The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board is running an online ad campaign called “Call the Shots“. The campaign promotes looking out for your friends on a night of drinking and walks people through a series of scenarios where they can “find out what could go wrong, and how you can prevent it.”
Yesterday, one of those scenarios involved your friend getting raped. It blamed her for drinking too much and you for not looking out for her. Late yesterday, the PA Liquor Control Board pulled that scenario due to numerous complaints. They are still running two other scenarios that result in your friend being arrested for fighting or ending up in an ambulance with alcohol poisoning.
The text of the controversial rape scenario read:
She didn’t want to do it, but she couldn’t say no.
When your friends drink, they can end up making bad decisions. Like going home with someone they don’t know very well.
Decisions like that leave them vulnerable to dangers like date rape. Help your friends stay in control and stay safe.
The message very clearly blames the victim and her friends for the fact that she was raped, which is inappropriate yet typical.
Supporters of the ad said that young women do need to be warned that rapists may take advantage of them if they have too much to drink. That is certainly (and unfortunately) true, but there are ways to do that without blaming the victim.
On Feministing, Julie wrote:
While the board may have had good intentions, these ads show that rape culture is alive and well in our society. Alcohol is definitely a huge factor when it comes to sexual assault, but in no circumstances is it ever the victim’s fault. Again we see our culture continuing to teach “Don’t get raped!” instead of “Don’t rape.” And instead of teaching people how to make sure they’re properly getting consent from someone they’re hooking up with, our society perpetuates a mindset that makes women feel guilty for a crime committed against them.
Fortunately, there are some campaigns out there that do teach people to ensure they are getting consent. The “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign in Ottawa, Canada is one of them. The messages in that campaign include:
“Just because she isn’t saying no…
Doesn’t mean she’s saying yes.”
“Just because you help her home…
Doesn’t mean you get to help yourself.”
“Just because she’s drunk doesn’t mean she wants to f**k.”
These are the types of messages that we need to get out to young people. Or, if the PA Liquor Control Board wanted to stick with its theme, it could have incorporated a scenario where your buddy has too much to drink and ends up being arrested for raping a girl. At least that would put the blame in the right place.
Image credit: Screen capture from pulled campaign.