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We can stop it
October 17, 2012 6:56 AM   Subscribe

The usual rape prevention campaigns often focus on the victims and what they can do to minimise the risk of being attacked (as discussed previously) but in Scotland they're now doing things differently.

The new We Can Stop It campaign was set up by the Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland and focuses on consent and the ways in which changes in Scottish sexual assault and rape laws have clarified the meaning of it. The end result is a series of short videos of young guys telling the viewer that:
•I know when she's asleep it's a no. Do you?
•I listen when a guy says no. Do you?
•I'm the kind of guy who doesn't pressure his girlfriend to have sex. Are you?
•I listen when a girl says no. Do you?
•I'm the kind of guy who doesn't have sex with a girl when she's too drunk. Are you?
As such it has so far been better received than a campaign by West Mercia police launched earlier this year, which was heavily criticised for blaming victims rather than perpetrators.
posted by MartinWisse (116 comments total) 48 users marked this as a favorite

 
* Stands, salutes, starts humming "Flower of Scotland" *
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:03 AM on October 17, 2012 [24 favorites]


There's also this list of Ten Tips to Stop Rape, which includes tips like If you are in a lift (elevator) and a woman walks in, don't rape her.

Anyway - way to go, Scotland.
posted by entropone at 7:04 AM on October 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


This is really fucking fantastic, thanks for sharing it.
posted by Blasdelb at 7:04 AM on October 17, 2012


Very nice, Scotland. I especially like the rugby player. See? Even tough guys don't rape.
posted by scratch at 7:05 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


[sung to the tune of "Scotland the Brave"]

Do not rape anybody; do not rape anybody!
You're a man and accountable for yourrrrrrrrrrr-self!

Seriously, this is fantastic and the kind of thing that we should have been doing all along. Good job, Scots!
posted by Jon_Evil at 7:09 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yes. More like this, please.
posted by gauche at 7:10 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


OK, but the changes to the law - which appears to both clarify and redefine rape more along the lines of what we have in Sweden - affect both the rapist and the victim.

"In Scotland the law relating to rape has recently changed. It now concentrates more on what ‘consent’ means and the fact consent can be withdrawn at any time."

This campaign is supposed to educate the public about these changes.

"The ‘we can stop it’ campaign has been created by Scottish police forces partially to raise awareness of these changes."

Educating men about their new responsibilities without educating women about their new rights seems like a half-measure.
posted by three blind mice at 7:18 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is lovely. Any numbers come back on its effectiveness?
posted by ThatFuzzyBastard at 7:19 AM on October 17, 2012


Educating men about their new responsibilities without educating women about their new rights seems like a half-measure.

Actually, it's more like "a refreshing change." There is so much advice out there that is targeted at women, and warning them how to "avoid" rape, that you'd get the impression that rape is something that just catastrophically happens to women, like lightning strikes or earthquakes; they completely absolve the rapists of any culpability.

This is the first measure I've ever seen which acknowledges that in order for a woman to get raped, there had to have been another person RAPING her, and maybe warning the potential attackers is a better way at getting at the root of the problem.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 AM on October 17, 2012 [72 favorites]


I wonder what "too drunk" is versus just "drunk" can an also drunk person define one vs the other?
posted by NiteMayr at 7:37 AM on October 17, 2012


NiteMayr, I also wondered about that. If they're going to be that way, shouldn't they say "too asleep" as well?
posted by StickyCarpet at 7:40 AM on October 17, 2012


I wonder what "too drunk" is versus just "drunk" can an also drunk person define one vs the other?
I think the worry is that if they only say "drunk", then men (and women) will find it unrealistic, as they may well have had drunken sex with somebody which was still consenting. The thought that you shouldn't go out, have a few drinks, then have sex would be laughed at, thus lessening the message.
posted by Jehan at 7:48 AM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


There was a similar campaign a couple years ago in Canada
posted by louche mustachio at 7:49 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


maybe warning the potential attackers is a better way at getting at the root of the problem.

Here's the thing though, are the potential attackers the kinds of people who would be swayed by a campaign like this? The only kinds of rapes that I can see this stopping are the rare ones on that weird "she's drunk/he's drunk/but is she _too_ drunk?" spectrum, because I honestly believe that a lot those guys are just idiots making poor decisions, not predators.

(please note that I said "rare", and "a lot of them aren't predators", not "most of them", I absolutely believe that drunk party/date rapes are a thing, and that many many guys (who are predators) will set a girl up to lower her defenses. Those guys should rot in hell -- but they aren't going to be influenced by this campaign, because they are evil).
posted by sparklemotion at 7:50 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I also think this is generally positive and so much better than campaigns that place all the onus on women.
However I'm worried about the subtexts here. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but isn't the implication that:
1) All men are potential rapists, but the good ones have a better sense of what's ok.
2) Women are only the 'recipients' of sexual advances, and that aggressive sexual behaviour is the preserve of men.
Now it may be that for strategic and political reasons it's legitimate to make the case in the strongest terms, but my hope is that one day we'll stop spending so much time reifying gender difference.
posted by melisande at 7:52 AM on October 17, 2012


I think the worry is that if they only say "drunk", then men (and women) will find it unrealistic, as they may well have had drunken sex with somebody which was still consenting. The thought that you shouldn't go out, have a few drinks, then have sex would be laughed at, thus lessening the message.

I think this is true. I totally understand why some people would object to saying 'too drunk' as opposed to 'drunk', but honestly, I consider myself able to consent to sex after having had a few drinks, and I think many people feel the same way.

Here's the thing though, are the potential attackers the kinds of people who would be swayed by a campaign like this? The only kinds of rapes that I can see this stopping are the rare ones on that weird "she's drunk/he's drunk/but is she _too_ drunk?" spectrum, because I honestly believe that a lot those guys are just idiots making poor decisions, not predators.

There was an anonymous survey of male college students a few years ago that asked 'have you ever/would you ever commit rape' and then also stuff like 'have you ever had sex with a falling-down drink girl' and 'have you ever kept going if a girl said no during sex'. The second category of answers had FAR more people who would admit to them than the questions that actually used the word 'rape'. I think a lot of people really DON'T GET that stuff like that is rape.
posted by showbiz_liz at 7:54 AM on October 17, 2012 [28 favorites]


Here's the thing though, are the potential attackers the kinds of people who would be swayed by a campaign like this?

Do you mean, "are there guys who think that if she's passed out she isn't saying 'no' so it's okay"? Or "are there guys who think that 'come on, she was leading me on' is an exception"?

Yes. Yes, there are.

And if these ads get a few of those guys to realize "wait, no, I'm being a dick," then....good.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:54 AM on October 17, 2012 [19 favorites]


The Halifax Regional Police (Nova Scotia) recently ran a similar campaign - you can see videos and posters here. I think it's a great campaign and it is definitely refreshing to see messages aimed toward men.
posted by ghost dance beat at 7:55 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


If you are going to appeal to anyone who may perpetrate a crime like this, it would be best to focus on people who are not, at heart, monsters, but rather people who are flawed and might make poor judgments if they are not reminded that taking advantage of anyone is wrong. That when someone's judgment is impaired, that they can't consent.

I mean, why not have that information out there. You and I know it, but does everyone? Clearly not.

I think this is a positive thing. I hope it works.
posted by inturnaround at 7:59 AM on October 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


Is this really needed? I mean the female body surely has a way to shut that whole thing down, if everything's legit?
posted by Damienmce at 8:01 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Women are only the 'recipients' of sexual advances, and that aggressive sexual behaviour is the preserve of men.

Well, there is a chap who says "I listen when a guy says no", indicating that men are also the recipient of sexual advances.

Unless you mean that women raping men is a significant problem in Scotland? I'm sure it happens. I'm also comfortable asserting that it's relatively rare compared to men raping women or men, so in a time of limited budgets, focusing spending on persuading men not to rape women or other men is a sensible policy.
posted by alasdair at 8:02 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think I mentioned in a thread a while ago that when I worked nightclub security, we would frequently have to guard women who were too drunk to stand or walk by themselves from men who claimed to be their friends, or who offered to take them home. These weren't just one or two creepers - I recall carrying a woman out, and I mean carrying her in my arms because she was incapable of walking, and it seemed like there was a line of guys following us - asking for her number, asking to take her home, claiming to know her. Her (female) friend was right next to me, and denied that they knew any of them. and we were literally pushing them away from her.

