As I sit with Paige and Juliette enjoying a leisurely Sunday morning breakfast while comparing notes from our prior evening’s rash of parties, the startling realization that one of our trio will statistically suffer from an incident of domestic or sexual violence in our lifetime sobers my frame of mind. Unfortunately, violence against women represents a global pandemic that affects women everywhere, without socioeconomic or cultural exclusions. Realistically, prevention of these crimes will be a slow and arduous process, but raising awareness of how casual sexist jokes, references and attitudes influence these harmful behaviors is an important step toward a solution. The trending YouTube video, #DearDaddy, advances this awareness in a powerful message to fathers, exposing these male behaviors, the ensuing dangers that their daughters will encounter throughout their lives and finally, pleading for their help in changing these attitudes.
The #DearDaddy video begins with a man driving his pregnant wife to the hospital as she is about to deliver; this unborn baby girl narrates the story to the man—her father— immediately idolizing him as her “Superman” with the certainty of the lengths he will use to ensure her protection. Yet, the narrator then tells her father that she wants to talk to him about something that he will be unable to safeguard her from when she gets older: boys. She continues to describe her future life and foretells of the possible various dangers she may face from the opposite sex, emphatically stating that her greatest danger is merely being born a girl. As the video’s purpose is to spread awareness of the linkage between sexist attitudes and the contribution of those behaviors to acts of violence against women, the daughter warns her father of the degrading names she will be called as a preteen by her male counterparts, the sexual assault and attempted rape she will suffer as a teenager, and, worst of all, the domestic violence and near death incident she will experience at the hands of her future husband. In the end, the video ends in the daughter’s plea to her father that he and his fellow men put an end to being a girl being the biggest danger she will endure in her life.
Throughout this piece, the video’s creator primarily uses pathos as a rhetoric device, appealing to, and tugging at, the emotional heart strings of viewers. From the opening frame of this short film, a haunting and chilling piano music plays in the background; its slow and serious tone sets the stage for the somber message being delivered. The music’s continuity throughout helps maintain the audience’s attention and emotional tie-in. In addition, the creator’s choice to use an unborn child as narrator provokes the viewers’ feelings of vulnerability. The baby represents a defenseless person and creates a sympathetic image in need of protection. Finally, by directing this powerful message to a daughter’s first role model and protector—her father—viewers successfully empathize with the plea the daughter ultimately makes.
Another use of pathos also occurs throughout the entire video, and that is trying to appeal to the opposing argument that she is trying to make. Throughout the entirety of the video, it follows the narrator’s struggles with the wrongdoings she might face at the hands of the male gender. One of the most powerful uses of rhetoric comes from the narrator talking about all of the “jokes” that boys make about her as she is growing up. “By the time I am fourteen the boys in my class will have called me a whore, a bitch, a cunt, and many other things. It’s just for fun of course. Something that boys just do”. (CARE Norway, 2015). By downplaying exactly what the video is attempting to emphasize, a powerful statement ensues that both provokes a viewer’s sympathy and causes them to consider their own actions and experiences. As a teenager, I personally relate to this use of pathos, because I went through very similar things as a recent high school graduate. I—along with all of my girl friends—have been called those terrible names more than a handful of times; similarly, others treated them as merely jokes or inconsequential remarks. This video conveys a powerful message by drawing attention to the fact that these insults are the farthest thing from a joke; these forms of verbal humiliation can ultimately transform into much more serious forms of abuse such as physical and/ or sexual violence.
Finally, #DearDaddy also uses the rhetoric strategy of logos in the bio of the video on YouTube. The statistic provided in the bio reads, “1 in 3 women worldwide will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, usually from a male partner.” (CARE Norway, 2015). The video uses this fact to capture the audience’s attention to the unacceptably high levels of domestic violence and sexual assault prevalent in today’s society, a primary goal of this film. The intended audience of this video is mostly towards men; its message and call to action is directed at young teenage men who degrade women with their use of vulgar and shameful name- calling, boyfriends and husbands who partake in relationship violence, and last but not least, fathers, who are always trying to protect their little girls. However, the significance of this fact also educates women viewers as to the frequency and seriousness of gender violence, allowing them to be aware that as victims, their experiences are neither unique nor should they remain secret. By using a logical, hard-core fact, this well-produced film effectively demonstrates the radical need for prevention to help stop the rampant violence and abuse of women.
At the end of the video, the narrator makes a call to action to her father, which is, “I will be born a girl. Don’t make that be my greatest danger in life.” (CARE Norway, 2015). This poignant plea delivers a passionate message that concisely ties the video’s content together. #DearDaddy’s content stresses the dangers women face simply because of their gender, and conveys that certain male behaviors, name calling and casual sexist comments, heavily contributes to and encourages harmful actions against women. Men need to take accountability for the attitudes instilled in young boys from their male role models to help in this prevention. By appealing to a father’s basic need to protect his daughter, the video squarely emphasizes their role to aid in the cessation of violence against women. Being a girl should not be something anybody is afraid of.
“#DearDaddy.” YouTube. YouTube, 4 Dec. 2015. Accessed 06 Mar. 2016.