08192017Headline:

Dallas Mayor Calls on Men to Stop Domestic Violence in His City

How do we talk about “women’s issues” like rape and domestic violence without putting the onus on women to prevent their own victimization—say, by reminding them to wear the right clothing and walk the streets correctly? Here’s a start, from Dallas mayor Mike Rawlings this January in the Dallas Morning News:

Mayor Mike Rawlings, backed by Police Chief David Brown and domestic violence victim advocates, made an emotional plea to the city of Dallas, and the men in particular, to stop domestic violence.

“It’s our fault,” the mayor said at the press conference Monday afternoon at Dallas City Hall. “It’s not the women’s fault.”

The mayor spoke to media about the jump in homicides in Dallas in the past year, which Brown has said recently can be attributed to family violence… “We want to make it known that any violent act toward a woman will not be tolerated by the men in the city,” Rawlings said.

The mayor also introduced his idea for a public awareness campaign, “to change the male culture” in the city, that will launch in the spring.

Then last week, Mayor Rawlings followed up by announcing a rally at City Hall that he expects at least 10,000 men to attend, along with civic and religious leaders. “Most of all, I want fathers to bring their sons,” he said. “We have an intergenerational teaching moment here because, undoubtedly, this is a learned behavior.”

People may take issue with his gendered language; domestic violence is also a queer issue, and it is also perpetrated by women against men. That criticism is fair. But as an example of how to focus an awareness campaign not solely on victims of a crime—in this case, a crime whose victims are around 85 percent female—but on the everyday perpetrators of the crime, who are generally men, this is certainly a story worth watching. I look forward to seeing what comes of the work Dallas does with this campaign.

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