“Slap her”: Fanpage.it video objectifies girls, exploits boys, and trivializes domestic violence

A new anti-domestic-violence video created by the Facebook page Fanpage.it is being widely shared because people find it heartwarming and touching.

I find it sickening.

The video’s description asks, “What happens when you put a boy in front of a girl and ask him to slap her? Here is how children react to the subject of violence against women.”

Fanpage.it: What's your name?As the video begins, it seems promising. An off-camera male voice asks five charming young boys questions, one at a time:

  • “What’s your name?”
  • “How old are you”
  • “What do you want to be when you grow up?”
  • “Why?”

Thanks to this line of questioning, each boy is brought to life for the viewer. With a range of personal demeanors and interests, it’s easy for viewers to see each boy as a unique and lovely individual.

Then, each boy is visibly surprised when a tall, blonde, conventionally beautiful young girl joins them in front of the camera. She introduced by the off-camera voice with a single sentence: “And this is Martina.”Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.32.45 AMFanpage.It - meeting Martina

The interviewer does not ask Martina any questions.

He does not share any details about Martina.

We do not learn how old she is, what she wants to be when she grows up, or why.

Instead, the interviewer asks the boys a question about Martina: “What do you like about her?”

Knowing nothing about her personality or interests, the boys focus on what’s visible—her appearance:

  • “I like her eyes.”
  • “Her shoes, her hands.”
  • “Her eyes, her hair.”
  • “Just her hair, I swear.”
  • “Everything.”
  • “You’re a pretty girl.”
  • “I’d like to be your boyfriend.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.25.59 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.26.10 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.26.16 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.26.25 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.26.32 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.26.40 AM

The interviewer doesn’t follow up on the boys’ top-of-mind impressions by sharing information about Martina or inviting her to speak. There’s no discussion of shared interests or mutual passions that might form the basis for a relationship of any kind. It’s all about whether the boys like the way she looks—nothing more.

This makes me uncomfortable. While the producers present the boys as interesting people, they present Martina not as a person in her own rights, but as a girl who is expected to be an object of boys’ desire. The producers are doing boys and girls everywhere a disservice by perpetuating the idea that girls’ appearance is of paramount importance.

She is a prop—there to be seen, not heard.

Throughout this video, Martina’s representation meets three major criteria of objectification, as articulated by Rae Langton (2009):

  1. reduction to body: the treatment of a person as identified with their body, or body parts;
  2. reduction to appearance: the treatment of a person primarily in terms of how they look, or how they appear to the senses;
  3. silencing: the treatment of a person as if they are silent, lacking the capacity to speak.

Although some have defended the video by alleging that Martina is silent only to allow her to represent all girls in the mind of the viewer, rather than one specific girl, Martha Nussbaum (in the scholarly journal Philosophy and Public Affairs, 24(4), 249-291) also compellingly argued that a this type of interchangeability is another sign of objectification. She called this fungibility: the treatment of one person as interchangeable with others.

(Nussbaum’s other criteria for objectification:

  1. instrumentality: the treatment of a person as a tool for the objectifier’s purposes;
  2. denial of autonomy: the treatment of a person as lacking in autonomy and self-determination;
  3. inertness: the treatment of a person as lacking in agency, and perhaps also in activity;
  4. violability: the treatment of a person as lacking in boundary-integrity;
  5. ownership: the treatment of a person as something that is owned by another (can be bought or sold); and
  6. denial of subjectivity: the treatment of a person as something whose experiences and feelings (if any) need not be taken into account.

Check, check, check, check, check.)

I find it outrageous that through this line of questioning, a grown man is basically coaching these boys to objectify girls—to look girls over and discuss their physical attributes as though they’re shopping for an item that pleases them at the mall. That’s really gross.

What happens next, however, is even more unsettling: The man off camera actually directs the boys to touch Martina physically.

He says, “Now, caress her!” 

Fanpage.it: Now, caress her

For the next twenty seconds of the video, the boys touch Martina’s arm, her shoulder, and her face. Some do so with awkwardness, and some do so with palpable excitement, as though they’ve just won a major award.

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.27.21 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.27.06 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.26.58 AM

This sequence is unsettling. Even though the boys’ caresses are not sexual in nature (the word used for “caress” in the original Italian does not have sexual connotations), their touches are still intrusive. Martina looks visibly uncomfortable at times, flinching as they reach for her.

Boys should be taught that girls’ bodily autonomy is of paramount importance, whether they’re touching them in a sexual or platonic way. Women’s bodies are not the property of men. Given the problems with sexual assault and other forms of violence against women that pervade our world, one of our top priorities should be teaching boys to only touch girls who wish to be touched by them—girls they have a friendly relationship with, who don’t freeze up or flinch at their touch.

It’s not such a hard lesson to learn: If a girl ever appears uncomfortable in the least with a boy’s touch, the boy needs to stop what he’s doing immediately. (The reverse is true, as well: Everyone’s bodily autonomy should be respected.)

In short, our boys need to understand that relationships about respect and mutuality. Girls are not prizes to be won; they’re real people.

But that’s not what’s happening in this video. It completely contradicts these important lessons. The off-camera voice directs the boys to touch the body of a girl they desire (as indicated by comments like “I’d like to be your boyfriend”), without her consent.

It’s crucial to remember that Martina doesn’t invite them to touch her. she doesn’t gesture in a way that invites them to touch her, confirming that she agrees with the male authority who is present. She doesn’t say, “May I have a hug?” or “Come on, it’s okay!”

She just stands there, silent, while they place their hands upon her body. Her silence and stiffness remind me of how many victims of molestation react to an abuser’s touch: by freezing up.

I find this sickening, and it makes the video hugely problematic. This isn’t a warm, fuzzy moment, though it’s presented as such: Viewed from a critical perspective, it’s absolutely disgusting.

(Now, just to be clear: I have no problem with the boys themselves. This isn’t a criticism of the children who appeared in the video: It’s a criticism of their representation within this specific media text, as directed, edited, and created by a team of expert, audience-savvy adult producers.)

Furthermore, the conclusion of the video—the moment that the video description got everybody’s attention with, about what happens when boys are asked to slap a girl—betrays a complete lack of understanding of how domestic violence against women actually functions. Here’s what happens:

The off-camera voice tells the boys, “And now…Slap her. Slap her, hard! Slap her! Come on.”

Fanpage.It: "Slap her, hard"The boys look sad, puzzled, hurt, shy.

And quietly, they refuse.

The interviewer asks them why, and they respond by noting that she’s pretty, that they’re against violence, and then, finally—with what seems to be the producers’ main point—one little boy declares, “‘Cause I’m a man.”

Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.25.10 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.25.21 AM Screen Shot 2015-01-06 at 9.25.40 AM

The producers’ implicit point seems to be that real men don’t hit women. As viewers, we’re supposed to be charmed that this little boy is “more of a man” than the so-called men who perpetuate violence against women—that all the little boys in this video are, in fact.

This argument doesn’t hold water, however. In fact, it actually does more harm than good. The men who hit women are not monsters conjured from our worst nightmares. They’re not beasts or animals. They are real, actual men, living in the world around us. Unbeknownst to us, they are our friends, our relatives, our co-workers, our classmates—our peers.

As Feministing explains in an article titled “Real men do hit women”:

Domestic violence lies at the more extreme end of a scale that encompasses men catcalling women in the street, uploading naked pictures of women to the internet without consent, and supporting a porn industry which routinely demeans and exploits women. These are far from isolated concepts and the connection between them is clear: we live in a society in which unhealthy gender stereotypes, portraying women as the weaker sex, prevail. This culture, which glorifies an ideal of male dominance, is responsible for a society which sees women routinely experience the unimaginably harmful – and, sadly, often fatal – consequences of this ideal.

That is why suggesting that ‘real men’ don’t hit women is so damaging: it is fighting a problem with the very problem itself. It’s flawed, cyclical logic which is never going to fix the problem. If we really want to see off domestic violence, we need to dispense with the gender stereotypes, and open up a frank – and likely uncomfortable – debate about the role that gender has to play in its continued existence.

Yet, this is clearly the point the producers sought to make by subjecting the boys and Martina to the interviewer’s unhealthy directives. The whole point was to try to shame men who engage in domestic violence by suggesting that these little boys are more manly than they are—even though this discourse is completely useless in actually reducing violence against women.

It’s an empty platitude, nothing more.

As reader Nikki eloquently put it:

There are several other problems with the “real men don’t hit” discourse […], in addition to the psychological confusion and harm it may cause victims of domestic violence. For one, the reason not to hit is still about the man and not about considering the woman (or any other victim of domestic violence) as an autonomous individual with value.

Another problem is this kind of dichotomous, or at least categorical, idea of what is means to “be a man.” Can you still be a man if you only hit a few times? Or if you hit once, are you automatically not a man and therefore, since you’ve already blown it, you may as well continue hitting? Or if you fit the masculine ideal in other respects, can you reach some sort of manly equilibrium, even if you hit your partner? Or what if you don’t identify as “man?”

And then, of course, there is the problem of an exaggeration of the agency of the individual and refusal to acknowledge domestic violence as a social norm: domestic violence does not occur because a male does not fulfill his socially-mandated role of “being a man.” Rather, it occurs in a social context in which systematic devaluation of women allows it to occur. These are not freak occurrences of individuals deviating significantly from the norm, though many people find comfort in this false belief.

And this might be the part that irks me the most: “real men don’t hit” discourse is an attempt to shame men into refraining from domestic violence by comparing men that hit TO WOMEN. In general western perspectives, masculinity is contrasted to femininity. If you are not a man, you are, by default, a woman. It perpetuates this idea that being a “real man” means fulfilling your role as a protector of women, and if you’re not fulfilling your role as the protector, you must be part of the feminized, non-protector group. Threat of association with this inferior group, then, is what’s being used to dissuade men from committing violence against this very group. It’s twisted. (Some may argue that the contrast is boys vs men, but I really don’t think this is the case. Think “you fight like a girl,” “don’t be a sissy,” and other gendered insults used against men and boys. This kind of shaming starts early.)

In short, as a result of these issues, I feel badly for all of the children featured in this video. In fact, as a researcher who works with children, I worry that this could be a harmful experience: a grown man, telling them to slap a girl that they so clearly like? And a girl being coached to stand there and let boys who are complete strangers to her touch her body? How awful!

(I wonder whether the boys or their parents were really able to give their informed consent regarding to the boys’ participation in this video. Also, were the boys and Martina debriefed afterwards?)

Unless the boys are sociopaths, of course they’re going to balk at the instruction to slap Martina. This is not how batterers operate: They don’t slap at first sight. Domestic abusers work their way towards physical abuse gradually, beginning with other forms of abuse first.

As such, the boys’ predictable refusal to slap Martina, set against an emotionally manipulative soundtrack, doesn’t prove anything about domestic violence. In fact, it trivializes the matter.

As far as I can tell, the entire Fanpage.it video is a gimmick. After all, it’s calculated to solicit engagement and “likes” for a page called Fanpage.it—not for a foundation seeking to reduce violence against women. This isn’t about making a difference in the world; it’s clickbait, plain and simple. It was crafted with an international target audience of facebook users in mind, carefully designed to make the average viewer feel good and, therefore, want to share it.

Unfortunately, the video doesn’t even end with a critique of the way producers urged the boys to treat Martina as nothing more than a prop. As LB Klein astutely notes:

One small edit could have taken this video from harmful to thought-provoking. The video ends, seemingly for comic relief, with one of the boys asking the off-camera man “Can I kiss her on the cheek or on the lips?”  One line of additional dialogue could have completely changed the message to one of liberation. “Slap Her” could have simply added: “Why don’t you ask Martina?” That one line could have taken the boys’, and the audience’s, commitment to ending violence one step further by acknowledging Martina’s bodily autonomy and humanity.  Without this addition, “Slap Her” is a missed opportunity at best and a harmful perpetuation of status quo at worst.

Nor did they end the video with resources for learning more about the signs that a person is a victim of domestic violence, which would have made sense if the video’s goal was to raise awareness.

Most preposterously, the video doesn’t even end with resources for victims of domestic violence, nor are any offered on the Fanpage.it link to the video on facebook. Instead, Fanpage.it’s description of the video offers a link in which they share information about their organization, which confirms my belief that it’s just a gimmick: “Their Goal: Acquire and engage,” says the Fanpage.it description. “’Our strategy is fan acquisition and Page post engagement,’ explains Barbato. ‘We had a vision and Facebook was a big opportunity.’”

A big opportunity, indeed. What a shame that they exploited children to create a video on a subject they have so little knowledge on, just to acquire fans and boost people’s engagement with their page posts.


Click here to review the warning signs that you are in an abusive relationship.

Click here to review the warning signs that someone you know may be in an abusive relationship.

To help support organizations working to prevent domestic violence, leave an online message with Voices of Hope, and they will donate $3 on your behalf to dating and domestic violence prevention efforts.

To learn more about the concept of objectification, visit The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy.

Hotlines for women who are being abused by a partner:

Hotlines for men who are being abused by a partner:

Looking for tips on raising empowered girls in a princess world? Check out Rebecca Hains's critically acclaimed book, "The Princess Problem."

Learn how to raise empowered girls in a princess world: The Princess Problem by Rebecca Hains.

Rebecca Hains, Ph.D. is a media studies professor at Salem State University and the author of The Princess Problem: Guiding Our Girls Through the Princess-Obsessed Years, a book meant to help parents raise empowered, media-literate daughters. 

Rebecca is on Facebook and Twitter. If you enjoyed this post, you may follow Rebecca’s blog by hitting the “follow blog” button at rebeccahains.com/blog.


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310 Comments on ““Slap her”: Fanpage.it video objectifies girls, exploits boys, and trivializes domestic violence

  1. From the comments I read on Twitter, your opinion appears to be a minority one. As an independent thinker, I do agree that anti violence causes vilify boys and men just for being boys and men. But I don’t think this video itself is offensive.

    • I don’t mind being a minority opinion. I do think a lot of people have been struggling to articulate why this video doesn’t sit right with them. Thank you, as always, for reading!

      • It’s funny because as sweet as this video appears to be, I didn’t really think the message was portrayed correctly. I refused to share it, because I, like you, thought it touched the subject on a very superficial way. The one think I will disagree with you on, is the perception that real men hit women. No. Cowards hit women. They are people, yes. They are men physiologically, yes. But they don’t act like men. They act like monsters.

        • The point is not about making value judgements about the batterer, but rather the chasm it creates in a victim’s mind, when she’s at the stage of coming out of denial and wondering if her husband is an abuser. Or when a woman first meets a charming man and just one or two things aren’t adding up. Or a friend witnesses his buddy controlling his girlfriend, and can’t believe he’s an abuser because he’s such a normal dude.

          By calling them the very appropriate value judgement, “monster”, “coward”, etc…, while true, it creates even more mental obstacles for women and would-be interveners to be able to recognize that batterers look very normal for the most part.

