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Dec 04 2012

Date rape ads that get it right

Trigger warning, obviously, for ads depicting many of the most common scenarios in which you might find yourself raped by an acquaintance. As correctly as these scenarios are dealt with, they are still potentially triggering. Therefore, below the fold.

Via Copyranter, these ads (and several more) are running in Edmonton:

"It's not sex when she's wasted" ad copy

How many ads have there been running variants on “control how much you drink”, or “protect your friends from drinking too much”, or “don’t look away from your drink even for an instant”, as though the instant your self-direction is compromised you’re responsible for what happens? Here, finally, is an ad telling those guys who might be so steeped in rape culture that they think sex under certain questionable circumstances is totally normal that, actually, no, you’re responsible for getting clear consent. Thinking back to my university days, I’ve heard enough horror stories in the meal hall from jocks at the next table talking about their exploits with the pretty frosh who couldn’t hold her liquor — what worries me is the lessons the others at that table or within earshot might have learned. And I realized this before I was really all that socially aware, no less.

Consider also that predators will do whatever they can to rob women of their self-direction through drink and coercion and drugs, so an inexperienced drinker might just be easy prey. Predators look for prey, and naivete is a sign of weakness to a predator. No wonder the one of the other pillars holding up rape culture is the very same constant drumbeat of fear drilled into women about how they have to treat every man as a potential rapist! Otherwise, they’re naive, and easy prey for the actual predators among us. And we all know naivete is totes a personal failing; right, everyone who thought Amanda Todd deserved to be bullied? Seriously, knowing why women have to be wary, and knowing that they’re forced to live this way because of the existence of predators sheltered from any responsibility for their actions, “Schrodinger’s Rapist” bothers me not one whit. Putting the onus of responsibility on the man who engages on predatory behaviour to stop doing so, well, that’s the right way to go about dismantling the interlocking facets of this rape culture.

I do take some issue with “don’t be that guy”, partly due to its colloquial nature as Copyranter suggests, but mostly insofar as there’s a statistically not-insignificant chance of a non-male perpetrator. Rape statistics (which are notorious for underreporting, mind you) still put the prevalence of male perpetrators at about 90-99% of rapes, including those happening in prison. Though, prison statistics are skewed as male-on-male and female-on-female rape happen predominantly in prisons. That notwithstanding, every rape is horrible because it is an abrogation of a person’s right to sexual autonomy and self-direction, no matter who’s doing what to whom.

The other most laudable single aspect of this campaign is the inclusion of male-on-male rape, which is all too often left out of the conversation:

"It's not sex when he changes his mind" ad copy

If your partner changes their mind, stop. If they’re anything less than enthusiastically consenting, I don’t see how anyone with any sense of empathy could follow through against their partner’s wishes. But empathy is, of course, the crux of the problem. And if you’re the kind of person who says, “hey, if I was mounted and fucked while I was too piss-loaded to consent, that’d be kinda awesome”, you might want to consider the argument again, this time picturing different orifices and penetrative objects.

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  1. 1
    carlie

    Interesting coincidence – I had a meeting with one of the campus people in charge of such things in my area yesterday, and had gone out to find info on “don’t rape” campaigns and come up with exactly this one. I passed the info along; hopefully they’ll decide to use it. The Edmonton campaign is allowing other groups to freely use their materials, so that should make it an easy sell.

  2. 2
    Apparently Not Erin

    They’ve actually ran some of those ads a couple years ago. Four new ones – including the two you posted – were released in November. I’m not sure if they kept them running for the entire two years or not. They should have.

  3. 3
    Eamon Knight

    I don’t understand the objection to the colloquiality of “Don’t be *that* guy”. It seems to me it tries to preemptively invoke a sense of shame — Don’t be “that guy at the party” she remembers with loathing; Don’t be “that guy who hangs out at the campus pub” whom the women in rez all warn each other about — You don’t really want to be *that* guy, do you?

  4. 4
    Joe Dunes

    The other issue I have is the “enthusiastic” consent. Other sites, (feministing and the Pervocracy) have pointed out that this denies sex workers legitimacy, as it basically says that if their motive is profit, not sexual pleasure, it can’t be anything but rape. It also denies people the option of pursuing a sexual activity for the benefit of their partner but that doesn’t really do it for them.

    But seriously, great ads. I also really liked the “My strength is not for hurting” set someone did recently, especially for its inclusion of non-white and non-hetero couples.

  5. 5
    Jason Thibeault

    A profit motive absolutely counts as enthusiastic consent in my view — enthusiasm shouldn’t just be reserved for sexual pleasure. The last thing I’d like is for a demand for enthusiastic consent to deny agency from sex workers.

    I thought the “casualness” of “don’t be that guy” undercuts the ads slightly. Yes, it’s a nice meme, ergo memorable, but it’s like “don’t be that guy who leaves the seat up” or “eats the last of the chips at a party”. It feels like chiding them for minor indiscretions. But that’s kinda subjective, I guess. The important thing is that it’s a good meme that can travel beyond the initial ad viewing.

  6. 6
    Giliell, professional cynic -Ilk-

    Other sites, (feministing and the Pervocracy) have pointed out that this denies sex workers legitimacy, as it basically says that if their motive is profit, not sexual pleasure, it can’t be anything but rape.

    So, since I charged money for the teaching I did tonight and didn’t do it for the sheer pleasure of teaching folks interesting things, it can’t be anything but slavery?

    ++++
    I think another thing those adds could do was to change the mind of the general public (ever noticed what happens to taht phrase if you forget the L? I just did…). If non-predator people see them and take home the message that of course the onus is on the perp, then it will change rape culture.

  7. 7
    LykeX

    The other issue I have is the “enthusiastic” consent. Other sites, (feministing and the Pervocracy) have pointed out that this denies sex workers legitimacy, as it basically says that if their motive is profit, not sexual pleasure, it can’t be anything but rape.

    I don’t see that. It’s not up to me to judge the validity of other people’s reasons for giving consent. If they consent, that’s that. It’s up to them to decide what they’re willing to consent to and under what circumstances. That’s the whole point. I don’t see that an exchange of cash should necessarily invalidate the ability to give consent.

    It also denies people the option of pursuing a sexual activity for the benefit of their partner but that doesn’t really do it for them.

    Once more, I don’t see that, necessarily. If you gain some personal satisfaction from making your partner happy, isn’t that good enough? Does the object necessarily have to be sexual satisfaction? It can’t be emotional?

    As for “enthusiastic consent”, I don’t think that means having a stupid grin on your face, jumping up and down and going “weeeeee!” What enthusiastic consent means is “yes!” (for whatever reason) as opposed to “mmnnnnhhhoookaaaaaay, I guess.” (if it means you’ll stop bugging me about it)
    I think the point about enthusiastic consent is not to set up a lot of rules to judge whether or not a person is having sex in the proper, authorized manner. The point is to differentiate between consent and coerced acceptance.
    This has been raised before. I don’t know why people find the word “enthusiastic” so confusing. The point always seemed quite clear to me. I don’t mean to knock you over the head, but it comes across to me as obnoxiously literalistic.

  1. 8
    Letting Jane Doe Down | saralinwilde

    [...] Image via Lousy Canuck. [...]

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