DART Refuses to Remove Sexist Domestic Violence Ads

October 28, 2008
By

The campaign to address the biased and misleading domestic violence advertisements presently being displayed on Dallas Area Rapid Transit buses in coordination with The Family Place has led to nearly a thousand emails of protest by both men and women across the nation, as was reported by the Associated Press and two dozen other news outlets.

In response to my support for the campaign, I received this reply from the Dallas Area Rapid Transit:

I’m writing to provide additional information about the ads running on 45 DART buses. These ads began running on October 1. They were produced and paid for by The Family Place, a long-standing family services agency based in Dallas. DART had no involvement in the creation of the ad campaign. The ads were reviewed by DART staff when they were first presented to us by our bus ad sales contractor. Staff determined the ads were not inconsistent with community standards. The Family Place paid approximately $25,000 to purchase bus side advertising on 45 buses and 300 bus interiors. The ads are scheduled to come down November 30 when the ad contract expires.

Please contact me if you have any questions.

Regards,
Morgan Lyons
Director, Media Relations
Dallas Area Rapid Transit

In other words, in spite of offending many men, fathers, women, and mothers with these disturbing ads, DART has chosen to ignore the public outcry, and continue to run the malicious ads.

In my opinion, Mr. Lyons and DART have chosen to avoid accountability for these offensive ads by using a common corporate practice of shifting blame to “committees” (staff) and “focus” groups in these situations. It allows for responsibility and accountability to be distributed among some mythical “group think” because the actual individuals of these groups are never revealed, nor are they ever available for questioning when requested from the corporation.
My experience has found this is common practice when the discrimination is against men and fathers. The opinions and decisions of these “groups” are viewed as scripture, and their decisions are rarely overturned when men and fathers complain of feeling marginalized. However, I have found when the discrimination is found to affect women or other minorities, the corporation makes a decisive move to immediately override the decision of the “focus” or “committee” group.
Sadly, DART has taken the same demeaning and callous approach as others when men and fathers are offended.

Also, considering Mr. Lyons and DART are defending their actions by saying the “Staff determined the ads were not inconsistent with community standards”, it makes me ponder how low are the “community standards” in that neck of the woods? And furthermore, how effective can the the human resource policies at DART be concerning the recognition and procedures to address such issues as discrimination, sexism, and harassment within its own environment? Considering the DART “staff” did not find these ads offensive by their own merit, and needed to consult a “community standard” for guidance is troubling in itself. But given that after implementing the ads, it has now received nearly a thousand complaints from the public, and the “staff” still finds no reasonable concern to remove the ads, makes me wonder what kind of business culture is present at DART.

After finding the website for The Family Place, the domestic violence prevention group who created and paid for the placement of the ads on DART buses, it became obvious that the group is an insidiously sexist organization. While claiming to help all individuals that are victims of domestic violence – including men – their website states repeatedly that only men are the perpetrators of domestic violence. The group’s site refuses to make any mention that women can be perpetrators of domestic violence against men.
Here is a copy of the groups web page concerning the warning signs of an abuser:

1. He pushes for quick involvement. He comes on very strong, claiming, “I’ve never felt loved like this by anyone.” An abuser pressures a girl for an exclusive commitment almost immediately.

2. He is excessively possessive. He calls constantly or visits unexpectedly, prevents you from going to work because “you might meet someone,” and even checks the mileage on your car.

3. He is controlling. He interrogates you intensely (especially if you’re late) about whom you talked to and where you were. He insists you ask his permission to go anywhere or do anything.

4. He has unrealistic expectations. He expects you to be the perfect girl all the time and meet his every need.

5. He isolates you. He tries to cut you off from family and friends and accuses people who are your supporters of “causing trouble.” An abuser may try to prevent you from holding a job, going to church or being part of school organizations.

6. He blames others for his problems and mistakes. The teacher, the coach, you—it’s always someone else’s fault if anything goes wrong.

7. He makes everyone else responsible for his feelings. An abuser says, “You make me angry” instead of, “I am angry” or, “You’re hurting me by not doing what I tell you.” Less obvious but equally telling is the claim: “You make me happy.”

8. He is hypersensitive. He is easily insulted and claims that his feelings are hurt when he is really mad. He rants about the injustice of things that are just part of life.

9. He displays cruelty to animals. He kills or punishes animals brutally.

10. He displays “playful” use of force. He enjoys throwing you down or holding you down against your will. He forces you to kiss him and doesn’t accept “no.”

11. He verbally abuses you. He constantly criticizes you or says blatantly cruel, hurtful things, degrades you, curses and calls you ugly names. If he does this in front of other people, you may really be at risk for physical abuse.

12. He insists on rigid roles for men and women. He is strong. You are weak. He expects you to serve and obey him because you are “his woman.”

13. He displays sudden mood swings. He switches from sweetly loving to explosively violent in minutes.

14. He has battered in the past. He admits to hitting girls in the past but says they or the situation made him do it.

15. He threatens you with physical violence. He makes statements like, “I’ll break your neck.” or “I’ll kill you.” and then dismiss them with, “Everybody talks that way.” or “I didn’t really mean it.” If he has come this far, it is time to get out and get help.

