What next for our White Ribbon campaign?

The White Ribbon Campaign responded to our petition yesterday, describing The Rock’s stunt as “an awful exercise in bad taste” that “helped to perpetuate violence by normalising and trivialising it.” They also asked the Prime Minister for an explanation of his involvement with this “highly offensive” radio segment.[1]

Key’s office responded with the same statement released last week, in which the PM denied knowing what the joke was about, and said it was intended to be light-hearted. What he did not do, was apologise.

White Ribbon say they have no choice but to take the Prime Minister at his word, although they will write to all their Ambassadors to “remind them of our expectations, and the commitment they have made to the campaign”. Kyle MacDonald, who initiated this petition, doesn't think Key's response is adequate, and nor do many of you. So where does that leave us?

We have several options, which we need your feedback on. Will you read through the options and then take part in our short poll about next steps in this campaign? There is a bit to read, sorry, but this is an important issue and as a supporter-led movement we need your input.

Option 1: Continue with the campaign as it is, putting pressure on White Ribbon to remove Key as an Ambassador.  Pro:  Our message remains clear and consistent, this kind of behaviour is unacceptable from a White Ribbon Ambassador.  Con:  The heat from the petition could fall on the White Ribbon Campaign rather than on the Prime Minister.

Our take:

White Ribbon’s current response could reasonably be interpreted as the only sensible option available to an organisation which relies entirely on government funding to do really important work. If we push them harder, they may be forced to choose between losing credibility with supporters or losing funding. Neither of which is a good outcome for ending sexual violence in our country. Worst case scenario, we harm White Ribbon while letting the Prime Minister off the hook.

Option 2: Continue campaign but shift target from White Ribbon to the Prime Minister.  Pro:  Puts the focus on the PM’s offensive behaviour, rather than on the White Ribbon campaign.  Takes full advantage of ActionStation’s independence.  Con:  The Prime Minister is likely to feel comfortable ignoring our campaign unless it gets enough media attention that polls start to show that his voter base is affected.

Our take:

This kind of situation is precisely why it’s so important that ActionStation is member-funded and why we accept no funding from Government, political parties or corporations. If other organisations can’t speak out for fear of losing their funding, we’re here to speak up instead. We could ask the Prime Minister to denounce the stunt, offer a sincere apology for his participation in it, inadvertent or not, and then commit to full and long-term funding for sexual violence prevention and survivor recovery and support services.

Option 3: Continue the campaign but ask White Ribbon for something different  Pros:  We stay focused on the issue at hand, while giving White Ribbon Campaign a chance to recover credibility and show leadership on this issue.  A chance to raise awareness of the harmful impact of these kinds of ‘jokes’ and how they contribute to creating an enabling environment for sexual violence.  Con:  Takes the heat off the Prime Minister and may lose media momentum.

Our take:

There are lots of things we could ask White Ribbon to do which would make it clear this issue is not resolved. We could ask White Ribbon to review all their Ambassador appointments, or ask them all to retake their pledge. We could ask them to run an ad in national newspapers, billboards around the country, or make radio or TV ads (which we could all chip in to help pay for) explaining how stunts like this contribute to a cultural environment in which violence, including sexual violence is prevalent. We could ask them to host a panel discussion, to which they could invite the Prime Minister, and other Ambassadors, to talk about the harm done by trivialising sexual violence.

Option 4: Regroup, and combine our resources to put this issue clearly on the agenda for Budget 2016  Pros:  We have a growing number of ActionStation members who are concerned about sexual violence in New Zealand from previous campaigns: Roast Busters and It’s Not OK.  Opportunity to build a massive, cohesive campaign to put funding for sexual violence prevention, and survivor support and recovery, programs into Budget 2016.  Cons:  We may lose the media momentum that has built up now. As a small organisation, we rely on chasing the energy surrounding news cycles to reach more people. If we wait until next year we might miss the moment.

Our take:

Over the past 18 months a growing number of New Zealanders, from across gender, racial, social and political spectrums, have stood together to say “We’ve had enough” when it comes to sexual violence.  We may not see all the change we want immediately, but this coming together is an essential part of the long arc of cultural change. By adding your name, your voice and your resources to these campaigns, you have played, and can continue to play, an essential role in bringing this change about.

Or something else entirely? We could make a complaint to the Broadcasting Standards Authority about the segment. We could launch a new social media campaign. Have your say on what we should do here. 

We need your help to decide what to do next. So please take a few minutes to complete our survey on next steps for this campaign.

Thank you. Alone we often feel hopeless, even helpless, but together we have the power to create lasting change.

Marianne, Kyle and the team at ActionStation

 

References:

[1] White Ribbon Campaign comment - http://whiteribbon.org.nz/2015/12/20/white-ribbon/

[2] Kyle MacDonald’s response - www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/news/article.cfm?c_id=1&objectid=11564231

 


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