Jim Tredger: standing up to violence against women

On Wednesday, 25 November, Yukon NDP MLA Jim Tredger made the following statement to mark the beginning of the 12 Days to End Violence Against Women campaign:

As men and boys, we have a collective and ongoing responsibility to actively oppose all forms of violence against women. Sadly, systemic forms of gender-based violence are still ongoing problems.

In short, we need to call it like it is. That’s why the White Ribbon campaign, whose Yukon chapter supports the 12 Days to End Violence Against Women Campaign, is so important. The movement educates men and boys to challenge sexist and misogynistic language and behaviours as well as harmful ideas of manhood that lead to violence against women. We know what happens when men and boys remain silent about gender-based violence — the sexist joke that gets cracked by a man is not harmless. Women are still regular victims of assault, rape, harassment and abuse. Our culture of male permissiveness where men and boys remain silent in the face of gender violence and discrimination is an unacceptable reality.

As the father of three girls and working in the NDP caucus with four strong women, I am often startled by how they must constantly be aware of how uncomfortable or awkward or potentially dangerous situations can be. I am appalled by the pervasiveness of gender-based violence in our society. Just the other day, while at a business reception in Whitehorse, a young professional woman came over to stand beside me to avoid an unpleasant, awkward and unwelcome advance she had received in another part of the room. This year we were made aware of the harassment of women parliamentarians and staff in Ottawa. Far too often and for far too many women the need for constant vigilance is part of their daily reality.

I want to thank the brave and strong women in my life and in my community who have spoken out and taken time to educate me, who have described their experiences and shaken me from my ignorance. It is more important now than ever that men follow the example set by the White Ribbon campaign to confront gender violence committed by other men and support the women and girls in their lives. I look forward to seeing white ribbons on my male colleagues’ lapels in the days leading up to the December 6 International Day for the Elimination of Violence Against Women. But more importantly, I look forward to the day that the women in my life and in my Yukon community can go places, attend receptions and parties and walk in the woods with the same carefree sense of freedom that I, as a male, take for granted.