      • I just watched this (before reading this post) and as a (hopefully sane, hopefully reasonable) male, had the same thoughts: “Here’s a girl you’ve (ostensibly) never met before. We literally just wheeled her out. You have literally no idea who she is or if she has any idea what’s going on with this guy behind the camera. Now touch her.”

        Since the girl remained entirely neutral (to my eyes), it was a good experiment in seeing young boys react between the two commands–to caress and to hit–since neither was more invited than the other. But, as you say, the authority figure (and not the girl–side note, it would have been interesting to see if the authority figure had been female) is fully in control of the situation.

        I think one of the issues with this vignette is that neither the boys nor the girl are given any real autonomy here. The girl is instructed to just stand there not even talking to the boy’s she’s being “presented” to. The boys act, not with any particular autonomy, but as instructed to by the authority figure. And when they’re told to hit the girl, it appears plain (to me, anyway) that the thing going through their mind is not “I will choose to not hit her, because she doesn’t want to be hit” but rather “I won’t hit her because I was told that it’s bad to hit a girl by someone I consider an authority figure.”

        To me, one of the more pervasive dangers for societal upbringing of boys (and girls to, for their part) is that we reinforce a series of “dos” and “don’ts” without ever really bothering to teach the “whys.” The result is a substantially less robust approach to interacting with your fellow humans: Once the authority figures that instilled the “dos” and “don’ts” stop having the same level of compelling authority (e.g. when we get older and “don’t have to listen to anyone”) the rationale for doing the right thing (asking permission whether your caressing, or hitting, or kissing) is weakened–because it was never made to be a “personal choice,” it is only as strong as the outside forces that imposed the behavior in the first place.

        Ideally, the world will start to focus on emphasizing self-autonomy as much as social awareness. Then boys may grow up *choosing* not to hit because it matters to them that they not be a party to someone else suffering, or *choosing* not to randomly caress a stranger though a “grown up told them to” but rather because they don’t want to be a party to invading someone’s space without asking. And girls may grow up *choosing* to go into the sciences because they actually like science (and not because they were told “you must for the good of the Cause”) or be a full-time mom because they just want to be a mom (and not because they’ve been told “it’s your place.”)

        It’s rare that I read these kinds of posts–rarer still that I bother to comment. But I think you’ve got good points and (unlike so many posts out there) approached it for a reasonable, not over-the-top way. Good on you.

      • I completely agree with what you just said. These boys wouldn’t hit any girl. They know right from wrong. That is the whole point of the message. It isn’t right to hit a girl.

      • I can’t decide which one you need more – grammar lessons or a therapist.

        • Thank you, Jenny. Jane’s rather bizarre comment has been deleted for violating this blog’s comments policy. I hope she gets the help that she needs.

    • I’m seeing on Twitter there is mixed reaction. Rebecca, the first time I saw the video I thought it had an “aha” moment. Then when the boys were told to slap her, the shortest little boy kind of hesitated but leaned forward. That was creepy. You can tell hee thought about it for a split second.

      Someone shared your blog with me and I have to admit, you are right on every point you analyzed. I wonder what kind of reaction the boys would have had if the girl was not tall, thin, blonde and pretty. Excellent blog. Thanks for sharing.

      • A little boy at their ages probably still wouldn’t hit the girl if they weren’t tall, thin, blonde and pretty. I would think that their reaction would be the same. If there was a girl that the kids weren’t interested in standing there, hesitation to slap her would most likely still be present.

        They know not to hit. if there was anyone there that caused no problems for them ever standing there right in front of them, they (I would assume) would still not strike them. Hitting is bad and they know that, even if someone told them too.

      • I am a mother of a young boy and he knows not to hurt people, however he also knows to listen to his elders, i think if an adult asked him to slap someone he would also probably hesitate in the sense of i am being told to do something by an authority, but i believe it is wrong as i have been taught to believe so, the hesitation to me is him thinking it over and choosing the right moral decision. in life there are many situations where you may be told to do something you may morally disagree with by someone in a higher authority than you, such as a job. To me it is not uncomfortable to watch as he hesitates, it is a joy to watch a young boy come to the conclusion by himself that he will not do this regardless of being told to do so.

    • Grampk, you don’t give reasons for your opinion other than Twitter disagreeing with Rebecca. She, on the other hand, gives very clear reasons why the video is offensice, the encouragement of objectification being just one. Do you really not have a problem with boys being encouraged to just touch a girl without her consent, given the horrific context of this world? If not, then you are part of the problem, sadly.

      • Agreed. I’m so unbelievably disturbed by the fact that not one of those boys refused to touch the girl when directed to or at least asked the girl if she woul mind. The fact that some of them were shy or awkward about it makes it worse because it shows they were willing to participate in something that made themselves and most assuredly the girl uncomfortable just to show their bravery…. So what the makers of this film really succeeded in was showing how early the mentality of rape culture starts and how subtle it is. Boys willing to make themselves and a girl they don’t know uncomfortable simply because someone told them- almost dared them- to do it. I’m not saying at all that any blame is on those boys, but I’m saying that sort of mentality needs to be squashed, not tested on our children.

        • I agree with you. I couldn’t see my son stroking a strange girl’s arm just because he was told to. He’d find it rather an odd request to invade someone’s space and rightly so. He’s only 6.

        • I think Rebecca’ article is spot on, I really liked it and it did articulate the feeling I had watching the video better than I had done up to that point. Thanks Rebecca. I came on here to make a similar point to you Traci, that it would have been a heartwarming video to match the twinkly piano music if the boys had been equally reluctant to touch her when told to do so. There was something creepy about that, that should have stopped all the people liking it, sharing it and saying nice things about the video in their tracks and I am surprised and disappointed it didn’t.

          • I think there are at least 2 reasons the boys didn’t hesitate to touch the girl. First is that the whole encounter had been positive and the boys were probably led to believe that the girl was okay with whatever the boys were doing. Touching someone in a non-sexual way is not something a young child would consider negative (unlike hitting), not negative enough to hesitate if an authority figure asked you to and if the girl was obviously not upset about the command.
            Number two is the culture these boys are growing up in. The notion of a personal bubble in Italy is completely different than it is in the US (I’ve lived in both counties for rougly half my life each). They are not as uncomfortable with the idea of one person touching another in a friendly or accidental, non-sexual way. I can’t imagine how Italian boys would end up questioning the command to touch another person, because they would never have been taught to see it in a bad light. When I first moved to the US, on the other hand, I had to be especially mindful about not entering people’s personal bubbles. Even in greeting friends, I had to be aware of what I was doing. For example, can you imagine acquaintances kissing each other’s cheeks in the US, as is common in Italy?

            • I agree with you Elizabeth. I believe it is a great deal of cultural differences at play here in the making of the video and also in response to it.

              I agree with some of the points brought up in the article, but yet, have to look at the cultural factor and; additionally, everyone needs to remember that this is obviously edited too. And, I would guess, like with all media, very intentionally so.

    • While your headline was accurate, I think it could have been more concise: You could have just wrote ‘this video was made by Italian men’, and got all those points across in less words. 😉

      • Awesome. Thanks for generalizing an entire culture, and while your at it can I also make a general statement such as women should go back in the kitchen where they belong? If not, then I don’t see how you can cast a stone St a whole culture bit I can’t, or is this okay because your a woman and I can’t because I’m a man?

    • the word offensive by now triggers rage in me. people take offense in every thing they see and they let everyone know via the internet.

        • Boys have never been taught consent (with age-appropriate language) in my generation (the 50’s and 60’s) or your generation or now the next generation. What would be so onerous about teaching boys from kindergarten on that they shouldn’t touch anyone without verbal permission and that they deserve to be treated in the same way.

          • And they don’t show what happens when the boys are told to kiss her! They’ve already touched her without her consent… will they kiss her without asking her first?

        • The Adults who made this video, the concepts, the writing, the message, are wrong. The young paid participants do not know better, that is true. The problem is not them nor their “actions” but rather the entire message they, Martina, and any audience member might receive.

      • It’s worth noting that Rebecca never once used the word “offensive.” You did.

    • I agree with your point about women being portrayed as objects to be won. It’s the theme of most RomComs. Guy fancied girl. Guy wins girl. Guy does something wrong and loses girl. Guy has to do lots of overly romantic preposterous but largely superficial things to win her back.

      The guy is always an asshole who has to learn the error of his ways, and the girl is usually beautiful and perfect and passive, but almost always in the right.

      I would very much like to see these roles reversed more in films because there are just as many assholes who are female as assholes who are male, and if anybody is earning anybody then it should be equal on both sides!

      Also I quite like the idea of being dated and wooed by a woman in the way that men traditionally were supposed to do to women. It would be pretty amazing. Lots of gifts and free food and being able to stay at home working on my art and looking after the dog while my wife goes and works crazy shifts to provide for us.

    • Yeh. Don’t read any feminist analysis of this video, Thinker, you might shatter your view of yourself.

      In fact Dr. Hains went only part way: what this video does is sets boys up as holders of good. And the girl as beneficiary of it. But wait until she’s older does not behave in the feminine submissive receptive manner this sets up. She says “No.” What happens? Stats tell us he will get enraged because she has destroyed his manhood, after all it’s in direct response to the level of her femininity and submission. Then, he will hit, rape, batter, abuse and murder. He has his HONOUR to avenge.

  2. This truly is sickening, appalling, and a little frightening. For whatever purported reason, a grown man is encouraging violence against women in the way he actually uses children by voicing the instruction to touch the passive girl and to slap her. In its simplest form, this is an adult male verbally telling a boy to hit a girl “for a good cause.” I enjoy your posts. They provide a powerful voice in important discussions. Thank you.

  3. Thank you so much for this post. I was trying to figure out what was wrong with it and your words just made my feelings on this video more clear! 😀

  4. I think this video, while perhaps well-intentioned, does more harm than good. The idea for this type of message holds so much promise, I hope they can redo it in a better way.

  5. I agree with a lot of your points. But I do think that the fact that it’s a manufactured video DOES make an assumption of consent implicit. It’s obviously all been set up in advance, so obviously the girl consents or she wouldn’t be there. My one problem that you did not touch on was “what would have happened if one of the boys DID hit her, because he thought he was supposed to?” To my mind, this suggests that it might have been even more staged than we thought. (Except that, no, everyone knows no boy in his right mind is going to just hit a girl out of the blue, on camera)

  6. Rebecca, I thought this was a well thought-out and articulated post. I agree with everything you said. It’s a shame that people/companies use serious issues like this to advance their own agenda.

    Susan, I agree that the chances of one of the boys actually hitting one of the girls on camera is very low…but we can say for sure that if one actually did it would have been edited out none the less.

    • And what about the author of this article. Who is also twisting the intention of this video to fit her agenda? The author is doing equal if not more damage by twisting the positive message the video maker was trying to portray into something it’s not.

      • Hi Steven,

        I don’t believe the author of this article was twisting the message of the video. I believe that she analyzed the content and gave an honest assessment. Rebecca Hains agenda is the serious issue, contrary fanpage.it, whose agenda is to acquire, engage and fan acquisition. If the creator of the video really wanted to make a difference in this issue, it may have been in the best interest to speak with SMEs and come up with a better way…but that obvioously wasn’t the case.

      • Noting, and quite rightly, that a female is being actively objectified in this video is not “twisting”. It is telling the truth. That you find truth-telling of this nature uncomfortable says more about you than you realize.

        3 women are murdered every day in the US by an intimate partner. Fact. Violence against women declines steeply when women have greater socio-political power. When women are seen as people. This is fact. Anything we can do to increase women’s chances of thriving in a world that is hostile to them should be pursued. To begrudge such efforts is an implicit support of a status quo that ends women’s lives.

  7. I found the end when the boy asks the cameraman, not the girl, if he can kiss her unsettling. This article explores that sense of discomfort in great detail and visibly shows how external commands, like the media, influence our thoughts on behavior often more than direct interactions with another person. Very insightful read!

  8. Oh calm down. These children appeared to have a good time, and one interaction won’t decide their course in life. For they and the viewers, deciding what you take away from the interaction is up to the individual. Try believing in good for a change.

    • I am not religious but, for once, I am completely with you here, God :). Come on people, the kids played a game, and the message is a positive one. The video CLEARLY has a good, no excellent point, and it was made with children having fun. Why be so negative? Real men do not hit girls – that is damn right. That is all the video is saying. And if the makers of the video use it for advertisement, hell, why not, they DID make the video!

      • Marius, I tried to like this video for that very reason- I tried to believe that they had a good message. But I was reluctant to share the video, because something wasn’t sitting right with me. After reading Rebecca’s article, I realized it was the touching of the young girl without permission.

        I believe that if this fanpage group wanted to send the message that men don’t hit women, even using kids, it could have been done in a much better way, a more meaningful way, just by changing some of the context- as Rebecca suggests, having the boys get to know the young lady, rather than just commenting on her looks (is it ok to hit ugly girls?), as well as asking her permission before touching her. THAT, right there, is an underlying issue with domestic violence- the idea that men have the right to touch women anywhere, any time, for any reason.

        Showing the boys talking with the girl, asking her permission to touch her hair or cheek, THAT would have been a great message. Fanpage could have also offered resources for women in abusive relationships, for men who want to seek help in stopping their violent behavior, etc. THAT would have been a great message. I think fanpage *tried* to offer a good message, for their own gains more than anything, but offered a very mixed message when it could have been great.

        • I think the people who dislike this analysis missing the point. The issue isn’t whether the girl in the experiment had given consent to be filmed. I’m sure she knew what she was getting into. The issue is the message the video itself sends.

        • It’s not only about how this girl felt in this particular situation, it’s the fact that the video is intended to teach a lesson, and one of the lessons that are pretty obvious is that boys can and should touch a pretty girl if they want to, or if they are told to. And that asking her for consent is not necessary at all.

      • I thank God and Marius for being so sensible! Those children were terrific.

    • I can understand where the author is coming from. And I like how she is very direct with her opinion and does not use hateful words or anger.

      The whole purpose of this video is to create awareness of violence and I think the use of children was intentional, to really put the message out there that violence is something we learn to be acceptable.

      No one and nothing is perfect, as humans all we can do is try our best. This video has clearly sent a positive message and sparked a conversation with the majority of people who watched it, so I don’t really understand how it has done more harm than good. I can’t imagine anyone, not even a child watching that video and than walking away from it thinking hey im going to go slap a girl, or I am going to start being shallow and judging women only on looks.

      There is too much focus on the negative in social media, we should be focusing on the positive. So many times I see articles that focused on the negative, from what’s wrong with an clothing Ad to giving all the attention to rude/hateful comments. There is always going to be negative things in this world and by bringing them to light and giving them too much attention we are allowing the negative to drown out the positive.

      So from watching a video like this we can either make the choice to continue spreading awareness, including information for where woman can find help, support groups, etc. and really work towards making violence less prominent in our society or we can focus on the negative and try to find the wrong in everything.

    • “Calm down”?

      Person who uses misogynist tropes to silence women doesn’t think harm is done by videos objectifying young girls. Who’d have thought it?

