Instances of violence against women have dominated the news media since Ray Rice’s horrible crimes came to light.
From photoshopped Cover Girl advertisements to calls for various NFL officials’ resignations, this issue has nearly eclipsed all else of late.
The popularity of this topic received presidential recognition Friday when the Obama administration unveiled its new campaign to end sexual violence on college campuses, titled “It’s On Us.”
Although I naturally admire President Obama’s intentions, I resent his habitual strategy to talk big talk but walk zero walk when it comes to effectively addressing and preventing sexual violence.
Obama has not declared a legislative campaign to more strictly define rape and assault or increased punishments for those who perpetrate these crimes.
He has simply declared yet another social campaign, the substance of which is merely flashy new websites and earnest, celebrity-packed public service ?announcements.
It’s great, but it’s not what’s really needed.
ItsOnUs.org, a new website featuring tips for sexual assault prevention and a video of celebrities, declares that “it’s on us” to prevent sexual violence.
Details surrounding the campaign’s launch, however, suggest otherwise.
“It’s On Us” is the product of a task force that was called together in April to address four central goals: “identifying the problem on campuses, engaging men in prevention measures, effectively responding to assault where it’s reported, and increasing transparency in the federal government’s effort to enforce laws and respond to sexual assault cases.”
Although this language appears as only the second priority on the above list, engaging men in prevention measures was heavily emphasized during the ?campaign’s unveiling.
Both Obama and Vice President Joe Biden alluded to the Ray Rice scandal when urging programs which foster role models for young boys — such as the athletic industry — to accept their responsibility to set a good example.
Officials attempted to stress that the campaign was “inclusive,” but that sentiment quickly pales in light of Biden’s comment: “So the guys out there who are watching this on television: step up.”
Domestic violence and sexual assault stem from sentiments of dramatic physical inequality: the strong feel compelled, even entitled, to dominate the weak for the strong’s own sake.
It is infuriating, therefore, to see Obama attempt to remedy this enormously complex issue by endorsing the theme of inequality and assigning blame exclusively to men.
It was clear this was the manner in which Obama intended to handle sexual assault when he made highly gendered comments in ?January.
“We can do more to make sure that every young man out there, whether they’re in junior high or high school or college or beyond, understand what’s expected of them and what it means to be a man and to intervene if they see somebody else acting inappropriately,” he said.
“It’s On Us” is a slogan meant to involve every citizen nationwide and compel them to realize their roles in preventing sexual assault.
The campaign cannot be successful if Obama chooses to negate that sentiment by explicitly placing sole blame on the shoulders of young men.
The industries, organizations, media outlets, movements, individuals and camps of thought that are to blame for rampant sexual assault and domestic violence across the nation are ?innumerable.
All of the aforementioned cannot be assuaged if the federal government has decided it’s easier to blame an entire gender, make a succinct TV ad and hope that does the trick.
It will take far more than a contradictory social campaign to turn society around.