Edmonton’s new rape prevention ads should be everywhere

The Edmonton police department is out with more anti-rape posters that are just as good as the first ones they released a couple years ago.

"It's not sex when she's wasted"

Between Edmonton’s efforts, the recent ads from Men Can Stop Rape, and those Scottish ads from a couple years ago, there are plenty of examples of how to create an anti-rape campaign that doesn’t actively support rape culture–and may actually help prevent sexual assaults. 

As the Edmonton campaign website explains, “Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to and increases self-blame in survivors. Instead, the SAVE campaigns targets potential offenders – ultimately the ones who hold the power and responsibility to end sexual assault.”

This campaign should serve as a model for everyone. If you’re considering creating rape prevention ads remotely like this one, think again, and please follow Edmonton’s lead instead.

Atlanta, GA

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director in charge of Editorial at Feministing. Maya has previously worked at NARAL Pro-Choice New York and the National Institute for Reproductive Health and was a fellow at Mother Jones magazine. She graduated with a B.A. from Carleton College in 2008. A Minnesota native, she currently lives, writes, edits, and bakes bread in Atlanta, Georgia.

Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing in charge of Editorial.

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  • http://feministing.com/members/pomosapien/ AJ

    It’s a strong campaign, but as I think I’ve said before, I take issue with the whole “rape is not sex” thing even though I know it’s a fashionable definition right now. My main objection is that some survivors of rape most certainly construe their experience as sex, and trying to define it for them in this way could be a means of silencing their voices on the matter, but more troubling is the possibility that someone who is quite sure that what she had is, by her own reckoning and perception, sex, but didn’t consent to or want it, will then conclude that it therefore couldn’t possibly have been sexual assault since it was (to her) definitely sex.

    • http://feministing.com/members/lindsaynh/ Lindsay

      Rape is not sex – it’s violence. If you were hit over the head with a frying pan, would you call that cooking?

      • http://feministing.com/members/somethingelseawesome/ Something

        strong campaign. but your example seems a little confusing.

        I’m not agreeing or disagreeing with your point – rape is wrong, period. However, using your example, hitting someone over the head with a frying pan would be violence only, when infact, hitting someone with a burning-hot frying pan while tossing vegetables in it would still be cooking – just really, really wrong and violent cooking, no? The item still get’s prepared for consumption. I feel terrible being so clinical about this, but wouldn’t it still technically be sex because the physical act still occurs, (much like the vegetable gets cooked) just really really wrong and violent sex?

        This, of course, all relies on a very clinical and arguably cold definition of sex as the act itself. For the record, I’m not trolling, I’ve just never had this exact convo with the difference laid out before. It seems like a tough logical pitfall to cross. And as we all know, proper conversations and education are key.

      • http://feministing.com/members/davian/ Davian

        Being hit with a frying pan is assault.

        Rape is sexual assault.

        Cannibalism = eating somone.

        Cannibalism = the (somtimes) rape of the food world.

        Rape is by definition a sexual act just as Cannibalism is a culinary one.

      • http://feministing.com/members/miriamclaire/ Miriam

        I don’t think this is a good analogy: it’s not the violence that makes hitting someone with a frying pan not-cooking, it’s the fact that nothing gets cooked. I don’t think it would be incorrect, even though it would be -awful- to call *actually cooking someone* cooking. In my opinion, part of what makes rape rape is that it is sexual. It is awful, violent sex, but I don’t think of sex as a value-laden term. And it is the sexual nature of rape that makes it as awful as it is.

        • http://feministing.com/members/newman28/ Amanda

          The argument for “it’s not sex” language in the ad is parallel to “all carrots are food, but not all food is a carrot”. All rape involves sex. But not all sex is rape. So to would-be perpetrators, the message is you can’t hide behind the “it was just sex” line. It was rape-sex. That’s my take, anyway.

      • unequivocal

        Rape is not sex – it’s violence.

        This is like saying “threatening someone isn’t communication – it’s violence.” These are not either/or situations. Rape is, almost by definition, forced or unwanted sex. That isn’t to say it isn’t also violence.

        In any case, AJ makes a very important point by noting that this attempt to define rape as “not sex” may in fact be removing agency from survivors, silencing them, or even resulting in them deciding that what they experienced wasn’t rape, since they didn’t parse it as “violent.”

        All of these are legitimate considerations that probably deserve something more substantial than a flippant “getting hit with a frying pan isn’t the same as cooking.”

      • http://feministing.com/members/pomosapien/ AJ

        All word definitions are subjective. In this case, it seems most appropriate to defer to survivors of rape to say what rape is and is not. Some would definitely consider rape to be sex (this has nothing to do with it being “good” or “okay” or in anyway mitigating its awfulness — sometimes the “Rape is not sex” assertion seems to stem from an unspoken assumption that sex must be positive or pleasant or desired; none of those things are inherent in the definition of sex) and some would not — maybe no one should be making sweeping declarations either way, is what I was trying to say. Don’t tell other people how to define their own experiences.

  • http://feministing.com/members/nicolep/ Nicole

    I live in Edmonton, and unfortunately haven’t seen any of these ads yet. Or the time before. Hopefully they will be widespread, as I think they send a good message.

    Unfortunately, our Edmonton Police have just started their own campaign against domestic violence, and I’ve seen those posters and commercials. I haven’t been able to articulate why I don’t like them, or what is wrong with them. I just know they don’t sit right with me. Maybe someone could help me put it into words? It’s strange that one organization does such a good job while simultaneously another is putting out a campaign like the one I link to below.

    Info in the link below.


  • http://feministing.com/members/fistdeep/ Nancy

    the problem i have with this ad is why is she in the mens bathroom in the first place?