, and I believe my love for these stems from being educated on related social justice topics growing up.

Nina Adams with her petition to make sexual consent education compulsory

Last year, my school was one of many in New Zealand to have the Loves Me Not project run over the course of a day. This is an initiative to help educate year 12 students about safe and respectful relationships and during the day, each classroom has counsellors and police officers there to answer any questions students have. I found this program to be very informative and interactive, but myself and other year 12 students at the time felt that a lot of the information we were learning should have been taught to us at an earlier stage. In order to combat this, a teacher at our school set up a student-led group (Healthy Connections) that would work together to brainstorm ways we can help provide younger students of the school with the vital information that this program taught to us in different ways. 

Early this year when doing background research for Healthy Connections, I came across some articles from 2017 and learned that Sexual Consent Education wasn’t mandatory in New Zealand secondary schools. I decided to do some more research regarding the topic and found multiple articles written in outcry of this, as well as references to a protest towards parliament pushing them to resolve the issue. After asking around, I discovered I wasn’t the only one who was unaware of this. Most people in my year group that I knew thought that it was mandatory to teach this topic, as we had gone over it at my school. 

Having spoken with my peers, I know personally of young people who have been in situations that have made them feel unsafe, and where they have sometimes struggled to believe that it was okay to say no and to have their voices heard. After speaking with some friends I have at different schools around Aotearoa, I found there was a lack of awareness about the subject, as well as a lot of schools that declined to teach it. This is the main reason why I saw a need to create this petition. 

The purpose of this petition is to not only help educate people, but also to push the Government to make it mandatory for all New Zealand secondary schools to add the topic of Sexual Consent into their curriculum. After posting my petition, I had a few comments and messages from people telling me this is a topic that parents need to teach their children, not teachers. Comments like these just made me think back to my previous statement; not everyone has role models growing up that will teach them about Sexual Consent. To quote a section of the petition: “Research shows that sexual abuse towards young people is most likely to be perpetrated by a family member and that many young people will experience and/or witness family violence at home. This would indicate that the government cannot rely on family members to teach this kind of information, when they themselves may in fact be the perpetrators.”. 

From this petition, I hope to in the short-term, raise more awareness for the fact that this isn’t a topic that is taught to every student in Aotearoa; why should people be expected to practice what they’re not taught? As for long-term effects, I’m hoping that with community support, there is a chance for a real, impactful change to the education system that will benefit the future of Aotearoa.

Sign the petition now.

White Ribbon also plays a role inspiring youth leaders through their White Ribbon Youth Leadership Programme (YALP). This is a free full day workshop with speakers that help senior students to understand the drivers behind family violence, how that manifests in real life, societal pressures that create unhelpful masculinity and behaviour, and finally how to take action in your own schools. This year due to covid, the workshop will be a half day online free event on Friday 27th of May. You can register or find more information here

Stereotypes and intimate partner violence

White Ribbon challenges outdated ideas about masculinity

White Ribbon’s Researcher Dr Kris Taylor writes:

There are pervasive stereotypes around intimate partner violence, one of the most misleading of which is that the majority of men who commit such crimes fall within a specific, and limited demographic: minority men from disadvantaged backgrounds who have regular contact with police. However, recent Australian research published last month challenges these assumptions, showing clearly the ways that intimate partner violence, and its sometimes fatal consequences, span across social strata. The “Pathways to intimate partner homicide” project has shed some new light on the profile of men who kill their female partners. Using data spanning 2007 to 2018 (totalling 199 incidents), the researchers compiled data taken from judges’ sentencing remarks, coronial findings from the National Coronial Information System, as well as information sourced from the National Homicide Monitoring Program.

In their findings, the authors point out that one third of the men who killed their female partners are perceived as “functional and successful in public-facing domains of their life, both prior to and after starting their relationship with the victim”. They describe the ways that men in this group hold consistent employment in well-regarded industries (e.g. small business owners, geologist, real estate agents), are described as upstanding members of their local communities, and had minimal contact with the criminal justice system prior to killing their partner. Most were in long-term relationships with the women that they killed.

