Anti-Feminists protest domestic violence awareness ads in Dallas

(Note: I wrote three posts on the anti-feminist attack on The Family Place: One Two Three.)

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.

  1. One ad I didn’t reproduce at the top of this post, since Glenn isn’t protesting that one. All three ads can be seen on this page at The Family Place’s website. []
  2. Up to a maximum total of $800. []
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113 Responses to Anti-Feminists protest domestic violence awareness ads in Dallas

  1. 101
    FurryCatHerder says:

    It sounds a lot like you two are agreeing that severity matters. In fact, I bet you would both agree on where to draw the line between “not serious” and “serious”. As far as I can tell, you’re arguing over semantics.

    We’re arguing over subjectivity. Whether or not one group gets to tell another group that they weren’t actually abused, or didn’t actually experience something as abuse.

    — Julie.

  2. 102
    Justin Bowen says:

    Would you seriously claim, comparing these two events, that “severity does not count”? There’s no difference in these two events, in your opinion?

    In my opinion, there is no difference, in principle, between the two events. In both cases, men were assaulted and [should] have the right to demand that the person who violated their rights, whether man or woman, be held just as accountable for their actions as any other person would for the same action outside of the context of a marriage. That man A was beaten to a pulp and man B only suffered a black eye ought not matter when it comes to whether both are equally entitled to receive the justice that they demand. The only time that the severity should come into play is when deciding upon how severe the justice be that is meted out to the perpetrator. If man A chooses not to press charges and man B does, both of them ought to be able to expect that the police and courts will treat their right to receive justice with equal weight. One can argue about how a severe beating ought to (or ought not to) be treated more harshly than a simple black eye, but it is hypocritical to say that either ought to be considered more of a violation of rights than the other. Both are equal violations of rights. One simply ought to be punished more severely than the other.

    This, however, is the great flaw in domestic violence laws. Domestic violence laws (and how they’re enforced) tell people that assaulting someone that you’re in a relationship with (or share a home with, or have a kid with, or are related to by the nth degree because of a marriage or former marriage) isn’t as bad as assaulting some other person. What would be assault or battery in one instance is merely domestic violence in another only because there is some existing or prior relationship. The person whose rights are violated doesn’t have his or her rights violated any less because of the existing or prior relationship but their right to justice is limited because the law treats their situations differently simply because there is or was a relationship.

    I don’t think men as a group are equally victimized by intimate violence, which is what the scare quotes indicated. I do think some individual men are equally victimized.

    Then women as a group aren’t victimized but only some individual women. Groups don’t have rights; individuals do. Once you start making separate laws for separate groups, you acknowledge that everyone doesn’t have to be judged by the same law (and I think we’ve all seen how that’s worked out over the years). Everyone ought to be judged according to the same law, regardless of race, gender, religion, economic status, political status, and so on. That’s called the rule of law. You can’t kind of have the rule of law, just as you can’t kind of be raped or assaulted. You either have it or you don’t (and the evidence clearly shows, despite what people might say or think, that we don’t have the rule of law in this country).

  3. Pingback: Alas, a blog » Blog Archive » The Family Place Donations: $1450 raised!

  4. 103
    Jonathan says:

    I am unsure as to whether The Family Place receives federal funding, but if it does it is required by law to provide services to both men and women. If it does not, it is in violation of the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th amendment to the constitution, which grants equal protection to government-funded protection agencies to members of any sex, race, creed, or nationality.

  5. 104
    Ampersand says:

    As is stated in the original post, The Family Place helps victims of all sexes.

  6. 105
    Glenn's Cult says:

    I subscribe to this post for obvious reasons :-)

    I know of some women who have been denied services by a “Fatherhood Coalition” which uses many names and supplies services to fathers for visitation and child support issues as well as other things. Now according to poster Jonathon above these groups do receive federal funding. So by denying servies to the non-custodial mothers (who with the exception of their gender) have the same issues as non-custodial dads, they are breaking the law, correct?

    I hope you come back here Jonathon to give a reply to this question.

