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The first Thursday in March has been White Ribbon Day in Massachusetts for the past seven years – a  day for celebrating healthy masculinity and pledging to end violence against women. March 6th, 2014 was no different. On that day, a diverse group of artists, community leaders, government officials and men of varied backgrounds joined together at the State House to share their stories and renew their commitment to ending violence against women.

EOHHS Secretary John Polanowicz is joined at the podium by Craig Norberg-Bohm and Debra Robbin of Jane Doe Inc.

EOHHS Secretary John Polanowicz is joined at the podium by Craig Norberg-Bohm and Debra Robbin of Jane Doe Inc.

Presenters at the White Ribbon Day event included US Representative William Keating, Massachusetts House Speaker Robert DeLeo, Gary Gottlieb, MD, President and CEO of Partners HealthCare, and Reverend Ron Odom of the True Vine Church. Pages Matam, a spoken word poet, shared his powerful video Piñata, and a men’s health and theater program from UMass Amherst performed moving yet entertaining skits which illustrated the risks of participating in practices of traditional masculinity, like cat-calling.

Ben Kingston, a Bureau of Community Health & Prevention staff member who attended White Ribbon Day, described his reaction to the event. “I was impressed that this was the first time men had outnumbered women,” he said of the audience. “It was good to see. The White Ribbon movement is all about male participation, and understanding that domestic violence is not only a women’s issue, but a men’s issue, because men are the predominant perpetrators.”

Other attendees expressed how impactful it was to see so many men stand up and take the official White Ribbon Day pledge to commit to ending violence against women – a powerful moment which concluded the program.

Even if you missed the White Ribbon Day events at the State House, the effects of this consciousness-raising can still make a difference in your community.  Men and boys are vitally important contributors in the fight to end violence against women, and it’s never too late to dedicate yourself to the cause. Governor Deval Patrick, Chair of the campaign, explains that “the White Ribbon Day campaign is part of a global movement of men and boys who want to create a world without violence against women.”  You can see the Governor’s entire video message here.

Be a part of that very global movement by getting involved with your local sexual and domestic violence program. You can do this by signing up for Jane Doe, Inc.’s  Action Alerts, or simply talking to other men and boys in your life about why you care about these issues.

For those who attended, presented, or contributed to White Ribbon Day 2014, thank you so much for your commitment and efforts. We hope you find opportunities to apply the values of the White Ribbon Campaign throughout the year, and join us next March.

Written By:


an intern with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Survivor Services Unit

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