A new video from CARE Norway has been making the rounds online, and it’s certainly making an impression. Called #DearDaddy, the video makes some important and powerful points about the many things that contribute to and perpetuate rape culture. It’s the ‘joke’ told to friends, it’s the judgement of the way a woman dresses, it’s in inaction. It’s not calling people out for their comments, it’s not giving victims the support they deserve, it’s pretending you’re not part of the problem or pretending the problem doesn’t exist at all when you are and it does.
To make this point, #DearDaddy is a 5 minute video that shows the consequences of all of these active and passive contributions to rape culture happening to one man’s daughter as she narrates them in a message to him.
Look, I’m happy to see a video that holds men accountable for rape culture and doesn’t victim blame, that tells men they are part of the problem and that they also have to be part of the solution, that draws attention to the fact that we shouldn’t be teaching our daughters not to get raped, but rather teaching our sons not to rape. These are important points that ought to be made and listened to. But we have to stop framing these arguments in terms of wives, daughters, and sisters.
It always goes something like this: “You should care more about the victim; what if she was your wife, or your sister, or your daughter? Think about how you’d feel if that was someone you cared about.”
I get it, this can be a useful argument to pull out when you’re talking to people who don’t empathise with victims because it humanises the victim, doesn’t it? Honestly, though? No. It’s not helpful and it’s not even really humanising the victim at all. This argument is dehumanising them. By using this rhetoric all you’re doing is perpetuating rape culture by continuing to promote the idea that a woman is only important or valuable when she is considered in terms of her relationship to a man.
A rape victim might very well be someone’s daughter, or wife, or mother, or sister but that’s not what makes the rape and rape culture wrong. Rape is wrong because women are people. People shouldn’t be raped. Women are people. Women shouldn’t be raped. That’s it. It’s that simple.
I like to think I live in a world populated by men who are capable of being empathetic towards women without having to have them compared to their wife, or mother, or daughter. It’s an argument that will cause more harm than good. Let’s promote empathy that’s gender-blind in order to see women as individual people with worth, rather than reducing them to their relationships to others. Not only that, let’s promote empathy for victims that’s gender-blind so that we don’t just see victims as female; men are abused and raped too.
Besides that, what does the argument in this video say about women who aren’t wives, or sisters, or mothers? Do they not deserve sympathy or protection from rape culture? So, yes, I am someone’s sister, I’m someone’s daughter, but I don’t want that to be the only reason someone treats me with integrity and respect. I want to be treated well because I am a person, an individual with my own value.
We should be teaching that to our sons and daughters. Teach them that we should treat others well because they’re human beings. Teach them that they themselves aren’t just mothers and fathers, daughters and sons; they are people too, deserving respect for who they are, not for who they are in relation to someone else.