A response to: Vagenda - ""Don't get Raped" - An important message?" by Oli Rushby
I came across this Vagenda blogpost on the society’s Facebook page and it angered me to the extent of writing a response. It’s not often I’ll disagree with content published by Vagenda and of course everyone’s opinion is going to differ however I was baffled at the sheer ignorance this writer had displayed. The blog was written to defend a campaign run by West Mercia Police, “Safe night out”, which had come under fire by the F-word and many feminists on Twitter for victim blaming.
My biggest issue with the Vagenda article is that it claims West Mercia Police can’t be accused of simply victim blaming because whilst it seems the tagline puts “the onus of responsibility on the woman who has been raped” it actually doesn’t, because there is also a poster aimed at men... The poster aimed at men is absolutely appalling. It pictures a group of men having a drink together at the top and at the bottom it pictures a man in a police cell with his head in his hands, with the tagline “Don’t let a night full of promise, turn into a morning full of regret”. Yes, in a very loose sense this poster is saying “Don’t rape” - which is what I’d like to see from an anti-rape campaign however the way in which this poster is designed and the way in which the campaign focuses on sensible drinking, to me is suggesting that if a man goes out and gets really drunk, he’s putting himself in a position in which he may commit a sexual assault... Is this not blaming alcohol for the crime? Using intoxication as an excuse? I’m a 21 year old man and in my time I’ve had nights where I’ve been pretty drunk yet never have I felt whilst being so drunk that it’d be a fab idea to rape someone and I’m sure there are many men out there who will echo that.
“Don’t Rape” campaigns should stick quite simply to that message - “Don’t Rape”, because there are absolutely no excuses for committing a sexual assault. Our Students’ Union and Society ran a campaign last year in which stickers reading “This is not an invitation to rape me” were attached to the cups in which drinks are served in the Students’ Union. The campaign was really successful with positive feedback and I believe it’s creative but simple ideas like this that will really help to tackle the problem of men thinking it’s OK to sexually assault someone who’s drunk. Even more recently the society passed a motion within the Students’ Union General Meeting to apply for accreditation to become a Zero-Tolerance Union, a campaign initiated by NUS Women’s Campaign to show that Students’ Unions will not tolerate any form of sexual harassment within their establishments after a survey conducted in 2010 revealed a shocking 68% of women were subjected to sexual harassment during their time at university or college. Are these not better steps towards preventing sexual assaults than the seemingly thoughtless campaign by West Mercia Police?
It would seem the issue with the article posted on Vagenda was a knee-jerk reaction to feminist criticism of the “Safe Night Out” campaign. A reaction which does not seem to consider that the campaign run by West Mercia Police seems to be suggesting alcohol is an excuse for a man to sexually assault a woman. Vagenda seem to be jumping the gun a little, almost “Oh, it can’t be victim blaming, there’s a poster aimed at men too” without even considering the actual message the male-aimed poster conveys, which is basically “Don’t get too drunk on a night out, you might rape someone”. If I want to get really drunk on a night out, I will. Will I rape someone? No, because I’m not a dickhead.