A few days ago, the British website We Are Man uploaded a video in order to launch a viral campaign against gender violence.
You can watch the video here – what do you think?
The idea is good: of course, any initiative to fight against violence is a good thing.
But let’s have a closer look: representing the “Jackass”/Internet culture and generalising it to the whole masculine gender… Is that really effective?
My main point is about their “I Am Man” slogan, which is focusing the whole issue on the division of two genders, and thus I think it might even generate more stereotypes. Does it mean “real men” should be playing sports with their buddies and doing stupid things? Does it mean “real women” shouldn’t?
So here we are, binary gender, Men VS Women. Why can’t the slogan be “I Am Person – I don’t harass/beat/rape… anyone”. That would be more logical. Stereotypes are what generates violence in the first place.
Don’t get me wrong, the intentions are good and the villains here are men who beat women, that’s clear, but trying to make people identify with stereotypical characteristics of their gender only leads to confrontation against the other.
What does being a man mean?
Basically I agree with Holly Combe from The f Word blog when she says that “playing on machismo” and “glorifying the rules of the peer group” to fight violence against women “distracts from the good intentions (i.e. not going along with misogyny) by upholding a needless gender binary.”. She also asks, and I’ll conclude with this: “Is this a case of practical short-term gain for long-term pain and true equality never really being achieved?“