Thursday, 21 March 2013

Don't be "That Guy": Anti-Rape Campaign

Here's a great print ad from the Vancouver Police Department, and really timely considering all of the news coming out of the Stubenville trial.

Too often the message is focused towards the women with warnings like "watch your drink!" and "always have a friend watching you". We should move to collectively shifting the message to "if you drug someone, these are the consequences". I have never been aware of such a rampant and clear message of victim blaming than in the Stubenville case these past few weeks. 

I sympathise with men in that they often have to "prove" their masculinity, especially when they're younger and insecure, and within a group of their friends. For younger males, sex is sometimes treated as a contest to see who can get the most girls in bed. The man with the lowest score is threatened with labels like "gay" or "pussy", especially when confronted by his team-mates in the sport that he identifies himself with. 

Females are not exempt from all blame either, two of the victim's friends have been arrested for issuing threats over social media. Despite what some (usually younger) people think, it's not anonymous and you can be held accountable for what you say on Facebook and over text.

It's within ultra rigid gender binaries that dominant masculinity and submissive femininity provide a backdrop for the horrible events in Stubenville can occur. As a society we need to re-evaluate not only the objectification of women but the hyper masculinization of man, which are never as prevalent as in high schools. It also seems as though rape is still a common occurrence worldwide, no matter the geographical location. 

As a 24 year old woman, I still don't understand why the threat of rape still has to be a worry that hums in the back of my mind whenever I go out at night, or when I'm walking alone during the day. I don't think it's fair that I should always have to watch my drink and keep my guard up, but I don't feel as though there's anything that I can do to change this. 

Now, news outlets and bloggers are frantically posting updates highlighting different places to point blame for the events of that horrible night in Stubenville. It's the boys fault, the girls fault, her friends for not stepping in, the coaches fault because he knew about it and did nothing, society's fault, football's fault, the parent's faults, you could go on all day. 

It was a huge combination of factors that lead to this story which has captured the attention of an international audience. Perhaps it will dissuade future rapists by the harsh example set from the verdict of Judge Thomas Lipps. Maybe it will prevent girls from pursuing a court case against their rapist(s) because of its potential to turn into a worldwide spectacle, blasted on every news outlet and social media platform, and she is demonized further by complete strangers.

Whatever happens, I hope that some good comes of this, and that we are shaken out of our dream-state in which equality amongst the sexes has been attained and women don't live in near-constant fear. I hope that this viral YouTube report make other news stations think carefully about how they report future cases like this one, and they acknowledge their position of power as the primary source for the general public to receive these messages. I hope that moms and dads are not only warning their daughters about how they should behave in social situations, but that moms and dads are warning their sons too. 

I really hope that some good comes of this, so let's not let this international focus go to waste. 


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