A misogynist group is attempting to co-opt a well-known international campaign against domestic violence, setting up a fake website intended to confuse visitors who may be trying to donate to the cause.
The new website is attempting to divert supporters looking for the White Ribbon Campaign, a nonprofit group in Canada that engages men in the effort to stop intimate partner violence. It was founded in 1989 in response to the “Montreal Massacre,” in which a 25-year-old gunman shouted “You’re all a bunch of feminists, and I hate feminists!” before opening fire and killing 14 female students. Since then, the White Ribbon movement has spread to other countries like Scotland and Australia. It also has a relatively popular Facebook page.
The real sites have international URLs, like www.whiteribbon.ca. The fake campaign, however, is hosted on www.whiteribbon.org — something that may trick Americans into thinking it’s the United States’ official chapter. There’s a fake Facebook account to go along with it.
The fake site urges people to be wary of “false White Ribbon initiatives” dedicated to addressing “violence against women,” telling them to donate to its group instead.
“There are numerous attempts by other entities to corrupt the message of the White Ribbon Initiative by inserting dishonest and sexist messages into this movement,” claims a post on the fake White Ribbon site. “Hopefully this message, and the other content on this website (which is provided to you by the world’s foremost experts on family violence), will help you see through the corruption and dishonesty being furthered by other programs.”
But the dishonesty is actually being furthered by www.whiteribbon.org itself. As reported by We Hunted The Mammoth, a blog dedicated to tracking anti-feminist online groups, the fake site was set up by A Voice For Men — an infamously misogynist forum dedicated to “men’s rights activists.” Indeed, when you click on the “One-Time Paypal Donation” button on the fake White Ribbon site, it leads to a donation page for A Voice For Men.
The men’s rights movement believes that feminism harms men, and is primarily fueled by resentment over the women’s rights movement. That’s why MRAs take issue with the real White Ribbon Campaign, which seeks to challenge “harmful ideas of manhood that lead to violence against women.” A Voice For Men’s fake site makes it clear that this framing is offensive to them, writing that “family violence is a serious problem that knows no gender” and “we cannot address this complicated, critical problem by pointing the finger at one sex as the default perpetrator and at another sex as the default victim.”
But the members of A Voice For Men — which has been designated as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center — aren’t simply interested in a conversation about how violence affects both men and women. They have a well-documented history of manipulating facts, accusing feminists of encouraging domestic violence to make money, and even making violent threats against women.
A Voice For Men’s announcement about the fake site inspired several responses along these lines. We Hunted The Mammoth documented just a few of them. “If I had the power and I could, I would arrest every single white feather wielding coward, strip them of all their female clothing, put them in army greens and send them directly to the front line to have their heads blown apart by high powered bullets or shrapnel. Or they can watch as their female friends get their bodies blown into many parts by a bomb of some sort,” one commentor wrote.
Others expressed excitement about diverting funds from the original White Ribbon Campaign. “All money I was going to pledge to the White Ribbon Campaign to stop violence against only women will now be directed to the AVfM campaign to stop violence against women, men, and CHILDREN,” one wrote.
In the 25 years since A White Ribbon Campaign was first founded, the issue of misogynistic attitudes fueling violence against women has hardly gone away. Just a few months ago, there was a mass shooting in Santa Barbara that echoed some aspects of the Montreal Massacre — gunman Elliott Rodger, who was active in men’s rights communities, went on a shooting spree against “blonde sluts” as retribution for the women he say rejected him. That tragedy, which killed six people, sparked a national conversation about the everyday violence that women experience.
The real White Ribbon Campaign has responded with a statement on its website, calling the fake site “vile” and “misguided.” “White Ribbon will continue to stand beside the thousands of women’s organizations around the world who see feminism as an all-encompassing effort to realize equality,” the group’s executive director, Todd Minerson, writes. “Allies and supporters: do not to be fooled by this copycat campaign. We are exploring all of our options, but we will not be engaging with this group in a public screaming match. They can remain a shrill minority.”