How can I make a difference in the war against Domestic Violence and Abuse? My response…
Don’t participate in the social mythologies that support victim thinking!
That is my simple answer to the complex problem of abuse in our country. Reduce the inventory. The abusive dynamic requires a victim to fuel the cycle. If our society stops churning out victims for abusers, abusers will have to modify their behavior in order to survive. If survival through control is one of the prevailing issues, as individuals and as a society we can stop being so easy to control. We can stop being victims.
Are you part of the problem without realizing it? Always (a feminine hygiene company) proposed this question and came up with a creative way for individuals to ask themselves how much do they personally contribute. A girl or woman’s self-esteem is vulnerable during her monthly cycle. It can leave her feeling “less than”. During this time females are open to ridicule, attack, and socially acceptable “jokes”. In the face of good humor, females will often participate self-denigration. In that spirit, the question raised to expose a profound social truth was:
What does it mean to do something “like a girl”?
Boys, men, women, and girls over the age of twelve seemed to unanimously, and initially without apology, agree it meant to be; weak, feeble, powerless, awkward, futile, frail, insecure, helpless, ineffectual, defenseless, vulnerable, passive, dependent, and incapable. If you watched the ad you would have seen that “run like a girl” was more stumbling and silly without focus or purpose. To “throw like a girl” was pathetic, meager, and puny. You would have witnessed that to “fight like a girl” was useless, pitiful, and a mockery of self-defense. The deepest and most penetrating truth is girls are socially conditioned to believe this about themselves in reference to being “like a girl”.
Then the writers of the ad flipped the script.
They brought in a younger group of girls, ten and under. Suddenly to “run like a girl” was assertive, aggressive, and focused. To “throw like a girl” had form, was capable, and confident. “Fight like a girl” was effectual, defensive, forceful, and decisive. Without thought these younger girls challenged the old paradigm of what it means to “do things like a girl”. That is what we need. That is how we effect change. Rewriting the rules is how we will deplete the inventory for abusers to choose from.
Abusive behavior thrives on the insecurities and vulnerabilities of others. The issue is not gender, it is about thinking like a victim. People who believe they are “less than” because of gender, circumstance, race, religion, or any number of reasons are easier to control and exploit. That is the dynamic we are fighting. Deplete the inventory by having confidence in who you are as individual. Rid society of victim thinking by supporting the autonomy of others. Rally behind companies that are running ads to the masses that promote strong self-esteem. In doing this you will help effect change.
Flip the script on Domestic Abuse and Violence. Rewrite the Rules!