However, within this sizable group of offenders, which made up 33% of cases, patterns of control and possessiveness were prevalent. The offender would belittle their partner, restrict their partner’s contact and communication with others, and would accuse their partner of being unfaithful. Prior to the crime, the offenders were described as being jealous, controlling, and emotionally abusive. These behaviours would escalate when offenders felt that they were losing control of the victim, which in turn would lead to extreme forms of lethal violence as a means of establishing ultimate control. Crucially, across all of the 199 incidents analysed, the authors note recurrent themes that appeared to play a role in committing intimate partner homicide: “the emotional, mental and physical health of offenders; traumatic experiences among offenders; pre- and post-migration experiences of victims and offenders; separation; and hegemonic masculinities and traditional gender norms”.

This last point is particularly relevant for the work of White Ribbon. There was consistent evidence that the motivation to kill a female partner was associated with a perceived violation of gendered norms, which in turn challenged the offender’s self-perceived masculinity. Importantly, as the researchers note “adherence to traditional gender norms is more likely when the individual has witnessed and been the target of family violence during their childhood”. And we must understand that these beliefs about masculinity are not only held by these men, but are reinforced through social norms and expectations around masculinity. Worryingly, last year’s Gender Equality survey, run here in Aotearoa New Zealand with 1,250 participants, shows that 18% of participants (and 23% of men) agreed that showing physical or emotional weakness makes a man less of man, and 17% (21% of men) agreed that hitting out is an understandable response for a man when his wife or girlfriend tries to end a relationship.

In our work to end violence against others, we must now work towards challenging both men’s and society’s adherence to rigid beliefs around masculinity. Research consistently shows that men who condone violence and endorse traditional gender norms are more likely to be abusive towards their intimate partners. Moreover, men who witness intimate partner violence as children have been shown to be more likely to endorse rigid masculine stereotypes, and to hold strong views about men’s role in a relationship. And as the findings of the Pathways to intimate partner homicide project suggests, middle-class men with public facing roles, who are seen as upstanding in their communities, and who do not fit a limited stereotype of what an abuser might ‘look like’, are not immune from pervasive beliefs around masculinity that can lead to control, jealousy, violence, and homicide.

 

https://www.anrows.org.au/publication/the-pathways-to-intimate-partner-homicide-project-key-stages-and-events-in-male-perpetrated-intimate-partner-homicide-in-australia/

https://www.anrows.org.au/resources/pathways-to-intimate-partner-homicide/

Gender Attitudes Survey

 

 

 

 

Help to end violence and sexual violence

Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme

If you’re a senior student and want to take action to prevent violence and sexual violence, then this online workshop is for you and you can register here. Contact your principal and ask if your school can take part.

The Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme (YALP) is being held online on Friday 27th of May from 12 noon to 3:00pm and aims to help you understand the drivers behind family violence, how that plays out in real life, societal pressures that create unhelpful masculinity and behaviour, and finally how to take and inspire action in your own schools.

This is a free three hour workshop featuring four terrific presenters telling their stories and sharing their experiences to help you take action in your community.

Speakers include:

Richie Hardcore, educator, keynote speaker and activist, working in violence prevention, masculinities, mental health and wellness.

Richie is also a retired multiple New Zealand Muay Thai champion, and now works as a coach and personal trainer, having helped some of New Zealand’s most successful fighters achieve their goals. With a fighting career that spanned more than 20 years, he was paid to punch people in the face. These days, that energy is channelled towards Richie’s big mission – to help make the world better by supporting people to live their best lives. He’s spent time as a community worker in drug and alcohol harm reduction, is a campaigner against domestic and sexual violence, and a sexual consent educator. Richie is passionate about helping to overturn this country’s mental health statistics. An excellent public speaker, he’s also an experienced radio host and MC, using his skills to help educate, inspire and challenge.

Eteuati Ete, (formerly of the Laughing Samoans), White Ribbon Ambassador

Eteuati Ete is a comedian, actor, writer and theatre producer who has decided to use his profile and influence particularly amongst Maori and Pasefika to raise awareness of family harm by sharing his own story of family violence as a victim and a perpetrator. He and his wife Mele Wendt have over the last few years been sharing their lived experience of family violence, as presenters in the Nga Vaka Family Violence programme. They believe that “violence thrives in silence” and by speaking out they will encourage and embolden victims to find their own voice. They also provide practical advice on how they were able to eliminate the violence in their marriage. While Ete has been an actor for almost forty years who’s appeared in film, tv and theatre, having been one of the first Pasefika people to attend the New Zealand Drama School, he’s perhaps best known as one half of the highly successful Laughing Samoans comedy duo.

