Anti-Rape Campaign Puts the Pressure on Rapists Not Victims

By Anna | December 11 2012 | 23 Comments

As long as I can remember, women and girls have been given advice on how to avoid rape – from ‘don’t walk alone at night’ and ‘don’t take drinks from people you don’t know’ to the even more victim-blaming ‘Don’t give the wrong signals’ and ‘don’t get drunk at all’. These words of so-called wisdom have one thing in common – when it comes to preventing rape, they put the responsibility on potential victims, rather than perpetrators.

This anti-teenage-drinking ad illustrates this attitude – don’t get too drunk because you might get raped! But there was no matching ad saying “Don’t get drunk and take advantage of a vulnerable girl!” Obviously, we need to teach girls to stay safe. But the “rape prevention” messages are so overwhelmingly aimed at women that they suggest if you do get raped, then it might be your fault for not sticking to the rules.

Ask the men in your life whether they were ever explictly told not to rape and sexually assault women, or even if it was made clear to them growing up what exactly sexual assault is, and chances are they’ll say no. They might think, of course, that they didn’t need that advice, and this may be true, but the fact remains that thousands of rapes and sexual assaults are committed every year, and  many of them are committed by “ordinary” men with no known history of violence (look at the appalling Anthony Lyons case ).

A recent government survey in the UK “showed that 22 per cent of respondents aged 16-20 thought that it was, or probably was, acceptable for a boy to expect to have sex with a girl if he has spent a lot of time and money on her. Twenty one per cent thought it was acceptable, or were unsure if it was acceptable or not, for a boy to expect to have sex with a girl if he thinks she has had sex with people before.” So clearly some education is needed.

Which is why this new campaign from the police department in Edmonton, Canada, is so welcome. The ads show images of women being physically dominated by men with slogans such as “It’s not sex…when she’s passed out. Sex with someone unable to consent=sexual assault” and “It’s not sex…when she doesn’t want it. Sex without voluntary consent=sexual assault”.

It’s not the first campaign to put the responsibility on the would-be rapist – the NSPCC released this hard-hitting ad aimed at teens earlier this year, for example -  which suggests that things are improving.

So what do you think of the ads? And what do you think would make a good anti-rape campaign?


Feminism, Relationships & Sex , , ,

23 Replies to "Anti-Rape Campaign Puts the Pressure on Rapists Not Victims"

  • Lisa says:

    Wow that ad is hard hitting, but gets the message across so well. It should be shown in schools to teenagers, it might make them more aware of their actions!

  • Clarissa says:

    Thank you Anna for hilighting such an important issue. Someone I know was raped as a very young teenager and didn’t tell anyone until years later when the torment got too much for her. She was told that she should have reported it cos what if he did it to someone else, basically taking the blame from the vile animal who did it and putting it on to the victim herself. So sad

  • EmmaCat says:

    It’s about damn time. I’m sick of our victim blaming culture- not just in the case of rape too! ”well what were you doing there?” ”what were you wearing?” and ”we’re you drunk” are not the first questions that should be asked.

  • EmmaCat says:

    *were. And that top ad is vile. They’ve even matched the knickers to the colour of the tile on the floor, so the image is nice and visually appealing to you. If anything she’s lying provocatively, toes pointed and photoshopped to bits.

    The ”don’t e that guy” ads are posted all around college, and I was honestly impressed when I saw them. It’s long overdue that the campaigns are ”don’t rape” instead of ”don’t get raped”.

  • Littlesis says:

    Well done, Anna. I feel like my mind has been so conditioned that, at times, I’m unaware of such terrible victim-blaming.
    I’ve experienced the aftermath of a rape of a friend, and no ad could describe the suffering. Blame is such a huge factor.

  • claire says:

    I’ve never noticed that before but now that I have it most the adverts I remember were along the lines of stay safe and don’t get raped. That really pisses me off that I haven’t even noticed how much my views have been swung to see rape as something the victim could have prevented. I’m ashamed to admit it but if you had asked me earlier today how to lower rape I would probably have repeated some of that ‘wisdom’ and not mentioned anything about the perpetrators.

    Stay safe is an important message but it shouldn’t be the only one.

  • Sarah says:

    I didn’t notice how much the ads are targeting women until I saw the NSPCC ones which are great. There are other ones as well which don’t get shown as often including the female side of this (ie, just because he’s your boyfriend doesn’t mean its not rape) and physical and psychological abuse.

  • Alice says:

    My husband is Canadian, I must admit the culture there forward any gender-related issue is so much more advanced.
    Boys are generally raise to share housework for example. And to be respect to women, etc.
    Thanks to that, I have a husband who has no problem doing housework, who respect women, who will bring me a cup of tea when I have PMS, who has difficulty to understand why don’t men help out with babies, etc.
    And my husband is not a rare case, most of his friends are the same. They are the one fighting to feed babies and ask their wives to sit down to read a magazine. Canada go!

  • nevdev says:

    Dear i love you and I love that you are talking about these issues. Thanks, nevdev.

  • OtherMary says:

    I loathe the phrase “she was/is gagging for it” SO much, and I have heard so many men saying it when women wear skimpy outfits or show them or their friends some attention when they’re out. Even if these lads are not rapists, I wouldn’t know, it is a very rapey thing to say and tells me that they think that if a woman has her tits half out of her dress or a short skirt on, or is simply flirty, then she OBVIOUSLY wants to have sex. Oh, rape culture, when will you end?

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