White Ribbon’s new campaign, ‘I Knew All Along’, captures a new father’s fears about raising a daughter. Conceived by Toronto-based creative agency Bensimon Byrne and directed by TIFF 2022 People’s Choice Award winner Hubert Davis (Untitled Films), the public service announcement encourages men to consider how they can facilitate gender equity and eradicate gender violence by considering these things - even if they do not have daughters.
The work highlights a new father, who, while holding his child in his arms, reflects on how he has behaved toward women and girls in the past. It becomes clear to him that he not only knows what she is likely to face, but he could also have made the world better for her by considering his own actions sooner.
The inspiration for ‘I Knew All Along’ came from the multitude of videos on social platforms, often played for laughs, detailing fathers’ worries about ‘other boys and men’ as their daughters grow up. “It seemed like there was a total lack of self-examination about how they may have treated women or girls in their past,” says Joseph Bonnici, chief creative officer at Bensimon Byrne. “We felt in order for this to have a powerful emotional impact and cause the self-examination that we wanted from men, it was imperative to have the penny drop for the viewer at the same time as it does for the father in the film.”
“Displays of harmful gender norms and stereotypes are so ingrained within our culture that it often takes personal experience, such as having a daughter, for many men to recognise these unhealthy behaviours,” adds Humberto Carolo, White Ribbon’s executive director. “‘I Knew All Along’ sheds light on the gender-based aggressions that men may have engaged in, whether verbal or behavioural, intentional, or unintentional, and reveals why they should not be ignored or minimised.”
A 2022 study
commissioned by White Ribbon explores concerns parents have after having a daughter. Three-quarters of moms (75%) and two-thirds of dads (66%) disclosed that having daughters made them more concerned about the challenges women face in society. Further, 70% of those without daughters feel that having one would make them more aware or concerned about the discrimination women face.
Showcases of unhealthy masculinities such as violence, misogyny and discrimination are learned behaviours, not something men and boys are inherently born with. The mission of ‘I Knew All Along’ is to highlight the experiences many women face and encourage male-identified individuals to become conscious of, and accountable for, their actions.
“As a new father to my first daughter, I want to do everything I can to build a healthy relationship with her and be a positive role model where she can learn and experience respect,” says Taylor Demetrioff, bilingual community engagement manager at White Ribbon. “It’s important to help my daughter grow up seeing her father being vulnerable, and connect with her emotionally so that she has a healthier sense of masculinity, security and respected boundaries.”
White Ribbon works to highlight the systemic and societal issues that lead to gender-based violence. Its mission is to help men and boys understand the reality and dimension of this issue so they can become allies, challenge harmful behaviours, and make real change.
“This film has the power to present complex social issues in a way that is both compelling and universal,” says director Hubert Davis. “To make an emotional impact, it was important for us to highlight a profound personal experience - like becoming a new parent. While not everyone may be a parent, many understand what it feels like to want to protect a loved one."