The Dawn Chorus

Fresh Australian Feminism

This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me

Posted by caitlinate on November 6, 2008

There is an amazing new website coming out of Scotland (run by Rape Crisis Scotland) called:

This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me

This campaign and the website are fantastic. It provides a much needed challenge to heaps of victim blaming myths as well as heaps of information about sexual assault and rape. Too often the victims of sexual assault or rape are blamed because of what they were wearing, how much they’d had to drink or their sexual history. This is NOT on. The victim is NEVER to blame, the person that assaulted them is the ONLY one who did anything wrong. Plus it reminds people that just because someone is drinking, on drugs, dressed a certain way or just because they have consented to one type of sexual activity doesn’t mean anyone has a right to have sex with their bodies or ‘take it further’

Not only are attitudes of blaming awful in general but they also have terrible impacts on people who are victims of sexual assault in that they are afraid to come forward and report the assault or – if they do – they are vilified, attacked and doubted. This only increases the trauma of the person who was assaulted.

The site also takes on rape within relationships – which is where the majority of sexual assault and rape occurs. This is exciting for me because so often the myth-busting around rape is related only to the ‘stranger danger’ category situations. Although I think this is good too I’m really against the way rape is so often categorised not only as something that happens to ‘other people’ but also as something that one could be protected from – if only women didn’t do crazy things like leave the house alone or show any skin. So often talk around ending rape is about prevention by women – rape alarms, capsicum spray in your bag, walking in well lit streets, etc. Although some of this is good safety practice it really doesn’t have ANYTHING to do with why rape happens and is just another set up for some good old fashioned victim blaming and rapist excusing

There is a ‘campaign pack’ available to download on the site. Download the briefing paper and read it – it’s a really short info document with some great and important information. In particular I like their advice on ‘what you can do’:

  • Don’t blame women for rape – focus instead on the behaviour of rapists
  • Get involved in the debate and take on those who insist woman are to blame – you can do this at home, at work, when you’re out with friends.
  • Ask us for a campaign briefing pack so that you can help us to challenge woman-blaming attitudes by learning more and taking the message into your own community

I know I’m really selling this website like crazy but I think it is fantastic information sources like this exist. So often websites about these topics are set up by organisations with little/no money or lonely individuals out to fight for the cause. This means their websites are often badly designed or difficult to navigate. I’m not a big fan of the pink = women thing they’ve got going on but the clarity of the information, the quality of the images and the general interactive nature of the site causes me to be really excited about people being able to learn from it and get a really good understanding of an important message.

It is talking – i think exclusively – about women who experience rape. I’ve used a non gender specific ‘people’ here because I (and you should) recognise that both women and men can and will be raped. Additionally that people who identify as men (or no gender or a third option gender) but are perceived as women will experience rape and blame in this way – and a whole bunch of other discrimination and abuse of a similar kind – and also have a whole other world of trauma in dealing with their assault (imagine the scene explaining gender to the cops, imagine the terror and problems of dealing with medical staff). The information on the site might be totally relevant to their experience but is framed as happening to someone that they don’t identify with. I think that the abuse by ‘society’ to men who have been assaulted also takes on a totally different from. They experience the same level of disbelief and blaming but of a totally different kind related to fucked up ideas of masculinity and – again – relating back to women as weak, deserving, etc and men as ‘meant to be different’ from this.

The only other particularly mentionable gripe I have with this website is the models in the graphics. Pretty much all young, ‘attractive’ and mostly white women are featured. That doesn’t do too good a job of busting the myth of rape being about sex or how attractive you are.

Anyway, here’s to hoping attitudes will be changed with resources like this – at the very least i hope it will make people think and re-examine their attitudes.

(Cross posted on Facebook)

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8 Responses to “This Is Not An Invitation To Rape Me”

  1. Mel Campbell said

    I’m really pleased to see you (and this site) highlighting the divide between men and women on this issue. Men are seen as rapists or rape-revenge vigilantes, not as rape victims or campaigners against rape in the first place, and women are seen not only as victims, not only as responsible for preventing rape, but also as the ones responsible for this entire issue.

    This has made me look back over the post I wrote last week about Reclaim The Night. I tried to highlight that so many of these anti-violence events are organised and participated in by women only, whereas sexual violence is something that affects everyone. That’s also why I really liked the “Australia says no” ad campaign – it showed a country united against violence.

