Three cheers for a police-led campaign that doesn't victim-blame!
In recent years, rape prevention campaigns run by Britain's police forces haven't exactly given off the best impression. With slogans such as "Don't be a victim" and "Don't let a night full of promise turn into a morning full of regret", they've done little to dispel myths that women are the ones at fault for whatever might happen to them and absolutely nothing to address potential perpetrators. Indeed, it's been alleged that it would "offend men" to target them with such campaigns.
Feminist "Hell yeah!" of the week therefore goes to The Association of Chief Police Officers in Scotland, for its new "We Can Stop It" campaign, launched today. Highlighting changes in the law brought in by the Sexual Offences (Scotland) Act 2009, its aim is to raise awareness that there are a range of circumstances in which consent is no longer considered to be present. These include the victim being asleep or unconscious, or being intoxicated through alcohol or other substances, and also male rape.
"We Can Stop It" uses images of young men alongside hard-hitting statements about consent, as well as a video, in the hope that they will prove positive role models for men, encouraging them to change their behaviour and prevent rape. It's a positive campaign that focuses on men without taking an accusatory tone and for once, doesn't target potential victims.
Assistant Chief Constable Graham Sinclair, commenting on the launch, said:
"The tone and language of the campaign marks a significant shift in approach to raising awareness of sexual offences legislation, and I hope that it will help remind men that they are in complete control of their behaviour.
"There is no doubt - we need to work together to stop rape."
It's obvious that there are still serious changes of attitude needed when it comes to recognising what consent actually means. It's just a few weeks since George Galloway disgusted everyone thoroughly with his defence of Julian Assange, claiming that while he considered sex with a sleeping woman "bad sexual etiquette", he didn't think it amounted to rape. A spokesperson for Rape Crisis called his remarks "offensive" and "deeply concerning".
The campaign website includes statistics about rape and consent with a view to busting common myths about the act, such as highlighting that most rapes are carried out by someone known to the victim, often even a partner or spouse. It explains the concept of consent, including the fact that it can be withdrawn, and gives men an eight-point checklist of things they can do to help, including "Stand up for your beliefs", "Be supportive", and "Speak up".
"We Can Stop It" is supported by Rape Crisis Scotland, an organisation that has done some great work attempting to stop victim-blaming and challenge stereotypes. Here's to more campaigns like this one and less of the victim-blaming attitude from our police forces.
Hannah Mudge writes about all things news and feminism-themed for BitchBuzz, and is currently adjusting to life as a new mum. You can also read her blog, We Mixed Our Drinks or follow her tweets as @boudledidge.