J. Soltys's Weblog

December 2, 2008

Finally – The End of the Sexist DART Ads

male-symbol

For those of you who read this blog, you know that I was involved in a protest against some sexist domestic violence ads that were displayed for several weeks on buses owned by Dallas Area Rapid Transit. Created and funded by The Family Place, a local domestic violence shelter, the ads appeared as shown below:

dart-ad-1

 

dart-ad-2

 

The ads are disturbing and misleading because they promote the image that all men and fathers are inherently violent and should not, or cannot be trusted in a relationship. Also the ads ignore the fact that most research concerning domestic violence shows unequivocally that women are as likely as men to instigate physical violence, yet these ads do not portray that reality.

Glenn Sacks initiated the protest campaign, and now that it has ended, he had this say about its success on his blog:

DART Campaign Wrap-up

As many of you know, the anti-father Dallas domestic violence bus ads we protested came down this week (11/30). While the ads remained up a few weeks longer than we desired, overall our campaign was very successful, and I am grateful that so many of you participated.

Among the campaign’s achievements:

1) Widespread, positive media coverage which allowed us to educate the public on domestic violence and child abuse. Coverage included CNN, The Associated Press, FOX, CBS, hundreds of radio stations throughout the country, and many newspapers. This was particularly remarkable considering we launched the Campaign seven days before the presidential election.

2) To its credit, The Family Place, the prominent Dallas-area domestic violence service provider which placed the controversial ads on DART buses, backed away from the gender exclusivity which was previously prominent in their public materials. They changed several areas of their website to specifically include male victims, and issued a statement that “We are not a male-bashing organization. Our services support all victims—male and female, children and adults.” Some examples are here and here. I commend them for this.

3) A sub-group of our protesters who I selected called over 50 of The Family Place’s financial contributors to express our concerns about the ads. Most contributors said they sympathized with us, and many told us they thought the ads and the subsequent protest were an embarrassment to The Family Place. Many contacted Family Place Executive Director Paige Flink with their concerns.

Several of The Family Place’s financial contributors withdrew or reduced the financial gifts they planned for the end-of-the-year giving season. I don’t say this with pleasure–I would have preferred that The Family Place do the right thing from the beginning rather than lose the funding.

4) Father-bashing is so prevalent in the media today because there is little political cost to be paid for doing it. We launched the campaign in part because we wanted to show that there is a political cost to demeaning fathers, and in that regard we more than succeeded.

5) We compiled an impressive endorsers list which included some of the world’s leading authorities on domestic violence, as well as many other experts, media figures, and prominent citizens.

6) Our efforts generated 10,000 calls, letters, and faxes.

7) Our contingent was gender-balanced, including many women who opposed anti-father stereotyping and the ads’ noxious message to boys.

One of the Dallas journalists who covered the campaign told me “You guys got 98% of what you wanted.” I think 98% is a little high, but we certainly did well. Both I and Fathers & Families–my partner in the DART campaign–again thank all who participated.

 

And it should be noted that two well respected writers have recently commented that the DART protest campaign was an example to everyone with respect to how a protest campaign should be accomplished.
Michelle Malkin is a syndicated columnist whose columns appear in nearly 200 newspapers, the author of three books, and a frequent TV and radio commentator. Glenn Reynolds is a writer with http://www.Instapundit.com, which is perhaps the most-read political blog in the US, and he is an author and frequent TV commentator.
When discussing the recent actions of those protesting the Prop 8 controversy, Reyonlds had this to say:

I’ve actually got an example of how to do this right…Glenn Sacks’ campaign against some of the ads on public transit in Dallas…ads about domestic violence…
They didn’t try to get anybody fired but they contacted them
[sponsors of The Family Place] and asked them, “Did you realize that your money is supporting these ads? Is this what you want to do?”
They made a very big point of being very polite about it and not making any threats. They did get some action and did it without trying to get anybody fired or booted from their jobs or doing anything vicious.
That’s an example of how it ought to be done. That’s something that people on the right should be looking at…for the [next four years.]

Malkin added:

Glenn Sacks has been very effective in getting his message out and rectifying unbalances in media coverage and advertising. You would hope that [other activists] would take a cue and a clue from this type of campaign.

I would like to thank my readers who took the time to make their voices heard on this issue.

(My most recent broadcast of “An With Joe Soltys” is availabe for listening. During this past week’s show, I discussed bad women, and vent about the ugly side of femininity vs. masculinity. Click here to listen.)

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