RSPCA exploits domestic violence; yet again, women = dogs [triggers]

I found video of the RSPCA’s new campaign. Some of the ads are fine. Good, even. One of them? Not so much.

Violence against women triggers below the cut. (Bad ones.)



Edit 24 April 2008: The main page for the RSPCA NSW campaign is here: “The RSPCA Needs You

This particular ad uses graphic triggering imagery of a man beating a woman, to the sound of a yelping dog.

The Australian says:

Women attending the launch of the campaign in Sydney yesterday were reduced to tears at the ferocity of images showing the man relentlessly punching the woman and throwing her around a room.

Sydney advertising agency The Campaign Palace, better known for Target ads and environmentally focused Westpac promotions, created the campaign for the animal welfare organisation with a clear brief to shock people out of their complacency about cruelty.

So were any men “reduced to tears”? How about abusers, were they weeping and running out of the room? Or is this all about causing women who have been victims to freak out, so the RSPCA can smugly crow at them that the “shock” value was worth it?

Fucking assholes.

Closeup on a distressed woman’s face. A man suddenly attacks her, and beats her repeatedly. The soundtrack is of a dog being repeatedly beaten.

Voiceover: “37 percent of violent criminals admit to being cruel to animals in their childhood. To break this cycle, the RSPCA runs programmes teaching kids to respect animals.”

Text: the rspca needs you



Categories: gender & feminism, violence

Tags: , , ,

37 replies

  1. Dear RSPCA,
    FAIL.
    Love,
    Liss
    Melissa McEwan’s last blog post..Holy Maude

  2. oh my fucking god. Last time I give the RSPCA any money.

  3. Holy crap.
    Stern letters shall be sent.
    La di Da’s last blog post..The disappointing summit: benevolent fascists galore?

  4. I’ve watched it twice now, because I didn’t really believe they did that the first time.
    Speechless.

  5. The RSPCA needs my help to protect women from being beaten, because women are non-human animals, and thus fall into their mandate. However, non-human animals cannot own (or at least, cannot control) money. Thus as a woman, I cannot send money to the RSPCA. So sorry.

  6. Utterly reprehensible. The point about the continuity of cruelty to animals and later violence is a good point but this is emphatically NOT the way to make it. If they were really invested in preventing abuse, as opposed to just using it as a marketing tool, there is no way they would put women at risk of suffering PTSD symptoms as a result of watching this.

    Ignorant effing arseholes.

  7. Before you condemn the entire RSPCA, the word is that there is significant friction within the organisation about this advertisement. This is a state-based ad (NSW), not a national one.
    eta: however, pressure on National is a good way to go, to express that this sort of thing is not on.
    Lauredhel’s last blog post..?Open Source Boob Project?: Around the blogs

  8. I work with survivors of dv and, it’s true, many women wait to make themselves and their children safe until their animals are safe.
    This RSPCA ad, though… nah. It fails – on so many levels – in a similar way that the PETA ads fail. However you/they (RSPCA/PETA) care about animals you have to acknowledge that people, and women are people – *shock! horror!”* – matter more. Their ads are, at best, demeaning and, at worst triggering for the real live women who have experienced/are experiencing the exact same treatment they’re campaigning against happening to ANIMALS.
    These organisations *so* need media and marketing people with some understanding of gender power relations because this, like the PETA ads, is one royal fuck-up that will turn many women’s stomaches. They want my money? Well, they might get it… the day they stop using women’s real life experiences to promote their animal protection agenda.
    I love animals. I want to do everything I can to save and protect them. But I won’t support anything that trivialises or demeans the lives of women.
    Feminist first.

  9. Revoltingly exploitative. This ad is motivating all right, but it is not inspiring my support for the RSPCA.
    blue milk’s last blog post..Everyone has a mobile phone camera now (oh come on, really you don?t?)

