The Scottish police department and advocacy groups have launched a new anti-rape public awareness campaign that–hallelujah!–is not targeted at potential victims.
The “We Can Stop It” campaign is focused on raising awareness of a couple changes in Scottish law. The law around rape and sexual assault now specifically revolves around consent–and specifies that if consent was given but then withdrawn, that’s still rape. It also includes male victims in the legal definition for the first time. And the campaign drives home both points–emphasizing that “sex without consent is rape” and recognizing victims of both genders.
More broadly, the campaign ”asks you to take responsibility for your knowledge and pride in your attitude” and is rooted in a belief that ”together we can stop rape. To that end, the site has a robust section called “what you can do” that goes well beyond the basic “take responsibility for your own actions and don’t rape anyone” (which should really be the bare minimum here) to actively questioning rape myths and masculinity norms and intervening as a bystander and being supportive of survivors.
We’ve written about a number of great anti-rape efforts that take direct aim at perpetrators and the rape culture that enables them in recent years. And one of the main differences between those campaigns and the awful victim-blaming ones that simply give women advice on how they can supposedly avoid “getting raped,” (in addition to the fact that the former tend to actually be effective) is that they don’t treat rape as an inevitability. In my opinion, this idea that gendered violence is natural is one of the biggest myths that helps perpetuate the status quo.
As the Scottish campaign’s tagline asks simply, “We believe together we can stop rape. Do you?”
Maya Dusenbery is an Executive Director of Feministing.