Anti-Rape Ads Enrage My Inner Feminist

What are your opinions on the below two PSAs aimed at preventing rape?

A:     B:   

These images are from the Jezebel article that inspired this post.

Initially, you might think there is nothing wrong with either one of these. Let me ask you this: if the woman in each of these photos gets raped, who’s at fault according to the message? The first woman was irresponsible and got too drunk, which is the reason she got raped. The second woman is clearly putting the moves on a man. Hell, she even has her hand near his crotch. These are NOT signals that she wants to go all the way. If she gets raped, it’s the rapist’s fault.

PSAs like the one on the right really rub me the wrong way. Have you ever seen the Who Needs Feminism campaign? I follow them on Facebook and will never forget the photo I saw of a college-aged man. He held a sign reading “I need feminism because, when I was sexually assaulted, no one asked me what I was wearing or if I was drunk.” (paraphrasing, I don’t remember exactly what his sign said)

The woman in the first ad can dance any way she wants. She can wear whatever she wants (so long as it complies with local laws. I think there are laws about public decency and such, but that’s another discussion). She can drink as much as she wants. She can take a cab home if she wants. In doing any of the above, she is not asking to be raped. She is not at fault if she is raped. The fact that she go drunk does not mean the person who rapes her is less at fault.

On the other hand, I love seeing PSAs like the second one. Here we have a woman who is just being normal. You might assume she’s at a party. Maybe she’s even drunk. What we know for sure is that she is all over that guy. The message of that ad is that, despite her actions, she is not asking for sex.

My college had a pretty good PSA campaign above preventing/avoiding rape. I specifically remember posters of comic strips that often featured men. In the one that comes to mind, two men where playing video games. One said something about getting a girl drunk so he could score and the other responded by saying “that’s so uncool, man. Maybe you should just ask if she’s interested first.” (paraphrasing). I loved seeing these because they promoted the idea that men should not rape women. 

(I say it that way, because that was the single idea of the comics. In reality, people should not rape people)

As a human being who happen to have a female body, I’ve been warned all my life about going anywhere alone, drinking too much and wearing revealing clothing. There is nothing wrong with warning women of circumstances that put their safety at greater risk. It will never ever ever ever ever ever be right for anyone (of any gender) to sexually assault or rape a woman. I don’t care if she walks outside in the nude at 2AM. It is still not her fault if she gets raped. It’s simply an unfortunate fact that, in the world we live in, many men feel certain actions or articles of clothing entitle them to have access to a woman’s body.

All of the things women are told to avoid for their own safety do not actually prevent rape. For starters, 2/3 of rapes and 73 percent of sexual assaults are committed by people known to the victim. It’s not uncommon for these assaults to take place within the victims home or the home of someone they know well. How do you prevent those assaults, which account for the majority? If we’re going to provide girls advice on how they can prevent the most common form of rape, maybe we should be telling them to avoid all family and friends. They’re the most likely to rape you (according to the numbers).

RAINN, where these statistics are from, does not provide information about what the average victim wore when assaulted. While I understand why, a part of me wishes they did if only to verify something I read a long time ago. What a victim wore and other physical characteristics don’t matter when it comes to why a woman is raped. Still, I know I read or heard the following at some point during high school. What matters here is, someone, somewhere, put the following out there as information on how to avoid rape.

I once heard that women with long hair, specifically women who wear their hair in a pigtail are more likely to be raped. The reasoning was that this gives men something to grab onto and pull her down.

I also remember my father telling me men preferred women with long hair.  It has something to do with some natural, caveman instinct. I don’t remember the specific reasoning. I was in the early years of middle school at the time.

What’s a girl to do with those two thoughts in her head. If she cuts off her hair, surely no one will rape her, right? But, then she’ll be unattractive and no one will like her because only girls with long hair are pretty, right?

That girl, like any other human being in existence, needs only to be herself. Men, like any other human beings in existences, should treat people kindly and respect their bodily autonomy.

I hope to see more PSAs like the second. Sexual assault is a huge issue. The message we put out there should not be “prevent yourself from being assaulted.” Instead, we need to spread these words: “DON’T SEXUALLY ASSAULT OR RAPE PEOPLE.”

Every mother out there will tell her daughter how to take percautions when it comes to drinking and clothes. I’m not saying this is wrong. I’m saying, in the public eye, in PSAs, the message should be that rape is wrong and never asked for.

People like to argue about the girl having some responsibility for being too reckless, but there are too many analogies to compare to that. If I travel half way around the world and have my purse stolen, am I at fault for traveling? If I get into my car and am hit by a texting driver, am I at fault for driving? If I have the audacity to go anywhere in public ever and am assaulted, am I at fault for daring to be among people I don’t know?

Please don’t rape people and please, when you talk about rape, make sure everyone knows that nothing can make it their fault unless they are the one raping another. There are ways, due to the unfortunate truths of the world we live in, in which you might be able to prevent rape. They are not foul proof. I don’t know that there is any foul proof way to avoid rape short of never leaving your house. That’s why the crime of rape is no one’s fault but that of the rapist.

