Day 6 – Featured Post – Flinders University Inspiring Achievement and Chauvinism

this post is by fellow saggitarian and writer Kahtia Lontis. (abovetheseaoffog.com)  This post is interesting to me as not only was Flinders my alma mater,  It shows how despite a belief amongst young women that we are living in an era free from harrassment in the learning environment or workplace, that these sorts of abuses continue and also need to be taken seriously as a form of violence.

Happy 22nd birthday Kahtia!  thanks for sharing some insightful and timely remarks.

Since the publication of this article, the offending material discussed within has since been removed. This article now serves as an example of the possibilities of affecting positive change in our society, no matter how small they are. (writer’s emphasis)

I have been a student at Flinders University in Adelaide since 2009, when I was a fresh-faced teenaged high school graduate. I entered the institution with the naïve hope that I would be respected and safe there, and seen as an intellectual and social equal by those around me. I put my trust in the lecturers and the coordinators and the staff in general, with the hope that they would support me and protect my right to be viewed as an equal being, and would step in were I ever to experience any kind of unfair prejudice.

I was naïve. 

Recently, I had the need to go to a location on the Flinders University Sturt campus that I have never had to visit before: the paramedics office. That is, the administrative office for the paramedic degree, not an office where we keep our special on-campus paramedics. Long story short, I have an associate (also female) who is studying paramedics and needed to stop at the office to talk to someone before we drove home. I have often walked past this office on my way to my own department, but have never gone inside. Idly attempting to look busy and as if I belonged there, I wandered over to the office noticeboard, which was crowded with newspaper articles about paramedics and Flinders alumni – inspirational stories about young people thriving in the industry and saving human lives.

And then, my eyes settled on something else. Despite the fact that it was prominently displayed near the centre of the board, this particular item was far removed from the inspirational stories and notifications of upcoming educational and industry-based opportunities for students. Something that caused me to do a double take, because I literally could not believe what I was seeing.

There are some things that you must keep in mind at this point in the story, the first of which being that this is the office of people in charge of the paramedics topics and students, at a university – a so called seat of learning, where a large number of the attendees are young people, some of them only eighteen and right out of high school, as I was when I started my studies. This is a place that should take the responsibility to take care of young people and to teach them about the world and about themselves seriously; a place that, I would have hoped, would also have a steadfast moral and ethical standpoint on issues such as gender equality and human rights, which the students would receive the benefits of. A university should be encouraging students to have immeasurable compassion and respect for other humans, of all genders, of all ages, of all nations, and encouraging in them a desire to experience their world firsthand and work together to find a solution for a sustainable and safe future for the planet and all of its inhabitants. Flinders University is, of course, co-ed – men and women are around in equal measures, interacting with each other in every instance, studying in the same areas, and all opportunities are equal.

Or, so we believe.

Sadly, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that this is a pretty superficial smokescreen to conceal what is actually occurring within the halls and classrooms of this institution, and most likely, within the walls of many other educational institutions. It seems that we just cannot escape the stranglehold that chauvinism, sexism and raunch culture has on our society – not even at university. It seems that my money is good enough for them, as is the money of all potential female students who want to study there, but it would seem that we are still just not worthy of equal treatment, because we are female, and the judging criteria and rules are therefore different.

I have often wondered why so many of the young people I have encountered at Flinders University are either utterly ignorant about the history of the feminist movement and the relevance that it still has today, or who just think that feminism is a big old joke – a bunch of women who are just jealous of the physical attributes of other women, and therefore have an irrational hatred of men because they want the same kind of attention that men give to the women who’s physical qualities they secretly covet. The reason for this lack of knowledge in the area is simple – because, nowadays, everywhere they go, they are faced with the idea that women ARE just objects, despite anything else they might have heard. This underhanded reinforcement of these offensive and totally archaic ideals are EVERYWHERE, including, it appears, in our educational institutions.

I almost found myself confronting the poor woman at the desk in that office, because I could not believe what I was seeing. I could not believe that, in 2011, in a UNIVERSITY, a place where people have the formative experiences that will then form their character, such a thing would be deemed appropriate. I could not believe that a female sits in that office every day with this in her eye-line. Hanging on this noticeboard, in the paramedics office, where students who are learning to become medical professionals responsible for the lives of their charges go to speak to the people in charge of their educations – a photograph of a young man in a paramedic uniform, grinning, surrounded by surrounded by about 8 large-breasted, fake tanned, hair-extensioned women in bikinis, posing suggestively, below a sign that said : “PARAMEDICS: THE PERKS OF THE JOB!”