Mele Wendt MNZM, White Ribbon Ambassador

Mele Wendt has a past lived experience of family harm which she and her husband, Eteuati Ete, publicly speak about. Having survived a turbulent period over 20 years ago, they share the particular factors that enabled their marriage to become violence-free and to thrive. Professionally, Mele worked for 24 years in education – first as a secondary school teacher and then at Victoria University of Wellington as the founding Pacific Liaison Officer and the manager of the domestic student recruitment office. She then served ten years as the Executive Director of Fulbright New Zealand. In the past few years Mele has been serving on a number of boards (including Chair of the Pasifika Education Centre in Auckland) and providing consultancies in several areas. Mele is involved in a number of women’s organisations and Pacific community groups, including P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A., the national organisation for Pacific women. She is a strong advocate for and mentor to women and girls, especially in the Pacific community. Mele is Samoan and pakeha/palagi, and has lived in Wellington for over 30 years. With four grown children, she and Ete are doting grandparents of three grandchildren and recently Mele was awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to governance, the Pacific community and women.

Rob McCann, White Ribbon Manager

Graduating from Otago University with a double degree majoring in law and drama, Rob has worked for both community organisations and commercial businesses as a manager, coordinator and leader and currently manages the White Ribbon anti-violence campaign. He’s also a first time councillor at the Kapiti Coast District Council. Rob has extensive experience as a speaker and presenter.

 

 

David Cournane, Aotea College Assistant Principal and White Ribbon Ambassador

David will run the breakout sessions and manage the final presentation which brings together the ideas from the workshop about what your school can undertake to prevent violence and sexual violence. David is a White Ribbon Ambassador and educator, who has been instrumental in bringing together the Youth Ambassador Leadership Programme in Aotearoa.

 

 

* Breakout sessions occur after each session.

Pre COVID, 30 schools and 240 students and staff attended the first full-day workshop with students reporting the event was ‘very engaging’, ‘should continue each year’, that they ‘thoroughly enjoyed the experience’, ‘would definitely attend in the future’ and ‘really enjoyed the day and learned a lot from it’.

• 86% felt the speakers helped them understand the causes of family violence
• 91% felt speakers helped them understand what a healthy relationship looks like
• 69% strongly agreed the speakers were engaging with a further 31% agreeing
• The workshop at the end of the day helped me come up with ideas of how to create change in my school or community (25% strongly agreed, 60% agreed, 13% neither agreed nor disagreed, and 2% disagreed).

All participants receive a PDF workbook and access to resources to help their schools raise awareness and take action. REGISTER HERE.

 

Register Here

Kids and Gender Toolbox

The new White Ribbon toolbox has gone from black and white to rainbow, says manager Rob McCann.

“We’ve teamed up with experts to develop Kids and Gender, for parents and whānau with kids who break gender rules. These kids often get bullied – boys who want to wear nail polish or play with dolls, or girls who refuse to wear skirts and want to play with trucks. Sometimes this means getting picked on at school, or by older siblings, parents or extended families.”

White Ribbon’s kaupapa of working to end men’s violence towards women includes talking about how to challenge ideas about gender that are the breeding ground for unhealthy attitudes and behaviour.

“The new toolbox is really for parents who haven’t yet connected with the Rainbow world, so they can understand what is happening better, and be loving and supportive of their Rainbow children,” says Mr McCann. “It’s a journey my family have been on too, so I feel like I understand some of the questions that come up. White Ribbon is thrilled to offer some support for families like mine.”

Toolbox author, Sandra Dickson, says plain language is important. “One of the things every parent I talk to says is ‘what do all these words mean?’ We also wanted to point parents to all the awesome information out there – from parent supports to takatāpui resources, to groups for young people who are questioning their sexuality or gender.”

