Monday, October 5, 2009

IS THE WHITE RIBBON A BADGE OF SHAME?


Each year thousands of Montrealers queue for hours, sometimes in subzero temperatures to commemorate the killing and honour the victims. The crowd is usually a cross-section of the Quebec society: male and female, young and old, anglophones and francophones, briefly united in grief. Throughout the country, there are louder crowds though and more hostile demonstrations: the megaphones, the slogans, the wild assignations of blame. Sometimes, the protesters' readiness to exploit the trauma of victims, families and friends for their own narrow political ends, is so obvious as to be sickening.


And it's going on for twenty years now, and the activists never tire. Bloody year after bloody year, the sour aftertaste of diatribes lingers in many of the commemorative projects surrounding December 6. It is the main reason why a sizeable part of the population refuses now to join in the national White Ribbon Campaign organized by the Toronto men's group.
This campaign always seemed to be based on a notion of universal male guilt, and after 20 years of saturation with this guilt many are suffocating now from its slow effects, and the decision to break away from it is one of survival. Many noticed only recently how poisonous these feminist emanations are, and the decision to keep away from its deadly fumes is a major victory for the Canadian men's movement and men's groups everywhere.


The claim that all men must share responsibility for the violence some men did to some women has become a deadly mantra, that we have learned only recently to dispel. When it was introduced, in the 1990s, almost no-one has bothered to examine its foundations, or criticize its hypocrisy. White Ribbon campaigners seemed to think that the pain a man feels over December 6 is suspect and illegitimate, therefore they saw an occasion to introduce all that guilt to further their secret aims and agenda. So this mangina-feminist conspiracy urged all men to feel kinship with the Polytechnique assassin. They were told that their grief is only valid if some of it is devoted to mourning the part of them that is allegedly capable of such acts.



The fact that most men are not brutalizers, terrorists, or murderers was not taken in consideration by the White Ribbon people. All they wanted to impress upon you is how guilty you are. From now on, men were defined in terms of a supposed latent "potential" for violence that deserved to be denounced. It is said December 6 serves as a powerful reminder to women of the fear of male violence they must confront every day. Undeniably, that fear is tangible, and solidly grounded. But don't forget: the large majority of murder victims are men. If men don't share the fear, it doesn't mean they don't share the risk. What does the White Ribbon campaigner say to men who have been brutalized by other males? Are those men responsible in some way for their own victimization?



The White Ribbon campaign is attractive only to those of both sexes who view "female" sensibilities as superior to "male" ones. Among feminist activists, the campaign seems to appeal mainly to those who consider male violence against women and children the only violence that matters. These activists often view progressive men as mascots or token presences - not as allies with diverse perspectives to contribute to a common cause. And when will the men behind the White Ribbon Campaign realize that their apologies for being born the wrong sex can never be abject enough to satisfy feminists? Why many won't be wearing a white ribbon this year? Simply because for them, it has become a badge of shame - a shame they don't feel anymore.

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