To conclude, I would like to share a couple more images from Who Need Feminism page. It should be made known that men support feminism and gender equality as well. Many do understand the concept of consent.

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In other news, I would like to thank BroadBlogs for mentioning me in her blog post today. If you came here from her blog, welcome. If you haven’t had the honor of reading BroadBlogs yet, I highly suggest you check her out!

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14 thoughts on “Anti-Rape Ads Enrage My Inner Feminist”

  1. These PSAs aren’t exactly telling men not to rape women, which is the biggest problem. What I get from them is they’re telling women how to be safe while they’re out. I’m totally fine with a simple reminder to be careful of my surroundings, not to drink so much I forget who I am, and to always have a friend with you, but men are not receiving the amount of messages women are about similar things. Tell men not to sleep with a woman who is blacked out, tell men not to pursue a woman who has already told him no, tell men not to rub his junk on a woman who hasn’t invited him to dance.

    This past weekend I went out with my boyfriend and a few friends. I went outside because the bar was closing and I was looking for one of my friends who had left. I made eye contact with this one guy for half a second, and he took that as an invitation to come talk to me and make me feel uncomfortable. I mean, this guy nearly grabbed my boob when I shook his hand. I told him that I was waiting for my boyfriend to come outside, and he started swearing at me and calling my boyfriend an asshole and saying I should leave with him. I told him flat out I had no interest in him and my boyfriend is the best man in the world and blah blah blah and he still went on trying to convince me to leave with him.

    Those are the things these PSAs should be focusing on. If she isn’t into you, go away. If she tells you to leave her alone, go away. If she’s falling over in the bar/club/party, go away.

    1. How sad is it that boyfriends are often used as a defense? It’s never happened to me, but I’ve heard some women complain that voicing their disinterest in a man does not deter them. Say, “I have a boyfriend,” and they back off out of respect for the man. How about respect for the woman who isn’t interested in you?

      I do like the PSA to the right, at least, I like it better than the one on the left. It’s saying that, even though she is “all over” the guy, she is not asking for sex.

      I think many young men don’t understand the definition of rape. It makes me want to sit down with my younger brother and explain all the things I know no one has told him. If a girl is drunk, she is not legally able to consent. If a girl is unconscious, she is not legally bale to consent. If she does not vocally say, “yes, this is what I want,” YOU be safe and leave her alone. Some people have a problem with that. There are plenty of people who have sex while drunk and don’t claim to be raped. But there are many that are raped and who aren’t believed because of their drunken state. In order to ‘be safe’ men should be warned never to have sex with a drunk woman they don’t trust because you don’t know how she views the experience. If she says you raped her, the law is on her side (as it should be).

      A good male friend of mine in college once told me the classes he went to about issues surrounding drinking and sex said you had to get her vocal consent. He followed this and even told me one day “I don’t do anything unless she says yes.” That’s a good man.

      1. I’ve seen a few, like the comic strip one I mentioned from college. It’s too bad they are uncommon. Typically, their message is “if you see something, say something” instead of “don’t rape people.” Both are good messages. We just need to do a better job teaching young men what is and isn’t rape. By the time I graduated high school, I knew all the things that ‘put me at risk’ of being raped. Men should graduate high school understanding the difference between rape and sex. There is no grey area.

    2. “This guy nearly grabbed my boob when I shook his hand,”
      Nearly as in it didn’t happen? Tell us in more detail of other times when things almost happened, but didn’t. No rush, just when you get a chance.
      Knowing in advance your boyfriends good and bad qualities says more about your decision to enter the parking lot solo at night.
      Passive men who are very skilled at politically correct speech but poor at protecting you via fisticuffs in a bar parking lot.
      You start your comment pointing out the necessity of educating my gender not to rape. Yet your the one who needs a refresher course in Stranger = Danger. No amount of enlightenment i gain will ever stop you from making foolish choices.
      It’s funny to me how above reproach feminists are.
      Statically speaking YOUR gender needs to stop killing babies. Humans should print up some “don’t kill your baby, baby your baby” pamphlets.
      I know it’s only fun to do the finger pointing, not add anything intelligent or meaningful when advocating gender morality. Your gender leads the way in baby killing and killing babies, as long as your gender does not lead statistically in rape is whats important.
      What is good for the goose is also good for the gander,

  2. That first dad is really really annoying! Okay, beyond annoying. It’s dangerous. I hope to see more ads like the second one too. Oh, and I love the signs the people are carrying. Thanks for including those.

    And finally, you’re welcome. Thanks for making such interesting and intelligent comments.

    1. I’ve got to throw my opinion out there somewhere. Half the reason I started this blog was because I don’t have a person who wants to discuss issues like this in real life. Or, at least no one who is as curious about them as I am.

