#DearDaddy: scaring girls away from sex
‘Dear Daddy’, begins the world’s most patronising anti-rape video. Produced by Care Norway, a nonprofit organisation working for women’s and girls’ rights, this bizarre video depicts a young woman being constantly sexually harassed and assaulted from infancy to adulthood.
We are told by the video’s narrator that this woman has not simply been unlucky in her victimhood, but that all of the physical and mental abuse she suffers is an accepted part of every girl’s life.
With the conviction of a biology teacher explaining the inevitability of puberty, the narrator says: ‘By the time I am 14 the boys in my class will have called me a “whore”, a “bitch”, a “cunt” and many other things… By the time I am 16 a couple of the boys will have stuck their hands down my pants while I’m so drunk I can’t even stand straight… No wonder I am raped when I’m 21.’
The video is so outrageously insensitive and inaccurate that it’s hard to believe it was ever given the go-ahead. As well as having terrible background music, the video is far more sexist than being called a whore.
During the miserable video, girls are portrayed as sobbing, stone-faced victims, silently accepting the abuse of evil, predatory boys. The conclusion of the video seems to be that while (Dear) Daddy can protect his little girl from ‘lions, tigers, guns, cars and even sushi’ (yes, that’s in the script), he can’t protect her from being a girl – which, we are told, is the greatest danger of all.
We are clearly living in a crazy age when this sort of thing can be taken seriously. Sexual abuse is a very real issue, but crass, scaremongering campaigns like this do a disservice to us all, and our intelligence.
#DearDaddy is only one in a long line of equally simplistic initiatives to save women from men. We have seen the emergence of sexual-consent classes at universities, where some of the brightest chaps in the country are being taught the difference between ‘yes’ or ‘no’ in an intimate situation. There was also the recent Transport for London (TfL) video, which crudely depicted a woman being hounded on the Underground, encouraging those who have experienced the same treatment to report it. Women are constantly being made to feel under threat, and I’m not sure that’s such a good thing.
The world is not as dangerous as Care Norway suggests. I can vouch that most of my friends made it through school without being called a ‘whore’ or a ‘bitch’ or a ‘cunt’. Most of us grew up with boys who respected us, and who we respected, too. And, as we went into university and work, we weren’t greeted by men who were trying to rape us at every opportunity.
I’m not saying bad things don’t happen to girls – they just don’t happen at the rate this video suggests. In its gross portrayal of men, the video is attempting to frighten a generation into sexual repression. Videos like this deny the nuances and subtle language that underpin romantic encounters. Along with sexual-consent classes, campaigns such as #DearDaddy are slowly reducing our intimate interactions to box-ticking exercises.
This video has been heralded as powerful and intelligent on social media. But it’s as rank as the people who treat women like sluts and bitches. It is an insult to both women and men, and we should condemn it.
Charlotte Gill is a writer and blogger. Follow her on Twitter: @C_C_Gill