A powerful video is sending the internet in to a spin with a message to dads everywhere, urging them to protect their daughters by showing zero tolerance to rape culture.
The #DearDaddy campaign brings the issue of violence against women to the forefront. Instead of pushing facts and figures, the video creates a surprisingly tear-worthy picture of real violence and abuse. No, it doesn’t necessarily show graphic images of women being hurt. Instead it uses a much more heart-felt approach.
According to the Australian National Research Organisation for Women’s Safety:
- 1 in 5 Australian women over the age of 15 have been the victim of sexual violence
- 1 in 3 Australian women have experienced physical violence, and
- 1 in 4 report experiencing emotional abuse.
The World Health Organisation (WHO) also notes that 35 percent of women (world-wide) have experienced some form of sexual violence. This includes women who have suffered abuse from a romantic partner or a non-partner.
The video features an open letter from a fictional unborn baby to her soon-to-be dad. Even though she’s still inside mum’s bulging baby belly, the little girl details the ways in which she’ll be degraded, abused, mistreated and hurt by boys and men throughout the course of her life. Narrated by a female voice (meant to be the unborn daughter), the video starts with, “I will be born a girl, which means by the time I’m 14, the boys in my class will have called me a wh**e, a b*tch, a c*nt and many other things.” The message could have gone the way of mean boys outright degrading girls. But, instead it points to a more subtle form of abuse – the kind that happens when boys joke or think it’s funny to use these types of words.
She goes on to talk to her dad about his own youth, and remind him of the ways that he may have put down or shamed girls, “It’s just for fun of course. Something boys do. So you won’t worry and I understand that. Perhaps you did the same when you were young, trying to impress some of the other boys.”
The narration moves on to a 16-year-old girl being sexually assaulted by her boyfriend. The scene isn’t a grizzly one and it doesn’t include an ‘attack’. There’s a teenage girl and her boyfriend, both clearly drunk. As the girl barely holds her drunken head up, her beau takes advantage of her. She narrates the scene explaining that even though she said no, he still touches her. What’s the message sent by this all-too-familiar scenario? That sexual violence doesn’t have to be at knife-point, it doesn’t have to happen in a dark alley and it isn’t always a stranger. It can be your boyfriend (even someone who you trust), and it can happen without pushes and shoves or threats and shrieks. It can happen anytime that you say no or are in a state that doesn’t allow you to say yes.
Fast-forward to the girl at age 21. She’s raped by a friend of the family. A man who used to joke with her ‘daddy’ when they were in school. A man who used the same degrading words and turned abusive insults into ‘boyhood fun’ as the boys in her class did.
And then she meets her future husband. She paints a perfect picture of her fiancé. He’s not cruel, demanding or outwardly mean to her. He’s “mister perfect” and he’s, “smart with a great job.” He’s the kind of guy any daddy should want for his daughter. “But one day he stops being mister perfect and I don’t know why,” she says. She wonders if she’s overreacting. But, wait – she’s not a scared little girl. “One thing I do know I’m not the victim type. I’m raised to be a strong and independent woman.” She’s smart, she’s got a PhD, she’s got a fab job. And she’s got a fiancé who hits, and almost kills, her. She’s not the picture that you may have of an abused woman.
What catches the viewer is the progression that she outlines, the process, of abuse. How boys who think that they’re just joking turn into young men who think that a drunken girl equals an invitation for easy sex. These young men then turn into adults who continue to call women hurtful names, abuse them and mistreat them. Why? Because they don’t know any different. They’ve done it their whole lives, their dads did it and their dads’ dads probably did it too.
The #DearDaddy video has had millions of views on Facebook and YouTube, and well it should. Mums, dads and anyone who wants to understand how abuse happens and how it affects women needs to watch this video.