When two high school football players were convicted of raping an intoxicated girl in Steubenville, Ohio, — after sending pictures of the act to friends and posting about it on social media — a significant portion of the backlash was aimed at the victim rather than her attackers.
Even CNN was criticized for empathizing with the two convicted rapists.
It might be the 21st century, but there’s still a tendency to blame the victim, be it for drinking or wearing a short skirt. The meme of targeting the violated as opposed to the violator has even made it into modern PSAs that are supposed to be anti-domestic violence.
We have collected eight recent ads that imply if a woman drinks or fails to cover up, then she is somehow asking for it.
The most headline-inducing recent example was when the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board released a series of posters showing a woman’s legs sprawled on a bathroom floor, underwear at her ankles, with the text, “See what happens when your friends drink too much?” They were later pulled.
We’ve also found a few anti-rape PSAs that get the message right, so there’s hope for progress.
The Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board pulled this ad in 2012 after a series of complaints that it blamed the victim (and her friends) for date rape. It implies if a woman drinks, she bears responsibility for being raped.
Another ad in the series read, “She didn’t want to do it, but she couldn’t say no.” This suggests the victim’s lack of control is to blame, or that not saying “no” (while catatonic) somehow leads to rape.
The Herts police department in the U.K. was criticized for the following ad in 2012. Its accompanying website reads, “Did you know if you drink excessively, you could leave yourself more vulnerable to regretful sex or even rape?”