Author – Sandra-Dickson

Ms Dickson, Hohou Te Rongo Kahukura – Outing Violence project manager, says parents mostly just want to know how to support their kids. “We wanted to help answer their questions and make sure they realise they are not alone. Lots of other parents have worked out how to support their Rainbow kids. And honestly, that’s the most important thing to do as a parent – find support for yourself so you can be there for your children.”

“Some parents get worried about what it might mean when they become aware their child is queer or trans. But your child is still the same person – they have just told you a bit more about who they are.”

Nathan Bramwell, manager at Rainbow Hub Waikato, agrees. “We hear from young people all the time, wanting help to deal with families that are struggling to accept them. It’s pretty tough for parents, they don’t always know what their kids need.”

“We also have parents who come and sit in on our youth groups, just so they can be sure their young person is ok. That’s fabulous, and we’re always happy to see that. We’ve seen from parents that having a safe place for their young people, where they can also get support for themselves is a huge relief.”

“One of the parents who reviewed the resource for us asked if she could send it to her parents, then and there,” says Ms Dickson. “She said they wanted to know how to support their trans grandchild.”

Mr Bramwell is also keen to get Kids and Gender out there. “We will be offering this resource to everyone we can! It’s honestly so good to have information we can give out to parents and families that is positive, and doesn’t treat having Rainbow kids as a problem to solve. Our parents really like talking to other parents too, so it’s great the resource is suggesting parents get support, so they can be there for their kids.”

“It’s great to work with other organisations on this kaupapa, helping families and whānau to be safe and welcoming for Rainbow young people. It’s the work we do every day in our Waikato communities.”

The Toolbox was launched online on Monday 29 November, and the webinar will be available here (soon).

Download the KIDS AND GENDER TOOLBOX

 

supported by:

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Checkout our other Toolboxes. While the terminology in the other resources is primarily directed at men or boys, the concepts are universal.

Shining A Light on White Ribbon Day

Today on Parliament steps, White Ribbon was represented by White Ribbon Ambassadors: Air Marshal Kevin Short, Police Commissioner Andrew Coster, Judge Peter Boshier, Hannah Dorey, Mark Shepherd and White Ribbon Riders.

White Ribbon Patron, Judge Boshier spoke of the need for change, Commissioner Coster spoke about the Stories of Change that his own officers shared to inspire others, Air Marshal Kevin Short talked about the need to create a Call-In Culture to inspire real change.

Then White Ribbon Ambassador Hannah Dorey shared her ‘story of change’. It was a humbling moment to hear something so personal and so powerful, on the steps of our lawmakers and in front of the Ministers for Family and Sexual Violence Prevention, Corrections, Justice and Women along with MPs from across all of Parliament. Here is that speech:

 

White Ribbon Speech
25th November 2021

Kia ora everyone,

I’ve always seen myself as a strong person, ever since I was a kid I was determined to run the fastest and prove my strength to every person in the room. By the end of primary school I gained my junior black belt in Rhee Tae Kwon Do and knew at that moment that I could take on anything. Until the nights came where I remembered I was trapped in an unsafe house that was supposed to be a home. Until the first time a boy kissed me when I didn’t want him to. Until I turned eighteen, and was groped and touched every Saturday night in town.

So I stopped wearing skirts, and dresses, and started inspecting the colour of my drink and holding my hand over the brim of my glass. The first time I was sexually assaulted I didn’t know it was wrong, you see I had been drinking and the next morning I convinced myself that I had somehow asked for it. But there were parts I didn’t remember, moments I wasn’t sure happened. So how could I claim anything? After all, it really could have been my fault.

The second time I was sexually assaulted my entire body felt broken, numb. As much as I willed myself to move, I couldn’t. Those memories, will forever visit me in my nightmares. Those moments are what make me jump when someone touches my arm, they’re what make me hold my keys between my finger and thumb when I walk home at night. They remind me of the young kid that was so certain they could take on anyone and anything. That they would never be in danger.

