Don't Teach Women To Hide The Abuse They Experience, Teach Men Not To Abuse
On November 23, the Moroccan state broadcaster ‘Channel 2M’ broadcast a segment on their daily program ‘Sabahiyat’ that exhibited a smiling makeup artist demonstrating how to disguise the aftermath of domestic violence on a woman’s face. She gave viewers tips and advice, while applying makeup to a woman who had already been made up to look beaten: black and blue bruises appeared all over her face. The host concluded the segment by saying, “We hope these beauty tips will help you carry on with your daily life.” What's more, the show was broadcast just two days prior to the International Day of the Elimination of Violence Against Women.
The video operates under the assumption that women must accept men’s abusive actions — that they are justifiable. It encourages women to suppress themselves to a state of helplessness in which the only resolution is to mask what’s really happening. It’s a victim-blaming mentality that is hardly new: centuries of rape culture have reinforced the idea that women can reasonably expect to be subjected to violence if they don’t act or dress a certain way, or that the violence we experience is our fault more generally. The segment was just an extension of this patriarchal ideal: Don’t confront men about their physically and emotionally abusive actions, but rather choose not to speak up about said things. That this video was aired in Morocco is particularly meaningful, given that the country currently has no anti-domestic violence laws.
Justifiably, women of Morocco expressed their outrage as soon as the segment aired. Many even made and signed a petition that called for “severe sanctions” against the show, and stated, “Do not cover domestic violence with makeup, condemn the aggressor!”
In response, the channel has since removed the segment from their website, and has additionally posted a news release on their Facebook page that expresses that the segment was “completely inappropriate and has an editorial error of judgment in view of the sensitivity and the gravity of the subject of violence against women.” It continues that “the chain offers its sincerest apologies for this error of judgment.”
Though the official video has been removed, we have social media to thank for the video’s continued circulation, which has in turn allowed women all over the world to vent their fury. And their fury is well-founded given how prevalent domestic violence still is. Domestic abuse affects 1 in 4 women, and 1 in 6 men in their lifetime. On average, it results in two women murdered each week and 30 men murdered each year. It accounts for 16% of all violent crime, yet is still the violent crime least likely to be reported to the police. It’s an undeniably sensitive topic for many, but is nevertheless one that must be discussed, as too many people are still falling victim to its grasp.
When I first saw the video, I felt a sense of defiance. Instead of changing who we are and what we do to remain safe and unharmed, we should instead teach everyone, once and for all, not to assault. The true issue at hand is the expansive domination of a patriarchal society for too long. Only when we stop encouraging women to avoid being abused and start teaching men not to abuse will this deep-rooted problem be resolved.
More articles by Category: Feminism, Media, Violence against women
More articles by Tag: Activism and advocacy, News, Sexualized violence, Domestic violence, Sexism