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White Ribbon Day: Go Beyond The Oath

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White Ribbon Day 2016

Going beyond the oath

As men working at the frontline of justice we deal with the worst manifestations of male violence.

Every week we help women through some of the worst hours of their lives, and we listen to yet another excuse for abhorrent behaviour.

That’s why we are turning our words into actions.

Within a generation we aim to make White Ribbon Day a day for celebrating the very best of what it is to be a man.

Our male colleagues from across justice, treatment services, police, the fire brigade and local government joined us to take the White Ribbon Day oath.

As one, we stood in front of the women we work with and put our names to mobilising to change the beliefs, behaviours and societal structures that inflict deep, often insidious, and always damaging harm on women.

Our guests also joined us to write individual pledges to act because when we get together next year we want to be proud that we are changing such pernicious male behaviours and attitudes.

Over the last few years, the NJCs’ Magistrate Court has seen a steady increase in the number of violence matters.

What we see in court—the physical, psychological traumas inflicted on women and often children— is the end of spectrum of the very worst parts of ourselves that permeates our culture.

Our culture has so normalised casual sexism that, just like its malignant cousin casual racism, it doesn’t even bother to dress itself up. It’s comfortable just the way it is.

But every disrespectful throw-away line hits its mark. Every subtle put down has an aim. Every barb has a point, and every tilted stereotype pushes us all back.

Physical violence against women is directly correlated to the ubiquity of fundamentally repugnant beliefs and behaviours. There is nothing benign about casual sexism. It’s a massive problem, and it requires a mass response. And this is where we’re mobilising. It is up to us to say ‘enough’.

For the few last months we got together for an hour a week to talk about how we’d participate in White Ribbon Day, and while these meetings started out as logistical exercises in event planning, they soon morphed into periods of reflection about what it means to be fathers, brothers, friends. Men.

And this is why we are not fighting sexism. We’re not challenging or counterattacking a lewd joke or disrespectful remark.

We’re not breaking down the worst in male behaviour or leading the march to something better.

We won’t fight violence. We’ll walk far ahead of it. We’ll leave it behind. It’s done.

We’ll speak with respect, and we’ll walk alongside our young sons, our fathers, and our mates to get men onto the best path to adulthood.

And next year when we come together to take the White Ribbon Day oath we’ll know we’re closer to celebrating what it is to be men.

Dr Cameron Wallace, Hieng Lim, Damian James, Jay Jordans, Anthony Ket, Kim Fuhrmann, Matoc Achol, Robbie Dawes, and supported by Magistrate David Fanning. 

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Reviewed: 25/11/2016 © 2016 State Government of Victoria