New ‘Men Can Stop Rape’ Ads Rock

Men Can Stop Rape has a new ad campaign and it is pretty great. When we go on and on about how rape prevention ads should be targeted at men, this is what we mean.

Let’s make anti-rape culture, the new culture.

These ads are smart and a welcome relief in a world where women are often blamed for sexual assault. We need messages that address the different ways we can stop sexual assault. These ads certainly do that.

Is everyone going to have a positive response to these ads? Probably not. The ads may not have an impact on everyone who sees them. This does not mean though that we should not support these types of ad campaigns or criticize them for not being perfect. This is definitely a big step in the right direction.

I want ads like this everywhere, all the time.

Join the Conversation

  • Sylvia D. Lucas

    This is fantastic. The potential impact of growing peer pressure on potential rapists to not be physically aggressive has to be more effective than standing by. Nothing to criticize, here.

  • Chavez

    “When Simon said he couldn’t stop texting Michelle, i said ‘You can do better'”

  • Mighty Ponygirl

    Another nice thing about this ad campaign is that it tacitly underscores that
    people we like
    people we would like to think well of
    our friends, even
    can get up to shit that we would like to think that people we approve of wouldn’t get up to. And maybe they’re not actually ‘bad’ people, they’ve just got their head up their ass and they need a friend to pull it out and say “WTF ARE YOU DOING” before they do something truly bad. That just because we have “vetted” a person insofar that we have befriended them, doesn’t mean that are friends would automatically make the same moral choices that we would.

    That’s an important foundation that needs to be laid to stop the culture of victim-blaming. “Jason couldn’t have raped Mary, he’s not like that” is not always the case. Jason might need the help of his friends to not be like that in the short term, and if his friends keep on him about Not Being Like That because they know he can, then eventually he might TRULY Not Be Like That.

    • Daniel

      Freaking YES.

      Very well said. And I want these posters everywhere.

    • unequivocal

      Another nice thing about this ad campaign is that it tacitly underscores that
      people we like
      people we would like to think well of
      our friends, even
      can get up to shit that we would like to think that people we approve of wouldn’t get up to.

      That is a really awesome and seldom highlighted point.

  • Ali

    I think that the ads in principle are a good thing but the “I called her to try and shake off a drunk guy” seems so monumentally out of step with how these situations work in the real world; a drunk guy isn’t going to be deterred by you ignoring him by taking a phone call.

    The male side of rape culture is something I’ve put a lot of thought into recently as just today I offered to walk a young woman home who was a bit out of it (It feels strange writing young woman as I’ve just turned 21) which got me thinking about previous times when I’ve given the same offer to women in a vulnerable state. I think something that people need to recognise is that it disturbs, angers and even upsets men to have this presumption of their capability to commit the act of rape at any time as it’s something they would condemn in a heartbeat and wouldn’t consider themselves capable of. The problem is that stating both “Everyone is capable of rape” and “not all men are rapists” are rather redundant sentences despite being true. There is a jarring moment when you have to hold both of those statements together to truly represent a healthy approach to rape culture that doesn’t demonise the stranger on the street nor pursue the victim after some imagined ‘leading on’.

    What these posters do well is address the fact that articles posted here in the past have dealt with that it’s often someone known to the victim that perpetrates the crime. The problem is it’s unrealistic for women to suspect everyone close to them as potential rapists so these poster campaigns are good for putting the burden of responsibility on single instants and everyone around at the time.

  • think tank

    Such an awesome ad!

  • Hari B

    I’m glad to see an ad campaign like this, and hope to see more (and ever-improved) like it over time. It’s got to become ‘the coolest thing’ for men to speak out against all forms of abuse in their male friends/companions–the manliest thing ever, to actively support the creation of a society where womyn are safe from men’s violence and men no longer believe it’s ok to perform–or support, whether overtly or tacitly–violence against womyn.

    My 8th grade son and I are in process of discussing a school situation that touches on this very issue. Unfortunately, it’s not about a young man he is friends with (unfortunately, b/c friends have more influence than strangers or enemies upon us)….but it is definitely a situation where he has the opportunity to help stop 2 male classmates’ harassment (including but not limited to sexual harassment) of a female classmate. Because my son and a total of 5 others are in an in-classroom group project together, he sees the abuse of this young womyn every day. And is clear that even if she may refuse to resist or get help on her own behalf, it bothers him too much too ignore–partly b/c he hates to see her subject to this, and hates to see the 2 guys acting that way. He hates it as well b/c the situation is so harmful to the group’s performance of the project itself–since the 2 guys’ harassing behavior is persistent throughout the whole class period every day.