I don't think that any of these guys thought of themselves as rapists, or even that what they were doing was creepy or wrong. As obvious as that seems to most of the Metafilter commentariat, I still think there is a significant subsection of the population that really doesn't get that no, seriously, a woman who is stumbling, slurring, or passed out drunk is not a consenting mutual partner.
posted by louche mustachio at 8:02 AM on October 17, 2012 [54 favorites]


Is this really needed? I mean the female body surely has a way to shut that whole thing down, if everything's legit?

I'll give you the benefit of the doubt, and assume that this is an ironic paraphrase of that thing Akin said, but you should be aware that the way you've paraphrased it didn't add anything I could detect as humor or satire.
posted by LogicalDash at 8:07 AM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Legitimate.
posted by Artw at 8:12 AM on October 17, 2012


Yes, thank you. We need men's voices in on this one.
posted by iamkimiam at 8:16 AM on October 17, 2012


Is this really needed? I mean the female body surely has a way to shut that whole thing down, if everything's legit?
I'm sure you think this is hilarious, edgy humor. It isn't.
posted by DWRoelands at 8:22 AM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


This sounds and looks a lot like the rape prevention workshop all freshman had to go to when I started college in 1999.
posted by sbutler at 8:22 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Here's the thing though, are the potential attackers the kinds of people who would be swayed by a campaign like this? The only kinds of rapes that I can see this stopping are the rare ones on that weird "she's drunk/he's drunk/but is she _too_ drunk?" spectrum, because I honestly believe that a lot those guys are just idiots making poor decisions, not predators.

Adding to the chorus - it won't stop the predators. But it'll help with the guy who has himself had a few to drink and isn't thinking perfectly clearly, who's with a girl who is definitely beyond the point of consent. And it'll hopefully help with his buddy who's pretty sober and nearby, noticing what's happening.

I don't know best how to put it. It'll shift the unconscious internal "what actions are accepted"-meter? Nobody's going to say "ohhhhhh, I won't rape people", and I doubt many will say "I was acting in a gray area and shouldn't". But their internal thinking will lean towards "I shouldn't do this", which is good.
posted by Lemurrhea at 8:24 AM on October 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


I think I mentioned in a thread a while ago that when I worked nightclub security, we would frequently have to guard women who were too drunk to stand or walk by themselves from men who claimed to be their friends, or who offered to take them home.

I remember in my first year of law school, a number of us were out at a nightclub, when a close friend of mine was this drunk. And one of our classmates (in a long-term relationship, no less) was trying very hard to take her home. I managed to stand him down and started to walk out with her, at which point security did just that to me. It was a giant hassle convincing them that yes, she was my close friend and no, I had no designs on her before they really were ok with us leaving. Which was annoying at the time but in retrospect kind of awesome.

As it happened, she unexpectedly came back to my place because her friend had her house keys, I fed her some stirfry and she passed out on my bathroom floor. What a waste of good stirfry.

Still don't like him.

posted by Lemurrhea at 8:30 AM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


The only kinds of rapes that I can see this stopping are the rare ones on that weird "she's drunk/he's drunk/but is she _too_ drunk?" spectrum, because I honestly believe that a lot those guys are just idiots making poor decisions, not predators.

It's not aimed at the predators - it's aimed at the idiots making poor decisions, because they are still rapists.

And some of them are predators, but are in denial. If they go looking for women who are very drunk to have sex with, or girls who are too young and can be pressured, they are predators.
posted by jb at 8:32 AM on October 17, 2012 [11 favorites]


1) All men are potential rapists, but the good ones have a better sense of what's ok.

I'd really like to live in a world where a general 'Hey guys, don't rape people' message didn't immediately attract complaints about how this is accusing all men of being rapists. It seems to be impossible.


Here's the thing though, are the potential attackers the kinds of people who would be swayed by a campaign like this? The only kinds of rapes that I can see this stopping are the rare ones on that weird "she's drunk/he's drunk/but is she _too_ drunk?" spectrum, because I honestly believe that a lot those guys are just idiots making poor decisions, not predators.

I see it as a different emphasis: not 'Guys, don't make silly mistakes,' but either 'Guys, not even other men buy your excuses,' or 'Guys, we agree that respecting consent is cool, don't we?', depending on whether you're a rapist or not.

Feminists often talk about 'Rape Culture', and it tends to produce the same bloody exhausting argument whenever they do, so let's not use the phrase. Let's say, instead, that there is a school of thought that most men who rape people are influenced, at least in part, by the belief that:

a) Most normal men would agree that it's okay to use a degree of force in getting sex.
b) Most courts wouldn't convict a man who uses a degree of sexual force.
c) Therefore, forcing sex on someone is something you can do with very little risk to yourself, either of legal consequences, the condemnation of other men, or too much trouble with your own conscience.

And when people treat rape like a laughing matter, imply it's entirely the women's responsibility, acquit rapists at the horrible rate that they do, and so on, it all reinforces this belief because it's pretty solid evidence in its favour.

If these beliefs are a factor that influences rapists, then a strong message that other men would condemn them for using force would, in theory, reduce the number of rapes by eroding the attitude that produces them. Not magically do away with all rapes, but make at least a certain amount of difference.

I think the point of these posters is to give culture a push towards the idea that respecting consent is not in any way beyond the call of duty. And that, I'm all for. No campaign will fix the problem on its own and it's unrealistic to expect it, but I say it's a definite force for good.
posted by Kit W at 8:46 AM on October 17, 2012 [22 favorites]


I like this and hope it turns out to be effective.
posted by Forktine at 8:50 AM on October 17, 2012


Here's the thing though, are the potential attackers the kinds of people who would be swayed by a campaign like this?

You also used the word 'attack' later on in your post, but it's important to be aware of the venn diagram that includes rape and attack, and to note that they are often similar but definitely not the same thing.

One can rape without attacking, and even without the benefit of statistics in front of me I'd wager that this is the larger sample size because a large number of these are never reported.
posted by Blue_Villain at 8:55 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I remember back in early college I was working at a record store. I went out with one of the coworkers/manager (about my age). We parked to make out and then he got really insistant/argressive in trying to get into my pants (I was a virgin). As in trying to sit on me and unzip/take my jeans off. I wasn't scared. I just fought him off. I thought this was normal.

Only until I was in my late 20s did I realize I was almost date raped. I couldn't even tell you where I learned or why I thought his actions were "normal" on a date and expected.
posted by stormpooper at 9:06 AM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


I like this. Thanks for posting it.
posted by zarq at 9:06 AM on October 17, 2012


I think this is a really great campaign, and hope it is emulated elsewhere. Thanks for posting.

It's shocking to me that they estimate 3 in 20 men (15%!) are victims of sexual violence. I don't disbelieve it, it's just a jaw-dropping number.
As a husband and hopefully a future father, I spend a good amount of my time frightened by this subject.
posted by staccato signals of constant information at 9:08 AM on October 17, 2012


Let's not forget the target audience is not only grown men, but boys who are 14, 12...10 years old. It's difficult to quantify the impact messages like this can have, but surely it's good to have this as part of the media environment their young brains are soaking in.

Maybe in 10 years, things will be a little bit better for the girls who are 10 years old now, because of this.
posted by the bricabrac man at 9:08 AM on October 17, 2012 [13 favorites]


jb
It's not aimed at the predators - it's aimed at the idiots making poor decisions, because they are still rapists.
Too right. On top of that, pervasive messaging like this campaign also helps to change social mores. Most men I would say are not rapists, but an uncomfortably large amount of them make up peer groups that stand by quietly or accept post-facto tales of braggadocio from perpetrators without criticism.
posted by whittaker at 9:09 AM on October 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


I'm sure you think this is hilarious, edgy humor. It isn't.

I don't think that was a "rape joke", exactly, because it was made at the expense of a well-known rape seriousness-minimizer; the intended humour doesn't depend on "lolrape" at all; it's a "lolmaliciousidiots" joke. The joke seems like legitimate satire to me, albeit rather deraily.

That said, derailing discussion seems more problematic than usual when the discussion is about rape, and this seems sort of related to why TFA is so excellent: explaining to potential perpetrators of rape what actions constitute rape, and that they should not do those things, is maximally to the point, while subtle derails of such discussions seem pretty calculated to advance a rape-apologist agenda (e.g. victim-blaming).
posted by kengraham at 9:10 AM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


I agree, it's just as important to bring this education and awareness to the public at large - to change social mores and move away from victim-blaming. It needs to be fundamentally understood that sex happens between mutually consenting parties of age, and when consent is not given (lacking, withdrawn and/or otherwise), it is not sex. It is rape.

