(this is a post about sexual assault – this here is your trigger warning)
I’m totally fascinated by this ad campaign in Scotland. The Line Campaign posted the video, which I’m reposting here:
and discusses the “asking for it” myth.
Asking for it.
It’s another one of those things I blithely forget people still believe. And yet, according to the Not Ever Campaign:
Research published in 2010 revealed widespread attitudes that blame women for rape and found that more than half of the sample of more than 1000 people interviewed hold victims responsible in some circumstances. 28% of these people included provocative dress as one of the circumstances which justified holding the victim to some extent responsible.
(CHRIST people suck. Or rather, 28% of the people interviewed in that survey suck.)
So the video reminded me that we’re a long way from justice in the world; fortunately it also reminded me that there are lots of people fighting the good fight.
I’m wondering who the target audience is for the PSA. The myth isn’t precisely that women are “asking to be raped,” (that’s a simple contradiction in terms) it’s that they’re asking for sex; the myth is that clothing = consent. She chose that skirt, therefore he has permission to do what he likes, goes the myth.
Because it doesn’t quite succeed in the persuasion department (if I believed clothing = consent, I’d still believe it after seeing the ad), I don’t think the PSA addresses the 28% who actually buy the myth.
Who I think it DOES address is the legions of bystanders who basically know it’s a myth (that’d be the 72% majority) but who need a nudge.
In that case, what I’d LOVE is if the PSA asked bystanders to do something, to say something (like, “You complete fucking moron, she’s asking for it when she says, ‘I’d like to have sex with you now,’ and not otherwise!”). The research tells us that bystanders are more likely to intervene if they feel like it’s their responsibility to do so, and all it takes to make them feel that way is to ASK them to do something.
Perhaps they have plans for future campaigns that will do just that?
I think their target might also be people who have been raped and believed it to be at least partly their own fault because of what they were wearing. Even if it wasn’t their intention, I think this might be the audience most positively affected by the ad. My gut sense is that a survivor who was blaming themselves might go to the website, get support, and move a step or two forward in their recovery as a result of this.
Culture change is slow and incremental. I’m amazed and happy that Scotland has aired this on TV.
Can we imagine anything similar happening in the US?