  3. One of the things that is disconcerting is that so many men seem to have very little control over their urges…….I mean, dude, I like sex as much as anyone else…wait let me clarify; I LOVE sex….but am I willing to sacrifice my integrity and morals to take advantage of a drunk chick??? NO! besides, what the hell kind of dude wants to have sex with a girl who is wasted and hardly knows what is going on??? Isn’t that pretty sick and twisted!

    When I worked in the jail as a counselor I had an inmate who was incarcerated for having sex with an underage girl: “but Kenneth, she looked like she was 24!!” but she really was only 15! I can’t give the details of what happened; but basically he hardly knew the girl when they hooked up; he never met her friends, never met her family, never got to know anything about her….he just rushed into having sex with her because she was an ‘easy’ lay…..so that type of dude REALLY annoys me because why the hell is he having sex with someone he hardly knows!!!

    Now the other side of the coin with that inmate is I understand the thrill of a one-night-stand…of hooking up with a total stranger…..but ultimately; is it really worth it?? In that guy’s case it landed him in jail because he ended up breaking the law by being with a girl who was underage……

    and in most cases it seems like we as a culture just don’t value sex as much as we should. I’m not one of those people who believe sex should only take place in marriage, and I’m also not saying we should only have sex with one person ever…..but I do believe sex is a beautiful thing and jumping into bed with ‘anyone’….seems to somehow cheapen it……

    just my thoughts

    1. My boyfriend has said that he wants a girl to want him. The idea of having sex with someone who can’t communicate that desire or forcing someone who is clearly not interested in the act defies his logic.

      On the flip side, he often worries about me, especially if I’m out with a few girl friends at a bar. He knows how a lot of guys think and doesn’t want that kind of attention turned on me.

      Sometimes it’s truly terrifying. I know the statistics. According to RAINN, 1 of every 6 American women has been the victim of a attempted or successful rape. I once read that 1 out of 3 American women will face some form of physical or sexual abuse in their lifetimes.

      I don’t understand why, in a society that claims the genders are equal, something like this can still happen. It happens to all the genders, but the numbers are highest when it comes to women. I just can’t understand what, in our culture, makes such an animistic action so prevalent

      …but we can start somewhere. Teach boys that ‘girly’ is not something to be ashamed of. Treat boys and girls the same when it comes to dating. That last point is actually a big one for me. What do we think we’re doing, telling boys to “go get’em” and simultaneously telling girls to keep their legs crossed? That a disaster waiting to happen (or happening, depending on how you look at it.)

      1. “I don’t understand why, in a society that claims the genders are equal, something like this can still happen…..”

        I think there is a level of hypocrisy in our culture ; we say we believe the genders are equals but in truth; the conservatives and liberals don’t really practice gender equality.

        –) most conservative churches still treat women like second class citizens…hell, most conservative churches treat a lot of people like second class citizens (i.e. gays, minorities, etc)

        —) many liberals aren’t willing to condemn pornography that treats women like pieces of meat. I’m not saying I’m against all forms of pornography…I imagine some can and could be quite beautiful…but there is a lot of porn out there that treats women like shit in which the men totally encourages gender “Inequality”. Feminist groups should be taking a major stance against any kind of porn that treats women this way. And the reason I’m writing such a long paragraph about porn is because its the NUMBER ONE thing that people do on the Internet. I think that something like 70% of all internet usage by men is for pornography.

      2. That’s why I said “claims.” It’s pretty obvious the genders aren’t equal. In my personal opinion, I think part of the reason people discriminate against homosexuals (particularly homosexual men) is because they stereotype them as being ‘girly.’ I have also heard the theory that men who do not treat women equally and objectify them are afraid of homosexual me because they think those men will treat them like they treat women.

        Jezebel.com is a blog I like to frequent and they talk about the porn industry, especially now that they are having issues with HIV. To make a very long story short, having sex for hours on end isn’t fantastic. One word is all you need to understand: chaffing. There definitely needs to be some additional worker protections in that industry.

    1. Jezebel has discussed the topic of condom in the porn industry and had a whole article on that word. One, written by a nurse, explained how condoms increase that affect and can actually lead to a higher risk of STIs. I don’t think the industry should cease to exist, but I agree that they need some work in order to display equality between the genders and protection of their workers.

  4. LoL at anti rape PSA’s offending you! You’re awful =D Thanks for totally fulfilling my stereotype of feminists being offended by everything.
    Seeing your logic in action was a real treat, I love how you actually did a step by step walk through of a womans awareness of being offended.
    The thought process of females is the most misunderstood value in the prime material plane. I Entertaining blog for sure. Yet also very educational
    Not only did I learn from the negative exaplses you gave of the first PSA, But I also saw an example of your critical thinking in the PSA you could endorse. I now understand the folly of abstract thought.
    Your ability to see offensive things works under the same principles of optical illusions. Schroeder’s reversible staircase > Schroeder’s rapist..
    We ALL know Schroeder’s rapist these days, the eye contact three seconds past acceptable limits. Before I read this blog I falsely thought each human had their own standards of acceptable eye contact duration.
    Good luck on the Ban “bossy” campaign.

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