  10. I’m a feminist. I work as inspector for the SPCA in The Netherlands. My experience is that an awful lot of people will have more sympathy for a beaten dog than for a man-battered woman. I had to remind myself, watching, that this was an SPCA ad, not an ad designed to make people understand how horrible domestic violence is. I think the ad finely makes the feminist point (without intending to) that this kind of man sees a woman as no different from his dog — a living piece of property he can do as he likes with, and that owes him obedience. To me, it’s indifferent whether people get the point because they finally understand that beating a woman is just as bad as beating a dog, or that beating a dog is just as bad as beating a woman. The ad in no way compares women to dogs, which would be a compliment, except by pointing out the mentality of the man. I don’t really get the outrage.
    Cheers,
    Alexandra

  11. The RSPCA was not comparing women to beaten dogs.. the RSPCA clearly isn’t the ignorant arsehole.
    53 percent of domestic violence victims delay leaving because of fear that their animals will be harmed or killed. its a fact. a fact well known by the RSPCA.
    This is thought provoking for both women who suffer abuse and women who dont. Maybe women who are in the situation at the present will find the courage after seeing the ad to leave, knowing they have the resources to help them. Maybe those who aren’t in the situation will be woken up enough to donate to the organisation desperately trying to help these women and their animals.
    Instead of having a whinge about their advertising strategies why don’t you donate? Maybe if the RSPCA got more than 2 percent of its funding from the government it wouldnt need to resort to shock tactics to raise enough money to keep these initiatives going.
    Morons.

  12. Maybe those who aren’t in the situation will be woken up enough to donate to the organisation desperately trying to help these women and their animals.

    Umm … perhaps I’m missing a trick here, but I’m pretty sure the RSPCA isn’t a charity dedicated to preventing domestic violence. It’s a charity dedicated to helping animals. Arguing that the one necessarily leads to the other is extremely disingenuous.

  13. Yeah Dan, I particularly wondered about this:
    Maybe women who are in the situation at the present will find the courage after seeing the ad to leave, knowing they have the resources to help them.
    Oh, praise be to Jebus! Now that the RSPCA have made this ad, women everywhere have all the resources they need to leave violent partners (just close your eyes and ears to all those recent stories where the dude turned up and shot her dead cos the problem’s solved now cos women have seen this ad.
    Sarcasm may not be attractive, but sometimes it’s necessary. Talk about the pot calling the kettle a moron.

  14. ” Umm … perhaps I’m missing a trick here, but I’m pretty sure the RSPCA isn’t a charity dedicated to preventing domestic violence. It’s a charity dedicated to helping animals. Arguing that the one necessarily leads to the other is extremely disingenuous.”
    Domestic violence and animal cruelty go hand in hand.
    Here’s some facts for you:
    Many perpetrators abuse family pets to intimidate and have more control over their partners.
    Pets, including fish, birds and farm animals, and in some instances, multiple pets, were killed in 17 per cent of households where there is family violence.
    In half the cases where women are attacked their family pets are too.
    Monash University, The Relationship Between Family Violence and Animal Abuse: An Australian Study.
    Maybe you both should read it. Certainly explains why an organsiation concerned with the welfare of animals, would want to do something to help people experiencing domestic violence.
    The whole point of this ad was to promote the Pet Support program which enables women to leave their animals with the RSPCA while they find a safe environment for them both to leave. Im sure its doing great things for those women who wouldnt have left for fear their animals would be harmed.’
    As for you fuckpoliteness, I’m not suggestinfg this ad magically provides all the solutions for abused women. There are many reasons why women dont leave violent partners, and many resources they need if they choose to. But maybe one abused woman not leaving for fear her pet would be killed might realise there is another way after seeing this ad. If this ad helps just one woman leave an abusive relationship, job done. The RSPCA would have helped one more abused woman than you.

  15. Interesting that you presume to know me, to know that I have not been in an abusive relationship (incorrect as it turns out) and that I’ve not spent a lot of my time in fact helping women who have found themselves in abusive relationships (oh looky there, incorrect again).

  16. “The whole point of this ad was to promote the Pet Support program which enables women to leave their animals with the RSPCA while they find a safe environment for them both to leave.”
    I know that pet ownership is often a factor that prevents women leaving but I can’t find any mention of this program in the ad.
    If it is in fact aimed at women experiencing violence and who are afraid for their animals, then it’s gone about it the wrong way.
    “The RSPCA needs you”
    Attempting a guilt trip much? This puts too much pressure on women, whose coping skills might be pushed to the limit already, to extricate themselves from the violence for the sake of their pet.
    Many women can’t do that even for the sake of themselves and their children.
    This ad is disturbingly uninformed and there are plenty of ways of releasing information about the program besides triggering commercials.
    Jessica, I find it ironic that you use such a vicious and abusive tone, apparently in the interests of advocating on behalf of abused women.
    Nice one.

