I bet you thought I couldn’t get more Debbie Downer than talking about The Cancer all the time. Hahaha! You clearly underestimate me.
Lately I have seen a lot of Facebook memes that say something like “Like if you know it’s never OK to hit a woman” over a picture of a woman with bruises. That shit makes me CRAZY. I really think that the meme-ing for “awareness” of issues like domestic violence is one of the stupidest things we do nowadays. Like, dude, if you don’t know by now that it’s wrong to hit people, I am pretty sure a Facebook meme isn’t gonna teach you that lesson. Also, I mean, way to make a victim’s pain into something trivial like some shitty meme people share on the Internet. Seriously, that person with the bruises? Yeah, she’s a person. Perhaps like-farming with a picture of a woman with a black eye is, shall we say, uncooth?
Which is also why I don’t usually watch TV shows that portray domestic violence. Because domestic violence isn’t entertainment, and most of the portrayals of it that you see on TV are not really about education or raising money for shelters or whatever. They’re about selling advertising, like pretty much all TV shows are. It just creeps me out to know someone is making money off of images of something that traumatic.
Also, I’m not a huge fan of showing us over and over again that women are victims. I feel like in this millennium, we see more women as heroes too, but the whole victim thing hasn’t gone away at all. I just feel like seeing pictures of women being abused, I mean, is that really helping us, as women, to see ourselves as empowered? I personally don’t find it empowering, I find it terrifying, and depressing. Because, what fucking year is this that we’re still putting up with this shit?
Back in 1997, when I was in college and was being a left-wing-radical-mobilizing-force-of-one, me and some friends and classmates went to a march on the National Mall on domestic violence. We carried life-sized bright red silhouettes of women who had been murdered by their partners. I honestly don’t remember what policy changes we were advocating for, or if it was to raise funds, or what. It’s been 14 years since that march, and women are still dying.
How do we make it stop? Well, that one seriously complicated question with a seriously complicated answer. First, we have to make it safe for women to leave their abusers. A woman is more likely to die at the hands of her abuser if she leaves than if she stays. Yes, you read that right, she is more likely to be murdered if she leaves. We need more shelters, and safer ones, with adequate funding, so no woman who has the courage to leave finds herself turned away because there is no room at a shelter. We also need better police protection for women who leave, and stronger laws to lock up the assholes who do this to people they claim to love. Police groups agree and are working on this very issue as we speak.
We also need treatment for offenders. Putting people in jail is a temporary measure. It doesn’t change their hearts and minds. It doesn’t teach them empathy. It doesn’t make them see women as human beings and not property. We need to find the men who do this shit, and deprogram them.
As women, this isn’t something we can do alone. Just like we can’t do it with Facebook memes, we can’t do it without the support of the good men in our lives. This has to be something we convince men to care about. And many do. There actually are great organizations out there right now doing that very work, like Men Stopping Violence.
I guess what I’m saying is, women are dying. Right now, as I type this. Facebook memes aren’t going to fix it, but real change, and real help for survivors of abuse, CAN make a difference. So, the next time you see a picture of a bruised woman come across your newsfeed, don’t just scroll by or click like. Write to Congress, or donate to an organization that is making change. Because women’s lives are at stake.