I think Scotland's approach is a step in the right direction. Thanks for posting!
posted by hellomina at 9:14 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think I mentioned in a thread a while ago that when I worked nightclub security, we would frequently have to guard women who were too drunk to stand or walk by themselves from men who claimed to be their friends, or who offered to take them home.

Semi-relevantly, while I was at uni in Scotland a girl was raped in the toilets of the student union. (Student union = university-sponsored nightclub, in case the name is misleading). After that, along with various other measures, security would stop any couples leaving together and check that both parties knew the other's full name, then would check ID.

That wouldn't have prevented a woman being raped by a friend, which I believe is a large proportion of all rapes. But it would have kept those sketchy guys away - and even the concept made us students think a bit about the issue. Anyhow, they stopped doing it after a couple of weeks, which was a shame.
posted by Isn't in each artist (7) at 9:17 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Lemurrhea - It'll shift the unconscious internal "what actions are accepted"-meter? Nobody's going to say "ohhhhhh, I won't rape people", and I doubt many will say "I was acting in a gray area and shouldn't". But their internal thinking will lean towards "I shouldn't do this", which is good.

Yes, exactly this. The type of research that showbiz_liz mentioned upthread (and very similar research around racism, sexism, etc) strongly suggests that people often worry more about the label of a behaviour than about the behaviour itself. We all have it drilled into us that rape is bad, that racism is bad, that sexism is bad... but most of us (especially those of us in relatively privileged positions) seldom have cause to really examine our own behaviour.

Instead I'm convinced that the reasoning, if it ever happens, goes something like "rape is evil, but I'm not an evil person, therefore what I'm doing can't really be rape" (c.f. "I'm not racist, but..."). A consequence of this is that directly talking about rape or rape culture either offends guys ("you're saying I'm evil!") or simply passes us by ("they're talking about rapists, but I'm not a rapist, so I needn't listen").*

It's kind of a tone argument, but the sad reality is that influencing people is all about tone. This campaign is dead on, IMO. It barely uses the word rape and it's not accusatory. It's "Good, manly men do this; and you want to be a good, manly man too, right?".

* The point I'm trying to express is closely related to Jay Smooth's video distinguishing "that comment sounded racist" from "you're racist", i.e. saying "that specific behaviour is bad" not "you're a bad person". And he expresses it much, much better than I do, of course.
posted by metaBugs at 9:24 AM on October 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


I'd really like to live in a world where a general 'Hey guys, don't rape people' message didn't immediately attract complaints about how this is accusing all men of being rapists. It seems to be impossible.

Everyone: I'd like to expound upon this.

Yes, the ad is assuming all men are potential rapists. And - that's because you are.

Yes, I said that, and yes I meant it.

However. What I mean by that is: every single last human being on Earth is potentially capable of doing anything bad. Hell, I'm a potential rapist. I'd have to use a broom handle or something, because I do not physically possess a penis as I'm female, but yes, I am physically capable of perpetrating that act upon another human being. We all of us, every last single one of us, is capable of rape.

Just as we are capable of murder. Or theft. Or pollution. Or jaywalking or assault or any one of a number of ills that we humans perpetrate upon each other. But whether we are capable has no bearing on whether we actually DO them. And when it comes to the law, it is by our actions that we are judged, not by our potential.

So this isn't an issue of whether these ads are painting all men as potential rapists. This is an issue of why some men are alarmed to find themselves depicted as such, but no one gets all bent out of shape about the myriad "Shoplifting Is Strictly Prohibited" signs in stores because "oh no they're accusing me of being a potential shoplifter". However, that's because everyone understands that the warnings against shoplifting, along with all the other warnings against ill behavior, are meant for everyone, and are not a personal accusation on the part of the shopkeeper. And they are very easily complied with (don't want to be thought of as a shoplifter? Don't shoplift).

So the question becomes -- why does this one case stick out so? What about this one crime is so heinous that people don't even want to hear advice about how to avoid committing it? If you don't like being thought of as a potential rapist, why avoid attempts to help you avoid becoming an ACTUAL rapist, because wouldn't that be worse?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:27 AM on October 17, 2012 [55 favorites]


Well, there is a chap who says "I listen when a guy says no", indicating that men are also the recipient of sexual advances.

Well yeah, although that one is pretty obviously for the gay community.

In general this is just like drink driving though; the goal isn't only to reach drink drivers, it's to reach their friends and make the norm not doing this kind of shit. You go to your car obviously drunk, people stop you and tell you you're not in a state to drive. Try and take an obviously incapacitated woman back for sex, and we'd hope that people would intervene to stop that too.

The aspirational thing is being presented as being the person man enough not to do it. That is a very good thing.
posted by jaduncan at 9:31 AM on October 17, 2012 [9 favorites]


What about this one crime is so heinous that people don't even want to hear advice about how to avoid committing it?

I don't think people don't want to hear about it because they think it's heinous. I think they don't want to hear about it because it involves victims they don't value all that much.

Which is to say - they fundamentally don't think it's heinous, and they consequently get tired of hearing people say that it is.

Which is where ads like this come in, focusing on the positive side to try and sidestep the usual I'm-so-sick-of-this-subject/are-you-accusing-me yowling.
posted by Kit W at 9:45 AM on October 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


However I'm worried about the subtexts here. Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but isn't the implication that:
1) All men are potential rapists, but the good ones have a better sense of what's ok.


As opposed to the usual, women-go-hide-in-a-box-you-gunna-get-raped approach? The one that suggests that men are so completely ridden by their desire that even wearing a short skirt is just too fucking much and will send any normal redblooded man into a rapitey frenzy?

The subtext of this is that men can control themselves, and can be gentle men around their loved ones. The campaigns that advise me to stay in at night, avoid strangers, and never, ever be alone with a man are far, far more insulting to the men of the world that this sort of thing ever is.
posted by Jilder at 9:48 AM on October 17, 2012 [17 favorites]


The way I see it:

1. Does this campaign insult women?
2. Does this campaign insult men?
3. Will this campaign either reduce the incidence of rape, increase the incidence of bystander intervention, or improve the conviction rate?

Of these, question 3 is the question I really care about.
posted by Kit W at 10:02 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Just yesterday I read through the entirety of what I think is the best Metafilter thread to date:
Hi. Whatcha reading?

That thread coupled with my wife's recent opening up to me about being raped as a teenager by her stepfather has left me shaken and unable to think about anything else.

When my wife finally worked up the courage and told her mom what her step dad had been doing they immediately packed up and they left. The police weren't involved, no charges were filed, everyone just went about their life like it had never happened. My wife finished high school and went off to college never receiving any formal help for the trauma that she had been through. When her mom and her step dad got back together while she was away at college do you know who all the extended family blamed for several year hiccup in their marriage? My wife. I never understood why sweet old Nana was nice to everyone but my wife until this moment. Nana believed that it was my wife's fault for destroying her son's marriage and as such either didn't believe my wife's story or thought that a teenage girl had seduced her step dad to cause the divorce.

When my wife told me some of these details, which I still don't know all of because it freaks her out to talk about it 10+ years later, I was livid. What in the fuck was wrong with her mom that she would get back together with this man? Why were we even in contact with these people? How did she even find it in herself to talk to her mom? Come to find out that her mom had also been sexually abused by her father growing up. She can be a very loving person but is all to ready to stick her head in the sand to get around issues. I don't know how many times my wife has heard, "He told me he quit drinking. Promised he'd never do it again. If he does it again I'm leaving."

It's become apparent to me that we live in a society where many women believe that rape is just something that is going to happen to them at some point and there isn't a damn thing they can do about it. And even worse, when it does happen no one is going to do a damn thing about it.

Really, Why are you making such a fuss about it. Quit trying to ruin that man's life. Well you shouldn't have been dressed that way.

And now my wife and I have a young daughter who will before too long will have to deal with a lot of these issues. The thought of her being constantly harassed and feeling threatened frightens me and brings this home to me in a way that I'm ashamed to admit I'm feeling for the first time.

My initial thoughts were how can I help prepare her for this onslaught. I didn't think how can I STOP this shit from happening. How can I keep her safe... No, I thought how can I prepare her for this. Because it's going to happen. I pray that she won't be raped, but she will still have to deal with sexual harassment at some point in her life. There isn't a way I can protect her from every man who thinks that he's owed a piece of ass, or that she should be thankful for all the attention he's giving her.