I wish I was joking. I wish that the consistent message that women are there to be objectified and men are there to be celebrated was all in my imagination. Sadly, it isn’t. It is everywhere, including in our educational environment.

The most ironic thing about this was that, if you consider what it actually takes to become a paramedic, the sheer strength of both will and body, compassion, care, the desire to help others, the intelligence and willingness to work extremely hard to both get into the program in the first place, to succeed in the program, and then to succeed in the work force – what do the female paramedics think about this message, that a perk worth mentioning was not, you will save lives, but, you might get to meet a whole lot of women in bikinis? They may as well directly be told that, sure, they can stick around and complete their studies and become fully qualified medical professionals, but they will never be truly respected until they strip off and oil up and pout for the camera or pout for some actual men. Because, obviously, that is what liberated women do – they don’t pretend they can be equal to the men around them by training for the same job. They know better.

Don’t get me wrong, there was another image, to show the perks of the job for a female paramedic – she gets to meet a male sporting personality! And, it gets even better – he will be a fully clothed male sporting personality, who will stand beside her in a photograph that only shows their faces and shoulders.

This is a representation of the problem in essence: many people CANNOT TELL the difference between the messages portrayed in these photos. This is why feminism has been swept under the rug in our society, this is why so many people are totally ignorant of what the actual reality is for women in our society today, this is why so many females feel that the only way to be validated is to pose and be sexy and become something desirable, instead of being the person who desires, and why that often manifests subconsciously. Because this message is EVERYWHERE. And it is shameful. No wonder everybody buys into it, if this is the message given to them at the university they are attending in order to get an education and move into a related area of work. I notice these things because I am actively looking for them, in the hopes that I can affect some sort of change – they are often so underhanded and almost invisible that I can easily understand how somebody would absorb them without actually deconstructing them first, hence the issue – people are not stopping to think about what they are actually seeing, and consequently, they have no idea about what is happening in the world around them.

The female paramedic gets to stand next to a man, a celebrity sportsman, which automatically takes the focus off her because he is the famous one. However, the male paramedic gets to stand in the centre of frame, surrounded by a harem of nameless, almost naked women with bulging breasts and oiled skin. The males in both photos are in the position of power in the situations. The women, on the other hand, are still only good enough to stand beside a powerful man and have a photograph taken, whether they be in a paramedics uniform or in a bikini.

Herein lies the paradox: this is sending out an EXTREMELY clear message about the values of our society, and yet a lot of people simply cannot see it. And, if they do see it, they dismiss it, because they look around them and see women who appear to be equal to men, which reinforces this notion that feminism is over because it has achieved its ultimate goal: equality between the sexes.

But, how would the parents of the young women enrolled in paramedics feel if they knew that this was on public display in the OFFICE of the people in charge of their children’s education and well-being whilst at university? Do we want our daughters to exist in this world? What about our sisters? Female friends? Romantic partners? How would people react if this poster was hanging up in a high school, or even a primary school? The eighteen year olds who finish year 12 and go straight to university are NOT adults. They NEED guidance and support from the environment around them. What is the difference between an 18 year old at a university and an 18 year old at a high school? Aside from a few pieces of paper and a location change, there isn’t one. The assumption that ANYBODY will reach a certain age, the magical age of adulthood (whatever that is these days), and automatically know right from wrong, despite the fact that they are bombarded daily with a conflicting message from the media and society, is ludicrous. There is a direct correlation between theory and practise – when the theory says one thing, no matter how unethical, immoral or illogical it is, the practise will NOT automatically become subversive. The media, advertising and all of those delightful things are still only concerned with ‘selling’ these bizarre and false stereotypes of what it means to be a woman or a man in our world, and while ANY of these messages are still being sold to us, the problem will still exist.

At a co-ed university, where men and women are taught the same things, they still feed us society’s message: at the end of the day, women are objects, whether they are practical or ornamental. They might be in the same classes as males, learning the same things, they might be smarter, they might produce better work, but at the end of the day, they are really only just there as a novelty. On the surface we pretend that we are equal, but right below the surface, not even hidden, is this second message. We will placate the feminists by allowing women into this university, but woe betide them if they think that they are truly equal to men.

