Tuesday, 8 April 2008

It's the victim blaming; it's not how you victim blame

I saw one of ALAC's new advertisements last night. These are supposed to be hard hitting advertisements, to show the real consequences of binge drinking. The one I saw also blamed a woman for being raped, because she was drunk.* You can see the advertisement here; it's the first ad, the one called Lisa. IT's the only one that involves a woman, and the message is, don't binge drink, because you might get raped.

Anyone who believes the rape myth that women are responsible for rape if they have been drinking can do real harm to women who have been raped. This advertisement is one more reinforcement of a myth that is already way too prevelant. By itself it's not enough to change anyone's mind. Those of us who think that rapists are to blame for rape will continue to believe that, no matter what ALAC tells us. But for people who are unsure, this is just another reinforcement of an awful, dangerous idea. People who watch these ads will be friends, family members, doctors, of women who have been raped. But, worst of all, women who have been raped will watch these ads, and see, yet again, that it's their fault.

Obviously my voice is very little, compared to ALAC, but I will say (again and again and again) no matter where she is, what she's taking, what she's wearing, who she's with, no woman is responsible for being raped. Rapists are always responsible for raping

* This is completely irrelevant to my main point, but one of the things that really pisses me off about these advertisements is it's superfluousness. That's the one women get, constantly: "Don't drink/walk out alone/go here or there/unlock the door/wear that/exist you might get raped". The threat of rape is the one consequence that is already firmly established in most women's lives. ALAC aren't going to shock or surprise anyone with this.


Anonymous said...

Excuse ignorance but who to you write to to complain about this? Broadcasting standards or some sort of advertising board??? This is something I feel very strongly about and would like to challenge it

Julie said...

Thanks for writing this Maia, I have been itching to get at the puter all day to write about it too. I haven't seen the ad yet, but heard an interview on Nine to Noon this morning with ALAC about the ads in general, and they explained what happens in each of the ads. My ears twitched at the explanation of the Lisa ad, and then steam started coming out of my ears...

There are two avenues for complaint as I understand it:

1. Directly to ALAC. As of tonight I understand they have 2 official complaints, and I suspect they are both about the ad where a child is thrown against a wall (not the Lisa one).

2. Complaints to the Advertising Standards Authority. They said they had had 15 complaints as of this morning, again mostly about the ad with the child.

There was no discussion in the Nine to Noon interview about the rape ad, at all.

Deborah said...

The thing that gets me is that women have been complaining about this sort of 'social' advertising for years and years. It's old news that rapists are responsible for rape. WTF do we have to do to get them to say that, instead of forever holding women responsible?

Anonymous said...

I haven't seen the ads - I stopped watching TV some time ago. But it's a sad indictment on society that this sort of thing is still seen as acceptable.

As you say, women are never responsible for rape - I don't think this myth is ever going to die.

We should be saying - in blunt terms - that men should not rape instead of saying women should not get drunk. That thought never occurs to marketing gurus for some reason.

Ari said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

You'd think it'd be far MORE hard-hitting if they had someone get drunk and screw up their relationship by raping their partner... :P

I agree that this type of advertising is counter-productive. Women are already cautious to avoid and defend themselves from stranger-rape, despite it not being their responsibility. Far more dangerous is rape from people who OUGHT to be in a position of trust, and ALAC is not helping at all with that.

Violet said...

So...am I a fool for thinking that it's a bit stupid and irresponsible to get really pissed, to the point where you become extremely vulnerable to personal harm? This applies to men too.

Anonymous said...

ALAC are there to stop us drinking too much, not to stop rapists. I think you're targeting the wrong Govt department/agency. I agree that it is the rapist who is the wrong-doer*, and obviously one hopes they are caught and fully prosecuted. BUT ... (chooses words carefully) is the ad not valid in alerting women to the dangers (ie possible consequences) of getting drunk? If a woman gets so 'out-of-it' she is less likely to be able to fend off an assault and even less likely to be able to identify her attacker afterwards. In a Utopian society we would all be able to get completely wasted and still make our way home safely, without being assaulted or robbed, but in the real world that is not what happens.
Maybe ALAC should perhaps also run a similar ad where a young drunk male gets rolled on his way home ...?

- Simon

*NB - I use the term 'wrong-doer' not to minimise the rapist's criminal (and does that word even cover it?) actions, but only because (as you point out) the ad implies that the woman has done something wrong (by getting too drunk).