Sophie Cullinane | Features Editor | 1,270 day ago

Is This The Best Rape Prevention Advert Ever?

The Debrief: As the #YesAllWomen hashtag goes global, it's worth talking about this rape-prevention advert again

For a while now, a battle has been waged on social media, with so-called ‘male rights activists’ in one corner and feminists in the other. But perhaps the most obvious manifestation has been the hashtag war between #NotAllMen and #YesAllWomen, the former a response used so often when women complain about instances of sexual violence and the latter created in reply. The argument has raged on relatively quietly on social media for a number of months over social media, but has been catapulted into the public sphere by the tragic Isla Vista killings. 

Late on Friday evening, a 22 year-old British born man called Elliot Rodger stabbed three people and shot three others before taking his own life in the college town of Isla Vista in California. Over the weekend, a number of disturbing videos emerged showing Rodger telling the world about his hatred of women, claiming he would he would ‘slaughter every single spoiled, stuck-up, blonde slut I see.’ It has transpired that Rodger regularly posted on ‘men’s rights’ forums. 

As the hashtag war rages on, one positive that can be garnered from this weekend’s disturbing events is the recirculation of the best ‘rape prevention advert’ we’ve seen with the hashtag #YesAllWomen. (And it's worth noting here that they don't normally have a great track record: ranging from the shockingly ignorant to damn right dangerous victim blaming.)

 

Sick of the types of rape-prevention adverts that had been doing the rounds, in 2011 Rape Crisis Scotland decided to launch the on going notever.co.uk campaign which attempts to redress the balance of these damaging campaigns by putting taking the blame away from the victim and firmly in the hands of the perpetrators of sexual violence. The satirical advice ranges from ‘don’t put drugs in women’s drinks’, ‘if you’re in a lift and a woman gets in, don’t rape her’ to the black and white command ‘don’t rape.’ Eileen Maitland, a spokesperson for Rape Crisis Scotland, believes there has never been a more urgent need for campaigns like this, shining a light on the deep-routed misogyny at play. 

‘Our campaign was making a direct comment about sexual violence and the way the victim has previously been portrayed,’ Eileen tells The Debrief. ‘We really couldn’t understand the absurdity of rape convention campaigns and how much they focused on women’s behaviour. Women are urged not to drink too much, not to go own on their own and to place limits on their behaviour when really it’s only the perpetrators of sexual violence who can end rape. We were basically sick of it.’

What Eileen had no intention of doing was feeding into the #NotAllMen debate. ‘We had no intention of demonising men, what we wanted to do was demonise the culture which makes some men believe it’s acceptable to act in the way that they do,’ she explains. ‘I don’t think you need a further example of that than the Elliot Rodger case – you can see those dangerous attitudes laid out quite clearly in that case and sadly that kind of misogyny is all too common. There are many men who are great allies to women in ending sexual violence – Men Can Stop Rape in America and White Ribbon in this country, for example – who see the importance in engaging men to help end violence against women. Key to our approach is reaching young people as early as possible and trying to engage them before deep routed assumptions can take hold.’

In light of the weekend’s event, that mission seems more important than ever.  

Rape Crisis Scotland are now launching various rape crisis prevention initiatives all over Scotland. You can keep up to date with their work here.

 Follow Sophie on Twitter @sophiecullinane 

Tags: Sexual Assault, Sexism