Tuesday, April 08, 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.


  1. Thank you for posting this

  2. I'm mad as hell too. For those who feel a bit of angry letter/email writing is in order, you can find out who to rant at here:

  3. Anonymous9:36 am

    I don’t see this as victim blaming. Example - a car park where I park has notices warning that thieves operate in the area and to "keep valuables out of site and to lock you car" If I leave my lap top, camera or i pod on the front seat and it gets stolen who’s fault is it? I should be able to leave my car-unlocked key in the ignition and valuables in full view with them being stolen. But I don’t.

    I agree women should be able to walk home alone, drunk wearing what ever in complete safety. Unfortunately the reality is that she will become a target for predators.

    These people operate outside the norms of society and their victims and usually in the wrong place at the wrong time.

    There should not be anything wrong with warning people that their behaviour may make them more vunerable to predators.

  4. So then it's not possible to be found guilty of the rape of someone (man or woman) who is drunk? Somehow the rapist has diminished responsiblity?

    Dave, stranger rape in a dark alley when the victim is drunk is not actually how most rapes happen. Most rapists know their victim - they will already be in their lives, as their partner, a relative, a friend, an acquaintance, a workmate. I suggest you get a clue about the realities of rape before you start mouthing off that "these people" (rapists? rape victims? I am unsure who you mean) are not part of normal society. You can bet your bottom dollar that you already know several women who have been raped and/or sexually abused. Surprise surprise they haven't talked to you about it.

  5. Anonymous12:34 pm

    Julie, I did not say “So then it's not possible to be found guilty of the rape of someone (man or woman) who is drunk? Somehow the rapist has diminished responsibility?”. If you quote me please be accurate, it is also NOT what I meant.

    Unfortunately rapists, predators, child abusers, drunk drivers etc...etc...etc are a part of society, wether we want them to be or not. If you had (or have) children, and you discovered a neighbour was a paedophile, would this alter you behaviour?

    I do know several women who have been raped, mugged & assaulted, and they have chosen to talk to me about it, two of my closest friends are women. I have also been robbed late at night when I was drunk & walking home alone from a night out in Wellington. It was not my fault I was attacked, robbed and beaten so much that I spent 3 days in intensive care, the guys who attacked made that choice. However this incident has made me more cautious about being out late alone at night.

    I probably have as much of clue as you about this subject, only I am objective in my view, not subjective, as you appear to be. Your views appear to be pre judged and coming from an ideological political point of view. This is all very well when one is in a group discussion, however the harsh reality of life does not fit with any political ideology. Quite frankly I find your views to be insulting & demeaning. I choose to do what I need to do to keep my loved ones and myself safe because it is prudent to do so, not because I’m a victim.

  6. Dave I do tend to get rather het up about this stuff (and to be honest I also thought you might be the Dave from Big News who I've had run-ins with before, but I don't think you are?). I'm glad you have supported your friends, and I'm sorry to hear you have been attacked yourself, that totally sucks.

    I do alter my behaviour to avoid rape. I cut someone out of my life who I knew was a rapist. I don't go out on my own at night usually, even though I know that my chances of being attacked on the street by a stranger are actually much much lower than being attacked by a friend or acquaintance, even a family member.

    But I don't think that it is a good idea to have an ad about our drinking culture that effectively says - if you are a woman and you get drunk you could be to blame (at least in part) for your own violation. There are many other ways that they could have done this ad, which didn't involve blaming the woman.
    The other two ads do clearly blame the drunk person for their actions too, but in those cases they actually are to blame.

    Ultimately I think it is socially irresponsible for ALAC to screen an ad that reinforces two rape myths that campaigners have been trying and trying to deal with for years.

    I'm not sure how I am being subjective and you are being objective - or how my comment is politically motivated/ideological?? I live in the real world, just as you do. Would be keen to hear more from you on what you mean by this.

  7. Anonymous2:37 pm

    Oh great, the good old "I'm so objective" viewpoint that compares women's vaginas to leaving your iPod in your car. We've heard these arguments *so* many times before. It's getting old. Educate yourself about rape before mouthing off on a feminist blog, Dave. Seriously.

  8. unbelievably clear video, please tell me how it done, such violence on TV has all of us reaching, grabbing, searching for the remote to turn it off, we honestly do not like lecture pc crap in our homes,

  9. and then again i don't want to arouse anger here, but i didn't see any rapings,no rape at all

  10. Anonymous4:47 pm

    Julie – No I’m not the “Dave” you thought I might have been, there are a lot of us “Dave’s” around though.