But there are things that I can do. I can teach her that her body is her own. No one else is owed any part of it. Not her boyfriend, not her future husband, no one. I can try to teach her that I will be there for her if something happens, but at the same time the rest of society will most likely be telling her to let it go, don't make such a fuss about it. But really these things are reactive. Someone has already decided to harass her at this point and she will only be trying to stop it from progressing.

The other thing I can do, and probably the most important, is to try and stop the behavior from happening in the first place. To call out any of this shit when it happens and put men on the spot for their actions. To let all men know that these actions are not OK and they have horrible consequences. Consequences that so many of our mothers, wives, and daughters are living with today.

I'm equipping my daughter with the skills to mitigate the chance of rape happening.

I'm teaching my son that rape is not OK and that he needs to let the men around him know that too. Which is exactly what this campaign is trying to do.
posted by Quack at 10:02 AM on October 17, 2012 [32 favorites]


2) Women are only the 'recipients' of sexual advances, and that aggressive sexual behaviour is the preserve of men.

Well, in the case of rapes the stats certainly make clear this is true. Both sexual and non-sexual violent offences have a gender skew that is far, far to the male side.
posted by jaduncan at 10:04 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm kind of sick of seeing this come up again and again. Yes, women can and do take sexual advantage of men who are too drunk to give knowing consent. And yes, if we're going to be honest and reasonable, this happens at a much lower rate than sexual predation against women. But it does happen, it's happened to people reading this post right now, and this is a conversation that we don't need to have every time. OK?
posted by 1adam12 at 10:08 AM on October 17, 2012 [7 favorites]


iamkimiam: Yes, thank you. We need men's voices in on this one.
Can't tell if you're being ironic - in which case, that's idiotic; the campaign even addresses man-on-man rape - or referring to the campaign's edge: it's bringing men's voices in to say: "Rape isn't OK, and these actions that you can justify in your mind as being not-rape... they're still rape."
posted by IAmBroom at 10:09 AM on October 17, 2012


kengraham: I'm sure you think this is hilarious, edgy humor. It isn't.

I don't think that was a "rape joke", exactly, because it was made at the expense of a well-known rape seriousness-minimizer; the intended humour doesn't depend on "lolrape" at all; it's a "lolmaliciousidiots" joke. The joke seems like legitimate satire to me, albeit rather deraily.

That said, derailing discussion seems more problematic than usual when the discussion is about rape, and this seems sort of related to why TFA is so excellent: explaining to potential perpetrators of rape what actions constitute rape, and that they should not do those things, is maximally to the point, while subtle derails of such discussions seem pretty calculated to advance a rape-apologist agenda (e.g. victim-blaming).
It's not LOL humor, as you say, and it's not a derail IMO. The campaign is fighting back against the attitude of people like Akin - those who think there's "rape", and then there's legitimate rape.

Instead of piling on the person who made this point with satire, why don't we focus on the potential effects of this campaign on people who don't agree that all kinds of rape are bad?
posted by IAmBroom at 10:18 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


jaduncan: 2) Women are only the 'recipients' of sexual advances, and that aggressive sexual behaviour is the preserve of men.

Well, in the case of rapes the stats certainly make clear this is true.
The word "only" in that sentence means you're wrong.

Women do rape others sometimes. It's a minority of rape cases - both reported and (undoubtedly) unreported incidents - but it happens. I know one male friend who was raped by a women, and at least two instances of women attempting to rape men. You know: forcibly undressing them while they protest, attempting to copulate, even carrying a drunk man away from a party to do so while he protests and asks for help.

What's interesting to me is that, until seeing this campaign, it never occurred to me that saving a drunk buddy who was being dragged into a car by a woman intent on fucking him while he was protesting and calling for help was sexual assault. It was funny to me, drunk at the time, although I really did feel I rescued him. It wouldn't have been funny to him if she'd succeeded.
Both sexual and non-sexual violent offences have a gender skew that is far, far to the male side.
Now that is true.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:29 AM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Most men I would say are not rapists, but an uncomfortably large amount of them make up peer groups that stand by quietly or accept post-facto tales of braggadocio from perpetrators without criticism.

Indeed. "She was soooo wasted!" is still a frequently common way for a lot of guys to start the tale of their latest "conquest."

It also remains a disturbingly common trope in popular culture: "Want to have sex with a girl? Get her drunk! Like, really drunk!" It's so common, in fact, that it was kind of refreshing to see the scene(s) in Superbad where a character decides that he can't have sex with the girl who appears to be throwing herself at him because she's too drunk and that's not OK (of course, the follow-on is that he decides that if he is also really drunk, it will suddenly be OK, so he proceeds to try and get drunk as quickly as possible).
posted by asnider at 10:50 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


I think the idea that these ads are somehow flawed because they don't directly address women rapists is a dead end. I think there's a legitimate strategic reason that these ads address potential male rapists exclusively because it's making a direct appeal to social attitudes within masculine culture. If the messaging of the ad gets split, then the message is diffused.

There are many drunk drivers, there are some drivers who drive while high on solvents. Both types have killed people. The former has killed many more than the latter, therefore decisions by private and public groups to use limited resources and mindshare reach to target the larger problem are making sound decisions. Every anti-drunk-driving PSA you see does not--by omission--degrade, dismiss, or deny the problem of driving while high on solvents.
posted by whittaker at 10:51 AM on October 17, 2012 [15 favorites]


When I encounter speech that to me looks like obvious rape minimization, I tend to interpret it as honest confusion that has terrible side effects.

This is an unusually charitable assumption. Some people won't ever assume it because that would mean sympathizing with rapists, which--apart from being uncomfortable--leaves open the possibility of defending them. Perhaps that's too great a risk, sometimes.

I am personally comfortable assuming honest confusion by default. This may have something to do with my having an autism spectrum disorder. Until fairly recently I used the word 'paranoia' as a synonym for 'caution' because it is sometimes used that way in some cryptography blogs I read. It took me years to notice that wasn't the normal usage.

This makes it easy for me to believe that, when someone says something horrible, they might literally not understand what they are saying. Happens to me all the time. It probably happens less to neurotypical people, but the risk is still significant, in part because there are some wealthy and influential people going out of their way to confuse the meanings of words.

The way people talk has an effect on the way they think. It may be indirect, but even so, it is powerful. For years, whenever I was advised that I was being paranoid, I did not understand that it meant I was being too cautious for my own good. I thought it was just a description.

To me, then, it's really quite plausible that a lot of men don't take rape seriously because they don't recognize it can refer to things that one might do by accident; and while they might, if pressed, recognize those accidents as bad things, they never consider the matter, because the people attempting to press them on it were talking about "rape".

This campaign is quite sensible. Future conversations on the matter will be a lot easier if those involved have some appreciation for the meaning of consent and the lack thereof.
posted by LogicalDash at 11:06 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


because I honestly believe that a lot those guys are just idiots making poor decisions, not predators.

And what's the difference? And how much does it matter if the outcome is the same?

Instead of some kind of evil monster maybe a rapist is a person with a combination of characteristics including misogyny, lack of empathy, deafness to the woman's needs, sexual desire, frustration, a feeling of power, confidence in sexual prowess, and so on. Such a person wouldn't need to be unusual - plenty of young men make bad decisions based on momentary feelings of power, sexual desire, and lack of foresight or empathy in other situations. I don't think it's surprising at all in a culture that encouraged sexual conquest and discouraged emotional connection that date rape became common.

Campaigns like this are evidence that that culture can change, and I think is changing, not just with this but also in some of the norms that might lead to this (e.g., emotional openness among boys and men, or the male as the dominant/ active force in a sexual relationship, while females just "accept" or even "submit"). Being misogynistic and frustrated and all the rest might make someone into something like a "predator" in that they think it's ok or normal to go to a bar and pick up a dumb chick for the night - and they have a fantasy of who they really are... (I mean, I hate to shine a realistic light on a character like Neil Patrick Harris's Barney Stinson, but think of how he thinks about women, how he tends to understand reality, and then whether he's ever date-raped someone...)
posted by mdn at 11:17 AM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Empress: completely agree with your larger point, and I appreciate you contributions on this topic as usual. I do want to help perhaps correct a small blind spot though. One does not need a penis, or a substitute object like the (unnecessarily evocative, inn opinion) broom handle you suggested to commit rape.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:37 AM on October 17, 2012 [8 favorites]


Lazarus - if you get my larger point, though, I'm wondering precisely why that fact is relevant.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:40 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Because I value your contributions, as they have helped me overtime become more and more comprehensive in my participation, and I'd like to return the favor. And because I find the implication offensive, because I am a survivor of a rape that did not involve a penis or a broom handle.
posted by lazaruslong at 11:44 AM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Going to memail.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:49 AM on October 17, 2012


One does not need a penis, or a substitute object like the (unnecessarily evocative, inn opinion) broom handle you suggested to commit rape.