    Anyway–a teachable moment, as they say, an opportunity to discuss why it’s important for bystanders to respond to hateful behavior, and most especially why it’s important for men to take a stand against male violence against womyn, if we want to create a better world for us all. We are sorting through options for how he can address this in an effective enough way that does not put him in too clear a position for having the shit kicked out of him, OR, for presuming to ‘rescue the damsel in the distress’ and thus furthering the whole dynamic by furthering her sense of being a victim in need of a Good Man’s Rescue from the Bad Man. It’s complicated stuff, but he is a smart, aware kid who is up to the job of sorting through the boundary-and-respect issues, and courageous enough to do something (thanks at least in goodly part to his courageous feminist mom who raised her kids to be aware of this stuff and to know that action is important in this life! Not to mention, he hasn’t quite reached the stage of needing to reject mama in order to individuate…which time is not far off but I’ll make good use of whatever time we have left that he is still open to me! LOL)

    Anyway, I’ll be sharing this link with my son. Partly to show him that I didn’t invent the idea of men standing up against violence against womyn…partly to help serve his courage by showing him he’s not alone in wanting to take action. So, thanks for posting this.

  • Meredith

    I have two young sons. This is exactly the kind of message I want them to learn. I’m putting this up on our fridge.

  • billy williams

    I don’t see how a rapist is going to care what these ads teach.

    • Kat

      My impression was that these ads are intended to motivate men to call out misogynistic, potentially rape-y behavior in each other, not that they are stritly aimed at rapists. The rapists who have on average six victims each- if they are self-aware enough, the hope is that these ads would shine a light on their own transgressions, yes- but the ads are more for the friends of those rapists, inviting them to condemn the rapes and thus make rape culture less socially acceptable one group of buddies at a time. There are far more men whodon’t rape than there are who do, so even if this ad isdisissed by every rapist, it will still have a huge impact if the rest of the “good men” internalize the message.

      • Kat

        “not thatthey are *strictly* aimed at rapists”
        “far more men *who_don’t* rape”
        “even if this ad *is_dismissed* by every rapist'”

      • billy williams

        Not sure how misogyny has anything to do with rape(it’s about power & control)-And calling out behavior won’t stop a rapist, And why not aim them at men & women?-That would make more sense.

    • Ilona

      Some men don’t realize what they are doing. Sad but true. I dated a guy who would frequently ignore me if I said I wasn’t in the mood. It was a horrible experience. I honestly don’t think he had any idea how horrible it was for me, though. I don’t think he realized he was doing anything wrong.

  • Hari B

    billy–“I don’t see how a rapist is going to care what these ads teach.”

    Very glad you mentioned this, it’s an important point. Ads like this will do nothing to impact the behavior of hard-core rapists–to invent a term here, with consideration of a real continuum of what Kat calls ‘rape-y behavior’.

    There is a culturally/patriarchally embedded notion of men’s dominance over womyn that is played out in every aspect of our lives. What I have seen is how this plays out in the behavior of men, especially in younger men (most overtly) in terms of the way they talk about womyn (and sex) with each other, and in the ways they communicate verbally and non-verbally with womyn. A man might not turn out to be a violent serial rapist suffering from the deepest forms of power-issues that are played out as overt sexual violence against womyn who are strangers to him. And almost any man can become, very much in concert with male approval of ‘rape-y behavior’, someone like Herman Cain (to name one recently-noticed example) who simply leans into male privilege and male ownership of womyn, to impose corrupt sexual attention and behavior on womyn.

    And this kind of ad campaign, I think, does have potential to help men do 2 things: 1) to become more aware of their own ‘rape-y behavior’ as rapey behavior! That is, as a real violation of womyn’s privacy, personal wishes, and sexuality–an attitude of privilege and possession leading to acts that are violations of womyn–acts performed very much against their will (even unwanted messaging). If a man can see his attitudes and acts through this lens, he then has the opportunity to consider whether that is the kind of man he wants to be….or at least, whether he wants to be SEEN that way by anyone else. Which could modify attitudes…or at least actions, which is a start. I can tell you as a survivor of a man’s 3yr siege of violating comm and other acts, I wouldn’t have given a good goddam if his actual ATTITUDE had changed in the least, if at least his ACTIONS had changed. With him, in the end, his actions did change–and it was largely because even his formerly most loyal devotees started to see him for what he was and fall away. Not to mention that I was no ordinary ‘victim’ and fought tooth and claw to eject him from my/family’s life, using every legal and overt as well as (hmm, in the *strictest* sense) legal and subversive, overt and psychological tactic I could think of (most of which subversive/psychological tactics HE taught ME). But I/family paid a very high price for my battle–consequences of which we live with even now, 10yrs since we’ve heard from him. Consequences financial, as well as social and emotional–for the fight to stave off the even worse harm he would have exacted upon us if I’d let him ‘win’ (we had a child, talk about an opportunity to inflict a forever kind of harm) was so severely isolating and otherwise wounding. Kind of like choosing between standing in the line of rifle fire and jumping into crocodile infested waters: you might well avoid the bullet to the brain, but will almost certainly lose flesh to the crocodiles even if you live!

