‘Violence Against Women’ Is a ‘Male Violence’ Problem

A recent study found 98 percent of deepfake videos online were pornographic, and 99 percent of those targeted women or girls. (Marcus Brandt via Getty Images)

I always look forward to reading New York Times opinion columnist, Nicholas Kristof. He’s an ally of women and girls, and an important voice in the fight for gender equality. His recent column, “The Online Degradation of Women and Girls That We Meet With a Shrug,sounded the alarm on artificial intelligence deepfakes and the victimization of women and girls, which gets little attention.

In it, Kristof explained the simplicity of creating a sex video with a good image of a person’s face using AI, sounding the alarm on “deepfake nude videos and photos that humiliate celebrities and unknown children alike. One recent study found that 98 percent of deepfake videos online were pornographic and that 99 percent of those targeted were women or girls.” 

Kristof’s research and article is as important as it is terrifying, but I feel compelled to point out an underlying problem, a deeply rooted unconscious bias we see far too often in our culture: focusing on the victim’s harm without giving as much attention to those who cause it. Throughout the article Kristof mentions girls nine times, women seven times, female three times, but never mentions men—the perpetrators committing the crimes and the end users of this fake pornographic material. Of course, that’s the assumption, but when the perpetrator is completely taken out of the conversation, it takes away their ownership and their responsibility to end the violence. 

One in three women globally will experience physical or sexual violence in their lifetime, according to a World Health Organization report, and 98.1 percent of the perpetrators are men. The problem with physical and sexual violence is that it has more to do with the perpetrators that skew male than the victims that skew female, but culturally we put emphasis on the victims: women. Even in the WHO report, men is mentioned one time, while women is mentioned 31 times. 

Kristof shined a light on yet another problem and fear for women: the compulsion for images that “are graphic and sometimes sadistic, depicting women tied up as they are raped or urinated on.” That certain websites offer categories including “rape” (472 items), “crying” (655) and “degradation” (822)” and sites that promote “undress on a click!” 

As he rightly pointed out, we need laws that protect women and girls who are violated. But how do we solve the problem of 74 percent of deepfake pornography users reported not feeling guilty about watching the videos?’  

When the perpetrator is completely taken out of the conversation, it takes away their ownership and their responsibility to end the violence. 

The phrase “violence against women” is often used to describe the devastating mental and physical consequences sexual violence has on women and girls. While it’s important to understand the negative effects of violence against women and how it holds women back and prevents them from fully participating in society, it’s crucial to point out the problem too: “male violence.”

So, to all the allies working to protect women and girls, those who are fighting to stop violence against women and girls—when using the phrase “violence against women,” please include the phrase “male violence” too. When mentioning the victim, please mention the perpetrator too. It’s time to start framing male violence as the problem—and a problem for men and women to solve together—rather than a danger women need to avoid and a problem to solve alone.

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Jodi Bondi Norgaard is an entrepreneur, author, keynote speaker, feminist advocate, and an expert in creating change and breaking gender stereotypes. She is the founder of Dream Big Toy Company and the creator of the award-winning Go! Go! Sports Girls line of dolls, books, and apps for girls, encouraging healthy and active play over beauty and body image. Her book,  More Than A Doll: How Creating A New Brand of Sports Dolls Turned into a Fight to End Gender Stereotypes , will be released Jan. 2025.