By the legal definition in the country where this campaign is taking place, rape does require penile penetration; without it, it's legally defined as sexual assault - though sexual assault can carry the same punishment as rape.

Just saying this to anticipate any quibbles. In terms of cruelty and trauma, of course, it's another matter.
posted by Kit W at 12:16 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not quibbling, it's....oh whatever. Fuck it.
posted by lazaruslong at 12:25 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this is great.

And I think it does mark, as three blind mice rather off-handedly implied, Scotland's progress toward taking its proper place among the other Scandinavian countries.
posted by jamjam at 12:34 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Guys, Lazarus and I are all cool in memail (at least, I'm cool, feel free to correct me if you're not, Lazarus), so let's maybe drop that tangent.

Don't MAKE me make you all sing "Kumbaya."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:58 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


This is an issue of why some men are alarmed to find themselves depicted as such, but no one gets all bent out of shape about the myriad "Shoplifting Is Strictly Prohibited" signs in stores because "oh no they're accusing me of being a potential shoplifter".

The difference, of course, is that while I don't find a "Shoplifting Is Strictly Prohibited" sign offensive, I sure as fuck would get bent out of shape if I saw a "People of Colour: Shoplifting Is Strictly Prohibited" sign.

The ads in the OP are great and I'm glad we're moving to have a conversation with men rather than telling women how to 'be safe', but comparing a targeted message to a message that's not targeted isn't a fair comparison at all.
posted by Jairus at 1:04 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The ads in the OP are great and I'm glad we're moving to have a conversation with men rather than telling women how to 'be safe', but comparing a targeted message to a message that's not targeted isn't a fair comparison at all.

So...how would you have a conversation with men without "targeting" them?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:07 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


So...how would you have a conversation with men without "targeting" them?

I'm in favour of targeting men to have a conversation about rape and how to stop it. I'm just saying it's perfectly reasonable to me that average men get bent out of shape when they are publicly treated as a potential rapist, and that your example about a shoplifting sign isn't the same thing at all.

Similarly, my white friends would get pretty bent out of shape if I treated them all like they might beat me up because I'm not white.
posted by Jairus at 1:12 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm in favour of targeting men to have a conversation about rape and how to stop it. I'm just saying it's perfectly reasonable to me that average men get bent out of shape when they are publicly treated a potential rapist, and that your example about a shoplifting sign isn't the same thing at all.

Ah, I get what you're saying now. However, I still am not sure the two analogies are equitable (non-white people haven't had a history of being able to talk their way out of shoplifting cases by claiming the shopkeeper was "asking for it", after all).
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:26 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm just saying it's perfectly reasonable to me that average men get bent out of shape when they are publicly treated as a potential rapist,

Which isn't what this campaign is doing at all of course, rather it gives the message that of course men don't rape and know the difference between consensual and non-consensual sex.

Also do not assume that this campaign runs in a vacuum, that this is the only anti-sexual harassment campaign being run. You can't cover all the bases in one campaign without it becoming hopelessly muddled.
posted by MartinWisse at 1:29 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


non-white people haven't had a history of being able to talk their way out of shoplifting cases by claiming the shopkeeper was "asking for it", after all

You're totally right on this -- which is why I used an example in my second post where the targeted group isn't also the marginalized group.
posted by Jairus at 1:30 PM on October 17, 2012


So the question becomes -- why does this one case stick out so?
When I google "avoid burglary", I see six million hits; the first page is entirely about how to avod becoming a victim of burglary. Does anyone want to guess how many pages I'd have to sift through before finding tips on how to avoid becoming a perpetrator of burglary? Would the latter sort of tips receive anything other than ridicule? Do the former tips get denounced for blaming the victim or perpetuating burglary culture?

Similar results can be found for "avoid mugging", "avoid fraud", etc. etc. In general, we seem to believe that criminals are simply malicious, not just ill-informed, and that when they hurt others it's not merely unintentional crime that they would avoid if they only knew better. If rape does stick out, it's not because this belief is particularly often applied to rape, it's because (as evidenced by the survey showbiz_liz mentioned) this belief may be particularly inaccurate when applied to rape.

And where does those inaccuracies come from? "How to avoid becoming a rapist" tips wouldn't get laughed at by members of a "rape culture"; just the opposite. If you believe that there are nothing but shades of grey in between spending a normal night with a hookup and being sentenced to years in prison, you've got incentive to pay very close study to whatever arbitrary-to-you rules separate the two. In an "anti-rape culture", on the other hand, where rapists are all inhuman monsters with unimaginably broken thought processes, there it makes sense to laugh at a set of tips for avoiding becoming a rapist - it might as well be a powerpoint presentation for explaining to rabid dogs how they can avoid biting people.
posted by roystgnr at 1:32 PM on October 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


When I google "avoid burglary", I see six million hits; the first page is entirely about how to avod becoming a victim of burglary. Does anyone want to guess how many pages I'd have to sift through before finding tips on how to avoid becoming a perpetrator of burglary? Would the latter sort of tips receive anything other than ridicule? Do the former tips get denounced for blaming the victim or perpetuating burglary culture?

Similar results can be found for "avoid mugging", "avoid fraud", etc. etc.


Property crimes and financial crimes are not comparable to physical/sexual assault. Articles about how gay men can avoid being gaybashed or black people can avoid getting attacked by skinheads would be proper comparisons.
posted by Jairus at 1:35 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Property crimes and financial crimes are not comparable to physical/sexual assault.

You're correct, but no one was claiming they were. I used that comparison SOLELY to refer to another crime which we are ALL capable of and ALL reminded not to do. Just like we are all capable of rape, and all of us need to know not to commit it. The only difference is that up until now, no one thought to tell men "by the way, guys, rape is bad." So in a way, this isn't targeting them, it's including them in a message everyone else was getting.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:39 PM on October 17, 2012


You're correct, but no one was claiming they were.

The poster above me was.
posted by Jairus at 1:41 PM on October 17, 2012


roystgnr: This is because Google weights pages that most people are looking for.

Nobody is denying that discussions of rape avoidance is overwhelmingly for and by by the people who are likely to be victims. This is actually the entire reason why there is a targeted campaign in the first place. Scotland assumes that the people they need to address have never once thought of googling 'Avoid rape' in the first place.
posted by whittaker at 1:44 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


The poster above me was.

Then I'm confused as to why you quoted me, but....eh, let it pass.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 1:48 PM on October 17, 2012


To continue with the useful shoplifting analogy: if I type 'Avoid Shoplifting' in Google, 80% of the links are to loss avoidance strategies on behalf of the retailer which certainly does not reflect the statistical representation of retailers to the general public. Does this make anti-shoplifting messaging targeted at potential shoplifters somehow irrelevant?
posted by whittaker at 1:49 PM on October 17, 2012


Then I'm confused as to why you quoted me, but....eh, let it pass.

I think you might be confusing two different posts of mine, possibly!
posted by Jairus at 1:49 PM on October 17, 2012


To respond (belatedly, sorry) to those who've picked up on my comments which were evidently poorly expressed. I am fully aware that the statistics show that female on male sexual aggression represents a vanishingly small proportion of offences committed. I also picked up on - and appreciate - the message about male on male rape in the campaign. At the same time, as I hoped to indicate, I can understand that given the statistics and the prevailing cultural (mis)understandings of what constitutes rape and sexual violence among the general population, the kind of approach that assumes that all men are potential rapists is probably the only sensible one at this point (and I particularly appreciate EmpressCallipygo's discussion of why it's valid).

My larger point is that while I applaud this campaign I also feel a bit defeated by it. Because I think that the kind of binaries that it enters into (or is forced to enter into by current cultural and social realities) are in the long term helping to perpetuate the problem.

I'd really like my kids and their kids to live in a world where the very small biological differences between males and females of the human species are not bound up with layer upon layer of historically contingent assumptions and beliefs passed off as natural characteristics and considered the most important thing about a person. And even if the apparent temperamental / behavioural differences between men and women are rooted in biology on some level, 21st century technology and mores mean that biology doesn't rule other aspects of our lives, why should it with respect to this?
posted by melisande at 1:57 PM on October 17, 2012


The difference, of course, is that while I don't find a "Shoplifting Is Strictly Prohibited" sign offensive, I sure as fuck would get bent out of shape if I saw a "People of Colour: Shoplifting Is Strictly Prohibited" sign.