Considering the ads it created for DART, and considering the above informational page, it is obvious this organization is engaging in the disturbing practice of sexual discrimination.  What’s even worse is that DART has since been made aware that the ads are misleading the public about the realities of domestic violence via the protest campaign, but has ignored this and chose to continue them.

The controversy with DART and The Family Place comes less than a week after Third District Court of Appeals in California ruled in favor of the plaintiff, David Woods, his daughter, and three other men that DV programs in California have discriminated against men. The court ruled,

We find the gender-based classifications in the challenged statutes that provide programs
for victims of domestic violence violate equal protection. We find male victims of domestic violence are similarly situated to female victims for purposes of the statutory programs and no compelling state interest justifies the gender classification.
We reform the affected statutes by invalidating the exemption of males and extending the statutory benefits to men, whom the Legislature improperly excluded.

Finally men and father’s rights advocates have legal proof needed to provide credence to their claims of historic discrimination against them by those in the DV prevent industry.

And this discrimination is hiding in plain sight. The Family Place – advocating men as sole perpetrators of domestic violence- appear to be engaging in this ongoing discrimination of males by intentionally ignoring some of the most relevant and recent research concerning domestic violence, such as:

August, 2007 – In fact, when it comes to nonreciprocal violence between intimate partners, women are more often the perpetrators.
These findings on intimate partner violence come from a study conducted by scientists at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The lead investigator was Daniel Whitaker, Ph.D., a behavioral scientist and team leader at the National Center for Injury Prevention and Control (which is part of the CDC). Results were published in the May Journal of Public Health.

May, 2006 – A 32-nation study of violence against dating partners by university partners found that about a third had been violent, and most incidents of partner violence involve violence by both the man and woman, according to Murray Straus, founder and co-director of the Family Research Laboratory at the University of New Hampshire. The second largest category was couples where the female partner was the only one to carry about physical attacks, not the male partner.
Straus’ new research also found that dominance by the female partner is even more closely related to violence by women than is male dominance. These results call into question the widely held belief that partner violence is primarily a male crime and that when women are violent it is self defense.

November, 2007 – Physical dating violence (PDV) affects almost one in every 11 adolescents, according to research presented at the American Public Health Association’s 135th Annual Meeting in Washington, D.C.
The study, which looked at data from the 2005 National Youth Risk Behavior Study, also found that contrary to common general perception, males and females equally report being victims of PDV. The researchers found that in their study population of 6,951 male and 6,807 female students in grades 9 through 12, 9 percent of boys and 9.2 percent of girls responded yes to the question “during the past 12 months, did your boyfriend or girlfriend ever hit, slap, or physically hurt you on purpose.”

These are not the only studies. There are many more corroborating their findings.

What is really pathetic here is that DART could easily recognize its mistake, and remove the ads from the buses, and terminate its association with The Family Place until this organization addresses its sexism. But it appears to me that DART is not really interested in helping prevent domestic violence, or provide accurate information for those men, women, and children affected by domestic violence. Instead, it appears to me the real tragedy here is that DART is hesitant to return any portion of the $25,000 it received from The Family Place.

I can only assume from their actions that in DART’s corporate culture, money has greater value than morals.

Contact:

soltys.joe@gmail.com
http://jsoltys.wordpress.com

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3 Responses to DART Refuses to Remove Sexist Domestic Violence Ads

  1. shivers on October 28, 2008 at 10:15 pm

    And if you stay on their front page long enough, it scrolls through a picture with text, "We help ALL victims of family violence, men, women and children."

    And this, taken from their About Us page:
    "We helped 423 women and 497 men recover from childhood sexual assault and incest in our Incest Recovery Program."

    Good on them and good on DART for providing the confrontation society needs about the truths of domestic violence.

    You quote the report dated August 2007 about "non-reciprocal" intimate partner violence. The reason why women appear more in this report is because MOST of female to male violence occurs within the context of the female being a victim of physical violence, so when you ignore the factor that in most cases of IPV men are hitting women who are hitting back, and just use the one's where women weren't hit first, then it would show that women instigate IPV more…..but that is putting a spin on the numbers for the benefit of achieving some specific agenda, it doesn't show the real truth that MEN are the biggest instigators of IPV.

    In the November 2007 report, if it included stalking, sexual coercion and sexual abuse the figures would be very much different. In fact, the incidence of male to female aggression would skyrocket to somewhere around about 30 – 45%. It's quite convenient to leave out the violent behaviours that are specifically used by men more than women, don't you think? Another report with a spin to fit an agenda.

  2. Online Dating Blog on October 29, 2008 at 3:56 pm

    That's horrible. They should really stop those ads.

  3. holdon on February 26, 2009 at 5:12 am

    You said "And if you stay on their front page long enough, it scrolls through a picture with text, “We help ALL victims of family violence, men, women and children.”

    And this, taken from their About Us page:
    “We helped 423 women and 497 men recover from childhood sexual assault and incest in our Incest Recovery Program.”"

    423 women and 497 men? Who is abused more?

    The statistics for reciprocal violence doesn't include who was "hit first". That whole study demerits the "self defense excuse". If you OMIT reciprocal violence then women take the lead in severe violence committed to men.

    If you want to inject personal experience I will inject mine.

    I have never seen a woman get hit by a man EVER!!!
    I have often seen women hit men, at least on 100 occasions during my life.
    I have been hit by women at least on 30 different occasions and have never hit back.

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