What are your opinions on the below two PSAs aimed at preventing rape?
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 got 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 happens 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.
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!