Monday, 28 July 2008

Official Responses - Part II

It's taken me ages to write about the ASA decision on ALAC's Lisa ad. I guess because I find it depressing, to be honest. And when I did make a start today I looked up to see if the decision was online yet, and it isn't, and I'm not supposed to blog it until it is.

So at this point I'm just going to say that the ASA found that there was no case to proceed, and I'll write more when they release the decision to the media (at which point it will also be online).

In the meantime I need to decide whether or not to make an appeal. I've got a couple of days to do that, and ultimately whether or not I do write to them for a fourth time will depend mostly on how much time I have to pen something before the deadline. Who knew having a baby would interfere so much with blogging?!


In regard to the most recent response from Gerard Vaughan (CEO of ALAC) which I blogged about last week, my initial response was very similar to commenter tussock, who wrote:
So, their logic is as follows.

1: Some women binge drink, particularly single women from 25-40. They're being paid to reduce the incidence of that.

2: Women fear being raped.

3: If they make the entirely false connection that binge drinking women are natural targets for rapists, women will fear binge drinking.

4: It worked, so they fulfilled the terms of their contract.
To whit; ALAC are using women's fear of rape, which it's pretty safe to assume is not a fear only found in the target demographic, in a cynical and calculated manner, regardless of how it might impact on women who have been raped who are viewing the ad, or indeed societal attitudes towards women who are raped when they have been drinking. Either that or ALAC just don't get the simple research principles about correlation and causation.

I found this thought so repugnant and so wrong that I thought I must surely be reading Vaughan's response incorrectly, in some paranoid hyper-feminist manner. I turned my mind away from it because it is a bit too hard to think that an agency charged with educating people about safer drinking behaviour could be so oblivious to the harm they might do in other areas with their social advertising. So to have tussock pick up on it too, well I'm starting to wonder if maybe I was overly paranoid about being paranoid.

What do you think, dear readers?


Finally, a post from Lita on this whole fandango, which I'm pretty sure I hadn't linked earlier (sorry Lita).


Anonymous said...

That's exactly how I read their responses, too: The Demon Drink Is Bad, Mmkay, and whatever it takes to make women Stop Acting Like Harlots is justified because It's Bad.

I mean, it's either that or they honestly DO think that drinking => sexual assault and are just saintly Boy and Girl Scouts trying to Save Our Souls.

So, morons or self-righteous zealots seem to be the options. Morons is definitely the less depressing of the two, but I'm leaning towards self-righteous zealots, myself.

Anna McM said...

Self-righteous zealots gets my vote too. I'm depressed with this whole thing as well. Nonetheless, I think it's worth appealing, Julie. My support hasn't counted for a lot lately, but you certainly have it.

Hugh said...

The question is, is trying to get women to drink less a valid goal?

Anna McM said...

Yes, it is, but ALAC is both being disingenuous and, I believe, inflicting more harm than it's reducing.

Julie said...

Hugh your comment presupposes that any means justifies the end, and that ALAC has no responsibility to be aware of the unintended consequences of their efforts, and no responsibility to mitigate or eliminate those consequences if at all possible.

Lita said...

I only managed a quick look at the response, but also read it as you do.

I think you should appeal, not that I feel confident anyone is actually taking in and comprehending the issue as we see it. They are meeting their KPI, and that's success in their eyes. Must be nice to not have 'customers' and therefore not give a shit what folk think.

I have never received a response from either ALAC or ASA. (I sent them a ripped off version of your letter/s a month ago, when I first wrote my post.)

It's strange that noone in mainstream media has shown any interest in this (that I have seen). Forgive me if I'm suggesting old news, but have you tried sending some links of your posts to media? Perhaps a mailshot to some prominent bloggers/journos may raise more debate and apply more pressure?

Happy to help, it sounds like you may have your hands full!

Hugh said...

Julie, I agree that no matter how laudable the goal using the threat of rape to try to achieve it is counterproductive. But I'm not sure whether this is just a matter of means, or of ends as well.

Julie said...

Hugh, can you please expand on your point, I am not sure I am getting it. Apologies for my denseness.

Lita, realistically I think media work is the next step. I've been reluctant to start that up as I'm not sure how available I can be to continue it, given my home situation. I did do an interview with bfm some time back. I'm also speaking at the AUSA Thursday in Black forum about this subject tomorrow, and I expect that may give me a burst of energy on the topic, so I'll have a think over the next few days and hopefully be back with more on the weekend.

Hugh said...