  9. Rebecca, it’s so refreshing to finally get a thoughtful. illuminating perspective on this. This video was rife with red flags from the get-go. I find it disheartening that so many found it “amazing”.

    • I think the video’s reception shows what a long way we have to go in changing the way our society positions girls as objects. It’s so ubiquitous, it can be really hard to see.

  10. i thought of you as I hit the delete button. we a being pushed into a classless society, and that epitimised it.

  11. I’m so happy I came across this article, I had the same thoughts while watching the video and was completely grossed out by it.

  12. I am in total agreement, I found this video so disturbing that I could not even finish watching it.
    Thank you for your post!

  13. I agree with some of what you write. However…

    “The off-camera voice directs the boys to touch the body of a girl they desire, _without_her_consent_.”

    Martina is in on the experiment so knows what is going to happen.

    Don’t forget also that the video is a heavily edited sequence of short moments from each of the interactions. It is possible that the boys asked Martina herself for permission to touch her but we were not shown those moments.

    The video has generated reaction and discussion on these important issues; so by that reckoning I believe fanpage.it have done their job well.

    • >>Don’t forget also that the video is a heavily edited sequence of short moments from each of the interactions. It is possible that the boys asked Martina herself for permission to touch her but we were not shown those moments.<< This is indeed part of the problem with the video. It's not what happened offscreen that concerns me. It's the reification of girls as passive objects, as well as the way a male authority gives the boys permission to touch a girl.

      The boys' respect of the interviewer's authority, his "ownership" of her in this context, is evident when one boy asks the man if he can kiss her. As if the girl's kiss is the man's to give!

      • Sophie, I think yelling at another woman that she’s a cunt because you disagree with her blog post probably trivializes the feminist movement more than you claim this post does.

        If you honestly think that any man, even an abusive one, would hit a woman in front of a camera? You’ve never been the victim of abuse.

      • um, Sophie, she didn’t say anything about your comment being directed at her sex or gender. She just rightfully pointed out that you brought the level of discourse down several notches and made a fool of yourself. You were apparently so sure she’d knock the chip off your shoulder that you failed to notice when she didn’t. It’s like you said, “Did you write that on Updog?’ and she replied, “I don’t understand,” and you still came back with, “Not much, what’s up with you?! Haha!”

      • Sophie, your pomposity is already evident in your belief that an article that you, personally, hated (or more likely, failed to understand) ‘discredits the feminist movement’. No need to emphasise it with the CAPSFEST as well.

  14. I haven’t watched the video because I knew obviously it wasn’t going to end with them hitting her, and I didn’t want to give another click to such a click-baity video. How gross. I’m not usually one to cry “rape culture,” but geez!

    • These boys aren’t being coached to do anything. They’re given innocuous enough tasks on their own in an effort to establish them following the directors orders. Martina wasn’t ripped from her family and forced to stand there, she isn’t a victim, can you not understand the idea that just maybe her parents are privvy to her activities?

      • “Caress her” and “Make a face at her” and “Hit her” are commands— the types of directives given by coaches. The boys would not have touched her at all if they were not being told to do so by an off-camera authority figure.

        As for your comment implying that I think Martina was ripped from her family—please reread my post, as I neither think nor state anything along those lines. Thanks for reading and have a good day.

        • Hurrah! THAT IS THE WHOLE POINT!! They defied instructions from an authority figure as, even at a tender age, they understood that hitting girls is wrong! Touching is not the same as hitting. At no point is hitting anyone right, but sometimes touching is welcome. These boys are in the process of growing up and learning. Why do you have to turn it into something so much more complicated than it is. When these boys are 15, let us discuss touching!

          • So, and try to follow my train of thought here – you say that at no point is it okay to hit anyone, but you think that the touching is okay because they are under 15? They need to learn that this kind of intimate touching (and caressing is intimate) is not okay without having consent. Are you so naive that you think under 15s aren’t capable of inappropriate touching?

        • ‘…but how would that same experiment would have fared if it was made in England, with english kids from a culture that generally feel awkward or uncomfortable to physical contact with strangers?’ Sorry, but this would be the same England that has the highest rate of teenage pregnancy in Europe – and by some margin. Sorry for going off topic, but the whole English people feeling awkward with physical contact is pure Hollywood stereotyping. For what it is worth, the ‘caressing’ part of the film made me feel uncomfortable, but overall I think the video had a positive message.

          • Thanks, Riccardo. FYI, I deleted the comment to which you replied, as it violated the comments policy of this blog. But thank you for taking up the conversation, and I do agree with you—cultural stereotyping of the type you’re describing is unacceptable.

    • I agree that the objectification of the girl did not sit well with me but it was part of the way the experiment was set up, as others have argued. The girl was objectified but DESPITE this the boys humanised her and did not hit her. They wouldn’t be allowed to get to know her as then they would of course never think of hitting her, and also, she was meant to represent ‘any girl’ (perhaps they could have picked a plainer girl but attractive kids make for good viewing I guess!). I thought this was quite clever. After some harmless instructions for interaction the voice instructed the boys to ‘caress/touch her’, which you can see the boys are already a little uncomfortable about doing. The instructor is pushing them to do something that crosses boundaries (touching without invitation) albeit usually a friendly gesture, to lead them to doing something that crosses even more boundaries (hitting). However again DESPITE this lead on the boys do not do it. This video was aimed at adults, so would not be sending any messages to children. Obviously no one should be instructing children to hit other children, but this was the set up, and I guess that the children in the video were appropriately debriefed.
      I think your points are interesting and encourage the debate, but ultimately I think many of your criticisms are invalid – the video works well the way it is done and has a positive message…..little boys know that it’s not okay, so men should too.

      • A point of clarification: Men who batter their partners don’t just do so out of the blue, and certainly not so close to their first meeting. The violence comes after a long pattern of other controlling behavior. That’s why I argue the video misrepresents domestic violence in a problematic way—it oversimplifies it terribly. Ask a few people who have been or have worked with victims of DV, and they’ll confirm how harmful this video actually is.

      • That’s the point of the video. Is to show that men don’t just hit women for the sake of it. People hit and abuse others all the time. Women beat men, and most men are taught not to hit a woman, because they’re a woman. That’s it.

        Way to spin it out of control for literally no reason other than, “men are bad.”

        • If what you’re taking away from my post is “men are bad,” I’m afraid you’ve misread me. But thank you for taking the time to read and comment.

  15. And I REPEAT this is just your brain overworking and overanalyzing everything. Were you there when the filming was taking place? I think not. Rather than wasting your time writing about a project you know nothing about, how about you ask them personally.

    • I’m writing about the on-screen representation of the interactions. Analyzing media representations is actually my area of expertise. But thank you for the put-down–it’s ever so refreshing!

      • Well that is a terrible “area of espertise” because you have no background information on the things you write about and cannot get a better understanding of things in that way.

        • Nonya- the important part is the message that is being conveyed. Kids are watching this video without knowing whether the boys asked the girl’s permission before touching her. Someone told them to, and they did, and she just stood there and let them. The young adults sharing this film are presented with this idea every day, in so many different media ways, the idea that boys/men have that ability to touch women as they will. They may or may not be as media-savvy as you, understanding that the girl agreed to participate and so gave permission, and the message they are getting is that it is ok to touch girls without permission- that if you want to kiss a girl, you don’t have to ask her.

          • Pretty sure our youth is more intellegent than you think.

            • Also, you don’t have to be “media-savvy” or even older and more mature to understand some of these things. Children are innocent and impressionable, yet they also have a brain of their own to make their own decisions and decide what’s right or wrong to them. This video is not advertising that it’s “right to touch women without their permission.” They are little kids and aren’t even thinking about that and were probably caught off guard by the question in the first place.

            • Nonya, this isn’t about the youth in the video, or youth viewers. It’s about adults from Fanpage.it making a video for an audience of adults, in which they pay lip service to ending violence against women—while directing boys to treat a girl like an object to be admired and touched. That’s really not okay.

        • Honestly, if her job is to analyze how a viewer perceives a piece, what good would it do to discuss what the viewer does not see?
          Media analysis is a reasonable area of expertise. If people were not affected by what they see and read, it would not be, but then we wouldn’t have literature classes, either.

          • What good would it do? You people are hopeless. I’m out.

  16. You act as though this girl was abducted off the streets and forced to participate against her will. It seems as though she was a willing participant who was paid for her time and knew what was going to happen. It feels to me that you’re willing to strip her of any autonomy and agency in order to make your point.

    • Thanks for reading and commenting, Lana, but let’s back up a sec. In what context is it okay for a grown man to coach young boys into commenting on a girl’s appearance? To direct them to touch her when she’s standing there passively? To tell them to hit her? It’s not just about Martina–it’s a whole bundle of issues.

      I’d encourage you to take another look.

      • I don’t agree with everything you say in the article, but I have to give you props for your writing and comments, it is nice to see someone who can keep a level head and actually have a discussion about an issue rather than allow emotions to rise and take over.

        • Props for the level head? Gimme a break. If you consider a bunch of responses that clearly come off as snarky and holier than thou level headed then maybe you’re right but I doubt it. Anytime someone comments with an actual point, Rebecca fails to answer and instead goes for the easier responses to some of the people who resort to name calling.
          I’m curious as to how Rebecca feels about commercials since video analysis is her forte. For the most part, TV ads represent the clever woman in some sort of “I told you so” situation with a bumbling man. Any over analysis of the direction they are leading people in those situations?

          • She is just sticking to her opinion, most of the time a person can’t be the one to change another person’s opinion, it is usually a self realization that person has to make. I am just saying instead of putting people down for having a different opinion, she has stayed level headed and stuck to her opinion. I don’t agree with what she said, but I am not going to put someone down or try to make them feel stupid just because they have a different opinion.

            We all come from different upbringings and have different values, our intolerance for that fact is what prevents us from moving forward and actually discussing and finding solutions. Instead we get stuck fighting over different opinions.

            We may have different opinions on 1 of thousands of youtube videos that discuss this topic and I am sure we can all agree that violence is bad and inequality is an issue, so lets discuss the solutions, lets discuss how we can create a safer environment for everyone instead of dwelling on people having different opinions.

      • Appreciate your good points, well reasoned from your perspective – with which I agree. However, it appears this may have been after a child camp where they were taught, among other things, that a boy should not hit a girl “even with a flower” – adult male off camera was probably a main teacher, and Martina was one of the children at the camp. Your points are valid, however, perhaps you could suggest an alternate “play script” that would better illustrate both your points (women should not be treated by men as “objects” but as being invited to present their character) and also the videographer’s intention (men should not be violent toward women) as well as that of many responders here (women should not be violent to men). Let me add one more suggestion: violence is not always physical; women more often may humiliate men by belittling disrespect or demeaning ridicule and clever retorts, both in public and in private. This also should not happen, in private or in public, unless as a brief illustration of a point followed by the caveat of respect despite disagreement. It goes both ways, gender-wise, but in a relationship, it more often is perpetrated by female onto male. Another point: if it is true that women attract men (by make-up, for instance) more than the contrary (not to say that it does not occur but, ironically, it is often attributes such as strength in men that attracts women), it is natural to see a man (or boy) want to touch a woman (or girl). Is he to “ask permission”? I do not think so; the girl may think it rather odd if he does. Rather we expect an unspoken interaction to lead to a touch: “I like her eyes” may be a child’s way of saying “you have beautiful eyes” and, indeed, this is the initiation of gender interaction which often leads to exchanged smiles, and an invitation to share more about each other’s character. Had it been a real situation, it may be that this would have been the interaction between the two. In the presence of an adult (authority figure, parent, teacher, coach) the boy instead asks the adult if it is OK; in real life, he would ask the girl. Further, in real life, the touch would not be the hair or the cheek, but hand to hand. It is a very artificial “set-up” with an adult present. You may be right, it was just to harvest “clicks” and “likes” and “viewers” but I think the point is well made: see the good. These kids were taught that responsible men do not hit women. It is unfortunate that they were not taught the other things… but perhaps they were: it is unfortunate that, if it illustrated all these points, the video would be too long — just as my post it much too long. Thanks to you, for sharing your thought provoking analysis.

      • Rebecca .. If I may mention something that often seems to be mentioned while being overlooked… You mention context… and you are 100% right in thee context you lay out….in OUR culture…..this video was not shot in OUR culture…..It is Italian… and their culture does not work like ours…..I know… I lived in Milan from 2003-2004 and again from 2008-2011 and married an Italian and go back every 6 months for work…. in 2003 I was appalled at the number of women that were mistreated…. Honestly, My impression at that time is that the issue was treated the same way as the mafia issue… it wasn’t talked about….period…
        Make NO mistake…It is an ancient Patriarchal culture…. Remember the iconic 1951 image “American Girl in Italy”, Black and White photo?….. Well….yeah….Its really is like that there in places… and a small representation that they just don’t think the same way we do….Italians embrace emotions… they rarely correct the actions of children and let them freely “express themselves”…….. Italians are impulsive… They touch each other… they hug each other…they push each other…… they love each other….. “I saw this girl across the room. She was beautiful. We looked at each other so I walked to her and kissed her passionately. I didn’t know her”……. A quote I heard in Italy.

        To be considered “A Man” is a big deal there… To Not be a man is like a Muslim throwing his shoes at you……. OFFENSIVE!!! By saying you’re not a man if you harm women may just be the thing that slows a man from going a step too far in their mind. This was my impression…maybe I’m wrong.

        OK, I agree they didn’t get it right…. but it is a lack of context to not see a silent culture working on this issue by saying something…..anything.

        If we can only judge thru our own context we will often be vilifying cultures and people we have no knowledge of.

        If it is your genuine opinion that this is doing “Our Culture” more harm than good….well…ok…. Lets send them back to where they were.

  17. You make some good points, but i think you should also consider where this video is taking place.Italy, The mannerisms and wording used may be different than what we would use, sometimes words and actions can be misinterpreted due to different customs.

    • I completely agree. That was what I was thinking through the entire video. These are not american children. The word ‘caress’ has a negative connotation to us but it really means to touch someone in a gentle caring manner. There’s nothing wrong with touching another human being. Human touch is a very important thing that we are losing in our society. We are creating sterile little worlds for ourselves where on one is allowed to touch us or look at us in any way. I think what we need to teach people is how to touch in a respectful and caring way.

  18. I agree with almost everything you’ve said, except I think that the girl was probably told beforehand what the boys would be asked to do. Realistically I don’t think any of the boys would have hit her anyway, since they all said she’s beautiful or they’d want to date her. That being said, this “experiment” offended me a little. While it’s good that none of the boys wanted to hit her, it seemed that most of them only didn’t hit her because she is female – besides the kid who said he was against violence, at least. A couple of them defended their choices by saying that they’re “men” which, I agree, implies that a “real” man wouldn’t hit a woman… Don’t even get me started on how much I hate that “real man” bullshit. Overall, I think you’re spot on about this video.

    • It’s also illogical, as I doubt even if you had a convicted abuser to fill the role of the boy that he’d even hit a lady on camera.