Healing isn’t linear, there’s always going to be setbacks, days and nights when you feel trapped in your own skin. I am not healed, when a part of you is taken like that, it feels impossible to heal. But I realised that I didn’t want to hate myself for someone else’s action. So I decided to speak, to shine a light on what happens behind closed doors. That’s when I discovered White Ribbon had the same goals as me. I first found them in a school hall where I listened to stories of change, stories that made me believe I could heal, stories that made me believe we could change.

So I speak to you now, whoever is listening; my story is not uncommon, my story is one of millions. And although I am healing there are ways to prevent this. We must teach one and other what respect means, we must remind our friends and family that consent is a human right. We must have these conversations, even if they are hard, even if they can be uncomfortable at times.  We must try, because if we continue to keep our secrets hidden in the crevices of our keys, or the bottom of our drinks then we will never know change.

It takes all of us, and the goal of changing unhealthy attitudes is daunting to me. Some days, I have no hope that we can do it. But it’s days like this that remind me we can, our attitudes must learn to grow with us.

So I ask you, a simple favour; start that conversation, teach, listen and learn. I am not ashamed of myself the way I used to be, instead I plan to keep talking, to be the voice of change and speak as loudly as I can to get our society’s attention. It doesn’t seem like much, I know, but a conversation can very easily change someone’s life.

Kia Ora
Hannah

 

The White Ribbon Riders then took central stage, still with tears in their eyes to share their journey, and the need to ask for help, especially when victims become perpetrators. Mark Shepard then handed those Stories of Change to Minister Davidson, who spoke eloquently about what these stories and Hannah’s personal account meant to her. The Minister then spoke about the work across all of government and the strategy that she will launch in just a few weeks. The event was then closed by the Minister of Justice who thanked all the participants and the MPs with a special mention for the work the Riders, Hannah and all the other anti-violence advocates undertake.

You can watch the Facebook Live Stream here, the event begins at 8mins in. https://www.facebook.com/whiteribbonnz/videos/385370386703236

You can watch Hannah talking about the issue of consent below.

 

Special credit to Damon Keen for many of these photos.

 

 

Call-in Culture if you want change

 

 


You can help prevent men’s violence towards women by being a positive influence on other men.

“Effective prevention has to move beyond just saying violence is wrong,” says White Ribbon Ambassador Richie Hardcore. “We need to promote alternative healthy behaviours such as Respectful Relationships, Healthy Masculinity and Consent so we’ve created a new video and added a new Toolbox to help men get comfortable with the concept.

If we want change, we must encourage boys and men to recruit and educate other boys and men in ways that lift each other up. An effective way to do this is by ‘inviting’ men, rather than indicting them. This means not only modelling positive behaviour in front of each other, but also understanding that other men might be at a different part of their journey and still working it out for themselves.

“It’s easy to call people out, and let’s face it, we have to call out violence or bad behaviour,” says Mr Hardcore. “Saying nothing simply allows the perpetrator to believe their behaviour or attitude is ok. But we need to be more subtle and start calling people in, not simply calling them out.

Call-In Toolbox“If we want people to change, we need to learn how to effectively engage them, and have meaningful conversations to promote sustained change. The reality is, that believing in the rigid rules of masculinity is 20 times more likely to predict committing violence than other demographic factors like ethnicity, age or income.”[1]

“That means the beliefs that fuel violence are far more entrenched and possibly learned behaviour. Instead of jumping down your mate’s throat for saying the wrong thing, try asking questions: If your mate says something sexist, ask them why they think that, or where they got that idea from? You could tell them that you don’t understand and ask them what they mean. You can also draw on your own values that support respectful behaviour.”

David Cournane, White Ribbon Ambassador and deputy principal of Aotea College agrees. “Once upon a time if you were coaching a team you would have highlighted mistakes and used shame to call out unwanted behaviours. While we still have to correct errors, there is now much more of a focus on finding those moments where the players are doing something well, and using these as key learning moments.  With a focus upon growing from our strengths and our successes, we are more likely to engage those around us.

“I know that being empathetic, and understanding the drivers behind someone’s behaviour, and speaking to those issues, is far more effective than just simply calling someone out. If you want people to change, you’ve got to give them a reason to change, and that requires being empathetic and kind,” says Mr Cournane.

