In an attempt to raise awareness of sexual violence against men, Survivors UK is putting a simple message before users of London’s Tube: “Real Men Get Raped And Talking About it Takes Real Strength.”
The ads appear in 140 escalator panels in Tube stations across London and are also slated to appear on two billboards in the city and big screens at Waterloo station.
The central image used in the ad, shown above, depicts a punctured rugby ball. Coinciding with the Six Nations rugby tournament, the inclusion of the rugby ball is meant to draw on the hyper-masculine image of the rugby game to communicate that being a victim of sexual violence does not make the victim weak or in any way less of a “real” man.
“We’ve chosen to use an alpha male sport in our advertising to challenge assumptions about the type of men who get raped” Michael May, spokesman for Survivors UK, is quoted as saying. “It’s just as likely to be a rugby player as a librarian, a suited city banker as a hooded gang member. And we hope that by challenging our innate assumptions about the identity of male victims, we can make it even fractionally easier for a male rape victim to ask for help.”
While some have criticized the use of the “real men” idea, Kim Etherington, a professor at the University of Bristol, has stressed the importance of tackling issues that might prevent men from opening up about sexual violence: ”Males are taught from a very early age that they should be ‘strong’ and ‘in-charge’. To be successfully masculine is to be sexually potent, competitive with other males in sexual matters, and dominant with sexual interactions. Being raped challenges and negates all these preconceptions.”
According to Male Health, estimates suggest that, at most, only 11% of male victims will go on to report being sexually violated. Figures indicate that in 2009-2010, 945 sexual assaults against men were reported in London, though the true figure of assaults is likely to be much higher.
Indeed, a 2011 rape report issued by Baroness Stern acknowledges that the vast majority of male victims of sexual violence will not report those crimes because of a belief that their failure to fend off the attack makes them appear weak. They also fear being ridiculed or not believed.
The National Center For Victims Of Crime reports that around 3% of men in the U.S. have reported being raped.
To find out more about the campaign or to get support materials on issues dealt with in this post, visit Survivors UK.
Image taken from ad campaign under fair use terms, no infringement intended.