Where I'm from, shoplifting warning signs were frequently directed at school students (some shops banned school bags, one near me banned groups of more than 2 kids), but I don't remember (myself or others) being offended when we were school students (although we may have had that reaction and forgotten it).
posted by jacalata at 2:31 PM on October 17, 2012


Jacalata: I remember those too and I remember being extremely offended at the time. "This is downright age-ism!" I would shout from the very tip top of my tower of adolescent righteousness!

Of course, the thing is, I was a dumb kid.
posted by whittaker at 2:34 PM on October 17, 2012


The only thing that I think is worth talking about that I haven't seen touched on here yet is that, in general, I'd like to see less focus on the No Means No messaging and more on getting an enthusiastic yes. I just feel like focusing on where exactly you can draw the line where sex lapses into rape leads to a bunch of rules lawyering and misses that both parties should be doing it because they want to and it's fun.
posted by klangklangston at 3:20 PM on October 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Here's the thing though, are the potential attackers the kinds of people who would be swayed by a campaign like this? The only kinds of rapes that I can see this stopping are the rare ones on that weird "she's drunk/he's drunk/but is she _too_ drunk?" spectrum, because I honestly believe that a lot those guys are just idiots making poor decisions, not predators. - sparklemotion

That doesn't change the outcome. Eleven years after a friend made a 'poor decision' I still deal with the fallout. My partner deals with the fallout. My friends deal with the fallout.

Him? He hasn't changed. He still makes poor decisions.

But he isn't a predator apparently - he's a nice guy, he was drunk, I was drunk, he thought it was okay, I didn't say no enough, I didn't fight enough, I asked him in, he thought I wanted it, so on and so forth ad nauseum.

The men who make poor decisions that involve rape ARE predators. It's a lifetime of being told you are owed sex, that your needs are more real than any woman's (particularly sex, because it's something women bestow upon men), that pushing and prodding and challenging boundaries is just part of sex, culminating in thinking your desire to have sex is worth more than checking to see if your partner is consenting then stopping if they aren't. Dead fucking simple.
posted by geek anachronism at 3:48 PM on October 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


EmpressCallipygos: "This is the first measure I've ever seen which acknowledges that in order for a woman to get raped, there had to have been another person RAPING her, and maybe warning the potential attackers is a better way at getting at the root of the problem."

I haven't lived in the US for quite a while, but if that's the case, things have changed to a surprising degree. Back in the 80's, the expression "No Means No" was absolutely ubiquitous, enough so that it became the name of a great Canadian punk band. I also remember lots of public service announcements that focused on explaining that "she was drunk" was an argument against sex, not an argument for it. So all that has gone away? Weird to think of the 80's as more enlightened than the 90's or 00's.
posted by Bugbread at 5:29 PM on October 17, 2012


(On perusal of Wikipedia) Apparently the phrase "No Means No" dates back even further, to sometime in the 70's (the band named themselves after the slogan, and the band formed in 1979, so the slogan is from 1979 or earlier). So, yeah, the 1970's being more enlightened than the 90's or 00's? Very surprising.
posted by Bugbread at 5:33 PM on October 17, 2012


There's a difference between people being cognizant of a catchphrase and people absorbing its meaning on a permanent basis.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:36 PM on October 17, 2012


Weird to think of the 80's as more enlightened than the 90's or 00's.

A minor point, but I think worth noting. There was (at least in Canada) absolutely a shift in the pendulum in the 90s with regards to various equality issues. I can say for certain that it's true with regards to the legal thinking at the time on equality issues - I couldn't say for certain about ground-level campaigns and public consciousness, but they usually go in similar paths.

That was the whole backlash against "identity politics" and "PC" - it was in part a retrenchment of anti-equality beliefs. I'm not sure it's done yet, to be honest.
posted by Lemurrhea at 5:37 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: "There's a difference between people being cognizant of a catchphrase and people absorbing its meaning on a permanent basis."

Sorry, that's a little terse, so I'm not quite sure if you're agreeing with me, disagreeing with me, or putting out a new point (or if your comment was even directed at me, actually).

Are you saying that people in the 70's / 80's were cognizant of the phrase, but didn't reflect it in their behavior, so while the slogan might have made the 70's/80's appear more enlightened than the 90's/00's, the reality (the way people actually acted) was not? That makes sense, though it seems there is some disagreement (see Lemurrhea's comment).
posted by Bugbread at 5:45 PM on October 17, 2012


Well, the reason the "no means no" slogan was needed in the first place was to counteract the widespread "she said no, but I could tell she really meant yes" concept. The presence of the slogan doesn't show greater enlightenment any more than a restaurant with a "No Spitting" sign is necessarily higher-class than a restaurant without such a sign.
posted by baf at 6:12 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm not quite sure if you're agreeing with me, disagreeing with me, or putting out a new point (or if your comment was even directed at me, actually).

Disagreeing.

Are you saying that people in the 70's / 80's were cognizant of the phrase, but didn't reflect it in their behavior, so while the slogan might have made the 70's/80's appear more enlightened than the 90's/00's, the reality (the way people actually acted) was not?

Not completely. I'm saying that societal shifts take a lot longer to achieve and require more than one single PR campaign to achieve.

Or -- people being aware of a phrase doesn't necessarily mean that they've wholly absorbed its meaning to the point that it heralds a society-wide shift in behavior. In fact, the fact that you remember a band being named "No Means No" indicates to me that the reaction was more of an "ooh, yeah, that dumb slogan we hear all the time on those public service announcements, let's use that as our band name because it's all weird and ironic and shit".

I mean, people may be similarly familiar with "Just Say No" as a slogan, but we still wrestle a whole lot with problems with drug addiction.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:20 PM on October 17, 2012


So, I just want to leave this here. I'm a man who got raped once by a woman, and despite what the law in the UK might think, it really isn't a crime that requires the perpetrator to possess penis. Rather it's all about consent, and defining rape as sex without consent.

Having said which, it's extremely clear that the vast bulk of victims of rape are women and that the vast bulk of perpetrators are men. As such, this particular campaign seems to me to be striking exactly the right note in terms of its focus. It focusses on getting the message out - quite specifically to men - that 'sex without consent is rape'. Most of the people who fuck up on that bit are men. Most of the victims of people fucking up there are women. Not all, most. But it's a big most, and as such it's worth sorting that bit out first.

At the same time, on a quite different level, this campaign challenges the UK legal system, which does not currently recognise that 'sex without consent is rape'. Rather, in the UK, 'sex without consent is rape if the perpetrator possesses a penis'. That's as true in Scottish law as it is in the law of England, Wales and Northern Ireland.

I don't have a problem with that aspect of this campaign. Everyone is a potential rapist. But mostly, the ones who end up raping someone because they just weren't thinking about what they were doing are men.

And that has to stop.
posted by motty at 6:27 PM on October 17, 2012


I have done a couple of college papers on date rape. Most of the time, alcohol, poor communication and a difference of expectations are involved. So, yes, very normal young men sometimes get it very wrong and do need to be explicitly told some of these messages.

Glad to see this posted here.
posted by Michele in California at 6:30 PM on October 17, 2012


One of the issues with the "No means no" campaign is that it rarefies a word a woman is supposed to use as if it is magical. I actually thought for a while that I wasn't raped because I said "stop" and "don't" and tried to push my rapist off of me, but I never said "no."

Making it about consent, not specific words, is an improvement in my opinion.

I'd also like to see some where women say similar or the same things (about men and women), and I personally really like the idea that consent and communication during sex makes the sex better as well, though I'm not sure how to turn that into a media campaign.
posted by Deoridhe at 6:51 PM on October 17, 2012


EmpressCallipygos: "Disagreeing."

Ah, ok. I agree with your disagreement. That is, I wasn't aware that the whole "no means no" education had disappeared, so that took me by surprise, and the rise of the right causing America to become less progressive was the first possibility that came to mind. Your counterargument is persuasive, so I'm guessing my first impression was just off.

EmpressCallipygos: "In fact, the fact that you remember a band being named "No Means No" indicates to me that the reaction was more of an "ooh, yeah, that dumb slogan we hear all the time on those public service announcements, let's use that as our band name because it's all weird and ironic and shit"."

Whoa, no! It's because NoMeansNo is a fucking awesome band! Also, fairly progressive, so I don't think the choice was based on irony (unless it's the double-irony of choosing a band name because the average punk band might choose it for irony, but you actually agree with it).

