This spooky advert has been all over the place, sometimes I see it several times an ad break thanks to online streaming services like 4oD. With this campaign, I see a lot of promise, and a lot of progression in how sexual harassment and rape are handled. However there’s one incredibly huge glaring problem, which is really a symptom of a much larger problem within society.
The ad runs through scenarios, and examples of sexual assault, harassment or rape. Things like “If you turn to violence when your girlfriend disagrees with you” and “If your boyfriend’s telling you how to dress”. Examples of which, understandably, some people are not aware of being abusive. To which I congratulate the advert for tactfully trying to approach educating and informing people what does and doesn’t constitute a bad thing. In this respect it did really well, in my opinon.
The problem is that the ad places absolutely zero focus on male victims of sexual assault, harassment and rape. It’s as if there’s no such thing, according to the UK Government backed campaign. Whereas, according to RapeCrisis.org – “12,000 men are raped each year”. Bearing in mind of course, these are only the men who have come forwards. These are the ones who believe they can get help and there could be thousands of more men who cannot come forwards.
Campaigns like the above do not make it any easier. The advert is effectively telling us only women can be raped, and only men can be rapists. Where does that leave male rape victims? Without any idea of how to get help for any psychological distress they are going through. With no support, or even belief in the ability for them to be raped. They are fighting their demons alone while the rest of the world refuses to believe they even have a problem.
I’m not the only one to have touched on this campaign, people all across the internet are hounding the advert as sexist. A petition calling for the ad to be removed has been circulating and reached almost 1,000 signatures. Even despite a lot of people seeing the negative implications of this campaign, there are still people who defend it. Quotes like “Well, to be fair, it’s overwhelmingly women who are victims of male violence.” and “Why do you think it’s sexist OP? It isn’t a matter of opinion that almost all victims of dv are women. It’s fact.” can be found on websites like Mumsnet. These are things actual people think. That rape doesn’t matter enough to have air time if the victim is male, and they are partly informed by the media they have around them. The coverage of male rape victims is vital to address the misconceptions many people have; that men can’t get raped. They can, and it is just as horrific as when it happens to women.
Annoyingly, the UK Government have worked to address male rape and aid victims in crisis before. They did it really well, within a campaign called #BreakTheSilence. This was only a few years ago, and although this advert is from the perspective of actors speaking about the fictitious rape of their character on screen. It highlights a lot of key points about the rape of males. Men are vulnerable to rape. Men do not always want sex. They do not experience less or more trauma than female rape victims. Being a male rape victim is not a positive experience. And finally, sexual orientation doesn’t matter.
The Disrespect NoBody campaign needs to be pulled and taken back to the drawing board. Women aren’t the only victims of rape, and men are not the only perpetrators of the crime. Rape doesn’t care what gender you are, and we shouldn’t care what gender rape victims are – they are people, who have gone through something horrific. All they are asking is for our help, lets not forget to leave the door open for them.