I don’t know who put the picture up there. I don’t know what gender they were. I don’t know who wrote the chauvinistic sexist message to go along with it. I don’t even know if they REALISE what is offensive and inappropriate about it. I think that is the part that scares me the most, that there are people EVERYWHERE without the knowledge or even the bloody common sense to differentiate between a woman being objectified and a woman being celebrated.

And if you think that I don’t want to be one of the women in that first photo, you’re 100% right. I don’t want to expose my body for attention or put on a show of cartoonish stereotypical female sexuality to get attention, from males or otherwise. I prefer to attempt to gain respect and validation based on things with actual substance. But I also don’t want to be the woman in the second photo – the smart, educated, trained woman, at a level within her career equal to that of the men around her, who is still reduced to standing to the side of a ‘powerful’ man in a photograph, with a plaque that proclaims that this is her ‘perk’, her reward, for all her hard work and skill.

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Day 5 – 14 years later (and a note to the young women in my life)

This has a slight trigger warning, so take care when reading.

He was an incredibly powerful man.. 14 years later the thought of what today, a day that marks the beginning of my life, a cause for celebration, has come to represent, still manages to physically reduce my now adult body to shakes and my mind to less than functional.   my desk at work was covered with flowers and birthday cards, my housemates made me breakfast,  my facebook wall and twitter feed are full of well wishes.  I have yet to reclaim them as anything other than reminders of a day I really cant, but want to, forget.  

On this day, November the 29th 1997,  I had friends from our neighbourhood  over and had volunteered to clean up our mess while mum returned them home.  We were just children, really. We knew absolutely nothing about anything but pretended we had all the knowledge we needed about everything. I think back on what life was like then. It was a voyage, from school, to drama and dance groups, to creative writing lessons and choir.  It was relatively simple. Except for the shadows my stepfather cast on the walls, the way he would loom over us with the ever present danger of something happening… And on that day, when we were alone, it did… he raped me.. I don’t remember the actual event in great detail, and if i did those details would most likely not be divulged here, but what I do remember is the violence, the anger, the brutality and the absolute sadistic disregard he had then, and continues to have, for my life, my personhood, and my rights as a young person.  It was then that  my whole world began to be shaped, my fragile sense of self was cracked, and is only now, at the age of 28 being rebuilt.  I equated men with exploitation, and developed a disdain for those in any sense of authority.  The police couldn’t help me, he was one of them.    So i learned, from that day, the only person I could rely on was me.  Even though my mind was fragmented, cut up into a thousand pieces, it was still mine. I used it to survive.  But even as smart as I was, I couldn’t help but feel I now had a secret. A secret that wasn’t shared with the girls i went to school with, a secret that set me apart from them.  It wasn’t untill 14 years later, I have begun to realize my power. My dignity, my human rights.  This is not the way any child’s life should have to be shaped, and for as long as I continue to live, I’m going to try and make sure we’re looking out for the people in our lives that cannot speak up for themselves. 

I’d like to end with a note to the young women I have met, as a professional, activist, writer and friend.  If this is happening to you, understand that there are people out there who will respect, believe, and listen to whatever you choose to tell them. Your lives, souls, minds, and rights are of vital importance, way too important to be surrendered to anyone. You, most of all, as bad as you feel on the inside, are beautiful, powerful, and full of dignity.

Day 4 – On her own terms – telling, appropriation, and reclaiming our experiences.

since may i’ve been editing a zine for survivors of sexual assault with an amazing friend Kate Ravenscroft. We greatly underestimated the impact of the project on the people that contributed.  We recieved over 50 contributions and beyond both deadline dates still had people clamouring to submit.  Everyone that I’ve spoken to has told me of the way in which they felt once they disclosed their experience, often for the first time,  it was no longer theirs. The medical, legal, and psychological professions and media  for whatever good intentioned reason, have  effectively contributed to a re-silencing and appropriation of our voices, and often retraumatized many of the people they claim to support.  The moment someone comes forward, her story is almost automatically wrested from her, to be scrutinized, cross examined, medicalised,  analyzed, believed, and often disbelieved.  In no other crime do our accounts of events get taken from us so often and with such force, leaving the very people the crimes have affected almost invisible.  So many times I have heard the sentence  “it (usually in reference to the criminal justice system)  is like being raped all over again”.

