Via Womanist Musings: Men’s rights advocate Glenn Sacks has gotten some press for protesting these ads, which were created by The Family Place and were displayed on buses in Dallas through November 30:
(Image description: The image shows a boy, perhaps 5-7 years old. The boy is wearing a striped shirt and smiling at the viewer. The text of the ad says “When I grow up, I will beat my wife. Men who witnessed domestic violence as children are twice as likely to abuse their wives. Break the cycle of domestic violence.” The first letter of the text is a child’s wooden block toy with the letter “W” carved on its surface. The ad also includes contact information for The Family Place.)
(Image description: The image shows a girl, perhaps 4-7 years old. The girl is wearing a pink dress and a toy princess crown. The text of the ad says “One day my husband will kill me. Girls who grow up in households with domestic violence are more likely to end up with abusive partners. Break the cycle of domestic violence.” The first letter of the text is an illuminated letter “O” in the style of an illuminated manuscript or a children’s fairy tale book with old-fashioned illustrations. The ad also includes contact information for The Family Place.)
From the Dallas News:
“The calls [for help and support] are coming more than we can handle,” Paige Flink, executive director of the nonprofit, told me yesterday. “That’s what we intended to happen.”
What Ms. Flink didn’t intend is happening just as quickly – an international backlash caused by a Los Angeles-based “men’s and fathers’ issues columnist,” Glenn Sacks, who blogs for the Massachusetts-based Fathers & Families nonprofit advocacy group.
Mr. Sacks is spearheading a campaign to get DART and The Family Place to yank the ads, saying they stereotype men as batterers and women as just victims of domestic violence.
“I think it’s over the top,” Mr. Sacks said in a phone interview. “And I think it is insulting.”
The Family Place created three ads,1 all depicting female victim / male abuser situations. I wish they had done a fourth ad showing a boy child as a future victim. Men are a minority of victims of intimate violence, but “minority” doesn’t mean “nonexistent.” There are male victims of intimate violence who require assistance, and there seems to be virtually no outreach to abused men. (The Family Place provides assistance to both female and male victims of violence.)
But the best evidence we have indicates that most intimate violence — and in particular, the most severe and harmful cases — are typically cases of men abusing women. Given that context, it’s ridiculous that Glenn objects to the depiction of women suffering from male abusers. It’s notable that Glenn didn’t work to have a new ad added to the campaign, reaching out to male victims of abuse; that’s a goal I could support. Instead, he campaigned to have these ads removed. Whatever his intent, what Glenn’s demands called for wasn’t inclusion of male victims, but the erasure of female victims and male perpetrators.
Glenn assumes it’s an insult to fathers for domestic violence awareness ads to even implicitly talk about male violence against women. But why should fathers be insulted? The ads don’t claim, or even imply, that all fathers are abusers.
It doesn’t appear that Glenn attempted — or even considered — a more productive approach before he began grandstanding. Before demanding that the Dallas buses take down ads that might genuinely help raise awareness of domestic violence against women — and might even save a life — Glenn could have instead have contacted The Family Place and offered to help raise funds to help pay for a fourth ad intended to reach out to male victims of intimate violence. Instead, Glenn and other men’s rights advocates (MRAs for short) specifically attacked The Family Place’s funding:
A sub-group of our protesters who I selected called over 50 of The Family Place’s financial contributors to express our concerns about the ads. […] Several of The Family Place’s financial contributors withdrew or reduced the financial gifts they planned for the end-of-the-year giving season. I don’t say this with pleasure–I would have preferred that The Family Place do the right thing from the beginning rather than lose the funding.
Actions talk louder than words, Glenn. You specifically targeted The Family Place’s funding (although, as we’ll see in a future post, you didn’t succeed). This “I don’t say this with pleasure” plea is the worse sort of responsibility-dodging.
Glenn could have acted constructively. Glenn could have at least suggested that his readers give some money to The Family Place to make up for the funding damage Glenn claims they’ve caused. Instead, Glenn suggests his readers give money to Glenn, so that Glenn can organize more swell protests like this in the future.
That Glenn never attempted a constructive approach is telling. It’s typical of MRAs, most of whom are passionate about attacking feminism, and attacking people working to help victims of abuse and rape, but indifferent to helping male victims. Imagine if all the energy and time MRAs have put into bashing, hating, and attacking feminists for the last twenty years could be taken back and instead invested into building institutions that could help male victims of rape and abuse. Wouldn’t that be wonderful?
This is the first in a short series of posts about the anti-feminist attack on The Family Place. Future posts will include never-before-published quotes from The Family Place’s Paige Flink, an examination of Glenn Sack’s statistical claims, more on how a constructive MRA movement would act, and explaining why Glenn’s protest actually didn’t accomplish much.
By the way, after talking to Paige Flink, I was very impressed by The Family Place. For decades, they’ve done good work to help victims of violence, regardless of sex. They should be encouraged and supported, not protested.
To donate to The Family Place, click here. Please let me know in comments or via email if you’ve donated to The Family Place because of what you’ve read on “Alas.” At the end of the week, “Alas” will match contributions made by “Alas” readers.2 So in a way, your contribution this week is worth double.