Deoridhe: "One of the issues with the "No means no" campaign is that it rarefies a word a woman is supposed to use as if it is magical. I actually thought for a while that I wasn't raped because I said "stop" and "don't" and tried to push my rapist off of me, but I never said "no.""

I always parsed "no means no" to refer to the concept of "A means A" (so "stop means stop", "don't means don't", etc.). I'm guessing that's how the originator(s) of the phrase meant it to come across, but apparently it didn't work out as planned.
posted by Bugbread at 7:24 PM on October 17, 2012


It does seem that the continuous effort to turn rape into some unspeakable ur-crime, some "worse than death" fate that no person might ever recover from, has raised the bar so strangely high that it's in fact enabled a lot of rape. The real value of these ads is that it brings rape down into the realm of mere mortals and so I imagine they'd be more effective if they broke away from hypotheticals. People need concrete examples if not real life anecdata to really drive the point home.

I have done a couple of college papers on date rape. Most of the time, alcohol, poor communication and a difference of expectations are involved.

But, alas, this is the point. Rape, as a crime of consumption, must remain a mystery. Modernity is particularly ill-equipped to deal with it. But imagine if people were really dedicated to stopping rape. Imagine if we told kids that they shouldn't drink so much? That sex wasn't that great? That fucking doesn't make you cool? Or that women aren't precious snowflakes? Imagine if we seriously examined the cultural infrastructure that supports rape.

But no, we get so much nonsense about she's "too drunk"? It does reek, doesn't it? It's like telling a little child not to eat too much candy on Halloween.

But if we did that you'd have Wall St. executives in the street. I think that's why these campaigns always seem a bit cynical and popular. The system needs rape -- we know that, right? But you can't have a market if everybody just takes what they want. Really, all we're asking for at this point is for people to be be polite about the matter and if they want sex, then they should pay for it the old fashioned way -- with paper dollars. This is a message everybody can get behind.
posted by nixerman at 7:44 PM on October 17, 2012


nixerman: "The system needs rape -- we know that, right?"

???
posted by Bugbread at 7:52 PM on October 17, 2012


It does seem that the continuous effort to turn rape into some unspeakable ur-crime, some "worse than death" fate that no person might ever recover from, has raised the bar so strangely high that it's in fact enabled a lot of rape.

...How do you figure that?

Rape, as a crime of consumption, must remain a mystery.

...What the hell do you mean that rape is "a crime of consumption"? Rape is a crime of violence.

But no, we get so much nonsense about she's "too drunk"? It does reek, doesn't it?

No it doesn't.

It's like telling a little child not to eat too much candy on Halloween.

No, it isn't. Because a woman is not a piece of candy. And because candy does not have sentience and independent thought and will.

The only way to parse rape as "a crime of consumption" is to negate the idea that woman has agency in what happens to her own body and her own sexual self. And it is this negation that leads to the rape culture in the first place.

The system needs rape -- we know that, right?

Only if you use insane troll logic.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:59 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was astonished to find that Motty was right: in the UK, rape is specifically about penetration with a penis; the crime of "assault by penetration" is about sexualised penetration with anything else; and the crime of "causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent" covers things cases where the offender is not the one doing the penetrating. I think this is bad legislation because the punishment for these offenses is the same; the only reason I can see for making these arbitrary distinctions is a desire to make moral judgments.

It's different where I live: rape includes penetration with fingers or other instruments; and it also includes forcing someone to penetrate another person, whether or not that person consents. So a woman who uses force or intoxication to coerce a man to have sex with her would be a rapist, as would someone who uses other sorts of penetrative assault. I think these crimes are conceptually similar and, where the punishment is the same, there's no good reason to give them the same name.
posted by Joe in Australia at 8:17 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Nixerman:
I genuinely don't understand what you are trying to say but I think the following might relate to the angle you are interested in:

I was molested raped as a kid. So I thought a lot about it and I did raise my two sons on a standard of genuine consent. Although my goal was to protect them from pedophiles, at some point it occurred to me they would never be date rapists either. They had a very clear standard. It would be nice if more people had such clarity. I think the world would be a better place.

I am glad to see this campaign exists. I think it is a step in the right direction.
posted by Michele in California at 8:26 PM on October 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Kit W: "1) All men are potential rapists, but the good ones have a better sense of what's ok.

I'd really like to live in a world where a general 'Hey guys, don't rape people' message didn't immediately attract complaints about how this is accusing all men of being rapists. It seems to be impossible.
"

I've seen numerous anti-rape campaigns that vilify and talk down to men. I take issue with those campaigns — not only because they're offensive, but because they're about as ineffective as those "Don't smoke weed because we said so" PSAs.

The mandatory sexual assault prevention course that my college required all of its male students to take was just so condescending and offensive that it was hard to take seriously. In fact, it may have overreached in its generalizations of men to the point where it painted rape as a "normal" thing that happens all the time. The mandatory survey that was bundled with the course asked us (in several different ways) how many women we'd raped over the past two years -- the choices were A) 0-5 B)5-10 C) 10+.

This campaign doesn't talk down to its audience. One of the posters even (non-offensively!!) applies the message to the LGBT sphere. Personally, I think that the tone is pitch-perfect in a way that very few of these campaigns manage to achieve.

Yes, it's technically true that all men (and all humans) are technically rapists. However, it's not a productive discourse strategy to bring this factoid up whenever we're discussing this subject. You're not going to convince anybody to change their behavior by bluntly labeling them as a "Potential Rapist."

Negative stereotypes are bad (and arguably self-perpetuating). It's possible to effectively run a rape-prevention campaign without using them. We can talk about consent without demonizing anybody. This campaign is a great example of that.
posted by schmod at 8:31 PM on October 17, 2012


Schmod, I think the "potential rapist" accusation got levelled against this simply and solely because it was addressing men. Because yes, there are some people who think that any kind of "hey, so, don't rape people because that's not cool" message, no matter how it is phrased, is "targeting men" if it is not directed also at women.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:44 PM on October 17, 2012


Making it about consent, not specific words, is an improvement in my opinion.

Yes, this. Particularly in retrospect, I am not enamored with the No Means No campaign (as compared to the band No Means No, with whom I remain totally enamored) is that it put the onus on the person saying no. I get that that wasn't the intent -- that it was meant to emphasize that no meant no, not maybe, and definitely not yes. You can get a sense both of how resonant that phrase is, and how much push-back there is, from incidents like the no means yes, yes means anal chants at Yale.

In contrast, this campaign puts it on the guy to assess for consent, rather than listen for denial. Those are really different things -- if I just need to stop when I hear "no," her being too drunk to say anything might be a good thing. Whereas if I need to see the signs of consent, I need her sober enough to give that consent.

I don't know that this campaign will prove to be the exactly perfect approach that will test well in epidemiological research. But I am willing to bet real money that the effective approach will be one that uses social pressure from other men to create a culture of consent. Take Back the Night was great in its way, but to really stop rape you need other guys saying "dude, are you fucking kidding me?" when a guy starts telling a story that has rapey elements.
posted by Forktine at 9:16 PM on October 17, 2012


"But, alas, this is the point. Rape, as a crime of consumption, must remain a mystery. Modernity is particularly ill-equipped to deal with it. But imagine if people were really dedicated to stopping rape. Imagine if we told kids that they shouldn't drink so much? That sex wasn't that great? That fucking doesn't make you cool? Or that women aren't precious snowflakes? Imagine if we seriously examined the cultural infrastructure that supports rape."

Uh this is what people mean when they say things like stop rape culture and creepshots and then people are all like its not illegal so …
posted by klangklangston at 9:25 PM on October 17, 2012


Joe in Australia: "the only reason I can see for making these arbitrary distinctions is a desire to make moral judgments. "

I don't know the actual reason for those different definitions, but I can imagine there being others. For example, I am unfamiliar with UK law, but it may be that it is easy to extend the scope of legal terms, but not to change them. For example, if "shoplifting" were defined as "stealing from a store surreptitiously", then perhaps it would be possible to extend that definition to stealing from an online store through some sort of SQL injection, as it would be "stealing", "from a store", and "surreptitious". However, if "rape" were defined as "sexual penetration by a phallus without the consent of the person being penetrated", it wouldn't be possible to extend that to penetration with a foreign object, because it isn't a phallus. So the crime "assault by penetration" is created to address the acts to which the rape law cannot be applied. And then the law "causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent" is created because there are acts that fall under neither the definitions of "rape" nor "assault by penetration".

