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?

  • says:

    Bravo what an excellent campaign…
    You are so right when u say its almost the victims fault for not following all these ‘be careful’ rules.

  • Alice says:

    I agree! And it’s also only a very thin line from saying women should cover up or they are guilty for tempting men etc, in certain countries. It’s sort of the same of logic when we start to say women are raped because of this and that.
    NO ONE deserve to be raped no matter what he/she did. Period.

  • Em says:

    Thank you so much for highlighting this issue, Im tired of the stupid “Oh she was asking for it” excuses that are thrown around a lot. It reminds me of that case where the Gardai were actually talking to two girls and threatened to rape them, and some of the letters to the Irish Times went along the lines of “Oh boys will be boys”.

  • Anna says:

    Thanks for all the comments, folks. It’s a reminder that we’ve all grown up with these “don’t get raped” message and how important it is to challenge it!

    Sarah, good to know that the NSPCC are also trying to raise girls’ awareness of these issues too. Their study showed an alarming amount of young girls thought that they “had” to have sex under certain circumstances, whether they wanted to do it or not, which is so depressing.

  • Sara says:

    Thanks so much for highlighting this issue- it’s worrisome how much the discourse around rape blames the victim. To widen the scope even more I think it’s important to remember that men are also rape victims and women can be perpetrators of rape. Glad to see ads around Dublin highlighting men as victims too.

  • *Aisling* says:

    Thanks for this Anna. It’s terrible that rape is the only crime which is treated like this. Love to see a campaign like this in Ireland

  • joanna says:

    So pleased to see this campaign! My absolute favourite way of explaining to people why you shouldn’t blame Rape victims is the analogy comparing Rape to Mugging – the man who was mugged was “asking for it” because he was wearing a fancy suit and had been known to give his money away to charity in the past which meant he was loose with his money and therefore it couldn’t be mugging – he’d just given money away and regretted it afterwards so lied and said he hadn’t consented to giving the money away. Absolutely genius analogy as it shows exactly how those victim blaming lines seem ridiculous when applied to anything else. It’s pretty easy to find the full thing on google.

    Hope this is the start of a trend towards educating people not to rape rather than not to GET raped!

  • Niamh D says:

    I definitely believe that there is a huge need for an educational campaign aimed at men, and boys, to fully educate them on what is and is not consensual sex. It’s frightening that there’s nothing that says ‘This is the line you cannot cross’.

    A woman should be allowed to drink and should be safe to walk home alone. She’s not the one doing anything wrong in these circumstances. It’s the attackers whose behavior needs to change, so it’s him who should bet targeted by anti-rape campaigns.

  • Anon. says:

    As a rape victim when I was 13 years old by my first boyfriend, I definitely applaud any campaign that aims to teach boys/young men/adult men what rape looks like – very rarely done by strangers, and not always in the dramatic Hollywood fashion. They look like this.

    However, I found the ad very hard to watch. Given the statistics we’ve all seen about how many women are affected by sexual abuse, watchng a rape being acted out on TV can be a strong trigger. My rape happened almost 20 years ago and I’m still going to have to calm myself down before sleeping tonight to stave off any nightmares (which, still, unfortunatley happen all the time).

    Although I’m not sure re-enacting rape is the way to go, it’s great to see educational material that isn’t aimed at teaching girls how to avoid being raped. I also applaud for having the balls to write these articles. Good for you.

  • witchgirl26 says:

    I think it’s brilliant that there are posts like this on here. I never really realised how much the whole “don’t get raped” slogan was out there instead of the “don’t rape”.

    That said I do think girls should get informed on staying safe when out – ie don’t wander down dark alley ways by yourself. I think that’s not just for the “don’t get raped” but also generally a smart idea. Oh & boys should get info on staying safe too in general as I think that can be an issue as well.

Leave a Reply

Content © and partners