 

Call-in Culture

Talk with other men

We’re all on a journey to reduce and eliminate men’s violence and we need to demonstrate not just why something is harmful, but that there are alternatives that are more fulfilling. In this journey, it is important to involve men in violence prevention efforts, not only because men perpetrate the majority of violence, but because men can play a positive role in intervening in this space.[1]

Most men think violence against women is unacceptable. In fact, men routinely overestimate other men’s comfort with sexist, coercive, and derogatory comments and behaviours.[2] Research repeatedly shows that most men are uncomfortable when other men act in sexist and discriminatory ways, but are afraid to raise this because they believe they are in a minority.[3] Yet, men also drastically underestimate other men’s willingness to intervene in violence against women.[4]

As recent research in Aotearoa has shown, when given the chance to speak openly and safely about difficult questions of sex, gender, and ethics, some young men engage in critical and thoughtful ways around topics that they often find difficult to discuss.[5] Thus, while we must continue to hold individual men and male dominated institutions responsible for their actions, we can avoid language that implies that all men and boys are to blame, and instead harness their sense of fairness and their frustration with witnessing injustice.[6]

Shining a Light can make a difference: Invited, not indicted

You can help prevent violence by being a positive influence on other men. Effective prevention moves beyond simply stopping violence into promoting alternative healthy behaviours. We must encourage boys and men to recruit and educate other boys and men in ways that lift each other up. An effective way to do this is by ‘inviting’ men, rather than indicting them. This means not only modelling positive behaviour in front of each other, but also understanding that other men might be at a different part of their journey and still working it out for themselves.

So, when someone says something stupid online, or says something sexist in real life, this is an opportunity to effectively engage them and have meaningful conversations to promote sustained change. But jumping down your mate’s throat for saying the wrong thing might not be the best way to get him to change his behaviour. Instead, try asking questions: If your mate says something sexist, ask them why they think that, or where they got that idea from? You could tell them that you don’t understand and ask them what they mean. You can also draw on your own values that support respectful behaviour. These could be cultural values, such as the Tikanga Māori values of Mana Tāne, Mana Wahine, religious beliefs, or general ideas like Everyone’s equal or A fair go for all.

Stay cool and calm, and really try to listen

Because some men are used to fighting, conflict, and arguing, it can be very disarming to show some compassion and care.  Take every opportunity to talk to men about how men are portrayed on TV, among friends, and in whānau. Talk to them about the ‘man box’ – where men must appear tough, aggressive and in charge in front of other men. Listen and encourage them to try out different ways to express their identities and values.

Check out White Ribbon’s toolbox on Breaking out of the Man Box

[1] Flood (2020).

[2] Baker, (2013).

[3] Katz, (2018); The Men’s Project & Flood, (2020).

[4] Baker (2013).

[5] Gavey, et al. (2021).

[6] Kaufman, (2003).

[1] The Men’s Project & Flood, M (2020).

Shine a Light on Stories of Change

White Ribbon is gathering ‘stories of change’ to Shine a Light on violence prevention and what works.

White Ribbon’s annual November campaign is sharing the real-life experiences of both perpetrators and survivors to highlight the need to tackle men’s violence towards women. The charity is asking people to submit their ‘story of change’, via a secure website in any format e.g. a video, word document or audio file.

“We want to shine a light on what works and what supports people to change,” says White Ribbon Manager Rob McCann. “We know that when you have real life examples of change, that can be really motivating. But all too often, most of us don’t share our stories of experiencing or breaking the cycle of family violence. Too often these parts of our lives are hidden in the shadows in much the same way that family harm is often hidden behind closed doors.”

“Our first story this campaign is being told by Catherine Daniels, a new White Ribbon Ambassador who experienced childhood trauma and sexual abuse. Unable to talk about the abuse she suffered, she began her own journey of healing by telling her story through her sculptures and art,” says Mr McCann.

While telling her story has helped Catherine heal, she has also helped many survivors to recognize their own experiences in the artwork, and enabled them to begin their own journey of healing.

“My husband and I had been married for nearly eight years before my secrets made me sick enough, that I couldn’t hold them in any longer. When I opened up to him about my childhood sexual abuse, he struggled to cope. It was easier for him to shut his anger down and say all that stuff is grey. I don’t do grey. I only do black and white. My husband shut it out for over 25 years. We never spoke about it and when we did, it caused a lot of pressure on everyone.