  2. Steven said

    (first up, good job on mentioning that not only women get sexually assaulted)
    I applaud the intentions of the website, though I have to wonder on whether these initiatives are of any actual use. Presumably the people who _do_ say that it was the victims fault are not going to be out web surfing sites about womens rights or government sites on whether it is OK to rape someone. Isn’t it just preaching to the converted? (or is this just the complimentary website to an extensive broadcast – radio/tv – campaign?)

    (I had to wonder at one of the examples, could you even make that site in Australia without it falling foul of the ‘count teh shot glasses – its promoting binge drinking’ wowsers?)

  3. Bearded Lady said

    I don’t know. If you ask me it’s not radical ENOUGH. For my money, it doesn’t give a satisfactory definition of coercion and while it does place the blame squarely with the perpetrator, it also individualizes the issue rather than situating it within the context of male domination and patriarchy.

    Personally, think if we’re going to tackle sexual violence we need re-politicize sexuality itself, particularly heterosexual intercourse. (And yes that’s a reference to the much reviled and sadly misread radical feminist Andrea Dworkin). I mean, you only have to read something like Mia Freedman’s column for the Sunday Age last week (http://mamamia.com.au/weblog/2008/11/its-buisness-time.html) or Lynn Philips’ book ‘Flirting with Danger: Young Women’s Reflections on Sexuality and Domination’ to realize something’s terribly wrong. Part of the problem with educating men and women about rape is that the boundary between what’s considered normal and what constitutes a violation is so difficult to judge.

  4. Steven said

    @Bearded Lady – isn’t that missing what the article you’re replying to? that sexual assault is not something that can be neatly slotted into the “male domination” rhetoric, that it isn’t just a crime by men inflicted on women.

  5. Ardhra said

    It’s a good resource for the particular campaign, I think. Awareness-raising while pandering to particular mainstream trends, e.g. slick websites, young, thin models, soundbites of information.

    It would’ve been nice to see “being a sex worker” as “not an invitation to rape” as well, since sex workers get the whole gamut of stigmas attached to them and their entitlement to sexual autonomy.

  6. Bearded Lady said

    Steven: To clarify, I was replying to the website which focuses on (though not without qualification) sexual violence against women.

    In any case, the fact that men are also victims of rape does not invalidate the thesis that sexual violence is intimately connected and/or a product of patriarchy and male domination. That Barack Obama is president elect of the United States does not invalidate the claim that the US is a deeply racist society. While this doesn’t (and shouldn’t) trivialize the terrible abuses men have suffered at the hands of (male and female) perpetrators (or, for that matter, the landmark result of Tuesday’s election), you need to understand it in context.

    Women and children are still more likely to be victims of sexual assualt than adult men and perpetrators are usually male (for instance the Royal Women’s Hospital’s Centre Against Sexual Assualt reports that 97% of offenders are men). Moreover, despite the knee-jerk reaction I often get when I’m so audacious as to use the term ‘patriarchy’ without qualification or apology, I am not a misandrist. ‘Patriarchy’ does not just affect women but constrains the lives of men, too. The difference is that men are more invested in maintaining partriachy than most women because of the benefits they accrue.

  7. Bearded Lady said

    Links:

    http://www.thewomens.org.au/SexualAssault
    http://www.thewomens.org.au/SexualAssaultStatistics
    http://womenshistory.about.com/od/feminism/g/radicalfeminism.htm

  8. TrixyKicks said

    The website is a part of a nation-wide campaign that launched a few weeks ago in Scotland, primarily outdoor media (billboards, bus shelters, etc.)
    The campaign was headed by the same man who made a campaign in the states in the early 90’s with different images, but the same line: “This is not an invitation to rape me”.
    http://thecurvature.com/2007/12/28/not-an-invitation/
    The original campaign included images regarding sex workers, children, and women making advances on men. Admittedly, it did not address assault on men or transgender individuals.
    Rape Crisis Scotland contacted the non-profit in California that has the rights to use the original campaign and sought the creator to update and tailor the campaign to Scotland (hence the prominent use of white people, most of which are not models). As an anecdote, the girls featured in the drinking ad were photographed while drinking in their normal habit, the endless empty glasses are not props.
    I can only hope that this campaign will have a positive impact on rape perception in Scotland, currently only 3% of those accused of rape are convicted.

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