  7. Pingback: Women Don’t Want to Get Married: Debate Heats Up in Mailbag « Unasked Advice

  8. Pingback: To men's rights activists: Where's the activism? — David Futrelle — The Good Men Project Magazine

  9. 106
    Higb says:

    I agree that it would have been nice if Glenn had argued for a fourth ad, one with a boy child and a female abuser. I do wonder why you didn’t eviscerate The Family Place for their omission as well as Glenn. You would have liked them to come out with a fourth ad. I would have expected a group who supposedly also provides assistant to male victims of domestic abuse to have done so. You didn’t even call into question their commitment to the male victims they supposedly server.

    Did you consider that Glenn could have been advocating for a gender neutral ad? When The Family Place creates three ads that depict men as abusers and women as victims that they are not stereotyping? What if a male victim only sees ads that depicts victims as female? He might believe (maybe rightly so) that The Family Place only services female victims and doesn’t seek assistance. Couldn’t a gender neutral ad also save a life? Doesn’t a gender neutral ad have a 100% chance of saving a life rather than the 75% women and 25% male ads? It’s nice that you think that Glenn should help raise funds to provide a fourth ad depicting boys as future victims. I think it would be better if Glenn called upon The Family Place to fund the ad as they should have initially. If donors contributed to The Family Place with the understanding that the funds would also support male victims of domestic abuse, then they need to prove their commitment and it is right and proper to expect a charity to support its’ mission.

    You say, “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.” How do you know that some of the people who contributed to The Family Place weren’t MRAs? The father’s rights movement was started by wrong, Jeffrey Leving as far as I can tell. You thought I was going to say feminist didn’t you?

    I’ve contributed to prostate cancer research, but not breast cancer. Not because I don’t think that we should find a cure, but because it is so much better funded. There are women I care for in my life. I’m an MRA. I am not anti-woman. I’d be a feminist, but feminists tend to ignore or minimize injustices to men.

  10. 107
    John says:

    Yes, we know that men are never victims of domestic violence even though they comprise the majority of victims. Ah feminism, why let facts get in the way of good politics.

    One has to wonder why they only counseled 9 men and over 1,000 women. Maybe it was because they had no ads targeting male victims of DV, but they’re just men anyway, the expendable sex.

    I went onto The Family Place’s website and I think that I have an answer for you as to why they didn’t print ads with men as the victims and women as the perpetrators. They don’t actually provide many services for men. From their website

    Our shelter, transitional housing and Child Development Center services operated at capacity, which they have since their inception. In 2009 we provided emergency shelter to 684 women and children, transitional housing to 154 women and children and day care and after-school services to 262 children.
    Notice that it doesn’t say anything about providing shelter for men. There seem to be two services they provide for men, court ordered offender treatrment which probably doesn’t require advertising and sexual assault and incest recovery. It doesn’t say how many of the recoveries were a result of the offender treatments. If we assume that all the recoveries of men from sexual assault or incest was a result either directly as part of the batter treatment, then The Family Place provide zero services for male victims of domestic violence.

    It is dishonest for them to state that they provide services for male victims of domestic violence. Helping female victims of domestic violence is a worthy goal and I wouldn’t disparage anyone who wishes to continue to help, however, their volunteers and especially donors have the right to know that they don’t actually provide services to male victims of domestic violence and those donors are entitled to honest information in determining if this organization is the most deserving recipient of their charitable dollars.

    Unfortunately, there are no charities in Dallas that provide emergency shelter to male victims of DV, but some organizations have partnered with shelters to refer men to their services. The best way to assist male victims of DV, while assisting women too is to contribute time and money to the homeless shelters in Dallas. For those with a conscience, here is a link to contribute to Dallas Life

  11. 108
    Ampersand says:

    Yes, we know that men are never victims of domestic violence…

    What bullshit. I’ve never said that men are never victims of DV; that’s obviously not true.

    BTW, The Family Place provides emergency shelter (in the form of hotel vouchers) to male victims of DV.

    One study of adolescents isn’t enough to say that most victims of domestic violence are male — especially when you’re talking about DV severe enough to require the use of a shelter. There are a number of studies showing that the large majority of the most severe victims are female (see this post by me).