    And this kind of ad campaign, 2) gives men simple but powerful comm tools to deal with their mates if they choose to. Not all men are rapists, no. But all men who refuse to refute ‘rape-y behavior’ in their mates, do SUPPORT violation of womyn with their their joking about their mates’ behavior, their willing entry into rape-y or objectifying commentary about womyn and their other forms of approval, as much as by their SILENCE. As I mentioned before, my son is currently dealing with this kind of situation at school. He was glad to hear a phrase as simple as “she’s just not that into you, let it go”–not that he necessarily thinks it will work, only that it’s expanded his range of ideas about what someone in his position might say to a violater of womyn. And again, whatever a man’s actual attitudes are, well there’s nothing for getting the babes to love on you, and the guys to maybe think you are a special kind of manhood to emulate, like at least SOUNDING as if you refute rapey behavior!

    As for the kinds of changes involved in ending the manifestation of hard core rapists in our culture–well that is a much deeper well indeed. That will require much deeper, more comprehensive changes in our culture than any ad campaign can hope to touch. So I don’t see this campaign as any sort of panacea…but it’s at least a small step in the right direction. That, I can get behind.

    • billy williams

      Herman Cain didn’t harass anyone. & if sexual harassment & rape-y behavior is about male privilege, then what about cases of man on man,woman on woman, and woman on man harassment & rape? -Rape & harassment are about power & control not “Male Privilege” -These ads aren’t going to stop anyone,-Not just that but it’s common knowledge that if you see someone who needs help, you should help someone,-Do you really think that men turn to posters when thinking about helping or ignoring someone in danger? No, I don’t think so. Not just that but why not aim these ads at men & women? Women are faced with these types of situations a lot more then you would think, Why not make it aimed at men & women ending rape?–That’s where i call BS.

  • Georg Williams

    What about boys and men who were raped and molested by women? If you think “blaming the victim” is bad. Imagine people saying you wanted it and you were lucky to be raped/molested. 86% of the victims of female sexual predators aren’t believed, so the crimes go unreported and don’t get prosecuted.

    Why do you see this as something only men do? Women aren’t morally superior to men. We’re all people and by default morally degenerate.

    • unequivocal

      and by default morally degenerate.

      Erm, what?

      Listen man, I’m sorry that you apparently live in a world where the majority of the people you interact with are amoral, immoral or downright malevolent, but I’d like to assure you that that is not the default state of “people.”

      Why do you see this as something only men do?

      No one here sees this as something “only men do.” We just realize that statistically speaking, rape is perpetrated by men more frequently, and therefore it makes sense to (finally) have a campaign aimed at men.

    • Ilona

      You are absolutely right that the rape of males by females is a serious issue which is widely ignored. Perhaps the campaign should add ads with various gender pairs, to reiterate that pressuring anyone into sex is wrong, regardless of gender. That being said, fighting against the “blame the victim” culture is important, which this campaign is doing.

  • Hari B

    Georg–feel free to start an ad campaign to address something you see as a real problem. Me, I’ll stick with supporting this ad campaign, because regardless of the (non)issue of moral superiority, rapists are vastly more often men; their victims are vastly more often womyn. Also, I’m a womyn and this is a feminist site that chooses to focus on issues likely to be important to womyn and the men who support the deconstruction of patriarchal culture. But I suspect you know the stats on rape already; as I also suspect you know that there have been in big news stories in recent years of the prosecution of womyn who have sexually abused minor boys (womyn teachers w/middle- or high- school boys). I suspect you are just one of those guys who simply CAN’T STAND IT that now, womyn (and some supportive men) have spaces where we speak openly about problems for womyn in this culture…and who simply MUST say “but but but what about the PORE MEN?”.

    • billy williams

      I think he’s just pointing out that these ads ignore women who do it & what’s the harm in including that?

  • Shelly

    I work at a library. I came up with a way to automate about 3/4 of the cataloging process for about 90% of our collections. Should I not pursue this project because it doesn’t address 100% of the process for 100% of our collections? This is an ad campaign addressed at a specific population to address a specific part of a complex, widespread problem. When dealing with complex, widespread problems, a segmented, targeted approach is almost always the best approach, particularly when compared to doing nothing but fretting over the lack of One Perfect Global Solution — which can be paralyzing — which is where the harm is in comments such as the above, which only see their specific trees, nevermind the forest. Good on ya’ll, MCSR. Keep up the good work.