Thursday, May 1, 2008

Blame the Victim

A series of 'shocking' ads recently started screening on TV here in NZ. The tag line is "Its not the drinking, its how we're drinking".
New Zealand is pretty well-known for using graphic images and shock-tactics in advertising when it comes to a 'cause" ie drunk-driving, speeding, smoking etc.... (Who could forget this one?)

There is a couple ads in the series that are very hard to watch. The one that I find most horrible is the one entitled "Lisa".
I follows a young conservative looking woman over the course of an evening. In the beginning she looks fresh from the office and tentatively sips on a wine. By the middle her hair is messed and she is skulling wine and dancing. The end shows her being practically dragged down an alley (she can't walk) by a very evil looking man whose intent seems to be to rape her.

here it is for you to check out....

The big problem I have with this ad is that it is victim-blaming. Woman always get the blame for their own rape. Always. They are always "asking for it" in one way or another. Seeing this attitude pervade to every inch of our culture is so sickening to me.
I also think that this ad is cheeky on the heels of the Tea Ropati trial . Here was a woman who was raped. She was brave enough to bring her rapist to trial and he got off. Because she was drunk and 'probably' wanted to.
This ad is just enforcing these horrible ideas that women are the only one responsible for "getting themselves into trouble".

I think the money on this ad would have been better spent on a campaign focused on men who think its ok to rape ! I mean, don't you think?
How about an ad, telling people that if she can't stand up then you can't have sex with her.

Maybe its time we remind everyone what exactly is rape?

No, means no!
If she say no, and you proceed, its rape.
If you start having sex and she changes her mind and you proceed, its rape.
If you are married/partnered/going out/dating and she says no and you proceed, its rape.
If she is asleep and you have sex, its rape.
If she is too intoxicated/passed out, its rape.

Those are just a few examples, but examples I think people need to understand more.

Anyway, I hate that ad and I think it needs to be taken off the air.


Gypsy said...

Good on you for talking about these ads. I think they are just sensationalist cr*p ... the sort of thing bureaucracies spend money on so they can be seen to take a hard line, when they don't fix the problem.

Nikki (Mother of the Devil Child) said...

I had much more to say about this the first time I read it but time has dulled the urge to comment.

But I will say that I don't think the ad attributes blame to the female. Or atleast I didn't think that when I saw it the first time.

I do think it shows exactly how women like myself are when they drink that much. I can't even begin to count how many times I have ended up like that and short of blaming myself for 'rape' - I'd say that my drinking was responsible for most of my actions. I do consider one event where my daughter may have been conceived as almost-rape and I would have to say that I don't think I could accept the 'blame' for heading home with this guy - but I do accept that if I had not been drinking so much then I would have been able to make a conscious decision not to.

I think if anything, the ad was about the danger of drinking that much. And I agree completely with that much.

Rambling much?

C.C. said...

Hi Nikki, I have been thinking a lot about your comment sent you posted it and I just wanted to say a few things. First of all I am sorry for any trauma you have been through. I have been through some in my time too and I stand with you in support.
Secondly, I think it is important understand that rape isn't the cut and dried entity that it is made out to be (ie it only happens to sluts that walk down dark alleys and only strangers do it). If you think you were "almost-raped" you probably were just raped. I spent MANY years beating myself up and feeling ashamed and alone about things that happened to me that I forced myself to think were ok at the time, but really weren't. They were sexual assault/rapes.
Thridly I do think that the ad singles out the woman and attributes blame to her. And this is what happens all the time. "If she hadn't been drinking so much that wouldn't of happened" is something that is quite common to hear. Well to me, *MY* actions do not have any effect on anothers persons actions. And my actions to drink does not equal free-pass for rapists. The onus is always put on women to be responsible for the own rapes instead of paying attention to the real perpetrator THE RAPIST. There are no ads showing a guy drinking too much and forcing himself on a woman. Its a shocking to think that there it is universally accepted in our culture that drinking too much = you force another human being to do all things that it takes to undergo a rape. Am I making any sense? Now I am rambling!!
Anyway, I was trying to make a point that victim-blaming is a scourge of many societies and we have to start somewhere to change it.
And Gypsy, you are right they don't fix the problem. When are they going to spend money educating the men of the world that there is NO EXCUSE for rape. Where the ad where the guy drinks too much forces himself on a woman and ends up in jail???

C.C. said...

Sorry if that last comment sounded harsh. it DEFINATLY wasn't meant to be. I just get all passionate and crap. And its waaaaaaaay too late for me to be saying anything to anyone, let alone typing replies to senstive subjects on the net.

Nikki (Mother of the Devil Child) said...

Didn't sound harsh! Sounded passionate...

I guess I saw some blame being put on the male in this ad too. I mean, if you recognised him as a predator, then surely others did too?

It possibly wasn't so explicit a message as the female but then I don't think the message about the female was unwarranted either ;) (though you may disagree)

I don't think I do consider my situation 'rape' - I consented at the time. As you said, it ain't cut and dried.

Anna McM said...

This thread makes me really sad. It also makes me think about what consent is - and whether the consent of someone who feels like she can't actually say no really is consent. How much of our 'consent' sometimes comes from wanting to be appreciated or feel attractive or liked in a culture which can be pretty hard on women? That stuff isn't the fault of individual men, but it can be exploited by some of them.

The interesting thing is that in the Lisa ad, no one knows the guy is a rapist until the last moment when he drags her away. Until then, he could have been a concerned bystander who saw a woman too drunk to get home safely.

How is a girl supposed to know who's a predator and who isn't, and why should we have to? Should we just avoid men? And, whether we're drunk or sober, if we get it wrong and trust the wrong guy, is that really our fault?

Nikki (Mother of the Devil Child) said...

I just wanted to add here (miles later and after much more reading) that I have watched the ad more carefully (my inital comments were from seeing the ad once and not really paying a whole lot of attention) and seeing that the guy is obviously a predator and there is much less possibly--could-be-consensually-construed behaviour from Lisa than I originally thought. I didn't pick up her being led off and her 'noises' upon leaving.

Anywayyy... just changes my view on the ad. Not on my experience. Mine was a self-esteem issue rather than a lack of consent.