I noticed yesterday on Facebook an appeal for women to change their profile pictures to a black square in protest of domestic violence, today Friday, August 17, 2018. I am unaware of how broadly the campaign reached. However, it made me think (which, I guess, was the point!) As a professional counselor in a small private practice, I deal with domestic violence issues on a regular basis. Domestic violence is a real concern and I applaud the attempt to draw attention to the immense problem, and my goal is not to offend those who chose to do so. I chose not to blacken my profile picture, though. Here’s why….
- Domestic violence is not a gender issue.
- In my very small counseling practice up to 20% of my overall clientele are men suffering domestic violence from a woman. Considering only my clients dealing with domestic violence alone, and excluding those with other issues, the percentage of male clients suffering domestic violence in my practice would be even higher.
- I have treated many male clients who are abusers, but the interesting fact is that when underlying psychological issues are resolved (such as PTSD) the abuse is resolved as well. So, to categorize domestic abuse as a “him against her” issue rather than the psychological issue it is (regardless of gender) only propagates gender conflict.
- While I identify myself as a feminist in many ways, I find that we as feminists can get pulled into an “us versus them” black and white mentality all too easily. We forget, or fail to recognize, that that the issue of domestic violence is multifaceted. To so narrowly categorize it, does a disservice to the cause, as well as to discredit ourselves.
- Violence, in and of itself, dehumanizes the individual suffering the abuse, who many times becomes faceless.
- Many of these individuals, both men and women, live in the shadows, unnoticed, without a voice and without acknowledgment. Blackening my face plays into the faceless dehumanization. I feel passionately about domestic violence and my passion is to give a face, a voice and a proclaimed story to those suffering individuals.
- When we speak, we need to speak with a strong clear voice what we want, what we need, and our message needs to be clear.
- Blackened profile pictures, send no clear message, only puzzlement.
- How will the target audience even know what the point of the blackout is unless there is a clear message attached?
As I stated, I applaud and share the passion to bring awareness to domestic violence and in so doing I wish to bring a broader perspective to an issue, that I believe, is sometimes too narrowly categorized and ineffectively publicized.