    • Samatha, you make a great point about the boys not hitting because she is a female. Violence is not a male or female issue its a human issue. Violence is a part of our everyday lives, from bullying to TV to video games to countries going to war. Violence is a human issue, regardless of gender violence is not a solution.

  19. Beautifully said. I think some people feel uncomfortable for having felt moved by the video at first and then being offered a second glimpse through another lens. I prefer your lens.

  20. This video didn’t sit right with me either ,but not for the reasons you state. It was just cloyingly cheesy.

  21. Anyone who dismisses these legitimate observations you make is living in denial or under a rock. Men who commit domestic violence are humans like you and me who were often victimized in their own past. It is so easy to go with the Disney mentality of the world being made up of those who are good and those who are evil. This is simply not life and grossly oversimplifies the complexity of the human psyche. Thank you for bringing to light the feelings I had about it but could not articulate.

    • I agree with you, to an extent. The video was aimed more at raising publicity for their website than raising awareness against domestic violence, or gender equality. I do feel you are going overboard, and maybe over-thinking the situation, which may be due to your past work or experience in such fields.The whole caressing a stranger idea is almost shunned upon in America and the UK, seen as sexual assault and invasion of privacy, but in Italy it is seen differently , almost every emotion in Italy is portrayed by a physical act of some kind! And again, in Italy appearance is a very important factor for both men and women, it has always been like that, looking fashionable and healthy is almost the social norm. There is alot of cultural factors you didn’t take into consideration. If your going to fight against the objectification of women, how about facing the real problems , such as modern music and social media as examples, which express such feelings as a norm. Analyzing a silly video is like taking out your anger for the world by punching the daylights out of a carrot. Its pointless and irrelevant.

  22. This video was made in Italy. Don’t apply American culture and issues to other countries without facts to back up the statements. I wish the girl did answer a coupleof questions but the director/writer didnt want it done. The interviewer just did what he was told.

    • Jeff, the video was made with the goal of reaching an international, English-speaking audience to expand the site’s Facebook likes and engagement. I am making no commentary on Italian culture. I am discussing the relationship of this video’s ill-conceived contents in relation to Western culture more broadly—the culture the producers were clearly seeking to engage with.

      As far as the interviewer (or even the kids) just doing as they’re told, we have a deep understanding of how wrong it can be to simply do as you’re told. Milgram’s famous experiments come to mind— see http://www.simplypsychology.org/milgram.html for more info.

  23. I do agree on the comments concerning the bad choices of letting a girl be touched without her explicit consent on camera. However, this was shot in my hometown in southern Italy where many episodes of drunken violence were reported from men at the damage of women in the last year. Although the video is lacking some elements concerning the “stop objectifying women” side, it should install a sense of regret in all of those who did not realize that hitting a woman because percieved weaker is no honoroable neither acceptable thing. It is not something taken for granted in the least educated areas of the world and those areas are the shooter’s target. I hope you share some of my opinions that consider this video valuable in the end. The next step is to consider the elements of this review but for the most ignorant that “ignore” the consequences of drunken violence on women, I believe is a good first start and should be encouraged rather than beaten down.

  24. Indeed, what right about the video is a far shorter list than what’s wrong with it. We should celebrate the fact that boys will not hit girls when they’re instructed to do so? Seems like nothing more than common civility.

    • Very well said. The fact that so many people wish to celebrate this video speaks to how deeply the problems in our culture truly run. Thank you for reading!

    • No, that’s fucking stupid. They were instructed by an adult, am authority figure, to strike her. And they didn’t. We are taught very early to listen to our elders and not disobey. These boys knew what they were being told to do and we’re being to by an authoritive person. And yet they still refused. You’re so fucking blinded by your idioligies that you don’t see the point. These BOYS who were TOLD to hit a woman, by an AUTHORITIVE figure still had to common decency and humanity to know it’s wrong, so why can’t we as adults?

      • lol! Yep Steph, it’s all just that simple. Those with domestic violence issues just need to follow the kids example and all will be hunky dory. I’m sure you will see violence rates plummet once everyone has viewed this video. Go spread the good word!

  25. It’s natural/scientific law that men are physically superior to women which means women are more susceptible to be victims of domestic violence.
    Any person in their right mind sees this for what it is.
    I think you are letting your personal bias sway your understanding of this video.

    • “It’s natural/scientific law that men are physically superior to women”

      “I think you are letting your personal bias sway your understanding of this video.”

      I’ll just leave those there.

  26. Okay, this video was not meant for a feminist analysis. It was MEANT to show that young boys are raised with the right ideas of how to treat a lady (in this case, no hitting) and then grow out of it. The extreme feminist ideas in this blog post are, overreaching at best. The video is 3 minutes long, and doesn’t delve into details about the young girl because she is just standing as a representation of women worldwide. Not in a negative, “only there for looks” way, but in a way that will accurately show “this is a girl, this is a boy, the boy does not want to hit the girl, because she’s a girl.”
    And frankly, the only reason I think the producers asked the boys questions about themselves, is to show that they were not actors, as the girl is.

    • But is it such a radical idea that a girl should be able to give her own consent before being touched or kissed? Whether she ultimately gave her consent isn’t in question; she clearly did by being in the video. But the fact that the boys didn’t ask her for it is a huge problem. One would certainly hope that the boys did not learn from this that “women worldwide” can be caressed if some authority figure says it’s okay, but that is the unstated message that it conveys.

    • when do we grow out of it? I’m only 47 now and want to be sure to warn future women who might come into my reach that I could decide to hit them for no reason. So far, I haven’t felt any urges, in case that’s significant to your calculations.

    • “this is a girl, this is a boy, the boy does not want to hit the girl, because she’s a girl.”

      Wouldn’t it be better that they didn’t want hit her simply because she is a human being? Why make it gender specific? Imagine if she was another boy instead. Then it would be ok to hit him, or if not ok, not quite as bad as hitting a girl? If so, I’d love to here the logic on that one, since I don’t see a distinction between two human beings who did nothing to warrant getting slapped.

      • Because the topic of the experiment is violence towards women perhaps…..a HUGE problem by itself, correct?

  27. Your diatribe is propaganda and is baseless. Modern-day feminists try to spin a good thing into something that further makes them the victims. Feminist ideology is a fad and at the brink of collapse.

    • how does saying boy should not be taught to touch girls without their permission further make women victims? And, assuming it did, how would that serve the fantasized group you have invented (“modern day feminists”)?

  28. YES THANK YOU! Before I even watched the video and knew about the “caressing” part I found the concept of it appalling. It makes me so sad that people will try to take advantage of concepts like this and make it into clickbait. Or that people say “real men” don’t hit women. It perpetuates the idea that only bad, exceptional men will use physical violence, which parallels the idea that only strangers hiding in the bushes will sexually or physically assault someone when in fact most of the time it’s someone you know and trust.

    • So because you know and trust someone that means they can’t be a bad man? Men that hit women are bad men no matter how well they hid it from you Jessie.

  29. I found the boys charming and well behaved. I found our author aggressive and out-of-touch. She cannot discriminate her politics from little boys.

    • She wasn’t commenting on the boys. She was commenting on the producers.

  30. Y’know, I hated English in my Australian school, yet love to read, love to write, love to articulate myself. But, the reason why I hated it? We were made to try and find long drawn out meaning, in subjects, movies, poems – that just weren’t there.

    What you’re saying is a very feminazi-ish style of bullying. I’m a male, I found the “caress her” part shocking. But to me, it felt as though he was also pointing out the innocence of these children, both her and them. If you were to say to an adult male “caress her” – they without a doubt, would have gone for something more sexual than her arm, shoulder or face. I am not saying this is okay, I’m not justifying the fact other men would do this – I personally would have probably given her a platonic hug at that point – so it wasn’t awkward.

    But my point to this is, you are “finding” this hidden agenda, that was never intended. Your justifications are ridiculous, and you are trying to rope in all men, as a gender and a group as these evil entities that are only out to oppress women, and we claim to have no control over our actions and its all about how we were raised.

    Misandry is as much of the problem in this world, as misogyny.

    • I believe that the author is saying that the video wasn’t used as much to bring awareness as it was to bring clicks for the site. Are you referring to the her points about objectification of women as the hidden agenda? If so, I don’t believe is really a hidden agenda as much as a side effect of the video. Whether we acknowledge it or not, media does impact our implict associations on several topics, such as, race, gender, sexual orientation etc. Havard has an on-going study about this called project implicit. Here is a link for more information

    • Couldn’t she just as easily be awakening the producers to their unconscious mistake so that they might correct them before making more videos that send unintended messages? I found the commentary spot-on and clearly directed at the producers.

      I don’t really understand how you arrived at your opinion that she was “trying to rope in all men, as a gender and a group as these evil entities that are only out to oppress women, and we claim to have no control over our actions and its all about how we were raised.” Reading between the lines is one thing, but you found a whole other article in there somehow.

      • I would bet it’s more likely that she is more interested in forwarding her own agenda.

      • Thank you! I’m a bit mystified by where such an assertion is coming from. It is certainly not grounded in anything I’ve written, ever.

    • um, Caroline, she didn’t say anything about your comment being directed at her sex or gender. She just rightfully pointed out that you brought the level of discourse down several notches and made a fool of yourself. You were apparently so sure she’d knock the chip off your shoulder that you failed to notice when she didn’t. It’s like you said, “Did you write that on Updog?’ and she replied, “I don’t understand,” and you still came back with, “Not much, what’s up with you?! Haha!”

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  32. So glad you wrote this. I agree completely. I think one component of violence is objectification; and as you said, the girl in the video is used as a prop. And let’s not forget the instruction to “Kiss her.” at the end. It is supposed to be cute but kissing someone who doesn’t want to be kissed is assault.

  33. It’s sweet how they say how they are against violence (probably all scripted ), but you are totally right about the boys having their Dreams and ambitions, and the girl having pretty eyes. If violence against pretty girls is bad, then Maybe violence against ugly girls or against men is not quite as bad.
    It’s almost as annoying as when a woman dies prematurely and people go: “such a tragedy, she was so young and beautiful “. Would it be ok to say about someone else “her death is not such a big tragedy, since she wasn’t that pretty after all and already past menopause “.
    And don’t let me even get started on touching in that video, it gives me creeps. And I’m not even a feminist, I call myself conservative, but no violence is a family value in my little world.

    • Mara, thank you. I don’t see this as a uniquely feminist issue in any way. I think it should cut across many political perspectives, as in a civilized world, we should all be able to agree in the inherent worth and dignity of all people—and that objectification and violence are wrong.

      • Yes, inherent dignity, I guest it’s moral relativism that bothers me most in many situations. Some people still can have a stand up comedy about a man being a victim of domestic abuse broadcasted as if there was anything funny about domestic abuse at all or even worse, that there was a need to ‘reverse’ the ‘usual’ roles.
        And as for most social campaigns, they are usually applauded by ordinary people, but I honestly doubt they REACH their supposed target, let alone change them.

        • I think that’s a good point. It’s kind of like a watered-down version of the ALS Bucket Challenge (no pun intended) — a nice idea, but what real good does it do? At least with the ALS Bucket Challenge, people who participated pledged to send funds to ALS. In contrast, in the case of viral videos like this and the one from FCKH8, it’s clickbait in the name of “raising awareness”–but we don’t need to raise awareness. We need to effect change, now.

  34. I became a little put off as soon as the boys were told to “caress her”. I expected at least one of the boys to ask “can I touch you” to the silent girl. But since children are generally eager to comply with adult direction, if only for the sake of avoiding conflict (parental relationships excluded here), I was not surprised with that outcome.
    The reasons given for why the boys would not slap the girl were also quite disturbing. Not one of them said “because it’s wrong”, but instead listed reasons that they should not slap this particular person, which implies that there are reasons someone should be slapped. What if instead of a young girl, the boys were commanded to slap another boy or a disheveled old man? I wager that some of them would have done it, because it is certainly more socially acceptable for one males to commit violence against other males.
    I see this exercise not principally as a statement about female agency, but instead about male disposability. They tend to accompany one-another.

  35. Behind every human is someone entitled to being offended. Some glasses are half full others might enjoy this article. I personally appreciate your thoughtfulness and am thankful that i had a much more positive reaction to this video.

  36. I must say, I only stumbled upon this after watching the video and I did not find it offensive while first watching it. I am a guy, and I consider myself a feminist, but in a way that I simply don’t understand why there still is such a huge difference in all areas of our society between woman and men. EVERYBODY is equal in my eyes.

    That being said, I want to say that I agree with some of what you are saying in your article and comments, but as some others here I just find it very strange how everything can be seen in such different ways. I watched that video and I wanted to High-Five that boy, who said “because I’m a real man” or something like that. Then again, some of you find that offensive because “It perpetuates the idea that only bad, exceptional men will use physical violence”. Isn’t that maybe a bit too much reading into it?

    Besides, whatever a real man is, he sure does not hit girls, well, he probably hits no one if not threatened, right? And when a boy says, “I’m a real man”, he with no doubt does not think about anything else than he said.

    Also I don’t like the point about the word “caress”. I don’t know Italian, but other languages, and as stated before, words can have completely different meanings or rather no direct translation.

    I see your point, Rebecca. I understand you want to adress how this video might not have the best message after all and that women are objectified even on videos like this, where it probably wasn’t meant that way. We both don’t know that. To me it is just all way too much, not just this article, but the general trend of seeing bad stuff in everything.

    But I am not one to overthink a video like this, maybe you are? I really don’t know.

    It was an interesting perspective, but I don’t completely agree.

    Much respect for your writing and especially your patient comments. One thing that annoys me more than overthinking stuff is how comments on the internet are led by weird emotions. You are very rational, Thank you for that.

    • Thanks, Pelu. If I can try again re: my point about “real men”: I think there’s a difference between the macho “he’s a real man” and the literal “this person is a real (in-the-flesh, non-fictitious) man.” I am arguing that part of the problem with the “real man” discourse is that it erases the existence of actual, real men who perpetuate acts of violence against women.

      Further, when we allege that only not-real men commit violence against women, we place victims of domestic violence in a difficult position. These victims typically have known their batterers for quite some time. Suggesting that “real men” don’t do the things that the “real, actual men” they know and love have been doing makes it harder for them to reconcile their situation and see the reality of their situation. It’s not a “mistake” their men makes occasionally, or something the women “deserve”: These men, these real men, are in fact batterers who perpetuate violence against women.

      Check out the feministing link I include at the end of my post for more on this critique of the discourse, if it interests you. Thanks again for reading!

      • I see where you’re coming from. I have not studied how this affects women in a situation like this, therefore, I can not really argue against this with certainty. Still, I have a problem with it, because this goes even one level beyond in the analysis of this video. You are saying if a young boy, in a video meant (i guess) to show how boy’s don’t hit girls (in a staged situation), justifies his rejection of the adult’s command “slap her” with ” ‘Cause I’m a man”, it might affect women or people in general in a negative way?

        Then the only accaptable answer would be “Because I am against violence” right?

        They are kids. They had to respond, without time to think much before. I don’t know what I would’ve said, but it might well have been that “real man” answer, simply not thinking about all possible consequences.

  37. I disagree. The questions to the boys are to engage them and win their trust, which is unnecessary with girl for the purposes of the video. They are children not adults, so take the lead from elders/authority. You can see the confusion when they are asked to slap her. They are weighing up the instructions of the authority figure against what they know to be wrong. You can see that hesitation also when it comes to the “caress” instruction. You see that they understand it breaches boundaries; they look uncomfortable. It seems to me they have been taught well. They understand boundaries and the difference between being familiar and over familiar. As a society, interaction is a foundation of how we survive. Hand shaking, shaking with one hand and touching someone’s hand with our other hand, a kiss on the cheek or both cheeks, all to people we may have met for the first time. I feel your opinion is sexualising children at too young an age. The boys behaved with an innocence that is appropriate for their age, while exhibiting that they understand the difference between right and wrong. I wish people would stop over complicating childhood things with over active adult brains.

    • You put it more succinctly than I did. I feel you have found the proper words here. I feel that the people who see all the ‘problems’ in the video is doing, exactly as you say – people like these, including the author of this blog, are sexualizing children, they are over complicating childhood things. And that is unfair to the creators of the video, who has a perfectly awesome message – respect woman. And in doing so, in breaking down a video with the message “stop violence against women”, they are doing harm, not good.

      I am reminded of school days, when in English classes, we used to analyse poems. The teacher, she was a great teacher, but she would find meaning in the words of the poem one day, that was so complicated, so unrealistic, that one of my classmates asked her “But teacher, really, do you really believe that even the poet meant to use these words in all the ways you can analyse the poem and conjure up meanings?”. Even the teacher admitted, “I don’t know!”. I think people see things that do not exist, in a perfectly well-intentioned and even well-executed video. No, the video is not saying, not even suggesting, it is OK for any random boy to touch any random girl. It is an experimental setting, with a consenting girl, and I bet not only the boys but also the girl know this ‘setup’, this ‘game’. Ask any one of those boys, on a random day without any prior instruction, to go and touch a random girl, and they will say no.

      So yeah, who is doing the sexualizing here? I feel that the author should really think about this question carefully. Take the video for what it is, not for what convoluted meanings can be extracted from it. Back to the poem analogy – the poem was probably a beautiful poem about love or something – the fact that some of the letters of the poem could be re-arranged to spell, say, “hate”, is meaningless and to pursue such objections is not constructive nor deserved. The poor author just had an important message about love (or whatever the poem was clearly about).

      • Marius, Caroline, I think you might have an incorrect understanding of the term “sexualization.” Are you familiar with the APA’s report on the sexualization of girls? Per their definitions and criteria set, nothing that I’ve written sexualizes the children in the video.

        I wouldn’t even argue that the producers of this PSA are sexualizing the children. Anyone who makes that argument is in error.

        The producers do objectify the girl, Martina, however. While objectification and sexualization are related terms, they are not synonymous.

        If this is a subject that interests you, I’d encourage you to read more — perhaps starting with the APA Task Force’s report on the sexualization of girls, which is available online for free, and then considering a thoughtful, well-researched book such as “Her Next Chapter” by author Lori Day. You might find the info they contain relevant and helpful.

        Thanks so much for reading and commenting. Have a great evening.

    • I agree 100%. And couldn’t of said it better. Thx

  38. Rebecca, I enjoyed your writing even though I don’t agree with most of it. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Honestly, when watching this video, it didn’t occur to me that somebody would be offended by the way the director communicated his or her message. Even after reading your thoughts, I still see it as a mostly harmless video showing that all men could stand to think more like these boys do about hitting women.

    I’m a little put off by the fact that you think a man should never simply touch a woman unless asked to. I believe a man should ABSOLUTELY shut it down if she says no, but society and history basically indoctrinates young men to believe they have to take the lead in courting and sex. Additionally, it seems like a lot of women believe that to be the man’s role too. I’ve had two women move on me first, and to be honest in both cases the woman was drunk and somewhat promiscuous in the first place. Any time I was genuinely interested in a woman and wanted to make my moves at the right time and carefully, I was always going to have to lean in first. I’m actually curious as to what you’d propose as a solution.

    Finally, although Martina says nothing in this video, she does laugh a few times and react with humor to many of the boys’ responses. To me it doesn’t seem like she’s there to be an object, and comes off as a normal girl. If she were meant to be an object she would have had a generic happy expression the entire time and not made a sound. She had real reactions to some of the comments.

    • Gerard, I would like to clarify something. I don’t think a man should never simply touch a woman unless asked to. But boys need to be taught that until they have a romantic relationship based on mutuality and respect, they can’t just randomly touch romantic prospects who appeal to them. An unwanted kiss is categorized as a form of assault, after all. So to just randomly have the boys touch a girl they just met, who was calculated to appeal to them for her beauty, strikes me as clearly wrong.

      • At what point was this video about romance? This video was about young boys weighing up instructions from figures of authority (with parental consent no doubt), against what they have been taught about right from wrong. Further, they showed awareness of non verbal communication too. Who said the girl was a romantic prospect? If they had used someone less traditionally “beautiful” would that have changed things? (I suspect you have something to say about perceived traditional beauty also). They didn’t randomly touch her. It was a controlled environment. They all showed appropriateness and thought in their behaviour. I explain in more detail in my previously posted response.

        • If you view the video again, one of the boys would like to be her boyfriend. The producers incorporated puppy-love-type romantic undertones into the piece. But I was responding specifically to Gerard’s comment and to the broader societal context in which we must understand a video such as this.

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  40. Rebecca, thanks for the post. And your acerbic replies to some of the comments were highly entertaining! I agree with a lot of what you said. The interviewer was all about the boys likes and interests, and the girl was just to stand there looking pretty. And it’s true that the “I can’t hit her because she’s pretty / because she’s a girl” is total horse-shit. Fanpage.it are assholes, and so’s the interviewer. I didn’t share the video either because I think it was badly done.

    However, I think it is worth noting that life in Italy is very different. They are very tactile people. This goes for men and women, alike you don’t ask for permission to touch over there, or in many other parts of Europe either. People will often touch you lightly on the arm as they speak to you, in a completely non-threatening way. You kiss on both cheeks when you’re introduced to someone usually, though many younger boys might decline because “kissing girls is gross”.

    I also think that some commenters may have over-analysed the intentions of the youngest boy, who did lean forward as if to obey the order and hit her. (Hello? Awkwardness! Pressure!) The child is very young, and from a teacher’s perspective (I teach kids of the same age), I know that they touch each other all the time. They push, they shove, they caress, they hug, they kiss and they cuddle. And they mean no harm in it, unless they’re actually trying to hurt someone in a fight. I don’t think there was anything “creepy” about him, nor do I see that he touched her “as if he’d won a prize”. He touched her elbow. And he was giggling at the awkwardness and silliness of it – come on… Imagine someone saying “touch that person” and standing there, waiting for you to respond, at that age, you couldn’t be blamed for nervous giggling.

    Apart from that though, I think your insight was excellent, and you put into words what many viewers couldn’t!

    • I agree with your perspective.
      I was also surprised how negative some commenters were.

      I guess the whole ad could be redeemed if they let the girl or girls say something about themselves, make a connection.

      How people react to strangers tells little about how they treat their family or close friends.

      • It’s true. There are a lot of interesting folks visiting my blog today–some genuinely so, while others are cowards who hide behind their fake email addresses and swagger about how the rest of us are imbeciles. (But in most cases, with much simpler words and significantly worse grammar.)

        Anyhow, thank you for reading! I agree–the video could have been redeemed with just a little effort. Consulting with a person or organization with an expertise in domestic violence would have been a reasonable start.

    • As an Italian, i can tell you anyone i’ve come across who is also Italian has no sense of personal space. It’s just the way they are, they’ll all very welcoming and everyone is treated like family even if your not.
      My students are the same way, there always in each others space and mine sometimes 😛 but its never intentional. Especially at that age, their young, i don’t think they fully realize that even if you like someone holding you hand, they may not like it.
      I honestly don’t think the intention for the video was bad plus it’s clearly working since everyone is talking about domestic violence. I think the interviewer may have focused on the boys to make them comfortable so that they acted more naturally when the girl was introduced.

    • Thank you, Charline! That’s a very helpful perspective regarding life in Italy.

      I agree with you, too, that some commenters have over-analyzed the youngest boy’s intentions. I think he’s actually very sweet, with all the giggling, and it’s apparent to me that he meant no harm. Little sweetheart!

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  43. I think REAL MEN don’t hit women. If you hit a woman you are lacking an element that makes you a complete man. I believe the message to the boys is this: you care for someone, for whatever reason (in this case maybe these young impressionable boys are stuck by her appearance maybe not, but it sounds like you’ve decided for sure they are superficial) you have a good time with them (the silly face) you are personal with them (the caress) and then are asked to strike her and they don’t want to. It’s disturbing to them. That’s the point of the video: “How can you do this to someone?” Stop making it about feminism. Maybe you think I’m ignorant. But I think most people would agree with me. Stop ripping it apart. It’s a good message.

    • Most victims and survivors of domestic violence agree that the “real men don’t hit” discourse harms more than it helps. What’s so bad about calling this video out for perpetuating a harmful way of framing violence against women? I’d love to hear more about what concerns you about my analysis. Thank you for reading and commenting.

      • Hi Rebecca,

        First of all, excellent analysis of this video. I felt supremely creeped out after watching it, and you perfectly articulated why.

        I think there are several other problems with the “real men don’t hit” discourse that some of your commenters may be missing, in addition to the psychological confusion and harm it may cause victims of domestic violence. For one, the reason not to hit is still about the man and not about considering the woman (or any other victim of domestic violence) as an autonomous individual with value.

        Another problem is this kind of dichotomous, or at least categorical, idea of what is means to “be a man.” Can you still be a man if you only hit a few times? Or if you hit once, are you automatically not a man and therefore, since you’ve already blown it, you may as well continue hitting? Or if you fit the masculine ideal in other respects, can you reach some sort of manly equilibrium, even if you hit your partner? Or what if you don’t identify as “man?”

        And then, of course, there is the problem of an exaggeration of the agency of the individual and refusal to acknowledge domestic violence as a social norm: domestic violence does not occur because a male does not fulfill his socially-mandated role of “being a man.” Rather, it occurs in a social context in which systematic devaluation of women allows it to occur. These are not freak occurrences of individuals deviating significantly from the norm, though many people find comfort in this false belief.

        And this might be the part that irks me the most: “real men don’t hit” discourse is an attempt to shame men into refraining from domestic violence by comparing men that hit TO WOMEN. In general western perspectives, masculinity is contrasted to femininity. If you are not a man, you are, by default, a woman. It perpetuates this idea that being a “real man” means fulfilling your role as a protector of women, and if you’re not fulfilling your role as the protector, you must be part of the feminized, non-protector group. Threat of association with this inferior group, then, is what’s being used to dissuade men from committing violence against this very group. It’s twisted. (Some may argue that the contrast is boys vs men, but I really don’t think this is the case. Think “you fight like a girl,” “don’t be a sissy,” and other gendered insults used against men and boys. This kind of shaming starts early.)

        Anyway, I hope I stop seeing this video being shared on my Facebook, but when I do, I will be sure to direct friends to your post.

  44. Oh my gosh this is exactly how I felt about it to. I briefly expressed my opinions on what annoyed me about it which you have perfectly written about here. Some agreed but I was abused, insulted, and got some very aggressive replies from men. Goes to show how far we still need to come.

    • Such an insightful comment! Thank you very much for enlightening us all with your unique intellect and rapier wit.

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  46. Oh, please. This video did good to raise awareness.

  47. As a teacher candidate i respect all of the points made and i think the above comments and article has been carefully thought out and analysed.
    I don’t think the video was meant to to offensive i think it was just to get the boys reaction about violence towards women. All of them refused to slap her because it would hurt her, and the youngest boy, was not even 10 so hitting and slapping may still be a form of play for him at that age. I agree, they all caress her arm or face without consent. But children in general have no degree of individual space. My students are constantly in each other’s and my face. I think it does highlight the fact that women’s bodies are not respected as they should be. Yes, the man off the camera was telling the boys to hit her. Perhaps this was done to see how the boys would react when an adult male figure was telling them to do it. And yes, they did caress her as everyone and myself have stated, but they refused to hit her. I think that was the point of the video. Everyone has had great things to say whether it was in opposition or defence. But at the end of the day, there is also good to the video. And calling it sickening, may be going too far since they had good intention. Especially since it seems to have picked up attention and gotten people talking about domestic violence.

  48. This is an excellent analysis of that horrible viral video. Thanks Rebecca. The worst part as you say is that this encourages boys to physically touch women or girls without consent being given and also implies that it is up to boys to decide what is ok, what is the limit to this and what is violent. The stereotypical pretty girl is the prize. This is rapey.

  49. I felt like it victimized the little boys…it put these sweet little boys in a place of ugliness and uncertainty …being told by an adult to hurt another child girl or boy is not ok…I would be very angry if these had been my children. Very angry.

  50. I note that the criticisms of this post entirely fail to address Rebecca’s points or demonstrate any concern for how the girl in the video is being objectified. It’s all about identifying with the boy, which pretty much proves her case.

  51. Real men don’t hit anyone. People who automatically resort to violence are sad, and frustrated people who are, most likely, trying to compensate for some of their shortcomings.

    As for your argument that this video objectifies women because Martina was not introduced like the boys were, I would say that them doing that was an important part of their message, basically illustrating that no woman, no matter her personality should be hit by a man. And I don’t blame the boys for noticing her physical appearance; all genders notice people’s appearance before anything else.

    • Do you understand my point, though, that the men who hit others are in fact real men in the world around us? They’re not imaginary. They’re very, very real—and alleging that “real men don’t hit” erases the experiences of countless domestic violence victims at the hands of men who are very much real.

      • I believe the issue then, as pertaining to your post above, is how we are using the word “real” to describe the word “men.” There is “real” being used to mean “existing” OR the “real” being used to mean more along the lines of “fundamental/containing essential qualities that truly define what the word is an adjective to.”

        The “real” in the “real men don’t hit” phrase is not referring to just all men that exist, but rather, a certain group of men that actually try to live out being honorable and respectful.

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  53. Thank you for writing this Rebecca, it’s amazing how many of the men’s comments show fury at the fact that we should ask for consent before touching anyone. How dare we try and spoil their fun.

    • It’s really difficult to be confronted with evidence that you’ve been behaving with privilege all your life. It always is.

  54. It’s super easy to find the negativity in most things on the planet, this social experiment included. I think your view is remotely interesting at best because of this. Clearly, the point of the experiment was to see how the young boys feel about violence, especially towards their female counterparts. For all we know, the producers may have asked the girl questions about herself and her dreams, but they cut it out because that was not the point of the piece. Can you try to look on the bright side/positive?

