Yukoners unite on Facebook against violence

The Yukon government is using social media to ask Yukoners to work together to end violence against women. The Am I the Solution? campaign wants people to think about how their own actions.

The Yukon government is using social media to ask Yukoners to work together to end violence against women.

The Am I the Solution? campaign wants people to think about how their own actions, beliefs or judgments might contribute to a culture where violence is possible.

“It really is to get the average Yukon guy to change his mind about thinking that he is probably not a part of this because he’s not involved in any act of violence at all against women,” said Margriet Aasman, who worked on the creative design of the campaign.

Julie Menard with the territory’s women’s directorate said that the campaign focuses specifically on non-violent men because they have an important role to play in spreading the message to other men who are or might become violent.

“It’s to break that silence and make people talk about it and feel, ‘Well maybe if I just teach my son to respect his girlfriend, I did something.’”

The campaign uses posters, radio ads and print ads to encourage Yukoners to visit its Facebook page.

There, people can submit a photo of themselves to be sketched by a local artist with the caption, “Am I the Solution?” Participants are then invited to use the portrait as their profile picture.

Aasman said that the idea of asking regular people to have themselves sketched emerged spontaneously through the design process.

“As we started to draw these characters that would represent that target audience, we thought, ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be cool if Yukoners could see themselves as part of this?’”

The social aspect of the campaign is a key part of making change, said Menard.

“By asking people to send their picture and get their picture sketched, and using it on their Facebook page, it sends a strong message to the rest of their friends that this problem is there, and I am against it, and I think we should all work together and do something.”

On Facebook anyone can see a gallery of all the sketches done so far. As of Wednesday morning 45 portraits had been posted.

If you roll your mouse over one of the faces, a fact about the person comes up as a caption.

“Bacon is my favourite flavour.”

“I’m a husband and a father.”

On the main page, organizers and participants alike share statistics, websites, videos and words of encouragement. The variety of materials reflects the loosely defined focus of the campaign itself.

Despite the best efforts of the organizers, women are participating much more actively in this campaign on Facebook. The vast majority of the people posting to the page and signing up to be sketched appear to be female.

Some men, however, have received the message.

Dan Bushnell, who owns Molotov and Bricks Tattoo in Whitehorse, was one of the first to get his portrait sketched.

The way the campaign addresses everyone appeals to him.

“We’re always convincing ourselves that there’s nothing we can do or that someone else will do it. [The campaign is] directly asking people in the community to participate in being a solution within their own community.”

To Bushnell, it is obvious that we must address men in order to confront violence against women, since they are the main perpetrators of that violence.

Already, Bushnell said he has seen many of his friends using their sketched portrait as a profile photo.

“We all acknowledge the power of social media, and I think it’s important that we start using it as a source of good instead of just of source of gossip,” he said.

Although his tattoo shop’s name may give some people pause, Bushnell said that its message is essentially anti-violent.

“I see it more as a statement about working against oppression, an empowering statement about everyone being able to fight back with the tools they have at hand.”

Margriet Aasman is also one of the two artists doing the sketching for the campaign. She says that spending time looking at and drawing the faces of Yukoners has been a lot of fun.

“You start to draw people, and you start to realize that basically we’re all the same. We all have two eyes, a nose, a mouth, ears. We have all the human elements. But when you try to draw someone and you try to make it like their portrait, you look for what’s unique in each person and try and pull that out.”

She said that her experience as an artist has reinforced the message of the campaign.

“It’s just been a really neat experience because I see the sameness and I see equality amongst all of them, and yet there’s something unique about each,” Aasman said.

Contact Jacqueline Ronson at

jronson@yukon-news.com

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