Monday, January 6, 2014

Another campaign tells young women "don't get raped"

Image via Ads of The World

You just have to shake your head. No matter how often people speak out against well-meaning social marketing campaigns that unintentionally (or not) normalize rape culture, people keep making them.

This one comes from Calderdale Council in West Yorkshire, produced in-house by the creative team of Stuart Kerray and Dave Follon. The Council told The Mail they hoped their campaign "will reduce crime and shock revellers into thinking twice about how much they drink."

Writing in her Wordpress blog, Karen Ingala Smith saw it differently. I'll let her take it from here:
Though the poster doesn’t explicitly mention rape,  the lines “when you drink too much you lose control and put yourself at risk” together with an image of a dishevelled young woman in a short dress, make clear that the risk is that of sexual violence. The article was picked up widely re-reported including in The Independent and Daily Mail and eventually discussed in a piece by Sarah Vine under the title “Sorry sisters, but girls who get blind drunk ARE risking rape” in which she stated her  refusal to join “the chorus of feminist disapproval” and argued that women need to take responsibility for their own safety, going on to mention “one or two nasty brushes” that made her realise how important it was to not willingly put herself in the path of danger and “stupidly” becoming a victim. 
The concept of a victim of violence ‘willingly and stupidly putting themselves in the path of danger’ is judgemental victim blaming.  Whether though an act of choosing  or not choosing to do something, a victim of sexual violence is never responsible for what is done to them. Rapists and abusers are the only ones responsible for rape and abuse. 
Rapists and abusers use excuses to justify their actions,  to discredit their victims and to shift responsibility for their choices away from themselves and on to their victims.  They use exactly the kind of excuses encapsulated in the Calderdale poster and Vine’s piece, in short: “She didn’t take care. “ or “She was asking for it.”
Is she reading too much into it? Let's look at how the same campaign advertises to male bingers:

Via Ads of The World

Via Ads of The World
Same playful concept, but no hint of sexual consequences. Instead, the ads talk about the danger of hurting yourself and others. Women as victims, men as aggressors. You've seen it all before.

The council’s Cabinet member for economy and environment, Coun Barry Collins, told the Yorkshire Post (in a classic non-apology) that the images "were not intended to cause offence."
We have used images of both men and women to raise awareness of the impacts on anyone of taking drugs and drinking too much. The aim of the campaign is to expose as many people as possible to timely advice to enjoy a safe night out.
He said the same images were used 
last year, with no complaints until now.

So perhaps some progress has been made?

1 comment:

  1. I think that this one is on the cusp. There are two 'male' posters, do we know if there are other 'female' posters.

    I see how it can be seen as being about sexual violence but when you look at it next to the other posters, it looks more like non-gendered advice about the risks of drinking rather than anything else. When I first saw it, I thought the woman in the picture was being presented as being hit by a car after walking home drunk.