I’ve been a card-carrying man-hating feminazi for a number of years now. Being something of a nerd when it comes to the media that we consume and how we perceive it, an issue that has always raised my ire is how we are taught about rape awareness through media.
Let’s try a little exercise. If I ask you to answer the question, “How do you prevent rape?” without really thinking about it, what responses come to mind? Stuff like, “never go out at night alone,” “always have a buddy,” “be aware of your surroundings,” “don’t leave your drink unattended,” “ask a security guard to escort you to your car,” “carry pepper spray/whistle/healthy set of lungs for screaming,” right? But what is missing from that list of sensible tips? They’re all ways to avoid becoming a victim of rape, but they’re not addressing the other important person in this scenario: the potential rapist. You don’t see anything like, “if the word ‘no’ is uttered, just stop,” or even just, “don’t rape.”
We’ve all been very well educated on how to avoid becoming a victim, and I’m not in any way saying that we can now cease that line of instruction. It is, of course, essential to be in charge of your own safety and reduce your risks. But the message has been dangerously one-sided since the people who are actually committing crimes are more or less let off the hook. The feeling that we come away with is that rapists are just sitting there, minding their own business, when we come along and antagonize them, like poking a caged animal with a stick. Not only is this basically telling women and other potential victims, “Good luck with that,” it degrades men by indicating that they are nothing more than slobbering monsters incapable of distinguishing right from wrong.
As parents, we have to address this as our children get older. My son is now 11 and we’ve touched on things like rape (as much as I’ve felt is appropriate) during our discussions about birds and bees. I’ve told him basically what it is and how he should never push someone into doing something they don’t want. He understands this in the context of being wary of people touching him inappropriately.
I’ve seen some new anti-rape ads recently, however, that put the onus on would-be rapists to stop before things take a turn for the horribly wrong. They also do a really good job of explaining the various scenarios that tend to lead to bad decisions. They’re not directed at people who are already horrible monsters, which is likely the picture people have in mind when they think of rapists and which is why people feel they couldn’t possibly be one. As we know, many rapes take place between people who are at least casually acquainted.
My only real qualm with these is the use of the tag line, “Don’t Be That Guy,” which is, of course, a quote from PCU and gives the whole thing a distinct “bro” feel. Like, “Dude, bro, don’t rape anyone. Cool?”
There’s also this one out of Scotland:
Again, I’m a little bothered by the tongue-in-cheek tone of it, but if this gets through to people then cool.
What do you think – a step in the right direction, or not good enough? How could these ads have been done better? Have you approached the issue of rape with your children?
Edit: I missed this one yesterday, but it does an excellent job of depicting a very common scenario that gets overlooked.