It is vital that survivors are given every opportunity to not only tell their stories, but  have them heard the way in which they want to be heard, and told the way they want to be told. At every step of the way our perspectives need to be considered. If we choose not to or are incapable of speaking up for ourselves, adequately trained advocates must be readily at hand to explain to whoever the appropriate bodies are the experiences we may have, or the way in which a situation impacts on us.  Our stories don’t belong to anyone BUT us,  they are not media sensation, or fodder for inappropriate cross examination.  They are not to be minimized, trivialized or ignored.  Reclaiming our experiences, using them for strength and growth can only happen if the people who claim to be our allies take a serious interest in being our allies, and know that with that comes an immense responsibility.

I think the role that creativity plays is immense.  For me, true agency over my own experience has come through being able to put it into words.  For some, words are inadequate, and visual art or music has been vital to taking back power.  For some, it’s media work, putting the perspectives of survivors on television, on the radio, and in print.  For others it’s been technology that’s allowed them to voice their views. there are many blogs that focus specifically on surviving, along with internet forums that offer support in getting through.  However we do it,  it’s vital that it’s done on our terms and in a way that gives us maximum agency. 

For more info on we will not go quietly – a zine for sexual assault survivors go to www.wewillnotgoquietly.wordpress.com or email wewillnotgoquietlyzine@gmail.com

the wonderful Kate Ravenscroft who is also blogging during these two weeks can be found at  www.16impacts.wordpress.com.

Tomorrow, a really significant anniversary in which i try explain what it’s like for younger women to survive abuse during childhood.

Day 3 – Featured Post – An Open Letter to Jackie O

i found this on the amazing  everythingisedible.com.  For those of you not know  Australian radio networks are currently coming under fire for the recent  comments of Kyle Sandilands on Sydney’s 2day FM station.  He stated he would “hunt down” a “fat slag”  female journalist who didn’t like his new show. This comes not two years after Sandilands was censured for  quizzing a 14 year old sexual assault victim about her sexual history as part of an on air stunt.  At this stage, Kyle  is still employed by the network, although the network is coming under considerable pressure from advertisers who have pulled their sponsorship whilst he is still on air.

  This letter is to Kyle’s co host, Jackie – who has failled dismally to speak out when given the opportunity  and has in fact enabled the vile misogyny to continue.. She has completely enabled this man. It also comes as a timely reminder that we must consider threats of violence as actual violence, regardless of whether the threat is “followed through”   believing someone will do you harm, or slandering your reputation, appearance or profession is just as harmful to the psyche as physical or sexual abuse.   Thankyou to Louisa for this great post and allowing me to feature it.  Again – head on over to everythingisedible.com and give the woman a peruse for your pleasure!

Dear Jackie O,

I’ve been watching the discussion taking place on twitter today about the latest outburst of obscene behaviour from your co-host Kyle Sandilands; you know, how he called someone a “fat slag” and threatened to “hunt her down” because she didn’t like some TV show of yours the other night.

I admit I’ve never been a listener of your show, though I do remember you from back when your co-host was your ex husband, the equally vile “Ugly Phil”. The few moments of it I’ve caught have been enough to leave me disgusted, but clearly you’ve had good ratings and have been on air for some time now.

I could never understand why you wanted to work with such jerks, nor how your show stayed on air after your interviewed a 14 year old girl about her sexual experiences. It was bad enough you sat by and let that happen, but that you did nothing when you were told that she had been raped and Kyle proceeded to ask “so that’s the only experience you’ve had?” was truly disgusting. I do wonder if you have a new appreciation for just how terrible that was now that you’re a mother…

It leaves me very disappointed with humanity that so many people have kept tuning in and making your show viable.

But I get it. If you get ratings, then you get to stay on air.

What I haven’t been able to get is why you are still on air with Kyle. You’re very pretty and blonde and happy – we can all see that you don’t look like a nasty person. I’ve often wanted to ask you, to say in solidarity “hey love, do you really think this is a great idea? Don’t you realise that when you stay silent you condone his behaviour, don’t you realise you get tainted with the same brush?” But now I realise, you do know – you know exactly and you don’t care.

Of course we all see that when he says something shocking you do a little giggle and “try” to interject or lighten the mood but it’s pathetic, and your ongoing partnership with Kyle tells me is that you don’t give a shit about anyone or anything but yourself. It tells me that you’ll stick by Kyle and the network, because they are offering you what I can only imagine are the big bucks. I no longer wonder, like I have in the past, why you stick around because after listening to you laughing while Kyle called someone a “fat bitch” I know why.

