“Coaching Boys Into Men” NY Domestic Violence Campaign Seen as “Boybashing” by Men’s Rights Group

Here’s the print ad. What do you think? Orangeboy_sm

The men’s activist group The New York Coalition of Fathers and Families recently staged a protest against the ads, which are sponsored by New York’s Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence. The ads will appear in print, and in TV and radio spots throughout the state.

Some people recognize that domestic violence awareness efforts and aid services routinely fail to target male victims. Jan Brown, Founder and Executive Director of the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women, works daily to provide support to, and raise awareness about, male victims of domestic abuse. (Although interestingly, the organization targets heterosexual couples only. Men abused by women.) See Comments.

The critics of these ads, however, seem motivated by open aggression and hate. The ads may focus on domestic abuse against women specifically, but they persecute no one. The NY Coalition of Fathers and Families accuses the ads of painting all men as abusive by default.

Radio commentator Glenn Sacks writes that

if it really were a “Domestic Violence Public Awareness Media Campaign,” we’d be made aware that women are just as likely to attack their male partners as vice versa, but any mention of that is strictly verboten.

He neglects to back up his claims with any statistics. I guess we take him at his word…

But more than that, there are lots of ways to disrespect women. Demeaning, shaming, and destructive behavior occurs every day in the absence of physical violence. Yet the protesters seem unaware or unconvinced of this concept, at least judging by the comments to Sacks’ post.

And the ad doesn’t try to peg boys as necessarily destructive toward women. Will a boy necessarily avoid vegetables? Play with matches? Neglect his homework? No, but he might. Especially if the behavior is common in his environment and no one talks to him about the importance of these issues.

Yes, the ad could have said “respect others,” or “respect the opposite sex,” or “respect those with whom you’re in a relationship.” It didn’t. It focused on female domestic abuse, yet in doing so it didn’t attack or degrade men.

I mean really, a protest? I know that courts are skewed toward women when it comes to divorce and child custody. I personally know men who suffer from these kinds of injustice. But picking a fight over ads that teach respect is about as helpful to men’s rights as NOW‘s New York chapter accusing Ted Kennedy of “the ultimate betrayal” (for endorsing Barack over Hillary) is to women’s rights.  It’s ill-intended, counter-productive, and just plain embarrassing.

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8 Responses to ““Coaching Boys Into Men” NY Domestic Violence Campaign Seen as “Boybashing” by Men’s Rights Group”

  1. I Am a Man Says:

    Facts: http://pn.psychiatryonline.org/cgi/content/full/42/15/31-a

    Want 200 more peer reviewed studies? How about the facts from the CDC?

  2. vintagefan Says:

    I don’t think the ad works, but not from the MRA’s standpoint. It gives the impression that these boys need to be filed up and taught old school catholic teacher style, with some old teacher wagging a finger at them. And the photograph of the kid looks robotic to me. That’s precisely the sort schoolish attitude that brings about revulsion and rebellion in the kids and probably the parents as well. ‘Awaiting instructions’? They’re not helpless mindless robots, they’re individuals and every time they indulge in an act of violence they have a choice not to. And the ‘coaching’ bit as well. I mean aren’t they supposed grow up and be men? Eat your vegetables? How can they put that in the same category as disrespecting women? I think the ad is unimaginative and they can do better.

  3. Jan Brown Says:

    I would like to correct a statement made above about the Domestic Abuse Helpline for Men and Women. You said, “(Although interestingly, the organization targets heterosexual couples only. Men abused by women.)”
    We specialize in offering supportive services to heterosexual males abused by females, however, our services are not targeted to heterosexual couples only. We have and will continue to offer supportive services to all who call our crisis line. Interestingly, since adding the word “Women” to our name in 2005 more female victims of male and female battering call our line.
    We have collaborated with agencies that work exclusively to end dv in the LGBT community as well. Unlike many battered women’s programs in the country who tell men, “Sorry we don’t help men,” you will never hear, “Sorry we don’t help women, gay men or transgender individuals come out of our helpline advocates mouths.
    Sincerely, Jan Brown

  4. blackbirdwoja Says:

    Vintagefan,

    I agree that the ads miss the mark a bit. These types of things are always taught better by example than lecture anyway. I think the “eat your vegetables” is meant to convey respecting women as a basic behavior, not a trivial one.

    While I have a hard time finding the ads offensive on any level, I do recognize that they could have been better conceived. However, like I wrote about Amnesty’s campaign on FGM, though the campaign itself fell short, any awareness raising was a positive thing.

    Julie

  5. blackbirdwoja Says:

    Jan,

    I’m glad you clarified. I was drawing my assumption from the browser head “Men in Abusive Relationships with Women.” I made a correction to my text. Men suffering or recovering from abuse of any kind is under-recognized in our culture. I think you’re doing important work.

    Julie

  6. blackbirdwoja Says:

    I Am A Man,

    Actually, yes. If you have 200 (or even several) peer reviewed studies indicating that domestic violence is perpetrated against men as often as it is against women, I would definitely like to read them.

    Julie

  7. dianeca Says:

    All abuse is wrong, and not all men are abusers. I don’t thnk men or boys should be targeted as ‘the bad guys!’ Thanks for bringing the ad to light, I hadn’t seen it.

  8. vintagefan Says:

    I noticed people noticing the ads. If one thing works then it’s the words and the fact does it does catch one’s eye.

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