    I’m not going to get into a long debate with you about this. In 2008 I had time for that; now I’m a full-time cartoonist, and that doesn’t leave time for detailed fencing back and forth about DV studies.

    But the main thing I’ll leave you with is this (quoting my interview with the director of The Family Place):

    What advice would you give a men’s rights activist who is sincerely concerned about male victims of domestic violence?

    I would say, get together another group of men and raise the money to provide the services for the people you say are needing them. And go out there and say “we are the new men’s shelter, and we are here to serve men who have been victims of family violence and sexual violence in their homes.” Do it just the way the women’s shelters stared 30 years ago.

    Then show when you open the doors — when The Family Place opened the doors in 1978, it was full, because so many people needed help. Then show the numbers, go back to your donors, and say “I had to turn away 100 men because I lacked the funding.” Everything that happened with shelters for women, happened because of the demand.

    Don’t put me down because I’m trying to help somebody. Go out there and help somebody.

    Instead of bashing women’s organizations, stand up and help somebody yourself. That’s what I’d say.

    If men are indeed the majority of people in need of shelters, then MRAs should build a goddamn shelter movement. Don’t waste your time leaving snarky anti-feminist comments on my blog.

  12. 109
    John says:

    Did I say that “you” stated that men are never victims of domestic violence and in case you didn’t notice that was meant to be sarcastic? Did I say that women didn’t experience more severe forms of domestic violence? Women make up 70% of domestic violence victims suffering severe injury. That is actually why people are under the erroneous impression that women make up the minority of domestic violence victims, but that means men make up 30%. I didn’t do the math but with over 1,000 female clients, I would expect their male clients to number more than 9, probably closer to 500. You never stated in your post that men were the minority of severe domestic violence victims and you continued to perpetuate a stereotype and most likely a myth. Men are also less likely to report being victimized by women and as you say the injuries are less severe so men probably don’t seek out help as often so there would be even less reporting. That also eliminates mandatory reporting by medical personnel. That means that men are even a higher proportion of DV victims.
    Feminists to their credit have moved society a long way towards sexual equality. They are the standard bearers in the fight for gender equality. That gives you credibility so when you make a statements that minimize (note I didn’t say disregard) male oppression, people believe you. That makes the MRAs job much more difficult.

    When I looked at the Family Place’s website, I didn’t see any mention of having provided housing assistance to any men. So do they actually do it or is this something they theoretically do so they can claim to be inclusive. Many organizations refer men to shelters. Didn’t I leave a link to a shelter that provides shelter for men and women? Why are you so worried that fair minded individuals may opt to support an organization that assist both genders instead of overwhelmingly and quite possibly exclusively supporting women? Are you so afraid that men may receive services too? Are you worried that more men seeking assistance might expose the lie feminists like yourself perpetuate about men’s victimization?

    Setting up a shelter for male DV victims makes sense and is a worthwhile proposition and I may look into it, but men and women need help now and there are organizations that provide the services to both genders. We can always look to fund and grow these organizations. Starting a shelter that only supports men is still gender discrimination and something MRAs would have a hard time supporting. Unlike feminists, MRAs don’t say I got mine so screw you. The donation link again for fair mined individuals is

    One last question, on many feminist blogs I see statements saying that men have an obligation to prevent rape. One of the suggestions was to challenge sexist jokes when heard. I know that I get especially pissed when I hear of gang rapes where there are extremely large numbers of assailants or spectators. I can’t comprehend how so many people could not have a conscience. My question to you is am I supposed to challenge sexist jokes when I hear them and advocate for women’s rights or should I take the position that it’s a woman problem and if they wanted it fixed they should fix it themselves.

    P.S. I don’t think that you should spend a lot of time arguing with me either at least not until you better educate yourself.

  13. 110
    John says:

    Sorry typo

    I meant

    That is actually why people are under the erroneous impression that men make up the minority of domestic violence victims, but that still means men make up 30%, a rather substantial number (additional minor edit).

    Instead of

    That is actually why people are under the erroneous impression that women make up the minority of domestic violence victims, but that means men make up 30%.