  17. P.P I agree- not the best way for the RSPCA to have gone about advertising the program. It was part of the combined campaign to raise awareness of the RSPCA’s programs to help humans aswell. They certainly found better ways further down the track. It does however make mention of the educational programs to teach kids to respect animals to break the cycle of abuse. Maybe more effective in this regard. An organisation that relies on a mere 2 percent of its funding from the government understandably resorts to extreme measures. My ‘tone’ is neither intended to be vicious or abusive.
    Fuckpoliteness- I do not presume to know anyone on this forum, anything about their lives, their struggles, or the work they do with abused women or others. I certainly did not presume you had not been in an abusive relationship. This stands irrespective of my thoughts on your comments about the ad.

  18. “It does however make mention of the educational programs to teach kids to respect animals to break the cycle of abuse. Maybe more effective in this regard.”
    Are you saying that the rationale for this is that if boys are taught to respect animals then it must therefore follow that they will also learn to respect women?
    How does that make sense? Because both women and pets are seen by men as their possessions and we should teach them to look after ALL of their possessions? That is some fucked up misogynist logic.
    It wouldn’t even work in practice anyway. Violent and abusive men are quite capable of treating pets that they see as belonging to THEM, like royalty, while still abusing their partners, their children and their partner’s or children’s pets.
    So I disagree, the RSPCA absolutely ARE comparing women with beaten dogs.
    Lack of government funding just isn’t reasonable grounds to promote such illogical, and as I said fundamentally misogynistic, strategies to help animals under the guise of addressing the issue of gendered violence.

  19. An organisation that relies on a mere 2 percent of its funding from the government understandably resorts to extreme measures.

    (How much is that 2 percent in absolute terms, by the way? Google says the annual budget is 18 million dollars just for one state, so the govt funding is at least $360 000 for that state – so nationally? What’s the total?)
    There are plenty of organisations reliant on donations and doing vital work and receiving much lesser or no government funding that don’t resort to measures anything like this. When was the last time you saw an “edgy” shock ad from the ABA? Marie Stopes International? Women With Disabilities Australia?
    Unfortunately, some animal rights organisations have a long and unpleasant history of sexist, racist, homophobic, triggering, exploitative (etc) advertising.This is just another one in a long line. The defence is usually “Well it got attention!” – well, here’s the attention they wanted. You can’t dictate your own publicity; the best way to make that publicity good publicity is to not be an arse in the process.

  20. How much is that 2 percent in absolute terms, by the way?

    So interesting a question is this, I’ve just been having a look. RSPCA don’t release national figures and appear to do most of their governance at the State level, so I’ve been taking notes from 2007-8 Annual Reports.
    For NSW in 2008, $434,818, South Australia $692,945, WA claims $250,000, Victoria claim a round $1M. I was unable to easily find the Tasmanian report and QLD don’t publish their financial returns online. None of the annual reports discriminate between levels of Government; it’s unclear as to whether they’re Commonwealth, State or local government funds. We can know that at the very least, in 2008, the RSPCA’s State bodies received $2,377,763 in Government assistance, and if the grants in the States/Territories I couldn’t find are comparable, it’s probably closer to $3 million all up. I haven’t compared it to the total amounts raised in funding—the State bodies also receive income in interest payments and sales of assets, for instance—but it’s clear that the RSPCA is admirably financially independent from all of the Australian Governments. Lots of other NGOs would love, I’m sure, that kind of financial health.
    I’m not entirely sure in what way that independence from the taxpayer is an argument for or against this ad, however.

  21. Actually the RSPCA is involved in domestic violence, indeed it has been involved in issue such as child abuse since its inception. The SPCAs were helping abused and neglected children before human social services even existed. The RSPCA is still closely involved with cross reporting of violence between human and animal social agencies. I think this ad is misdirected but I would suggest people look into this more deeply before leaping to condemn. You may be stereotyping and denigrating people working with mere animals–as if being indifferent to animal abuse is going to help make society less violent.

  22. p.s. the RSPCA is not an “animal rights group”.