“When I made the first girl sitting on her suitcase with a small teddy bear beside her, I brought it inside to show him. He said “what’s that?” I told him it was me as a little girl and read him out a small piece of writing I had written.

“He just looked at it staring as if he could finally see what had been hidden inside of me all those years. That was the light bulb moment for him and the start of ‘The Secret Keeper’ for me. Showing my husband what was hidden inside of me as something tangible that he could see and talk about, was like pulling a plug out of a dam we had both built up.

“For the next five years, emotions flooded out as we talked about every sculpture and read each piece of writing. These sculptures and their story have shown him an entirely different way. He has completely changed and is now able to see and think in grey, not just black and white, says Catherine.”

Stories of change can come in many forms, and by sharing your story, you might be able to inspire others to recognize their behavior or their experiences and help others find the strength to make a change.

For more information about this year’s White Ribbon Campaign or to share your story www.whiteribbon.org.nz The campaign will also highlight four key messages; Healthy Masculinity, Respectful Relationships, Consent, Call-in Culture along with working the Disabilities sector and Rainbow community for the first time.

Notes:
Video of Catherine Daniels speaking https://vimeo.com/643443340 Permission is granted to download and/or embed
The Secret Keeper –  currently at the Exhibitions Gallery of Fine Art in Wellington until the 20th November
The Secret Keeper website www.thesecretkeeper.nz
If you feel you need help after reading this article https://whiteribbon.org.nz/act/help/
More detailed information on this year’s campaign can be found here

 

Atene Skyline Track Trek

If you’re going to be in Wanganui on the 27th of November you might want to join Anne-maree Parker and her team as they challenge themselves to complete the Atene Skyline Track Trek to shine a light on domestic violence. It’s a great year for an outdoor event with plenty of fresh air!

She has organized this event as everyone knows someone who has experienced domestic violence and she wants to help to break that destructive cycle. She notes: “We want to bring this issue out into the open to be talked about because domestic violence can be quiet and deadly, unspoken and hiding behind closed doors.”

This year we are focusing on the things that work to help prevent violence and support positive change and Anne-maree offers some excellent advice that really does help. She thinks we need to be supportive of people affected by domestic violence, without judgement. “Being non-judgmental will empower them to see positivity in their life, that’s the goodness you can offer.” She adds by “being open and talking about it that opens doors toward change. It plants a seed in our community to reflect on.” Where better to think about these issues than surrounded by strong forests that started from a small seed!

We are also really grateful for Anne-maree’s efforts to support White Ribbon by setting up a givealittle page for the event. If you can’t make it but want to show your support for the kaupapa and Anne-maree’s efforts to support change, please consider making a donation.

 

Structured program for the Atene Skyline Track trek:

  • 06:15 Start arriving
  • Mark off names on attendance sheet
  • Issue entrants with white ribbon
  • 06:45 Run down of events
  • Quick talk about the purpose of the day
  • 07:00 Departure
  • 10:30 Mid way
  • Lunch
  • Quiz and prize
  • Photos
  • 11:30ish Head back out
  • E.T.A 16:30 Photos at end
  • Receive participant certificate
  • BBQ and refreshment to celebrate a wonderful day

To register please contact Anne-maree directly on 0272955456 or via email ANNEMAREEPARKER78@GMAIL.COM

The Secret Keeper

We are excited to be working with Catherine Daniels to shine a light on her exhibition The Secret Keeper that we know will have an important impact on community understanding of the issues of childhood trauma and sexual abuse throughout New Zealand. The exhibition has already been shown in Palmerston North and Whanganui, and has provoked powerful responses in viewers from those communities.

After its initial exhibition in Whanganui at the Community Arts Centre, Russell Simpson the Chief Executive of Whanganui DHB invited Catherine to take The Secret Keeper to the hospital to help staff and public gain more awareness about childhood trauma and sexual abuse. A number of clinical psychologists have commented on how valuable the exhibition was both for their clients and for themselves in gaining a deeper understanding of the lived experience of complex trauma.