Well, I'm not sure I have a point per se. I'm simply wondering to myself whether the goal of trying to get women to drink less should be viewed positively or not. It could be argued that the main problem here is the method that's being used to dissuade, but it could be argued that any attempt by the media to cajole women into a particular type of behaviour would be bad even if the chosen method of cajoling wasn't as obnoxious as implying that the behaviour leads to rape.

The ex-expat said...

I think you are confusing two separate issues.

1. Social campaigns to reduce women's alcohol intake.

2. Using the threat of rape to control women's behaviour.

Now at the risk of putting words into the mouths of the others, no one has expressed any objections to ALAC's goal of reducing alcohol intake or indeed any other public health campaigns targeted at changing women's behaviour (eg, cervical smear tests, smoking cessation etc).

What we strongly object to is using the threat of rape to modify women's behaviour.

Hugh said...

Damnit, I just wrote a reply and IE ate it. Oh well back to the drawing board.

Expat, is the possibility that there is a connection between the ends and the means so difficult to believe? It seems to me that the paternalist assumption that the advertiser knows better than women do what is good and bad for a woman's body leads to a disempowering of women in the mind of the advertiser - a disempowering which then makes it easier for the advertiser to disregard the very valid concerns of those who see this ad as objectionable.

Anna McM said...

I have some sympathy with what you're saying, Hugh. I don't have a problem with the idea that the state can and should intervene to make people safe (OSH regulations, making people wear cycle helmets, whatever), but I'm not sure where alcohol use/abuse fits alongside these other sorts of issues.

I've been teetotal for a while, so I've kind of lost touch with normal social life, but get the sense that some people at least find ALAC a bit patronising and wowserish.

Most people agree that alcohol-related harm is a bad thing, but we define what that is differently. Some of the things that ALAC consider to be alcohol-related harm - dancing like a dick, playing sports badly because you're hungover - probably don't fulfill most people's definition.

The ex-expat said...

Hugh I see what you are getting at.

In this case while this specific advertisement is targeted at women, it is part of a broader campaign to stop society drinking so heavily. But I would agree with Anna that ALAC's campaigns do have a habit of making the agency come across as a pack of wowsers.

Anonymous said...

So I just saw this ad on TV. I'm wondering if you remember the ad several years ago (produced by the same company) about a couple of teenage girls, drinking at a party. One drinks more than the other, ends up in a room on a bed with a guy, says 'no' and then passes out while the guy unzips her clothes. The ad then rewinds to earlier on in her drinking with the phrase 'where is this drink taking you?'

Firstly, it seems victim blaming and the threat of rape is an inherent part of ALAC's idea of the only way to SCARE women out of drinking - they're not even appealing to our intelligence. I’d also like to state that with the airing of that ad several years ago and no drop in either rape reports (in fact I believe they've been steadily increasing) or drinking, would ALAC not then concede that linking the two ideas does not work (regardless of whether it is objectionable)?

In a survey of women in different countries about whether women felt they'd been raped, New Zealand women came out on top per head of capita.

We need anti-rape campaigns detailing the fact that drunk or high girls are not 'easy roots' and dispelling the belief that everyone seems to have about lack of resistance or not saying 'no' meaning yes. I mean, shit, do people actually thin a 16 year old girl can reasonably say yes to 3 much older police men sticking objects in her vagina and then refer to this case as a 'police sex scandal'.


Julie said...

Good points, fresh Anon. To be honest I think the lack of "getting it" from ALAC and the ASA just wore me down to a little nub on this issue. Which isn't to say I won't pursue it again in the future, but I'll need to have more energy than now!

About the old ad with the zipper, C.C pointed this out and wrote about it a little while ago, which may be of interest to you. It definitely does show a worrying trend by ALAC, I'd be interested to know if they got complaints similar to ours back then.

Anna said...

Excellent points Anon. Something else that irks me is that the campaign against family violence which involves several govt depts and ministries is trying to debunk myths about violence, particularly around victim blaming. ALAC is undermining this work.

Alexis said...

Sorry, I hadn't realised so many people were as outraged by this ad as I was. I merely stumbled across the facebook group and was then linked here.

As for the Domestic/family violence campaign, I do not think it does enough. It does not mention sexual violence as a part of domestic violence - smacking your wife and kids seems to be the only violent act. I'm actually surprised, and slightly offended that they didn't incorporate rape - I am assuming so that it could avoid being seen as labeling all abusive partners rapists and therefor not redeemable, but that is just my opinion. As anyone knows violence is about dominance and rape is an intricate part of that victim control. I have only seen the ad's though and I'm hoping I am wrong about this.

As an aside, women in abusive relationships cannot claim provocation as a defense if they kill their partners. Society is all about protecting the heterosexual male.

I don't think I've ever heard of abusive partner being convicted of rape.