Violence and Abuse Happens to Men too
By Sarah J. Merry
Whether it is the “deadbeat dad”, the stupid and lazy husband, or the violent criminal, the mass media is full of distorted and negative portrayals of men. While cognizant of the distorted portrayal of men in the media, it is beyond disappointing that this twisted portrayal has made its way into the Public Service Announcements for the “No More” campaign.
The “No More” campaign is a movement to end domestic violence, abuse and sexual assault. The commonly aired PSAs which many times involve the characters of NBC’S hit series Law & Order SVU immediately leave the viewer asking “what about men…men are abused and raped too. Why are they only referring to women?” A search for the PSAs on Google or YouTube yields one particular segment entitled “Engaging Men.” The first thought after reading the title may be “finally! Light will be shed on all of the cases of domestic violence, abuse and rape against men”. Not so.
The PSA, which can be viewed here, begins on a high note by addressing the misconception that men are not the victims of violent crimes or sexual assault by providing statistics on these crimes against men. It takes a fast and downward turn, however, when Stephanie March, the actress who plays the role of the Assistant District Attorney, Alexandra Cabot on Law & Order SVU begins her sentence with “while women and children represent the majority of victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, men are affected as well . . .”. The statement that women and children represent the majority of victims is not only debatable but it is unnecessary and only further demeans men – especially those that are victims. Further, using the word “affected” to describe the impact of sexual assault on men severely minimizes the actual impact of these crimes against men – or against anyone for that matter. Why not simply state: “Domestic violence and sexual assault happens to men too”? The segment gets worse as Ms. March goes on to say “Men are witnesses and bystanders to violence, and sometimes, they are the perpetrators.” What about female witnesses and perpetrators? We all know they exist, yet they go unmentioned.
A review of the “No More” campaign print ads which exist are also overwhelmingly biased against men with catch phrases such as “he said he was sorry” or “she was asking for it” and “boys will be boys.”
While there may be a positive intent behind the “No More” campaign and the foundation associated with it, the Joyful Heart Foundation, the mission for which is to “heal, educate and empower survivors of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues”, the campaign, and particularly the movement to “engage men”, only works against the men’s rights movement and leaves men to continue to suffer the consequences of the media’s distorted portrayal of them.