  23. Vein is right. They’re certainly not an ‘animal rights’ organisation. In fact, animal rights organisations tend to loathe them. There’s a major philosophical divide between ‘rights’ advocates and ‘welfare’ advocates. The reason they receive government funding is that their inspectors have the job of enforcing the various State governments animal cruelty legislation. In that way they’re rather different than other NGOs and other organisations involved with animal wefare. It’s why ‘rights’ organisations don’t like them. They’re seen as colluding with retrograde legislation.
    I think the tvc fails because it doesn’t cut through with a clear message. Why should I donate money? What’s going to happen to it? Am I supposed to be worried about the woman or the dog, or both? I also think that although there’s a strong correlation between animal abuse and domestic violence, it’s a long bow to draw that teaching kids to respect animals will do anything to prevent domestic violence.
    For me, the upsetting thing about the tvc is the dog screaming in pain. I know the people are are just two actors pretending. But where did they get that dog noise? It’s distressing. (Not that I’m implying that the RSPCA tortured the dog to get it).

  24. Jessica Milne@17 where you say you don’t presume to know anything of my life/the work I’ve done with women, you directed this:

    The RSPCA would have helped one more abused woman than you

    at me. So really…you kinda did. I hate to insist on pointing out, like you know, facts and all, but if you don’t like it when people to tell you to pull your head in, maybe you shouldn’t stick it so far out in the first place.
    I guess my hackles were up that you’d come onto a feminist blog brandishing terms like ‘ignorant arsehole’, ‘morons’ etc at feminists you don’t know for having a problem with the RSPCA using footage of a woman being violently beaten for purposes OTHER than a ‘violence against women – it’s bad’ aim. The ad, as PP pointed out and you conveniently did not address, does NOT address violence against women as a wrong, or to inform women that there are resources out there to help them when they’re in trouble and are fearing for their pets.
    Cos the thing is, perhaps you don’t agree, but you don’t get to come on here and swing that sort of crap out and have everyone go ‘Oh how lovely and SMART you are! I wish I were you’.
    And I’m sorry to really harp on here, but as a previously abused woman, I do find it incredibly problematic for experiences similar to mine and to many other women I’ve known to be co-opted in an ad for what is indeed a serious issue in and of itself, but is not their experience to co-opt.
    And for me? As a survivor of domestic violence? The ad is terrifyingly difficult to watch and not because of the dog noise, but for the violence, the apparent conflation of women and pets/dogs/bitches, and then that lumping of responsibility…the RSPCA needs you which I feel is directed at women as PP says.
    You play with fire when you utilise such a contentious and loaded issue for ‘shock tactics’ – and no, I do not agree that just because the RSPCA needs some more funding it’s ok for it to use violence against women as its shock tactic.

  25. Oh Jessica – before I get the so-not-the-point retort, you did vaguely wave your hand at acknowledging PPs point, it’s true, it’s just that it was vague, and excuse making so I kinda missed it amongst all the rest

  26. The RSPCA is on the nose with people who feel, as I do, that when there’s obvious mistreatment/beating of pet animals going on, then they’ll do something perhaps, but they are unwilling to stick their neck out for farm and commercial domesticated animals. We had a scandal in this town a while back concerning an anglo-arab stallion who was basically slowly tortured to death in a lethal combination of ignorance and greed. (Not just a straightforward no-feed starving in paddock situation.) The RSPCA was begged to help and would not, because the owners complied ON PAPER by having the horse “in veterinary care”, so no matter what was going down they wouldn’t go there even though there was clear abuse and suffering going on.
    Plus the RSPCA’s ambiguous relationship with the egg industry.
    Watching the video, I can see clearly that it is *trying* to illustrate the very true fact that people who abuse animals when young are represented disproportionately among people who abuse people when older. However, as Fine says (Jessica pls note Fine is a professional in this area) the video fails to make that point very clearly and instead makes it look as if it’s equating women with bitches and male partners with owners- you kind of need to know what it’s supposed to be talking about before you see it.

  27. @ Helen:

    as Fine says (Jessica pls note Fine is a professional in this area) the video fails to make that point very clearly

    Perhaps Jessica could think about it this way: if this was an assignment at film school, to make a video illustrating the fact that people who abuse animals when young are likely to abuse people when older, do you honestly think that it would have got good marks for communicating the central concept?

  28. It saddens me, to see so many people so passionate towards hating on this campaign. It is drawing a comparison between women and dogs, whilst it is true that it is a negative connotation, do you believe that the RSPCA views humans as ‘better than’ animals? The intention of this ad was to raise awareness to the assistance the RSPCA is willing to give to women leaving a dv situation, a good intention, though if one insists on nit-picking and misinterpreting this intention of coarse you will be offended.
    What you all should be happy with is the fact that the campaign brings domestic violence to the forefront of societies consciousness, that by toting the adds downsides you only hinder your desire to see an end to domestic violence within this country.
    When I viewed this add without bias, I did not compare the woman to a dog, I only felt that the RSPCA was trying to help, a worthy and noble cause don’t you think?