What I don’t know is why noone else ever says this; why none of the mainstream media ever comment on your complicity in these events. I suspect it’s got to do with the aforementioned “pretty blonde” thing but I’m fed up.

I am not writing this because you’re a woman and you should show some solidarity, nor because you’re using the pretty blonde thing to scoot under the radar on these issues. I am writing this because as the co-host of the show you are the only other person with a voice and you’ve failed to use it.  Of course, Kyle is 100% responsible for his actions and comments but so are you. Your failure to speak up makes you equally guilty.

It’s not too late Jackie – it almost is, but you’ve probably got a chance left.

How are you going to use it?

Day 2 – When She Tells You ( For the men)

 As a man, learning that another man has hurt a woman you love, your sister, aunt, mother, cousin, best friend, colleague, or whom ever she is, can be one of the most heartbreaking, horrendous pieces of information.  It shakes the foundations of your masculinity.  It makes you question what it is to be a man in a culture that supports and enables male violence.    I am writing this post for you, in an understanding that we aren’t all predatory creatures, that there are good, trustworthy, understanding and compassionate people amongst us. And in that light – it is up to us to take the women we love, hear them, cradle them, acknowledge them, honour the strength it takes to speak up, and the toll revelations can take on their psyche.  Here’s some stuff, fellas. 🙂

1.  When she tells you – the first thing you should do is thank her… thank her for trusting you enough. For seeing the goodness in you… Because  every ounce of difficulty you have in hearing what she has to say is vastly outweighed by what she has experienced and the impact it has on her.

2.  When she tells you –  she isn’t asking for you to “fix” the problem, solve it or change it in any way.   Men, in the most part, are creatures of action. We like to change, fix, solve,  even out of the most compassionate places.  This cannot be done.  When she tells you, she is looking for your support, nothing else.

3. When she tells you – check your reaction..  Don’t talk over her, interrupt her,  disbelieve her,   minimize her, invalidate her, make her situation worse.  This in many ways is a replication of what she suffered and how society will treat her as she chooses to come forward further.   Anger is also understandable, but it isn’t helpful. If you need to process your feelings, there are places that can help you, but this is not a time for your opinions or beliefs.

4. When she tells you – tell her you love her unconditionally.  The most overwhelming feeling for someone experiencing these problems, is shame, is a belief that they will never be good enough for anyone ever again.  she needs you to make her feel validated, understood, and most of all, good enough. This will be an ongoing process, and you need to be absolutely present for all of it as hard as it is.

5.  When she tells you – understand where her experience comes from, and try to do something about it.   Violence against women is a manifestation of the power dynamic between sexes.  Think about how power plays out in your own life. How do you treat the women in your life? how do you express power in your workplace, family, school,  or social setting.  This is extremely confronting, but absolutely neccesary, not only for her,  but to work towards a world without the problems she’s experiencing.

for the  blokes: if you are concerned about your own violence – www.mensline.org.au 

if you are in Victoria  and wanting advice and support for a loved one  call the Centre Against Sexual Assault 24 helpline on 1800 806 292   or  Nation wide family violence and sexual assault helpline 1800 737 732

Why I’m Blogging to Eliminate Violence Against Women

if you have met me, drunk a  beer with me, sung a song or written a poem with me, slept in my bed, been my friend or colleague  – you have experienced life with a survivor of childhood sexual abuse and abuse in adulthood.

Almost 14 years ago, on my 14th birthday, I became part of the growing number of young girls and women who experience violence.  I knew him,  he was my stepfather, a prominent police officer. He was largely respected, trusted and admired.. No one knew the secrets that were kept behind the closed doors of our home and continued to be perpetrated for almost five years.  The police, some years later, concluded too much time had passed and there was a lack of evidence to sustain a criminal trial.  He is still subject to a South Australian Police internal re-investigation after it was initially found there was not sufficient evidence to warrant him losing his job. He was demoted one rank and suspended for 12 months while the case is re-investigated.  He still remains married to my mother. 

 The impact of trauma on my life is far reaching and indescribable…  There is not an area of my life that abuse hasn’t touched – even the city i live in, the ability to remain close to my supportive family members, has been compromised.   I have had to re-establish my life in a new place, something I did not choose or desire, but found neccesarry if i was to live according to my full potential.  I  experience everything from crippling anxiety and depression, to intrusive thoughts, self harm and flashbacks,  I have been in hospital several times, attempted suicide and come extremely close to suceeding on more than one occasion.

