Posted by: malechallengemedia | April 5, 2010

Pip Cornall on Australia’s RTA ‘Pinkie’ Advertisements – Does shaming young men make society safer?

Whilst I abhor road hoons – in fact I abhor any behaviour by young men that endangers others – I am very unhappy our government has resorted to using a well known sexual innuendo in order to shame young males into better driving and therefore reduce the road toll. I’m talking about the roadside billboard featuring a beautiful woman holding up her ‘limp’ little finger with it’s subliminal message!

Imagine the outcry if the gender was reversed – if the implication that a woman was – say frigid, or asexual – that public outcry would be enormous. If we want equality we should practice it at government level. Personally I’d like to see the research that led to the RTA campaign and the lack of wisdom – of wider consequences – that lead to their decision.

Men who work with young males know that a root cause behind bad male behaviour is low self esteem. Such young males already feel unworthy and isolated from society. More shaming – whilst it may reduce the road toll – cannot be good for the male psyche and may even lead to more violence in the long run.

Low self esteem as a cause of male violence will never show up on the questionnaires because of the masks young males wear – inevitably they believe that they feel good about themselves. However, I have found repeatedly, in workshop situations, when the masks come off, the truth is revealed. In such situations, when young men get real, when they are authentic, the self esteem is inevitably low and upsetting. I’ve mentioned before the names young men have used when they describe themselves and they are too terrible to print but think of what comes out of a dog’s rear end!

Yes, let’s reduce the road toll! But at the same time let’s help build young men who act responsibly without having to shame them.

Perhaps some of the $50 million per gold medal we spent on our Olympic team could be used to enlist more high profile athletes to assist in reducing all forms of young male violence, including death by car. After all, unlike the RTA, sport is supposed to build character!


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