  29. Well, thanks for mansplaining that to us, Andrew. My teeny little oversensitive feminine brain wasn’t quite coping with the complexities of the situation.

  30. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to seem to be ridiculing you, aren’t I entitled to an opinion… from your previous statement it would seem that based on my gender I’m not.
    Also, you seem very passionate about being very angry, bitter, or… wrong… are you depressed?
    Have fun being negative for the rest of your life.
    Andrew

  31. It’s nearly time for another Troll-Off, isn’t it?

  32. These words… ‘mansplaining’… ‘troll-off’… where… are… they… coming from… I just [B] HAVE [/B] to know.

  33. oh… that was ridicule.
    PAY THAT!

  34. Oh I see, Andrew. Domestic violence is all OUR fault now because we’re critical of the ad. Seriously, get yourself informed before you open your ignorant mouth on such an issue. Forfucksake.

  35. A: It saddens me, to see so many people so passionate towards hating on this campaign
    FP: Poor you.
    A: It is drawing a comparison between women and dogs, whilst it is true that it is a negative connotation
    FP: Yes…not just a negative connotation, but dehumanising in fact
    A: do you believe that the RSPCA views humans as ‘better than’ animals?
    FP: Do we care?? Is that our point? Our point is that the RSPCA does not have unfettered right to make use of the suffering of women at the hands of men – a systemic and institutionalised form of violence routinely ignored until it is too late – as a shock tactic in their advertising.
    A: The intention of this ad was to raise awareness to the assistance the RSPCA is willing to give to women leaving a dv situation
    FP: Uh…no. Wrong. See above comments. Like, read and comprehend and all. It is about the RSPCA teaching kids to respect pets. A laudable aim but not one I feel they have any right to co-opt a depiction of domestic violence in aid of.
    A: a good intention, though if one insists on nit-picking and misinterpreting this intention of coarse you will be offended.
    FP: Yeah whatever, correctly identify the aim of the ad and you might have a leg to stand on re misinterpretation. And fuck intention when it comes to appropriating in triggering ways the actual suffering of many women to make your point that your new campaign is good, fuck intention when it reduces the violated woman to a prop to make your point.
    A: What you all should be happy with is the fact that the campaign brings domestic violence to the forefront of societies consciousness
    FP: No…no it doesn’t. It has you watch a woman have the shit kicked out of her to bring cruelty to animals to the forefront of society’s consciousness…women get left behind really as an illustration to make a point. And sorry but you don’t get to tell any of us what we *should* be happy with. Clearly we are not. And perhaps *you* should STFU in trundling onto a feminist website and telling women that they *should* be happy that ads use violence against women to make a point OTHER than violence against women is WRONG.
    A: that by toting the adds downsides
    FP: Please feel free to speak plainly and not be a total try-hard
    A: you only hinder your desire to see an end to domestic violence within this country
    FP: Andrew, you are just *SO* *RIGHT*…by objecting to women being thrashed on tele which just blends into the background because the real tragedy is cruelty to animals, by objecting to a graphic depiction of violence against women when it is not about ENDING violence against women, by speaking up and saying that it’s triggering we are so TOTALLY ABOUT missing the goal, and highlighting what you already knew…that we don’t give a fuck about women’s rights! (Lauredhel, he truly DOES have the ‘magick testicles of perspicacity!)
    A: When I viewed this add without bias
    FP: As obviously only *you* have managed to do
    A: I did not compare the woman to a dog
    FP: Nor did we Captain Miss the Point – the ad made the analogy at the expense of the women in order to help the dogs. I’m all for dogs not being beaten, it’s disgusting and I get the links, but WOMEN ARE NOT PLOT PROPS.
    A: I only felt that the RSPCA was trying to help, a worthy and noble cause
    FP: Yes…help raise awareness of cruelty to animals, again, a laudable aim, but DV is not their handy shock tactic to do so
    A: don’t you think?
    FP: Uh…NO. NO, no, no no no no and no. See above comments

  36. Apropos of none of the comments published in this thread, there is no such thing as “posting rights” for anybody on a piece of private property i.e. this website.
    See the Australian Libertarian Society’s Comments Policy for clarification.

%d bloggers like this: