Wearing a button that read "Don't Dis Your Sis," Mayor David Dinkins Tuesday announced the start of a public relations campaign aimed at encouraging young men to respect their female counterparts.
The campaign was spurred by a recent spate of sexual assaults at city pools in which young men, often chanting rap lyrics, wrapped arms and churned through the water, ripping the bathing suits off young girls and fondling them in a phenomenon known as "the whirlpool." The police said five such attacks, all at different pools, were reported in less than a week with the latest reported on Sunday.Dinkins said he was outraged by the assaults.
"Part of what we want to try to do is to educate our young people," Dinkins said. "We want to try to convey to them that it is not appropriate behavior, that it is in no way macho to put upon young girls. It just isn't."
The campaign will distribute fliers and buttons bearing the slogans "Don't Dis Your Sis" and "Whirlpool Ain't Cool" at local pools, and broadcast public service announcements on radio stations, said Joyce F. Brown, deputy mayor for public and community affairs.
Officials also hope to get rap groups to write songs encouraging their listeners to treat women with respect. The lead singer of the group Arrested Development has agreed to make a public service announcement, Dinkins said.
Acknowledging that his musical tastes run more toward Billie Holiday than Sir Mix-a-Lot, Dinkins said he agrees with ministers that some rap music encourages young people to show disrespect for one another and the law. But he stopped short of blaming rap music for the sexual assaults.
"What's to blame is society," he said. "We, each of us, must do better by our young people in terms of behaving as role models and expressing our displeasure at behavior we know is not proper."
Ending the sexual assaults is only part of the campaign's goal, Brown said. The larger challenge will be fostering tolerance, respect for others and self-respect in young people, she said.
"We have a much bigger issue to address. It's larger than pools. It's larger than this moment," she said. "We basically are talking about behavior modification where people will come to understand that this type of behavior in fact brings themselves down."