P!nk’s Video For Domestic Violence Awareness Is Great, Shame It Won’t Do Anything

56th GRAMMY Awards - Show

P!nk, who completely amazes me with her aerial acrobatics and ability to consistently reinvent herself to stay relevant, appeared in a joy-filled dance video in support of One Billion Rising For Justice. The video shows Pink and her tour crew dancing to One Billion Rising’s somewhat corny theme song, and lends an awesome celebrity voice to an important cause. While the effort is excellent, I’m not sure how effective videos like these are, and would rather see organizations put their effort into actual prevention.

One Billion Rising aims to make the voices advocating for domestic violence victims louder, and to end the rampant injustices against women created by our legal system. Pink’s statement of support for the campaign was well-intentioned if not a bit all over the place, but I’ll let it slide because she just danced for five minutes while I sat in bed:

I have never liked bullies of any kind. Whether it’s someone picking on the “fat” kid, the “retarded” kid, the “short” kid, the “black” kid, the “Asian” kid, the “gay” kid, the “girl”, cause she “hits like a girl” or is the “weaker sex”…You name it. Different “reasons”, same “bully”. The bully is the problem. The bully needs a hug, a lesson, enlightenment. The bully is the one that really feels inferior, so he/she picks on someone else to make that person feel inferior too. When I read about this organization, how people get together of their own free will and dance, use their bodies, to express their rage- outrage- around the injustice that women feel all over the world, every day- I was inspired. I am a woman. I know women. I have sisters, strong and less strong, small and less small, Asian and black, gay and straight, Indian and Native American… We are all equally deserving of respect and personal space. I will fight for that right for all of us. And we come together to do so on our stage, with our brothers and menfolk- where we express our freedom every night. And that freedom inspires others to be free. We hope this video helps. And we hope for that one day when all women and girls are able to have respect, and personal space, and to be able to express themselves in whatever way THEY feel is right for them.

I think I could have lived without the entire first part about bullying, because I think bullying and sexual assault, rape, and any other bout of domestic violence are pretty different animals that should be treated differently. I do think she has a point about the instigator being in some small way a victim too, in that most abusers were abused themselves, and the system failed them, too.

Pink really picks up when talking about personal space and expressing rage, which is a critical aspect of the female experience that doesn’t get talked about enough. When we talk about women’s personal space being invaded, we don’t always mention the rage that it evokes–more often the focus is fear. Speaking personally, I can say that after a particularly bad instance of street harassment or having my space invaded by someone without my consent, I feel blinding rage once the fear subsides. And it sticks on me long afterwards. Women are angry, and with good reason.

I’m never sure how effective awareness campaigns are versus more actionable drives (creating a crisis shelter, for instance), but I do think that anything that encourages women to speak up and seek help is a worthy goal. Certainly one could argue that increasing awareness is actionable, because I suppose someone might see this video and decided to report their assault, which would be a victory for One Billion Rising. I just want to know what the next step is–I could dance all day but when I walk outside some guy’s still going to grab my arm and tell me to smile and someone will be assaulted every two minutes in America alone.

Photo: Getty Images

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    • Kay_Sue

      I think it’s probably a balancing act.

      We know that awareness is important, because there truly are people that are oblivious to it. I could very well be one of them, honestly–I have no frame of reference for domestic violence. My parents were in a loving marriage, and I was a well-loved and cared for child. While they made mistakes, they would never have intentionally hurt any of us. For people like me, awareness campaigns are important. It’s incredibly easy to ignore something that you don’t know exists, and that limits the number of allies available to victims. It also creates the potential for more victims. Because I had no frame of reference, I repeatedly missed the signs that I was in an abusive relationship myself. I missed a lot of warning signs, and I made a lot of excuses, because I truly didn’t know what domestic violence entailed. Lending a voice like P!nk’s to the cause could be useful for girls like me, that related to her, and might have been more aware of the problem had they seen someone like her involved in the cause. On a third front, the awareness campaigns help drum up donations that support the organization, perhaps from donors that wouldn’t have known of the organization without it.

      On the flip side, if an organization becomes so invested in awareness campaigns that they lose sight of their actual outreach efforts, that’s where a line is crossed. The awareness is a form of outreach, but it shouldn’t be the primary form. Actual boots on the ground should still be the main focus of the organization. Hopefully One Billion Rising will continue to keep their eyes on the main goal.

      • Julia Sonenshein

        So excellently said.