Last  year. I was also physically and sexually assaulted. whilst in drag.   It was an event that shook my very fragile sense of identity  and one that I cannot really talk about in any depth without becoming upset   But being the victim of a hate crime has lead me to realize that as a newly identifying person of gender diversity we have a role to play in promoting an end to violence against women.  This series of blogs will contain articles specifically relating to hate crimes, my experience of them and the impact of gender based violence on transwomen.  We cannot under any circumstances ignore the fact that many campaigns do not take into account the fact that transwomen are almost twice as likely as their non trans counterparts to be targeted for violence be  because of their gender (or transgender as it would be)  I have the absolute priviledge as a trans man of being able to bring this to light.. and I absolutely promise to do so.

I am blogging because it’s too fucking important to be kept in dark any longer.. I have the honour of bearing witness to so many women’s brave struggles. Stories that I hold in my heart and as a newly identifying male, promise not to perpetuate, but to use the gifts I have been given to eradicate.

White Ribbon Day – or.. violence against women is not a bandwagon. don’t jump on it.

DISCLAIMER WITH A CAPITAL D… Before you accuse me of being unsupportive of anti violence initiatives please know i support this initiative wholeheartedly.  i support ANY cause that pushes violence against women out into the mainstream, and actually makes people take notice of it.  What i don’t like is below.

Matthew Newton was charged with assaulting and stalking his girlfriend Rachel Taylor last year. He escaped jail but was forced into rehab for drug and alcohol issues and mandatory counselling for bipolar disorder.  He has now given media interviews on A current Affair, and has front page copy in several prominent Melbourne papers today.  This is the same media who gave prominence to Andew Lovett during his trial for rape in a way that continually demeaned and undermined the integrity of his victim. This seems to be the general modus operandi for the media when reporting sexual assault trials especially involving prominent men.   Media outlets are also huge supporters of white ribbon day – Amnesty International’s day for the elimination of violence against women.  I find this massively hypocritical and inappropriate.  If you truly supported an end to violence against women, you would change the way you report stories and give equal opportunity for victims to come forward with their story.  I have not heard one media outlet give Rachel Taylor the chance to tell her side of the story, nor Andrew Lovett’s victim, nor any survivor of violence against women. 

The AFL and NRL  also have encouraged their players to show support for White Ribbon Day and pledge not to commit violence against women, or remain silent on the issue. Great PR campaign lads, but what about taking to task the numerous players within the AFL that have been responsible for committing these crimes.  It is grossly inappropriate to be an apologist for rape on one hand, and a supporter of anti violence on the other.  This is in no way suggesting that every man who’s ever strapped on a pair of boots is a rapist or a woman beater, but there have been several incidences, particularly in AFL that have shown a distinctly misogynist trend in the higher ranks of that institution, one that allows the practices of some of is players to continue with relative impunity.  It is fine for individual players to make the changes in their own consciousness but if those changes are not being supported by the organization they work for (professional sport is that, a business) then it means shit, and anything else that happens is inappropriate.

Similarly hypocritical is the wearing of the white ribbon by members of parliament.  The current state government of Victoria is in the process of slashing funding to women’s services and has deprioritized funding for social workers and domestic violence counsellors… this is not the sign of a government that wants to do the right thing by people affected by this massive social problem.  It is the sign of a government that is obsessed with image and the need to be seen to act, whilst the actions it takes are furthering the damage done.   Also somewhat ironic, is the fact that Ballieu’s law and order platform, including mandatory sentencing for “violent crimes” apply more to the destruction of property, consumption of alcohol and “street crime” than those who commit violence against women and children.  There has been very little meaningful law reform in the area of violence against women.  I feel the same way about this as i do about poppy wearing politicians who send our young men and women into unneccesary wars.  it makes a mockery of an extremely serious issue.

What I am getting at,  is that if the institutions of our society were serious about doing something about this problem, it would extend far beyond a symbolic gesture once a year and we would all look at the way in which we function as a society, the culture we live in that deprioritizes violence against women, relegates it to something that is only important once a year.  It is way too important a cause to be trivialized by institutions that have records of harm.    Wear the ribbon, but also pledge to change society, all year around, and make sure your elected officials, sporting clubs, and anyone you know, does the same. If they don’t,  they are not your allies. Not one bit.