Like I say, I don't know why the UK laws are the way they are. Perhaps they are that way out of a desire to make moral judgments. But I don't think that's the only possibility.
posted by Bugbread at 9:40 PM on October 17, 2012


Joe in Australia - I think the differences is to also include rape by those who cannot penetrate with a penis in an explicit way, and to acknowledge that penetration by a penis is different to penetration with something else. Not worse, not 'better', but different. It's like there's a difference between hitting someone with your hand and hitting them with a stick, even if the damage done is the same - one uses a weapon and one doesn't.

The law is all about making moral judgements though - X crime is worse because of Y and therefore is a separate crime to X without Y. Or in addition to. If you just have one crime, then that leaves no avenue to pursue the rapist who commits all three crimes.

They can have different effects on the victims as well. The actual physical damage and the after effects (trauma, triggering, flashbacks).

And nixerman, between the comparing sex with women to candy and calling rape a crime of consumption and that little segue at the end about paying for sex with paper money I'm wondering exactly what your point is. You've managed to be pretty offensive and hit on a whole lot of rape culture trope right there.

Hint: sex is not a commodity, rape is not theft, men are not children grabbing what they want.
posted by geek anachronism at 10:00 PM on October 17, 2012


Rape, as a crime of consumption, must remain a mystery.

When, exactly, did I become an object for my ex-boyfriend to "consume" via rape?

Rape is a crime of selfishness and violence. It is a crime which denies the humanity of the raped by the raper and rape culture is the means by which the raper (and rape apologists) justify the dehumanization of the raped (including male rape victims; my rapist, like a lot of rapists, was himself a rape victim).

Trying to turn the raped into objects on a market is a part of rape culture. It dehumanizes all of us, male and female, and justifies rapists to continue to act as they do without any consequences.
posted by Deoridhe at 10:09 PM on October 17, 2012 [4 favorites]


*male and female and both and neither and other
posted by Deoridhe at 10:09 PM on October 17, 2012


Geek anachronism: I understand where you're coming from (and it's interesting that your position reflects the law in Queensland, while mine reflects the law in Victoria) but we've heard from someone here who feels that he was raped, and it seems unnecessarily reductionist to say "Oh, no, you weren't raped. Rape requires a penis, which your attacker didn't have!" He clearly experienced a sexual assault of the most serious sort, and I have no doubt that he would have been sexually penetrated if his attacker had been male.

If rape-with-a-penis were conceptually different to these other crimes or if the law treated it more seriously then I would agree that it might make sense to use special terminology. But they are all sexualised breaches of personal autonomy and bodily integrity and the OED has citations for female-on-male rape going back at least forty years. The law punishes them identically, too: not only in the UK but also in Victoria and also in Queensland and presumably in many other places, too. This being the case, why give them different names? Using the same terminology for each will empower the victims and, perhaps, make some assailants flinch from being branded with this notorious crime.
posted by Joe in Australia at 12:51 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I don't read agree with calling it 'not rape' (or sexual assault instead of rape, as per the law). But I do think there is a conceptual difference between penetrative rape and non-penetrative rape and rape via object. Is it all rape? Yes.
posted by geek anachronism at 1:40 AM on October 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


@lazaruslong - I didn't mean to suggest you were quibbling; I'm sorry if I gave that impression. I was trying to emphasise that a point about the local law didn't undermine the moral point, but I guess I didn't put it very well.


Yes, it's technically true that all men (and all humans) are technically rapists

That's not a view I subscribe to, actually. I don't think all men are temperamentally capable of rape - or at least, not to the extent that it's ever likely they actually would rape someone - and there are also men who for one reason or another are not physically capable of rape. A man paralysed from the neck down is going to have a difficult time raping someone, for example, and he's still a man.

Whether it's accurate to say 'most people are capable of rape' is another question. But I think the really important statistic is that (oh drat, I can't find the link) - was it that one in six college-age men would admit to rape if you didn't call it rape? That's a big enough proportion that I don't think we need to say 'everyone is capable' to get everyone's attention ... or at least, we shouldn't. But we probably do, because, well, suck.


I was astonished to find that Motty was right: in the UK, rape is specifically about penetration with a penis; the crime of "assault by penetration" is about sexualised penetration with anything else; and the crime of "causing a person to engage in sexual activity without consent" covers things cases where the offender is not the one doing the penetrating. I think this is bad legislation because the punishment for these offenses is the same; the only reason I can see for making these arbitrary distinctions is a desire to make moral judgments.

Considering that UK law is largely shaped by precedent - it adapts with each new test case - I suspect that the main reason is historical rather than moral. I also think that if one crime carries the same penalty as another, that rather suggests that the law isn't trying to make moral distinctions between them.

But I wonder if there might be a practical advantage: is it possible that you might have juries more likely to convict someone if they don't have to go through the, 'Yes, but is is really rape?' debate. This isn't a rhetorical question, but a genuine one. I've just seen so many internet debates that lost sight of the main point in semantic arguments that I can very easily picture a trial ending in a hung jury for the same reason. People can be very resistant to changing their definitions at short notice, and it's not impossible that a juror who'd vote guilty for 'assault by penetration' would vote not guilty for 'rape'.

But to know the answer to that, one would need a lot of statistics.
posted by Kit W at 1:49 AM on October 18, 2012


it seems unnecessarily reductionist to say "Oh, no, you weren't raped. Rape requires a penis, which your attacker didn't have!"

But we don't have to, as long as we're not talking about the legal definition of rape, which can and as we've seen does differ between jurisdictions and can be ...problematic... in its own right. It helps to think of law as a huge cluster of legacy software systems, all of which need to be patched to keep up with evolving standards, as is the case here where it's lagging behind our understanding of what is rape.

All of which doesn't mean that somebody who feels they have been raped without it having involved penetration can't say they have been raped. It would be fairly obnoxious to object to that characterisation outside of a courtroom.
posted by MartinWisse at 2:13 AM on October 18, 2012 [1 favorite]


I have done a couple of college papers on date rape. Most of the time, alcohol, poor communication and a difference of expectations are involved. So, yes, very normal young men sometimes get it very wrong and do need to be explicitly told some of these messages.

Glad to see this posted here.


Or not. We didn't drink. There was no poor communication because we parked, kissed and then after he got agressive I said no continuously and fought him off hard (including bitting his arm). My expectation--kissing ok, anything else not ok and I clearly said it verbally and non verbally. I dont' know how anyone like this person I went out on a date with had any different of an expectation except force to get what he wants.

I get what you're saying but I would say that "most of the time" is not true. I think flat out difference in expectation. A person says no and means it. The rapist says yes and means it at all cost.

All I can say is that I'm glad nothing happened but even more glad I was fairly calm and fought him off and then went home. No beatings, further use of force was taken upon me so I'm glad I wasn't scarred by the incident. I mean it took 10+ years for me to even recognize it was near date rape.
posted by stormpooper at 9:16 AM on October 18, 2012


Stormpooper, I am sorry for what you went through. I really am. I was raped at the age of twelve. It took me two decades to get over it. So I am not unsympathetic. And, granted, it has been a few years since I wrote those papers, but they were research based and the best evidence was that date rape is frequently just tragic misunderstanding (compounded by alcohol) for both parties.

What is true in most cases doesn't invalidate your experience. But your experience also does not negate the statistics. Plus I would suggest that perhaps it was attempted rape instead of actual rape in part because you were sober and clearheaded enough to fight him off. Good for you. But it also means your personal experience kind of validates what I am saying rather than rebutting it. I recall reading an article not long ago where a campus authority stated that in x amount of time, they only had one case of rape on campus that didn't involve alcohol. (I can try to find that article for you if you care to see it.)
posted by Michele in California at 9:58 AM on October 18, 2012 [4 favorites]


Yes, the ad is assuming all men are potential rapists. And - that's because you are.

Yes, I said that, and yes I meant it.

However. What I mean by that is: every single last human being on Earth is potentially capable of doing anything bad.


This.

I used to get defensive when hearing the first sentence of this, until I realized that it meant that all humans - including myself - are capable of bad behaviour. All we can do is not behave badly today, and - hopefully - not behave badly tomorrow.
posted by tallmiddleagedgeek at 10:11 AM on October 18, 2012


Health classes in North Carolina public schools are focusing on sexual violence prevention in this same way. Go figure.
posted by Stewriffic at 4:24 PM on October 18, 2012


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