“Identify situations in which sexual assault may occur.
If you see something, intervene in any way you can.
If something looks like a bad situation, it probably is.
Get someone to help if you see something.
Get in the way by creating a distraction.”
The White House’s flashy new bystander intervention campaign, It’s On Us, makes sexual assault sound a lot like a bad thunderstorm — unfortunate, inevitable, striking seemingly out of nowhere, and devoid of human agents. The solution, then, is easy and comfortable: “Identify situations in which [a-tornado-I-mean-sexual-assault] may occur” and guide your friend to safety; remember: “If something looks like a bad situation, it probably is.”
Gender-based violence is not like the weather. It has direct, immediate human agents and is structural and systemic at its core. But the new campaign de-politicizes and de-genders sexual assault, portraying it as an easy-to-avoid problem solely between individuals, and making perpetrators out to be vague “someones” who do “something” to other “someones.” In reality, perpetrators are disproportionately likely to be men and their victims are disproportionately likely to be women (particularly queer and trans women, women of color, and women with disabilities), queer men, and gender non-conforming folks. Read More