Founded in 1974, the Women’s Center was established to:
Dismantle, from a feminist perspective, all forms of oppression, including but not limited to those based on ability, age, class, ethnicity, gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Advocate for an equitable environment free from violence and harassment based on gender, race, and sexual orientation.
Create an anti-racist, non-sexist, queer-affirmative space where all people can feel valued and safe.
Facilitate and strengthen connections among people across lines of difference through programming and educational campaigns.
Integrate an appreciation of Women's Gender and Multicultural Studies across the disciplines.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

A Better Way!

     As some of our faithful readers may remember, over a year ago I wrote one of my first blogs on a very important topic here in the Women's Center: victim blaming. Advertising campaigns that intend to put a stop to sexual assault may be counter-intuitive when they use victim blaming as a measure of prevention. Such shaming words and images may make the number of reported crimes go down, but this is more likely due to a sense of shame about the assault on the survivor's part, and probably not an actual decrease in crime occurrence.
     I see the feminist mission branch out in two directions on this subject: make information and resources readily available to survivors of sexual assault and prevent assault from happening in the first place through education about consent. Advertising campaigns like the one I wrote about last time accomplish neither--they put the responsibility of preventing assault on the shoulders of the wrong people, and such a retrospective attitude about how assault can be prevented is ridiculous. (What I mean by "retrospective attitude" is the belief that after an assault has occurred, the survivor could have prevented it by making different choices in the past about their outfit, route home, drinking habits, etc and they should have been thinking whether or not this choice could result in an assault later on.)
     But there is still hope! In 2011, Vancouver posted much more reasonable public service advertisements:

"Just because she isn't saying no, doesn't mean she's saying yes. Sex without consent=sexual assault. Don't be that guy."

     I'm not saying this advertisement is perfect. It still presents sexual assault in a strictly gendered and heterosexual way. However, it was never too much to ask for a preventative campaign that does not blame those who have crimes committed against them. That may finally be here! Since this was two years ago, and Vancouver did experience a 10% decrease in rates of reported sexual assault crimes, perhaps it really is effective and will start to permeate the larger culture. A broader understanding of consent is something the entire world could use a double dose of, and the unfortunately small text "sex without consent=sexual assault" is, in my opinion, the most effective part of this ad.

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