Thursday 28 November 2002

white ribbons

The other day, I was reminded of the fact that I used to wear a white ribbon this time of year every year since the Montreal Ecole Polytechnique massacre. This event had a signifant impact on me, not only because it was horrific, but because a week after the massacre, a man came into the video shop where I worked on a Saturday afternoon, pointed a gun at me, and told me to give him the money out of the til. I had only just moved to Montreal in May of that year, I was 20 years old, living alone, and had never seen a gun in real life. I didn't feel safe again for a long time after that.

Last week I thought I'd buy a piece of ribbon in a shop somewhere or find one of my Montreal ribbons (I think I still have one in a box somewhere) because even though I'm 3,000 miles away, I still want to remember the women who died. I went to the Body Shop in Cambridge a couple of days ago, and when I went up to the til, I noticed a box of white ribbons in front of me. I never realised that the white ribbon campaign was international, and I was so happy to put my pound coin in the box and take out a ribbon for myself.

Incidentally, I do not condone violence against anyone. I've heard the arguments that this campaign is discriminatory because it's against violence towards women only (no really, I have - more than once), but it's important to acknowledge why and how the white ribbon campaign began. This was started by a group of men to remember the women who were shot dead in what was supposed to be a safe place (their university) by a man who specifically stated that women ("feminists", actually) were the cause of his miserable life. So yes, it's about women this time. You can put the remaining 364 days of the year to good use, too.

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