On the 21st of October the exhibition is opening in Wellington at the Exhibitions Gallery of Fine Art (20 Brandon Street) and we urge you to go along and see it in person. After Wellington, it is heading to Napier where it will be shown at the Community Arts Centre from the 18th March through to the 7th April.

It is extremely hard to talk about trauma and abuse and one story Catherine shared really resonated with us. She said: “My husband and I had been married for nearly eight years before my secrets made me sick enough, that I couldn’t hold them in any longer. When I opened up to him about my childhood sexual abuse, he struggled to cope. It was easier for him to shut his anger down and say all that stuff is grey. I don’t do grey. I only do black and white. He shut it out for over 25 years. We never spoke about it and when we did it caused a lot of pressure on everyone. When I made the first girl sitting on her suitcase with a small teddy bear beside her, I brought it inside to show him. He said “what’s that?” I told him it was me as a little girl and read him out a small piece of writing I had written. He just looked at it staring as if he could finally see what had been hidden inside of me all those years. That was the light bulb moment for him and the start of The Secret Keeper for me. Showing my husband what was hidden inside of me as something tangible that he could see and talk about was like pulling a plug out of a dam we had both built up. For the next five years, emotions flooded out as we talked about every sculpture and read each piece of writing. These sculptures and their story have shown him an entirely different way. He has completely changed and is now able to see and think in grey, not just black and white.”

The age range of people visiting has been from 4 years old to over 90. Many have opened up for the first time. One elderly lady visited and talked about her childhood trauma. Catherine recalled: “The next day she returned and waited to speak with me. She handed me her journal with a pencil drawing of two faces. The first face had stitches covering the mouth. The second face, the mouth was open with no stitches, but tears of red blood were around the mouth and dripping down the face. She talked with me some more and said ‘thank you for taking the stitches off my mouth, but there is still pain and hurt inside’. I handed back her journal and felt the power of her drawing and the conversation it had started.” Catherine also spoke about a small girl who looked at one of the sculptures with many faces inside her tummy and turned to her mother and said to her ‘see mummy I told you I had them in my tummy just like that little girl’

Originally the exhibition contained 49 sculptures, but they keep growing. Catherine has created 7 new sculptures for Wellington that haven’t been exhibited before. There will also be some sculptures for sale at the Wellington exhibition. Catherine has worked with a team of creatives who have provided vital support and who have brought their own skills to help share Catherine’s story and make it accessible in a range of formats.

Catherine has created a book that brings her words and sculptures together. It is both beautiful and extremely moving. The Secret Keeper has been published by Joan Rosier-Jones and Gayelene Holly of Tangerine Publications. They have been such an important part of Catherine’s journey. From the first day Catherine met with Joan, she talked with her and supported her every week over a five-year period to help get all Catherine’s childhood trauma written down on paper.

Award-winning photographer Esther Bunning is also a vital part of the team. She has made a new range of prints featuring Catherine’s sculptures for Wellington and for the first time a limited edition range. Esther’s work is organic and emotive, and adds another level of humanity to the work. She helps people view the world a little differently than what they’re used to, with her creative use of in-camera techniques and a love of unconventional storytelling. Using her visual voice to make a difference, or bring awareness for those who can’t speak for themselves is something she is passionate about. There is also a video that plays at every exhibition made by Terry Hann that shows some beautiful images of the girls in the studio and being made.

These sculptures enabled Catherine to portray her emotions and trauma in something tangible that others could see and start to understand. “The power my husband and I have found in turning my emotions into the writing and these sculptures has had a huge impact on our own lives and the lives of others”.

We asked Catherine if she had anything she wanted to say to the White Ribbon community and this is her response: “The Secret Keeper project is the most powerful thing I have ever done. There are so many different ways to deal with trauma, violence isn’t one.”

The book, photographs, sculptures and box sets are available on the website. Catherine has generously given us three box sets to give away over the next three weeks. If you would like to go in the draw to win one of the sets below all you need to do is follow this link, like it and share it on your social media page. Then please send a screen shot to either contact@whiteribbon.org.nz or message White Ribbon on FB to go into the draw. One box set wlil be drawn each week.