    My comments about you being politically or ideologically motivated, is me expressing my frustration at what I saw as your (and Maia’s) “default answer” to the ALAC add. I perceived ALAC was being attacked because their add “was blaming women for getting themselves raped”, I saw the add differently. I think the add is ineffective and to be a waste of time, but not for the reasons you give. My intention was not to offend you, or Maia. I do not have a problem with people being warned about their personal safety if they are out on the town. It is an unfortunate fact that there are some very nasty people out there, these people do prey on the weak and vulnerable and we should take reasonable responsibility for our safety. However nobody asks to be assaulted, raped or murdered, it is not your fault if you become a victim, the responsibility lies with the rapist.

    Anon. – I feel you should read and understand what I wrote. I did not compare “.....women's vaginas to leaving your iPod in your car”. This statement is insulting. As for telling me to “Educate yourself about rape before mouthing off on a feminist blog, Dave. Seriously”. I have probably had more involvement with victims of violence than you would ever wish to have. I still have nightmares about some of the things I have seen.

  11. Anonymous11:07 am

    Interesting stuff...
    I think the ideological point of view you mention Dave, is the crazy idea that when rape happens in our society it is more than just one "nasty" person attacking someone, but a reflection of the sexist regime we live under.
    Is it that crazy to assert that men should change their behaviour (ie stop raping women) rather than women changing theirs?
    Because that is something that is not being said on ads on tv or anywhere else in the mainstream - so its good to see it said here.

    ps I agree with the ipod comment, my vagina is not a piece of property, to be carefully tucked under the front seat of a car.


  12. I have a vagina and I think Dave had a valid point. People who are drunk are less able to judge risk and might act (or be coerced) in ways they wouldn't when sober.

    I wasn't under the impression that the implied sexual assault was the woman's fault, but that her drunk state contributed to her going off with the guy.

    Rape is the fault of the rapist, but I think I have to be pragmatic about the risks I choose to take when it comes to mind altering substances, eg. alcohol.

  13. Anonymous11:12 am

    compares women's vaginas to leaving your iPod in your car

    I assume it's completely inappropriate to hear the "detachable penis" song in my head when I read that.

    More seriously, I don't think it diminishes the crime to suggest that the victim could have taken steps to reduce the likelihood of becoming a victim. It's the difference between "things I can do as an individual right now" and "social change I can help work towards". Sure, I'd like to live in a crime-free world, but I don't. I'm trying to create that world, but I don't think it's going to come about any time soon. So for now, I continue to lock my bike and avoid staggering drunkly into dark alleyways.


  14. Anonymous6:13 pm

    I agree with dave in that I really don't believe that encouraging women to be more careful is victim blaming. I feel that the point of the ad is to highlight the vulnerable position that we put ourselves in when we drink irresponsibly. Until we live in a perfect society (or until we die and go to heaven or wherever) the sad reality is that we can never just assume that we are safe. We can't just walk home on a dark night through the dodgy part of town. Because rape does happen, and even if the bastard gets locked up for life, punishing a rapist doesn't undo the psychological harm a rape victim goes through. Better to pay $30 for a taxi and not have to risk going through it in the first place. it's not fair, but it's sensible. I feel that I owe it to my own 16 year old vagina to protect it by taking measures to keep myself safe when I go out drinking. Because when it comes to who has control over whether I get raped, I trust myself a lot more than I will ever trust some guy walking past a trashed teenager in a dark alley.

  15. I suppose one has to be careful with examples to ensure they are of an appropriate magnitude not to trivialize the issue.

    Would it be more legitimate to discuss something like putting women at high risk of contracting a STD (let's say fatal to keep it at a serious level) without informing them of the risks, as compared to general advice to use condoms and sex education as a whole?

  16. Anonymous11:40 pm

    Wow I don't think I've read so much dribble in my life, no wonder this country is going nowhere.....get over yourselves.

  17. Anonymous11:40 pm

    Dave, you're digging a hole bro. Even if you think women should be cautious when out late at night, that's a personal decision they should make.

    Regardless, that doesn't justify the underlying message of this ad. Like Maia said, this ad is going to be watched by the friends, family of doctors of rape victims (both male and female) and they can't escape the message of this ad - that the victim is even partly to blame for being victimised. That's a fucking outrageous message to have on television screens. I get the sneaking suspicion that is a view you share but I'd suggest you keep it to yourself - I don't want to see it on TV and I don't want to hear it from you.

  18. Anonymous3:11 pm

    Hear, hear! Thank you!
    I saw this ad and got really mad and thought about writing to the Advertising Standards Authority.
    I actually couldn't believe how ill thought out it was, given that it's supposed to be about changing social behaviours...

  19. I totally agree. It's women, who sacrify their freedom to drink at bars,walk in dark, etc., while maniacs don't have to worry about such things. I, as a woman, can't even imagine NOT being apprehensive, when walking alone in the dark.That's really unfair.

  20. I totally agree. It's women, who sacrify their freedom to drink at bars,walk in dark, etc., while maniacs don't have to worry about such things. I, as a woman, can't even imagine NOT being apprehensive, when walking alone in the dark.That's really unfair.