Ad watchdog dismisses complaints that White Ribbon anti-violence campaign is sexist

A campaign which asks men to pledge not to beat women has been cleared by the ad watchdog over complaints that it is sexist.

White Ribbon Australia drew complaints to the Ad Standards Board that its messages pandered to gender stereotypes.

One complaint said: “The advertisement is deceptive as it only condemns domestic violence against women and therefore is misleading people to believe that only women are the victims of domestic violence and implies that only men are the perpetrators. The advertisement is sexist as it only condemns domestic violence against one gender – women.”

White Ribbon argued that its campaign was led by men. It said: “White Ribbon Australia’s advertisement is an animated advertisement to raise awareness of violence against women and promote the organisation’s fundraising initiative to help stop this violence. The advertisement alerts the viewer to the fact that in Australia at least one woman is killed every week by a former or current partner.”

It continued: “The fundraising initiative, White Ribbon Night (26 July), invites Australians to have a night in to get the word out about the seriousness of men’s violence against women in Australia. It also invites Australians to fundraise in support of White Ribbon Australia’s work in preventing this violence.

“White Ribbon Australia is a male-led campaign that exists to prevent men’s violence against women in all its forms.”

The ad was created by Sydney agency Archibald Williams.

The ASB dismissed the complaint: “The Board considered that the advertisement does not suggest that domestic violence is only an issue for women and considered that by highlighting the issue of violence against women  the advertisement is not negating the serious issue of violence committed against men. The Board considered that it is not discriminatory towards men to highlight statistical information regarding domestic violence against women.”

It continued: “Based on the above the Board determined that, in this instance, that the advertisement did not depict any material that discriminated against or vilified any person or section of society.”

A previous White Ribbon campaign which ran in the run up to Fathers day asked Australians to take a stand against violence towards women and included a MANifesto for fathers against violence, sparked similar comments from Mumbrella readers. One reader said: “Why do we have to sully Father’s Day, which should be a celebration of all of the positive aspects associated with being a father, with this campaign? By running this campaign around Father’s Day all fathers are going to be associated with the scum who actually abuse their wives and children. Hold it any other time of year. Not now.”

Miranda Ward


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