Skip to content

Getting it Right when it Comes to Anti-Rape Campaigns

February 4, 2010

Too often campaigns that are ostensibly aimed at reducing the incidence of sexual assault come off terribly wrong. They imply that victims to are to blame because if they had just been “SMART” they could have avoided any problems. Instead of putting the onus on men not to rape, they tell women to be afraid, to limit their actions to avoid rapists even though, as Rebekah Carrow so eloquently wrote earlier this week, women already plan their everyday lives according to the rules of fear. So it was surprising to find an ad in the February issue of Go Belfast that gets it right. (I’d say pleasantly surprising, except that the need for such an ad in the first place makes such pleasure impossible.)

sexual violence and abuse are always wrong. Unless someone freely agrees to it, no-one has the right to carry out any act that's in any way sexual. That's why there are changes in the law to stop sexual violence and abuse going on. So, if you or someone you know needs help, call free, in confidence, 24/7. 0808 808 8000 Lifeline.

The ad unequivocally places the blame for acts of sexual assault on the perpetrator, and sets the standard for consent as something active. It must be given; it is not something that can be assume in the absence of denial. And it must be given freely meaning without coercion or pressure of any kind. By referring to “any act that’s in any way sexual”, the ad makes clear that there is no point before which unwanted sexual action are acceptable. The website mentioned in the text gives a more detailed definition and specifically notes that rape is not only something strangers do.

What may well be most important, however, is the ad does not stop by establishing that sexual assault is wrong and illegal. It provides resources for victims to get help. No matter how well-phrased or right on an ad is, after all, it isn’t going to stop every rapist. To let victims, including those who may still be in a relationship with an abuser, know that assistance is available can be enough to help them begin the process of living their lives again—and it may mean preventing the repetition of abuse.

What are the best campaigns against sexual assault you’ve seen or participated in?

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]
  1. Rebecca permalink
    February 4, 2010 2:33 pm

    I love this one:

  2. Julie Bartkiewicz permalink
    February 4, 2010 11:43 pm

    Everyone should be insulted by the old, blame the victim not the “animalistic male” approach. It has never worked and the points Elizabeth makes are spot on.
    While we tell women to stop being afraid to go out at night with events such as “Take Back The Night” it seems counterintuitive to be creating such fears, when the real problem is the predators.
    Maybe the Ads would be better, if directed towards the Rapist and why they should be afraid.

  3. happybodies permalink
    February 7, 2010 3:39 pm

    I think public campaigns for sexual violence prevention can be really tricky. For example, while I really like the “this is not an invitation to rape me” ads, I find some problem with the fact that they are still inundating us with pictures of sexualized female bodies, and very normatively sexual bodies. There is also the huge concerning of creating a safe space for survivors. When we do any advertising on campus we try to use the language of “sexual violence” rather than “rape” because it’s often less triggering. While this language is on a small scale, there are also campaigns like cabwise in London which is VERY TRIGGERING:

    For this year’s V-day, we tried to circumvent some of these problems by using sex positivity as a means of sexual violence prevention. To promote consent on campus, we asked students to give their favorite ways they ask for consent, and gave them the “Consent is Sexy” V-day stamp of approval. We also included info about a local violence shelter. I don’t think this is the only way to promote sexual violence prevention but I really like it:


  1. uberVU - social comments

Comments are closed.

  • Previous Series at GAB

  • TWITTER: What’s going on @GABblog

  • Top Posts

  • Recommended Reading

  • We participated in Blog for International Women’s Day 2010.

  • NetworkedBlogs

  • %d bloggers like this: