Cosmo 'Man of the Year': one for the boys.....

On Tuesday night I went to another WAFE (Women Against Fundamentalism and for Equality) seminar at the House of Lords. As always these events are thoroughly engaging but always leave me in the confusing state of feeling both uplifted and despairing at the same time.

There were as ever many very interesting women speakers about whom I will blog later (especially the Finnish MP Johanna Sumuvuori; and no, not just because we share a name!).

We also had Chris Green, the Executive Director of the White Ribbon Campaign (UK) come to speak, who has in the last few weeks been named as Cosmo Man of the Year, no less!! Who is this man, I hear you gasp, and what has he done to deserve such an accolade? Surely some sort of sex god? Well, no perhaps not quite, but he’s something much more compelling and a man that I am very grateful is around campaigning today.

The White Ribbon Campaign is a global campaign to ensure that men take more responsibility for reducing the level of violence against women. It is not a campaign about bashing men but instead asks those men who know that it is wrong to hit women, pledge never to commit, condone or remain silent about violence against women. The stats on male violence against women in the UK are truly shocking.

I find it an attractive campaign on two counts: firstly, it is about creating a norm in society that makes it quite clear that this type of behaviour is unacceptable and that to ignore it is almost as bad condoning it. Secondly it places emphasis for action onto men, as something men can resolve, as men listen to other men; especially young men. It does not leave it to women to solve and resolve the problem over in the ‘women’s issues’ corner.

And as the blogosphere is so overwhelmingly male I have the perfect audience to highlight this campaign!! Sunday 25th is the UN’s International Day to End Violence Against Women, worth taking note of because, even in the UK, 1 in 4 women will experience domestic violence in their lifetime.

This means that you will almost certainly know a woman who has experienced domestic violence, even if you’re not aware of it; it’s not the sort of thing a woman sings from the rooftops or you can tell from just looking at her. This then also means, the chances are, you may know a man who has either been violent towards a woman or thinks it’s OK to be so.

Personally, that’s a thought that sends shivers of fear down my spine; but when I heard about the work of Chris Green and the White Ribbon Campaign (all volunteers) I felt utterly inspired by the humanity of the campaign and the men who sign up to it.


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