Thursday, January 26, 2012

Criticism of White Ribbon Day in the mass media

Here's some good news. A week ago I again criticised White Ribbon Day, a day when men are asked to wear ribbons to show their opposition to domestic violence. Unfortunately, the White Ribbon campaign is dominated by a feminist ideology which only recognises men as perpetrators of violence; which holds traditional social norms to be at fault for violence; and which exaggerates the extent of violence.

Bob McCoskrie, the national director of Family First NZ, wrote in to support my stance and to point out that he made similar criticisms of White Ribbon Day in a column in the New Zealand Herald last year. His column is very well written: it is clearly explained, balanced and has a lot of supporting information. It's a model of how we could get a point across in the mass media.

The comments from readers were very supportive, but as you might guess Bob McCoskrie was attacked by the political class for his stance:

Women's groups and political leaders have rounded on Family First director Bob McCoskrie for refusing to wear a white ribbon today to oppose violence against women.

I went and looked up the Family First NZ site. It's very good. Some of its policies that are worth considering include:
  • optional income splitting for couples for tax purposes
  • considering fault when allocating levels of child support to remove economic incentives to divorce
  • child support to take into account the income levels of both parents
  • presumptive shared parenting
  • measures to reduce divorce rates, including affordable premarital counselling 


  1. I like the measure that would include fault in divorce. In practice, no fault divorce has become men's fault divorce because current laws allow women to 'move on' whenever the whim takes them, secure in the knowledge that their ex-husbands will be expected to support them for many years to come.

  2. All of those points are screaming common sense.

  3. The only problem with fault is that it becomes an evidence game, ie who can collect the most, and a he said she said fight.

  4. Jesse,

    Agreed. But you then get a choice:

    i) no fault divorce = less messy but at the cost of making men assume the automatic burden of losing custody and paying the maximum rate of child support and alimony


    ii) fault divorce = messy evidence game but some attempt at legal protection for men who have done the right thing in their marriage

    I suppose option ii) appeals to my sense of justice. If some guy walks out on his loyal wife to marry his younger secretary, then it seems reasonable to me that he is hit relatively hard with alimony and child support. But if a wife walks out on a husband without good reason and shacks up with a boyfriend, then maybe in doing so she is accepting the consequence of working to support herself rather than continuing to get the benefits of the marriage she rejected.

  5. How about wearing a large black ribbon on white ribbon day.

  6. Looks like the aborigines are not happy with Gillard:

  7. Mark,

    That is exactly what I meant. It explains why women instigate most divorces.

  8. I have received a quite "strong" invitation by my university of take the oath and to show the white ribbon. Here my response.

  9. I thoroughly disklike what you say about how the White Ribbon Campaign is flooded with feminist ideology and only looks to men as the perpetrators. This campaign is not saying men are the only perpetrators, but that they make up a large percentage, a majority, of the perpetrators. I'd be very interested (although I'm sure not suprised) in your argument to state otherwise. Patriarchal society indeed allows men to perform both in the form of structural or domestic violence. It is not solely men by any means, but it is predominantly men.

    Also, you state that it is filled with feminist ideology. I'm a feminist and I asure you, a lot of feminists would scorn this campaign. For reasons I'm not going to get into,the tag line that is used in New Zealand (I'm uncertain if it's used world-wide) about being "man enough" to stop violence against womyn is specifically contrary to much feminist belief.

    I'll agree that the White Ribbon Campaign is terribly misguided, but not for the reasons you assert.