In the wake of rising number of domestic violence cases and crimes against women, it is rejuvenating to see young boys vehemently refuse to slap a girl when they are told to in a social experiment.
An Italian magazine's anti-violence ad titled "Slap Her" has gone viral on YouTube.
The three-minute video produced by Italian magazine "Fanpage" has amassed over 6,043,985 hits since it was posed on 4 January and has over 32,000 likes. Five young boys, ranging in age from seven to eleven, are the subjects in the social experiment that seeks to answer the question: "What happens when you put a boy in front of a girl and ask him to slap her?"
The boys interact with an interviewer off-camera about what they want to be when they grow up and why. Following this, a young girl Martina, who looks to be slightly older than the boys, is introduced. The pre-pubescent boys develop awkwardness as soon as she enters the frame.
When they are asked what they like about the girl, most of them say "her hair" or "her eyes", while one says everything about her is pretty. The fun and awkwardness, however, comes to an end, when the interviewer abruptly orders them, "Now slap her. Hard."
The boys are all shell-shocked on hearing the demand and stand unsure, seemingly considering the possibility of it being part of a prank. Every single one of them refuses to slap her.
They explain why they will not slap her with touching reasons like "I don't want to hurt her", "Jesus doesn't want us to hit others", "Because I am against violence", and "As the saying goes, 'girls shouldn't be hit, even with a flower... or a bouquet of flowers". The best statement came from the aspiring pizza-maker who said, "Because I am a man" and that says it all.
The video ends with the message "In the kids' world, women don't get hit".
However, there are many who criticise the ad for reinstating a woman as an object of men's desires. Martina remains a silent spectator in whatever choice the boys make, children's media culture expert Rebecca Hains wrote in a blog. "[O]ur boys need to understand that relationships are about respect and mutuality. Girls are not prizes to be won; they're real people."
Regardless, "Slap Her" makes an important point, especially in Italy, where the United Nations has reported that domestic abuse is "the most pervasive form of violence" and that women aged between 16 and 70 experience some form of physical or sexual violence in their lifetimes.