  55. I haven’t read all the comments, so perhaps someone already said this. This article is wonderful and deals with many of the issues which concerned me when I saw the video. I would like to add one more concerning issue, though. When the children are asked why they won’t hit Martina, the response should have been, because we don’t hit people. Because violence is never okay. Because this is a human being. The way these boys responded makes is seem that girls are delicate flowers, and therefore they shouldn’t be hit. This just perpetuates the gender binary, and causes more harm than good.

  56. Is it possible that the video was made as a tool to generate conversation between mothers and sons? Seemed that way for my sister -in-law and her boys. It was a starting point for a conversation. Just a thought.

    • They say explicitly on their FB page that their goal is to generate likes and engagement, to support their online newsletter. It would be nice if they intended it as a discussion tool, but I wouldn’t give them that much credit–sites that wish to foster parent-child discussion usually offer fairly clear advice and guidance on how to do so effectively.

  57. This is dumb. The point of the video is to show what a boy would do when violence is suggested
    They are not trying to form a love connection or a relationship.
    And a lot of adult men don’t ask about/ know about a girl when first pursuing her….they just do.
    This video is well done. It is pointing out that young boys don’t want to hit/hurt someone they might potentially like.
    The person who wrote this needs to stop being so offended and soft and appreciate the beauty of young boys not wanting to hurt girls. There is NOTHING wrong with that. I am a mom of two boys. Whether they like a girl or not, they respectfully would not hit or hurt her.

    • Thanks for reading and for these comments. What was your interpretation of the video’s message regarding violence against women? How do you think the producers wished audience members to view the boys’ peaceful actions in relation to the violent actions that countless men make on a daily basis?

  58. I disagree. The questioning at the beginning is part of a common technique to build rapport to encourage compliance. Right or wrong, the vast majority of people are going to follow what appears to be a harmless directive after such a conversation. The girl was introduced by the questioner, so the kids had two reasons to comply – assumption that the adult speaker had a right to ask for an action and percieved compliance by the girl who was there with the adult and not moving away when what appeared to be two harmless directives (the compliment and the caress) came up. Also, the adult was likely seen as a person with some authority, so we have three factors other than simply seeing a woman as an object at play here. And the girl didn’t seem upset at the compliment nor the caress.

    The fact that the boys all went against the general vibe of “This is all harmless, we’re having fun and chatting so do what I ask to avoid awkwardness” was what jumped out at me.

  59. Think folks are reading way too much into this.. I assumed the girl, as part of the experiment, was willing to be caressed. The fact that they didn’t ask her permission in my opinion lies in the fact that the boys didn’t think that was a bad thing or that they should have asked. They also did not see any flinching or hesitation on her part. Finally we are talking about Italians so one needs to put this in the cultural context. I am Italian/American and, believe me , they have come a long way baby! ( yes , more work needs to be done but this is huge step in the right direction!!!)

  60. Outstanding piece! Very articulate – I shared it right away. Well-meaning friends were sharing the video on my page – your article put into words what I was thinking and feeling, and then some. Keep up the great writing, and the wonderful work.

      • also, I meant to say: so sorry about all the awful, mean-spirited, epithet-filled, hateful responses from so many men on this page. You are responding to so many of these comments, it must be a part-time job for you now – hope it pays well!

        • Ha–it pays $0! But thanks for the nice thought. 🙂 I’m an educator, and I think it’s important to engage with people where they are, in a way that is not inflammatory. I might close comments on this post later today, though–I’ve had to delete a lot of threatening and hate-filled comments, so I won’t leave it unmoderated. Hm.

  61. This morning before I saw your post, my son showed me this video and said “Look at this Mom. This video is so creepy.” When I asked him why he used the word creepy, he said that it was like the girl was non existent, “just a prop” were his exact words. We agreed that we understood what they were going for, but they had totally missed the mark. This is a 24-year-old young man who could see that something was wrong. Note, all of those boys touched her and gazed at her. So even if they didn’t hit her, they had no problem invading her space. Creepy and disrespectful. Great piece Rebecca. I really don’t understand why all of the hate you are getting in response.

    • Thank you very much! I really appreciate this comment. It sounds like you have done a wonderful job raising your son. If he can so readily see that the video is creepy and objectifying, I wonder why so many people seem offended at the thought that it’s anything less than perfect the way it is?

  62. I see that you believe that women should not be touched unless they give permission but shouldn’t it go both ways. It comes across as more of a witch hunt for a feminist agenda when you don’t address it for both sides. The video is open for interpretation many people will see it many different ways so I don’t have a problem with your criticisms. My criticism of your criticism so to speak is that men are subject to these same behaviors as well and if its equality you seek I think you should address both sides, male and female

    • I agree that permission should go both ways; all people are entitled to bodily autonomy and respect. If you read closely, however, you’ll note that I’m addressing the contents of one specific video, which features a young girl who is touched by young boys under the directives of a man off-camera. If you can find a comparable video in which girls touch a boy, I would be glad to take a look at it and see if I have any insights to offer.

      Thanks for your comment–have a great evening.

  63. Here’s my take on it. I don’t agree with their choice of asking the boys to touch her, but I know where they were going with this video. They were trying to show that it was so simple for these boys to make the choice of not hitting her, so why shouldn’t that be a no-brainer to everyone in our world today? I think the reason they didn’t have this sweet girl talk, was to show that even with someone who was a stranger, the option of harming her was never even considered by them. Also, domestic violence is a very serious issue, and I don’t think they were trying to make light of it. I think they were trying to show how simple the choice should be to not abuse those around us. Just my thoughts, I appreciate differing ones.

  64. A few issues I have with both sides:

    1: Who the girl is, is irrelevant. Martina is likely not even her real name. She was part of the experiment.

    2: Notice where the boys touch the girl. Appropriate places. They don’t grab her boobs, or butt, or touch her thighs, or any other place that is instinctively threatening.

    3: The video shows not only “not to hit girls”, but how kids refuse to give in to peer pressure to do something they feel is wrong.

    4: People nowadays don’t need a link after every “help” video. Most people are intelligent enough to know anything can be found online.

  65. Rebecca, I feel the uncomfortableness in this experiment as well. It’s a tough issue and there are many steps between here and there. I am reminded that Italy has a very passionate culture with much more strongly defined gender roles. They don’t have the same personal space needs, communicate with body language and touching is the way they interact. There is a beautiful balance in that passionate contrast that could be thrown out of whack. I think many Italians would be confused if they were told to treat everyone asexually, forget your gender roles, avoid interaction and well… Act more American. I see your frustration. I’m just trying to help here.

    • Great points, Brad, thank you. Note, thought, that my response to the video has no bearing on how Italians should or shouldn’t act. It’s about patterns of female objectification that cut across Western culture. If Martina were presented as a three-dimensional person, rather than an object, it would be an entirely different scenario. I’ve visited Italy, and I hardly think it’s normal for random men to direct young boys to touch nearby girls. The video isn’t an authentic reflection of Italian culture, though it was produced in Italy; indeed, it was produced for export, with an international target audience. All factors worth taking into consideration.

      • ahh, thanks. I missed the detail about an international target audience. That is odd then. On the bright side, seeing how children act does provoke some interesting discussions because people aren’t born aggressive or disrespectful or womanizing, or… for that matter nobody is born a racist or terrorist or sinner or gang member.

      • Hi Rebecca.
        I saw this video a while before I read this.

        Fortunately I didn’t need the subtitles.

        This video was made in Italy, by Italians, for Italians.
        I know this because they all use Italian slang and phrases, If it were for distribution they would try to simplify the dialogue.

        I have to agree with you 100%.This video is not crafted well and there are lots “hanging chads” to get hooked up on if we really dig into it…but there is a HUGE context you are missing. The context of culture.

        Let me explain.
        I lived in Italy. The first time for a year (2003-2004) and the second time for two years (2008-2010) and I return every 6 months for work.
        I also married an Italian.

        Remember The iconic 1951 image “American Girl in Italy”?.That really IS Italy. Make NO mistake. Italy is an ancient Patriarchal culture. Men rule. Even their language is expressed in only male/female nouns, sexual equality is alien to many.

        Italians are passionate and impulsive. They yell, they laugh, they hug, they kiss, they push, they touch and sometimes they fight.
        When I was there in 2003 I was appalled at how men treated women. Horrible!!

        Back then, the way it was treated in their culture was the exact way they treated the very real (outside your door, real) MAFIA….. Nostra Cosa (Our thing/way)…. Silence…..They NEVER talked about. Only in recent years have I even heard anything close to Domestic Abuse discussed in Italy.
        Even though this was a poorly crafted video with many flaws, I see it as an attempt at dialogue and they are garnering exposure to the cause thru “likes” (horrible them).

        Considering their culture I am happy they are saying something, anything really. They haven’t said anything about this issue in, like, never.
        The idea presented was that even a child can see we need to treat each other well and that even the young boys are inherently opposed to harming others.

        In Italian culture, to say man is not a man is a HUGE offense.The whole video is crafted to lead to the moment the boy says “Because I am a Man”. Its like a Muslim person throwing a shoe at someone as an insult (remember Prez Bush?) and to be called out by a child would be enraging to a “man”. Especially if you were an offender. Maybe he may be as offended as the “Western World” is at Domestic Abusers.

        The intent is to offend to get a man’s attention, and maybe to make think for a moment, a man who is losing control to slow, just enough,so he may not go a step too far.

        If we judge another culture only in OUR context and the way we think the world should work, we will vilify and alienate many cultures and countries we really have no knowledge about. The whole world doesn’t work like us.

        That being said I agree with your “context” and I see your points, but if you really feel that this video is more harmful than helpful to “our culture”….well… ok…. Let’s pull the plug and just send them back to where they came from.

        ps. After moving back to NY with my Italian wife, I am happy to report my wife is elated to find equality in a country that has had the benefit of decades of dialogue.

  66. “Look – apart from the fact that its basic premise is flawed (Why would you ask somebody to slap somebody else for no reason at all? This makes no sense in any setting) this video is an instruction in stereotypical gender roles. The voice of an invisible man commands these boys to comment on a girl’s appearance, in 3rd person form no less, which serves to objectify her (did you catch that?) Next they are told to stereotypically engage her, they’re not asked what THEY would like to do, nor is the girl asked anything (!). Next the slapping bit, during which the reportedly 9-year-old boy says ‘As the saying goes, girls shouldn’t be hit, not even with a flower,’ a phrase that I am to believe the kid just happens to know.

    Two more points of interest:
    1. The questions are not asked directly, but have been edited in as voice overs. Why is that?
    2. During this whole vid, the girl just stands there, being talked _about_ rather than being engaged. She might as well be a doll. Wouldn’t it have been interesting to hear from her? But apparently we men don’t need a woman’s opinion in order to know how to _be a man_… Well, let me tell you, if I want to learn about sexism, I ask a woman about her views, her perspective, her ideas. I find it unbelievable, really unbelievable, that the only female in this video is not allowed to speak and that we are being sold this as a lesson in anti-sexism. Sorry, I think not.

    Additionally, this video serves to perpetuate two resilient myths: that somehow children are not racist/sexist/transphobic/homophobic, which is demonstrably untrue (sexism is internalised at very early ages, at 9 years old its workings have been firmly established) and that ‘we should look to the children’ as our paradigms of moral purity, a blatantly nonsensical idea.

    So, just to be complete: no, an Italian man did not interview them, the questions have been voiced over, and the answers pre-written. This is not a lesson in etiquette, this is a manifestation of sexism.”
    Wobbe Kuiper

  67. These are innocent children who are just showing what they know, what their parents have taught them. The girl doesn’t know or probably never thought going into this that she was being “Objectified”, and the boys never thought that they were being subjected to portraying domestic violence. This is all coming to a head right now in our society however, it is saddening to see someone knit-picking at something that is supposed to be innocent.

    It is a sad sad thing to see something that has made me and probably a huge portion of people smile, turned into something else completely.

  68. I definitely feel your points were sound, well thought out, and had plenty of evidence to hold their ground. The other day in the theater I saw the trailer to “Fifty Shades of Grey” and I was frustrated and rubbed the wrong way. The woman was portrayed as having no direction or ambition until a man, better known as her puppet master, finally takes over her life. Literally, she says something like “enlighten me,” as if she is incapable of living on her own. It goes to show women are too often defined in terms of how they relate to men sexually. I’m sure many women would want to hear a man tell them she’s beautiful and to caress her, which are all important, but in a relationship. It’s not the the territory of strangers. And at the same time it portrays women as only needing to gain physical approval from men, as if they can’t understand anything beyond that, which disturbs me for men and women as well. Granted, this video was Italian, and I’ve heard plenty of female friends tell stories of literally being chased down the streets of Italy by men, so maybe this example is a little more polarized coming from this region. And I think the biggest problem is how you said this was “click bait,” which immediately dissolves the videos integrity. The children were all adorable, and I’m glad they know not to hit a girl, but again, even men who beat women don’t often attack strangers. So it gained no ground for the issue it claimed to be championing. Anyways, that’s all to say I’m right there with you. I don’t believe the people who made this video intended wrong, and there is some merit to what they tried to accomplish, but in the grand scheme of things it revealed more wrong than right. Thanks for sharing this. Keep your voice out there.

    • I just thought I’d say I also am disturbed by 50 shades of grey being released as a movie. I read a full synopsis and first I can say it is a bunch of crap…just things in the book make no sense…like the characters are from Seattle, Washington and meet once… But then the next week in Portland, Oregon they just so happen to run into each other like “oh hey”…but I guess that’s fiction for ya…but more so the idea of a book about BDSM has somehow gotten such praise and honestly majoritily purchased and read by women? Most of whom would say that they wouldn’t be in BDSM??? Its all weird…

  69. Oh my god lady. This video is proving a point, that even a child knows it’s wrong to hit women. It has nothing to do with how Martina is perceived or blah blah.

  70. I wonder if one of the boys would slap her, had she been ugly. They all seem interested in her, that might also be the reason of them not slapping her. Just a speculation and something to think about.

  71. Awesome video.. I would be so proud of my son. what a petty thing for you to nit pic at. talk about creating drama .. finding bad in the good hearted. you are taking away their innocence

  72. Pingback: Viral Italian PSA About Domestic Violence Makes A Good Point, But Not Without Flaws | CauseHub

  73. UGH…Seriously?

    This analysis is incorrect for the following reasons:

    1. The camera, camera man, the host, and the appearance of the girl establish a controlled experiment from the beginning. This interview is hardly “exploitative”… that word connotes malicious intent, which is not the case here. The nature of the questions are basic questions anyone asks of a child – bringing out the innocence. The order to slap her in the face was tongue in cheek because the crew and the organization were fairly certain these boys wouldn’t abuse a girl on camera. It would be silly of them to put their actress in physical danger…

    2. The music is gentle. The framing focuses on the their faces. It’s obvious the girl is part of the interview because the host refers to her, AND I’m going to argue the girl is the SUBJECT of the conversation, not the object. Let’s also make it clear that this girl most likely signed a contract and or offered her consent prior to the experiment.

