The latest campaign against violence against women features a favorite feminist propaganda technique – collective blame.
The current television advertisement carries a theme of “let’s blame or hold ALL men accountable” for something that’s really nasty. It also implies that all men cannot be trusted thereby requiring a national campaign for all men to swear an oath of good behavior.
What I’m referring to is the My Oath campaign that has run alongside the 2010 White Ribbon campaign in Australia. The White Ribbon (yet another addition to the collection of ribbons dedicated to women’s causes) represents a campaign against the Violence Against Women.
First off, I’ll just say that no sane, right-minded individual thinks that violence is OK – particularly when someone of greater strength is beating up on someone weaker, vulnerable or innocent – male or female.
This year’s campaign features a succession of men, full face in camera, each taking their turn at making an oath (below).
Here’s the transcript…
“All Aussie (Australian) men should swear…”,
“All dads and grandads should swear…”
“All sportsmen, all men in uniform, all comedians should swear.”
“My oath – I swear.”
(and now in a stern, condescending and instructional tone…)
“I swear, never to commit, never to excuse, and never to remain silent, about violence, against women”.
Hmmmm. Seems like ALL men are being held responsible for women getting beaten up. Nice.
Seriously, what does this advertisement seek to accomplish? Anyone who’s likely to stoop so low as to beat up someone innocent or vulnerable is hardly going to make an oath during a television break to change their ways.
(Meanwhile, prominent feminists have been advocating violence against men.)
Even if the abuser has a moment of remorse and repeats the words to the oath, do you really think that alone is going to stop a violent person from re-offending?
What’s worse is that the advertisement clearly broadcasts and reinforces the message that men cannot be trusted in this society. Why else would the advertisement emphasize that ALL MEN should swear?
This message probably doesn’t bother the thick-skinned among us (why would it, they’ll just ignore it while they’re getting ready to dish out another beating). But it’s really offensive to a whole lot of others. It reminds me of a (former) female friend who insisted that ALL men are potential rapists.
Let’s put another perspective on it. If you’re a parent of a young child then you probably love your child very much. In fact, most parents would sacrifice their own life for their child. Now imagine constantly being demanded to swear an oath that you’re not going to brutalize your child because, well, we just don’t trust you. Doesn’t seem like a big deal? What if you’re confronted with this mistrust and implied potential guilt every day? Perhaps you should make an oath not to abuse your child every time you collect your child from school – you know, just in case you get angry on your way home. That’s offensive, isn’t it?
Perhaps the most despicable crime of violence imaginable is that of child abuse. Why isn’t there any campaign against this? I think I may have seen an advertisement for a Kid’s Helpline a few times a year or so ago, but that’s all. It wasn’t even a campaign, and it wasn’t against child abuse – it was simply hoping that a child would understand that they could call for help after being abused!
Women’s campaigns of some sort, however, run pretty much every month – and then repeat the following year. Actually, more children suffer abuse at the hands of women than men so I think an “I swear not to harm my child” campaign targeted at ALL WOMEN would be appropriate.
If you go to the White Ribbon web site (associated with this My Oath campaign) you’ll see that they make some rather incredible claims. For example, they say that 1 in 3 women will be assaulted in her lifetime. Whoa! Really??? Are they seriously saying that 1 in 3 women will get beaten up by a man in our society? That’s the implication isn’t it? After all, why else are ALL MEN watching the advertisement being asked to swear an oath?
It appears that a wide range of types of incidents are being classified as ‘assault’ in such statistics – including “psychological harm”. Also, references on their site refer to many incidents that occur mostly in other countries, particularly third world countries, such as: honor killings, dowry-related matters, sex slave trade, circumcision (of girls, boys don’t count) and so on. Having read these references I can conclude two things: 1) the statistics are misleading and not accurate for our society where this campaign is being run 2) Using their criteria of ‘assault’, I would have to count myself as a victim of assault – and I’m sure that numerous other men would also be classified as having been assaulted. In fact, using this criteria, I could easily see “1 in 3 men will have been assaulted in his lifetime” as also being true.
Meanwhile I remember on the news last night, a innocent man was stabbed in the stomach while walking home from work. The night before, an elderly man was violently beaten in the street. An innocent boy was king-hit (blow to the head from behind) and hospitalized – oh, and these incidents happened locally, in this city – not overseas. We never hear about statistics of violence against men yet in western societies more men are victims of violent crime than women. Also the suicide rate is approximately 300% greater in men (the rate varies according to age group) – perhaps the result of suffering in silence.
In summary, this article is not trying to dismiss the real problem of domestic violence. The objection is to do with the useless manner in which it has been addressed in this particular campaign (which has been running all November, not just November 25). The campaign features a bunch of irrelevant men swearing to never do something they never would have done anyway, while repelling a lot of other men who may have been receptive to the message had they not been busy feeling mortified at being falsely accused. Collective blame never works.
UPDATE: The organizers of the White Ribbon Campaign had been informed that their statistics were wrong and that they were spreading false information. They took no action to correct their message. Ref: http://www.oneinthree.com.au/misinformation/