    3. The order to “caress” her took an extremely innocent form. They were acts of LOVE not HATE. That’s the fucking point of this video. Not a single one those boys abused her. They meekly touched her cheek and shoulder. That’s not objectifying. They showed clear restraint a.k.a. they took this girl’s feelings into consideration. The way you portrayed these actions made it seem like this girl was being violated, which – if we assume this organization is professional – was the not the case since they already gained her consent by legal means.

    4. “Because I’m a man” can hold a number of interpretations – why you choose to believe the worst of them, beats me. I think the boy meant “I am a civilized man” not “I’m the better sex”.

  74. Hey Rebecca,

    Just felt like it was important to leave my support. I think there were probably good intentions in the making of the clip, but I think it was not thought through deeply by the creators. And I happen to believe that ideas put forward with good intentions, but by people lacking insight, can be just as detrimental to issues of equality as the hatemongering that seems to be pervasive online.

    Thanks for your views, you summed up my discomfort with the video very well.

  75. Whereas I understand what you’re saying on some points (I.e. you’re right she doesn’t talk…and that’s a little odd) I think you’re reading a little too far into it. Like the “what do you like about her?” question – I highly doubt those boys or any adult males watching thought anything of the supporting of objectification of women. They just answered honestly with what they were given to examine. You could do the same with me. I’d just answer honestly and wouldn’t think anything of it either way. And grown men probably just all thought “wow immature children wont hit a girl and refuse violence and yet im a so-called grown up”. No conscious thought towards objectification of a person.

    I mean you say the video teaches objectification… But yet I doubt the boys thought that and I know the producers didn’t intend that so essentially if the teacher didnt mean to teach and the student doesn’t recognize a lesson how could anything be “taught” in that instance?

    Also a point I’d like to make about sexism is that a big problem with feminists (not all, just a good portion) is the idea that men naturally objectify women, or are trained to do so, or that men try to support the idea that women are beneath men. I bring this up because I’ve been through a lot of sexual harassment classes (im military and we get classes…not that im a victim or predator just to clarify) and the structure is normally geared towards that idea. Which is kinda ridiculous because those classes are also being sexist since its ALWAYS men who are the predator…and its insinuating that you are in our heads – like you know in my mind I’m like “mwahaha I am man and girls are nothing but sex toys”…

    Seriously there is a prevalent attitude in feminism that just because a guy notices anything physical that it means we’ve manifested that female as an inanimate object and nothing more. It is bogus and you proved that belief exists by assuming these boys are learning objectification from being asked to comment on her in this silly video. And this belief (that you share in this article) is damaging and sexist in its own way. These boys may have been like “i like her eyes” but i guarantee you they pondered who she is as a person too and just because the interviewer asked what they like physically did not kill their wonder of who she is personally.

    Heres why that assumption of men examining a physical property as being objectification is damaging: In the gym I see a guy with massive biceps and I admire his physique, then I notice a female with great legs and admire her, both notice I’m admiring them but guess which one is most likely going to freak out at me for “objectifying” them? Here’s a hint – not the guy. She’s in my head assuming she knows what I think because shes learned and been conditioned from articles like this and those sexual harassment classes that just because i was in fact a male examining physical properties of her person that i must as a male be thinking shes a piece of meat and the messed up thing is I know she’s a person I just was admiring both of their bodies regardless of gender. She didnt get classes or read an article that stated because I checked her out physically that i could possibly just be impressed that it must have taken a lot of hard work for her to be in great shape…I guess what I’m indicating is a flaw to your article that this is possibly supporting objectifying women is actually another terrible lesson against equality because its promoting the assumption that we even thought that way at all. Basically what I got from your opinion “because men objectify women this video teaches the participants and audience that its okay to do so because that’s what these men/boys were doing” instead of declaring that this video was poorly developed which is really all it is…The producers weren’t trying to objectify women, the boys weren’t trying to, I never thought it was – You did. You thought it did and put out an article that now puts that thought into other people heads that it did….just saying

    Now i will say the video is totally flawed on the idea that all these boys were told not to hit girls…only one said he’s against violence period. Meaning if Martina was Martin they might have different results. But i blame the parents and society for claiming just because a girl is a girl you cant hit them. I disagree with that belief. Not that i codone woman beating. I just mean i believe in restraint from violence regardless…and if a woman attacks me id do the same things to protect myself as i would fighting a man…and im going to teach my daughter how to box (for defense) and camp and hunt, etc…

    Also, addressing domestic violence, there is comparatively small number in which the man hit the woman because of the gender difference. Not saying it doesnt happen at all. But violent men dont tend to hit women only…more than likely they’ve been in bar fights with other men and any violence they inflict on their girlfriend or spouse is simply the attitude of a bully (because they can) and not so much sexism. Gender difference shouldn’t really be brought up in these cases (especially if we want equality). Domestic violence really happens because of the individuals behavioral problems, not gender. In fact ive been attacked by more women (i worked at a bar and had a couple aggressive girlfriends) and heard of more cases of women attacking their husbands than any men I know of. But again I base this off of the “because they think they can do it” not gender. And lord knows society let’s them…go ahead and look up how many cases there are where women attacked their husbands but weren’t charged or dragged through the dirt on the news as badly as the men who do the same. And we all know (lord knows I do) that even if a woman starts a fight the minute a man does anything he’s going to jail. I’ve seen it. I’ve seen plenty of cases where a woman attacks a man – sometimes with a weapon – and the man defended himself with ONE swing and somehow he goes to jail (or the MP station) and she gets to stay in the house. And his face will be on the news…whatever…society needs an overhaul….

    Just my thoughts. Think of them what you will. But anyone replies to me I feel like you should understand I totally believe in equality and as a military man I totally agree with women being capable of anything a man can do…just letting you know so I ward off any “you’re sexist” or “don’t respect women” comments because I really do…

    PS – I appreciate the book you wrote. I think raising girls to act like princesses is gross and addressing the ramifications of such upbringing is very necessary. Seems like a good read.

  76. I believe the premise of the video actually is beneficial. I read it as “if you hit a woman there’s something wrong with you”. I feel like it’s appealing to a man’s sense of empathy – the one that consistently prevents me from harming another living thing, even during times of anger. I feel like it even appeals to sociopaths who don’t have a sense of empathy, as if to say “if you hit a woman you’ll be rejected by society”, which I would say is a good incentive, since we can’t give someone a conscience.

    There are some things I agree with, and I’d like to add something – I would have liked to see the narrator ask the boys what they wanted to know about her. It’s natural to make some level of judgement on someone’s appearance, regardless of gender, so I think we need to focus more on encouraging curiosity than punishing people for appreciating someone’s looks.

    I feel like society, with the individual struggle for survival (due to the financial crisis, ISIS, etc), has replaced compassion with self-preservation, creating a vicious cycle of distrust. I’d like to see children being raised not to see each other as “untouchable” (which I believe reinforces the value of appearance), but how to connect with each other, not to be afraid of a respectful touch, not to be afraid of calmly saying to stop when it’s uncomfortable, and how to connect in a meaningful, respectful way.

    For some insights I can recommend the Ted Talk “Why domestic violence victims don’t leave”, the book “Sybil” by Schreiber, and about authority, the Milgram Experiment. (None of these are for the faint-hearted)

  77. As a woman, I disagree entirely with your opinion that the girl is being objectified because we’re not told any information a our her. She is a representative of all women, that’s why she does not speak. This video is not about why the boys don’t hit Martina, this video is about why the boys don’t hit a girl. As she is presented right now, she could be any of us. Yah, the caressing part is weird, but u still think the entire video us powerful and very well done.

  78. In my opinion, you are so completely off the mark it is unfathomable to me and to many as to how you got there.

    “You don’t hit a girl, not even with a flower, or a bouquet of them.”

    How beautiful is that statement and from a young man…. amazing.

    Also, if you were Italian, you would understand the boys’ disdain for violence and disgust as the kind male voice instructing them to hit her makes his statement. Their body language, their clicking of the tongue (which is a cultural sign of disgust for the suggestion and the suggestion maker), and the fact that they said no adamently made their stances perfectly clear.

    The girl, Martina, knew what the experiment was going to be before she stood there. Did you notice how lovingly, carefully, and sweetly the boys touched her? Have we sadly fallen so far in society that a heartfelt touch on the face or shoulder is now only sexual harrassment? If it is, I don’t want to live in your world.

    Bravi to all those who participated in this campagin. It was an extremely well delivered message; one by the way my 7yo boy (who has two older sisters and a younger one), completely understood and agreed with. His first comment – “I agree with the boy who said you should never hit a girl, not even with a flower. My sisters, [me], and my Nonna are our family’s blessing. They are more delicate than a rose.”

    I know for certain, my husband and I have done well in teaching our son this concept. Maybe it’s because our parents are from Europe, and taught us Old World respect and admiration. If that is the reason, my husband and I were more blessed than we knew to be raised with this beautiful mentality that a woman is to be respected and honored and that her true worth is more valuable than even the most beautiful and delicate of flowers.

  79. I think the only criticism of the video I have is that the girl is pretty, thus evoking the “she is pretty” response as a justification for not striking her.
    As a man, the way I understand the video is that it coincides with the idea that violence against women can only be truly stopped by men, who are largely responsible for committing the acts of violence against women. And I am not sure how a criticism of that effort that does not take into account the culture of the nation in which the video was produced is effective. Many cultures are male dominated, and even quite sexist. That being said, the video does not seem to be taking on that question, rather just the idea that men (real men – this evoking the very machismo that has been criticized here) do not hit women.
    I have lived in several developing nations and I have to say that you must start somewhere. Stopping men from striking women is a damn good place to start. And in most countries, the right place to start.

  80. I cam tell you how to stop seeing the female sex as weaker. Make it easier for them hell for everyone to carry a personal protection firearm. I dont care how small you asre you put a gun in someones face theyll back off in the rare cases they dont solve the problem by simply squeezing the trigger a couple times

  81. I can see that this has brought you some negative backlash, and I’d like to just give you a little encouragement. While I don’t agree completely with everything you said, I think that your commentary was important, thoughtful, eloquent, and I am glad to have read it. I am sorry that so many people have sent harsh words your way, and I’m glad there are people out there willing to bring up the difficult things about media that might not be quite as warm and fuzzy as we first thought. Thanks. 😉

  82. the point of the video has nothing to do with the girl itself and everything to do that boys at a young age know that it is not right to hit a girl..or anyone for that matter. Who the girl is or what her story is has no relevance to what they are trying to convey. I would suggest picking bigger battles rather than trying to deconstruct a message that needs to be heard…hitting women or anyone is wrong.

  83. Com’n seriously? Just appreciate the fact that those kids were well educated by their parents to be against violence and stop this non sense feminist crap

  84. Rebecca,

    I had the same thoughts as you did while I was watching the video. I would think his intentions are fairly genuine. I do disagree on certain points and I’m assuming that your comments did not take into cultural differences. I’m not sure if you have spent much time in Europe, but I lived there for a good part of four years. One thing that I’ve noticed is that Europeans have more “innocence” when it comes to touching even when it’s cross gender. When I say “innocence”, I’m not trying to imply “ignorance”.
    Here are two examples. I majored in sports coaching so we had to participate in different sports. One was gymnastics. In Europe, the teacher can touch/spot the student to demonstrate a certain skill without asking for “permission”. It can a male teacher to a female student or vice versa. There’s no second thought about it. There is no thought of anything beyond demonstrating the skill or spotting for safety reasons. Of course, the North American in me is thinking, this will never fly in Canada/US. Teacher’s getting fired, there’d be a huge controversy and this is all over the news.
    Second example is a greco-roman wrestling class. We had a ratio or 12 guys to 3 girls in the class. This is a university class so everyone is in their 20’s. In our class, the girls don’t get along so guess what? They willingly (without a thought) pair up with the guys. And these are girls have BF’s who are not part of the class. In greco-roman wrestling, it’s inevitable that you end up touching body parts that you would not normally touch someone with getting back some wrath. Nobody thinks beyond learning and demonstrating the skill.
    Touching someone in Europe may not be the same as touching as someone in North America. It’s doesn’t have to be sexual. Somehow that’s always something that creeps into our North American cultured brains. A topless woman on television doesn’t draw smirks or giggles from teenage boys over there. That’s just the human body and what people look like underneath their clothes.
    So my point is, sometimes we need to think in someone else’s context before we decide what’s right or wrong. What you read in the subtitles may have very well have lost its meaning in the translation. All they’re trying to say is that you should treat this person like someone who is dear to you.

    My two cents.

  85. I think you used the term sociopath too casually–it belittles those with actual mental illnesses. Other than that, this article was on point! Thank you so much for writing it, you summed up my reservations perfectly while adding your own. If that made sense.

  86. I often feel that those who believe your article was full of hatred and “seeing bad in what is good”, as well as making you look like a party-pooper, don’t know much about feminist theory, or the basics of objectifying women. They seem to often feel that all good efforts done with good intentions require applause whether the outcomes are good or bad.

    Well, let me tell you something. Media is a strong tool. It’s as strong as huge massive dragons shooting fire. And since we now have social media, and any sort of organization can spread things online faster than how long it would take you to say “smash patriarchy”, any bunch of ignorant people can turn the views of the masses around. Now, when this massive, majestic, bigass fire-breathing dragon called the media falls in the hands of people who “mean well”, yet suck at what they do, you get more indoctrination.

    Sometimes, the superficial problem is not the real one. Harassment is not the problem, for example, but the result of years and years of men dominating the public space and feeling threatened by women now in the workplace (among many other reasons, for example).

    Domestic violence is not the real root-problem, but rather the result of years of oppressing and silencing women, and forcing them into internalized submission to men who objectify them, use them, and abuse them.

    In short, this video does not aim at solving the problem from its roots, but rather – somehow – eliminate the superficial result of the deeply-rooted patriarchy.

    And I am sure the writer of the article is not calling us to bash at and lynch the producers of the video, but is rather pointing out how they wronged women and the community, regardless of their intentions.

    I am also inclined to believe their intentions were actually good ones, because we show submission to the patriarchal system unconsciously, and as one of my wonderful professors always says… “unlearning” is the hardest process. Unlearning what we have been told as kids (and what is clear in the video), is hard, and takes years and years if not an entire lifetime.

    • Thanks! I agree with you fully. There’s an “everybody gets a trophy!” attitude nowadays that overemphasizes intentions and effort while downplaying or ignoring outcomes or efforts. It’s really unfortunate.

  87. When I watched this video the thought that kept passing through my mind was how this was a perfect example of how our neoliberal society grooms us into accepting females as objects – this is something that Dr. Gail Dines talks about with respect to the (rampant) pornification of our culture.

    Your article about this video is excellent. Thank-you. And many of the comments do a fine job illustrating Lewis’ Law :/

  88. First of all I don t need a video with sweet little kids, boys or girls I don t mind, to know that I will never ever hit a girl. For those who do it, even a video like that will not change their mind thats for sure. But the video itself as a message is fine I think. Especially for younger persons which have not yet been confrontated with domestic violence or such. Therefore I don t find any reason or logic in tearing this video into its parts and analyse it as the basic message is a positive one and while I was watching it, i did not see the girl as objectified or the boys exploited. I liked their reaction. This is how it should be.

  89. Of course no boy would hit a cute girl he is trying to impress! They have even failed to understand and recreate the ecological conditions of domestic violence, site of which is mostly the household and perpetrators are family members not strangers.
    Boys’reactions were totally predictable. May be cute but nothing noble. In a video that is supposed to give a social message, it neither defines what wrong behavior is neither discourages people from engaging in it. Everywhere new sites/ webpages are cropping up with such videos which merely a bait for award or likes.
    Nice Post!

  90. Oi, this has been completely blown out of proportion! Seems like a few people have some of their own psychological issues. At 7 or 8years old a boy is not touching a girl (normally) for anything other than regular std affection,only when they reach sexual maturity do they understand that consent needs to be given as only then do they realise that there may be other ‘reasons’for touching someone…if they were aware of this at this young age then perhaps there would be a need to discuss this furthur! The video was used to illustrate that naturally as humans we are happy to show kindness, warmth and affection,but it is not in our natural selves to act violently and therefore it shouldnt be accepted as the “way someone is”. Feminists and people who are so focused on one side of the coin would of course see that the girl wasnt introduced etc ai,but thats not the focus…she is not the focus…the boys and their reactions to instructions and their innate ability to understand that causing physical harm to another human is whats the focus. All of the boys except one did not refer to her looks when saying that they wouldnt hit her, even after they were given an opportunity to focus on physical appearance. .an interesting fact that should (and probably has) be explored. The boy that thinks about it an interesting fact is to explore whether he appears to consider it because he is struggling with the ‘authority’ telling him to do something that he feels is wrong. This is just an experiment with all its faults and issues that tells us that even from a young age kindness and gentleness is not a question but violence is. If you have an issue then why dont you rerun the test the way you want…clinically,feministically. Im sure you will get the same results but im not sure how many people will view it. Just saying. Dont be so cynical.

  91. People are too damn sensitive these days, lighten up, its a cute video. You know at this rate I won’t even be able to make fun of myself because someone who looks like me will get offended.

  92. I don’t think this video deserves the title “Social experiment” as the depicted is of no experimental nature at all. The reactions are very much predictable and in line with each other. At least that’s what the editing suggests. There is no informational value in this video, it seems a typically superficial “Aaaw” video for the easily satisfied internet user. I felt more awkward than moved watching it and I like your critical take on the matter, but maybe your frequent use of the word “disgusting” is a little over the top.

    • Thanks for this interesting comment. I agree that the video is not a social experiment—it contains no true experiment and yields no data. By the way, I just did a quick search on the page for my use of the word “disgusting,” as I try to avoid overusing words—and I only used it once. Perhaps you meant to respond to a specific commenter, rather than directly to me? Anyhow, thank you for reading and commenting, and have a great day.

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  94. I honestly think your looking at his video in the wrong light. You are over analyzing it in my opinion and your losing what the message was meant to be. The point of this video was to show the young boys reaction to violence against women. The caress her object was used to show the difference in the boys reaction from a positive physical act and a negative, i.e. slapping. This video was not about the girl. The boys and their outlook was the focus. If the focus had been young girls im sure they would have gone more into her life as well. I understand where you are coming from but i feel your misinterpreting the real message here.

  95. Also. I would assume since the girl is on film herself and her guardians gave the ok for this. Which means the boys are touching her with her permission. Not without. Just saying.

  96. Honest answers from honest children. Adult light on the this story is not desirable here as you WILL find misogyny and stereotypes. But it’s a different issue of how these children are raised. What counts are acts not thoughts and background story. Especially when the subject is violence. You DO NOT use violence because a girl is pretty or you are a real man or because Christ doesn’t want you to. Who cares? Just DON’T do it.

  97. I couldn’t even sit all the way through the video and felt bad for all the kids involved.

    I was glad to see your blog come in as a related article which really breaks down what Fanpage did instead of what it tried to convey as having done. They could have simply cut out the entire, and completely useless, middle section of the video with poor “Martina” and simply asked the boys “Why is it wrong to hit women (or anyone really)” and accomplish the same result. It just doesn’t have the same wow factor.

    Sad for the kids here.

  98. One thing I don’t understand is why people have to find something wrong with everything. The video is trying to prove a point that it is wrong to hit women, but people want to analyze it and pick at it over and over for no reason. How come it can’t just be a good video that shows it’s wrong to hit women?

  99. Is the need to write an article like this, that makes you an objectified woman.

    You are not really protecting any category, only showing that you belong to a category that needs to be protected. Sometimes the message is to be kept simple: a man who applies violence on a woman, which is, by nature, phisically weaker, is not worth being called a man.

  100. As someone who is anti-feminist, I have to say, I AGREE with the writer.

    What bothers me the most is that the video completely objectifies the girl as is ubiquitous throughout Europe. The girl doesn’t even speak, she just stands there and lets the men decide what to do with her. Furthermore, sure it’s very cute to say that one should not hit a woman because she is delicate and whatever but what should have been reinforced to the boys is that one should not hit a woman because she is a human being who deserves the same respect as a man does.

    To me, the makers of this video are very creepy.

  101. As a woman who has suffered abuse in multiple forms at the hands of a man, I found this video very sweet. I teared up a bit watching. I do not believe gender roles need to be redefined to solve domestic violence. I do not believe that domestic violence is a societal issue anymore, as the general belief is “don’t hit girls.” This is no longer a public battle for the abused, but a secret one. There will always be sick men, but it is those men who are sick and not the culture of where they are (obviously excluding regional cultures like cults, where this video would not reach anyway). As one from the croud of faceless women I believe you intended to speak for, I completely disagree with your article and I support the video you condemn. It may not solve domestic violence, but it does show that there are boys growing up to be men in our future who understand that women are to be treasured and treated with respect. It shows that there is hope for girls like me.

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  111. Thank you so much for your post, I hope more can read it.

  112. This is just a short clip on trying to educate people about violence against women. Relax. If YOU feel so strongly about it, take the time, expend the effort and money to make a video of your own viewpoint and publish it, instead of criticizing the efforts of a person trying to educate people on violence against women being wrong, in whatever little way he feels he can contribute!

    Easiest thing to do – Lazy negative self-righteous people sitting around and criticizing the people who take time, effort and spend money to ACTUALLY do something about violence against women such as this video clip.

    • Mr. Roxon,

      This video might be well intentioned, but I think the point made in this post is that some people think it does more harm than good.

      Given the point of the article, your prompt for a replacement video makes little sense.

      The blog author felt strongly about it so she did do something (wrote the post you responded to).

  113. Raquel, would you say men might not sit around and think about this video in the same way since they have less motivation to change a social arrangement they benefit tremendously from? We need more people like Dr. Hains articulating this point of view, and I think it’s more likely to come from women.

  114. Lets also not forget culture, Italian culture greet with a kiss! Our cultural norms are very different….

  115. I don’t think the narrator is not meant to be portrayed in a positive light, and perhaps that is part of the point. Not only does he ask the boys to hit the girl, he eggs the boys on when they refuse. So him asking the boys what they thought of her appearance, and then asking them to touch her without her permission, could still be the narrator acting in-character. Perhaps this is a subtle way of portraying various tiers/a process of objectification and abuse: judging a girl based on her appearance, touching the girl without her permission, and, finally, physically abusing the girl.

  116. I liked the video when I first saw it, but once reading your analysis I realized I’ve been caught in the gimmickry of it. Your analysis and the video should be used in class as a teaching tool, I firmly believe that.

    One small addition, for the end of the video when the boy says he is an “om”, translated as “man”. In Romanian (which Italian is very close to), “om” does not necessarily mean “man”, as that is the vestige of the word “barbat” (“femeie” being “woman”). “Om” means “human”, male or female. And that changes the perspective entirely.

  117. Hi Rebecca, I enjoyed your article a lot, and the new perspectives you brought into it. I also had two questions if you could take the time to answer them: First of all, I’d like to know how to define my position, if it should be defined. I am someone who shares the views of women’s rights advocates, however I am not currently involved with the movement.

    Second of all, I was hoping you could direct me to some more reading material so I could become more well-versed in how to treat genders/people equally. I am finding that it is difficult to spot the nuances that show the inner workings of ideas that objectify and demean women. Some advice on how to make that more intuitive would be much appreciated, as I am rather tired of being surprised by things that I previously thought were fine turning out to actually be, at their core, toxic to gender equality.

  118. I am glad to see I was not the only one with this opinion. With your field of expertise you have definitely articulated it much better than I have. I wouldn’t classify the video as offensive, but I definitely see its limitations, and ours. Thank you for breaking it down in such a comprehensive way.

  119. In advance: sorry for my bad English!

    Thank you, Rebecca, for your differentiating analysis. It provides ample food for thought, indeed.

    I’m a man and I’m running a non-violence and social urban development program in Germany – http://www.nonviolence.de. I visit Italy quite often for holiday and twin town reasons. I reposted the video on facebook because I find the basic message is how the boys withstand the urging male authority and refuse to do any harm to the girl.
    In order to be open to differnet views I posted your adress https://rebeccahains.com/2015/01/06/slap-her-fanpage-it-video-objectifies-girls-exploits-boys-and-trivializes-domestic-violence/ in a comment below the video on facebook.

    In terms of physical distance or contact Italy is different from Germany. The individual “circle” is smaller and the threshold to touch each other is lower in Italy. But that’s not the point for me.

    The point is, that I can responsibly repost the video because in this roleplay I can imagine myself to be the instructor and Martina to be one of my Karate students. In one of my Karate classes, Martina, my other Karate students and I discussed about violence and boys and girls and stuff and invented this “experiment” and practised it in the class and finally decided to try it on the street.
    Martina is already an advanced student – let’s say green belt. Through Karate she has learned to deal with physical distance and contact and attack and defense, and when I asked her, whether she could play Martina in this experiment, she would agree. And we both agreed that Martina can set any limit she wants to at any time in terms of deciding how far the boys may go in caressing or slapping her.
    In the roleplay Martinas entrance would be clear and confident and nice, and her basic gesture would be a kind of “kamae” (ready position) – either both hands loosely grasped in front of her body or one hand lifted up to her chin. Whatever the boys would try to do – Martina would decide to permit or stop it.
    We also agreed to show the boys that we, Martina and I, belong to each other as a team, so that the boys can be sure that I would not do or say anything, to which Martina hasn’t agreed before.
    Thus, in my view Martina is far from being an object – or even playing one. She’s just interested in what the boys would do. And she is tough, because it takes a pretty courageous and skilled girl to act in this roleplay – if it’s not just a “authentic mise-en-scène” -, because some both perhaps would really slap her. Martina could be one of my Karate girls who have learned to keep cool when little boys fool around and who know very well where the limits are and how to set them.

    But likewise I empathize with your concerns and I’m going to discuss them in my non-violence project and with my Karate kids.

  120. Does anyone else see the irony in how offended some of the readers are because Dr. Hains is offended? Is anyone offended by the recommendation that she should stop being so easily offended? In essence these individuals not only condemn their own action as a critical thinkers, but they are recommending that non of us participate in critical thinking either. Just accept everything we are told. Accept everything we see and hear. We should be grateful that there are people questioning things, and we should participate with respectful debate.

  121. Okay, I (think I) understand your points. And I think that’s all fine and relevant if you’re approaching this as an adult. But that’s not what I got out of this at all. If you start talking to 8 year old boys about “objectifying women” and “instrumentality” and “bodily autonomy” their eyes are going to glaze over, they aren’t going to have the slightest idea what you’re talking about, and they’ll probably just walk away in boredom.

    I saw this with the understanding that it wasn’t an attempt to get adult male abusers to stop abusing women, but to show that abusing women was not something that was instinctive in males.

    Martina is not asked any questions specifically because the boys are supposed to make up their own minds about her. They choose not to slap her because hitting is wrong, not because of anything she said or did. And if they do seem rather awkward and uncomfortable touching her (and they do) it’s because they understand “body autonomy” even without having that big word explained to them. If the intent was really to objectify Martina, she wouldn’t even have a name.

    As a 60-year old women who grew up during the second wave of feminism, with Betty Friedan, Gloria Steinem, et al, I do consider myself a feminist. But I also think some women take that concept way too far, seeing insult in, and taking offense at, everything.

    This video is only a bit over 3 minutes in length. As such, it was not meant to be a scholarly treatise on “Abuse; Its Causes And Effects.” I think it made its point quite well in the time allotted, given who it was intended for. And that wasn’t for an adult batter’s education group.

    You are, of course, entitled to your own opinion, but how about we be happy about the fact that somebody is putting a “males don’t hit females” message out there to young boys via a medium they pay attention to (social media) and stop carping on the fact that they didn’t explain it in Psychology PhD terms?

    • I don’t think anyone is condemning the boys behavior. They are simply manifesting the acceptable behavior in our society, and that is worthy of examination. Observation is not the same as indictment.

      • Exactly. I am a media critic, so I critique media representations–which is very different from blaming or shaming the kids in the video, or using it as an opportunity to teach them a college-level Women’s Studies 101 course. If anything, I’m concerned they’ve been treated unfairly by the filmmaker.

  122. I don’t think this experiment is conclusive that boys don’t hit women/girls, can you even consider the fact that when boys/men are so mad/angry at the woman/girl they have the tendency to hit them…how about that….in this experiment how can boys slap a very lovely girl who they just met

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  124. The “caress her” and “slap her” were meant to display two extremes of the same line. The director’s intentions, though apparently good, doesn’t quite cut through to the audience due to errors in direction.
    The video seems unsettling because, we ask ourselves, “why would anyone caress or even hit” an unknown girl.
    The gap, if bridged, would result in a smoother transition between the extremes of caressing and slapping. Hence, would put forward the intended message in a much effective way.

  125. Reblogged this on the ampersandwich and commented:
    This blog is everything I was trying to say last week…and a whole lot more, of course. This is a much more thorough dissection of the problems with the video, and I am grateful to Dr. Hains for posting this.

  126. I thought she was silent in order to create less of a connection to the boys. Personally, I thought the video was showing that no matter who the girl is, really it should be any person, or how much you know them, it isn’t right to hit/abuse them. You’re more likely to feel sympathy and empathy for someone after meeting them, shaking their hand and introducing yourselves to similar hobbies…etc.
    It would have been even less likely for the boys to hit her if they had gotten to know one another. So I think it shows a lot more of the boys character when they didn’t know the girl at all. It’s “easier” to hit a stranger than your neighbor, so to speak.

  127. Reblogged this on harass me and commented:
    I admit, I felt conflicted watching the video. I wanted to be moved, and I was, but the way they were using the girl as a prop made me feel undeniably uncomfortable.

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