I think the problem is that “Teach people in general not to rape but particularly the main perpetrator - guys” feels a bit wordy? I get that rape is a crime with no gender requirement, but complaining about this seems a tad… pedantic?
It isn’t though, for a few reasons. Teach men not to rape has thus far done absolutely nothing in terms of stopping sexual assault. Just like saying “Teach people not to murder” would not lower the murder rate.
Also, the belief that men are at all the main perpetrators of rape is simply not true. Going by the CDC NIPSVS, that is simply not the case. The issue is what we define as rape. In almost every country, rape is defined as “forced penetration”. What does this mean? This means that if a woman ties a man down, force-feeds him Viagra, and then enveloped his penis all while he is struggling to get away, she is legally not a rapist. The CDC did eventually respond to people noticing the gender-symmetry in perpetrators and said, “Well, women can’t rape so you are wrong.” This in and of itself is indicative of a really toxic mindset, one where we cannot see men as victims.
My point in bringing this up is that the original “Teach men not to rape” posters or the other “My strength is not for hurting” posters serve only to reinforce the notion that men cannot be victims and women cannot be perpetrators.
Calling out this sort of sexism is not pedantic, it is necessary. As a culture we need to recognize that men can be victims and women can be cruel. If a person says that we can teach men not to rape, it says two things about them:1) They see all men as potential rapists
2) They cannot see women as potential rapists
If all men stopped raping tomorrow, rape would not be over because women would continue to rape. These posters do nothing but demonize half the population for something a fraction of a fraction commit.
If you payed attention to the original campaign posters, there were several that included men in the potential “victim” position and women in the potential “rapist” position so no, they were not reinforcing the idea that men cannot be raped.
You are wrong. The only posters that featured that were anti-feminist posters that gender-flipped the original posters. That means that there is not a single poster in the campaign that acknowledged men can be the victims of women and only one that featured men as a victim.
The reason why this sort of campaign is necessary, and the reason why it’s so gendered, is because the general discourse around rape in our country is already gendered to the extreme. We spend all our time teaching women not to dress certain ways, not to go certain places, to act certain ways, etc. etc. in order to prevent themselves from being raped. It is assumed, in this discourse, that the rapist would be a man and that women are the only victims and most importantly that WOMEN ARE RESPONSIBLE IF THEY ARE RAPED BECAUSE THEY DIDN’T DO ENOUGH TO STOP IT.
The second thing you said is not the logical conclusion of the first. We do spend a lot of time telling women what they can do to help prevent victimization. The logical conclusion is not to continue to enforce the notion that only women can be raped. To put it to another issue, in America there is a general belief that black men are more violent than any other demographic. So let’s say I decide to start an anti-violence campaign. Because the general discourse is centered around black men being unusually violent, should I make my posters with exclusively black men in the role of “potential perpetrator”? Or perhaps, if I am making a high-profile campaign and know that black men are no more or less violent than any other demographic, I can use my power and influence to break the narrative of the violent black man. Or, you know I could stick with the status quo. Whatever’s easier, right?
Beyond that victim blaming is not nearly as huge of a problem that you make it out to be. I have seen people accuse victim blaming of cops for asking for details of the event in question. In almost every case, the rapist is seen as nearly unilaterally at fault. I would actually say campaigns such as “Men can stop rape” and voices such as yours are much worse for potential victims. What you reinforce is that when a victim chooses to come forward they will face nothing but ridicule. This is a dangerous mindset and will keep rapists out on the street.
This is the prevailing cultural norm that needs to be changed.
Men don’t talk about sexual assault at all, except when they hear people talking to women about how they’re “dogs” and “sharks” with no control over their actions. Men need to hear that they are responsible for their actions, because that’s not something they hear in today’s discourse.
I’m sorry, what? When men are the majority sent to jail for their actions, when women can get off on pedophile charges because “they didn’t know it was wrong”, it really leads me to ask “who really has trouble taking responsibility for their actions?” Also, are you implying that all men are responsible for what some do? Because if that is the case, then all women are responsible for trying to kill me, and not just that one. Or, you know, people who actually commit crimes are the responsible party and everyone else is absolved from guilt.
And do you think maybe the reason men don’t talk about sexual assault is because of the cultural norm of assuming male rape is funny (“Don’t drop the soap!”). I encourage you to watch this video and then come back to me.
Teaching people not to rape is not equivalent of teaching people not to murder. Because in murder, there is a clear line that everyone understands. If the person is dead afterward, you just murdered them. That’s hard to miss. But we ALMOST NEVER talk about consent and there is so much misunderstanding of it.
Then wouldn’t talking about consent be better than saying “Don’t rape!”? Because I agree that the real issue is lack of understanding of consent, but the posters do nothing to address that. Instead the reiterate the old idea of “Men are violent monsters who all want to rape all the time” and that just reinforces old and bad ideas.
My main point is that we have said murder is wrong for years. Literally thousands and thousands of years. But people still murder, even though we have been saying “Don’t murder” for millennia. Why is rape supposed to be different.
Is it okay to have sex with someone who’s drunk? Passed out? Who said yes initially but changed their mind? Who’s had sex with me before but they don’t want to now? Who doesn’t want to but I spent so much money on them on this date? The answer to all of these is, of course, no. Absolutely flipping not. But too many people DON’T KNOW THAT. THAT is why it’s important to teach about consent. TOO MANY PEOPLE DON’T KNOW
The drunk one is ambiguous at best. Are we talking about blackout or just tipsy? What if both parties are drunk? Who is the rapist then, or is it mutual rape, where both people are the rapist and the victim? Changing their minds and continuing to go is rape, but there is a case of a man being labeled a rapist because the woman said stop and three seconds later he did. Is that rape? Nothing in life is clear cut. Please do not talk about these things in a simplistic way, they are most certainly not.
In a world where images of romance in the media (especially if it involves a cool manly man like James Bond) have questionable consent at best and are straight up rape at worst (I’m looking at you, Skyfall) but no one sees a problem with this, CAMPAIGNS THAT TEACH PEOPLE NOT TO RAPE ARE IMPORTANT
If your critique is “Well you should include some posters teaching women not to rape, too” then I say “Absolutely, you’re right. Let me point you to some places that do just that.” If you’re critique is “IT’S SO SEXIST TO IMPLY THAT MEN RAPE PEOPLE HOW DARE YOU TRY TO TEACH MEN NOT TO RAPE WHY DON’T YOU JUST STOP TALKING ABOUT IT YOU CAN’T TEACH PEOPLE NOT TO MURDER” then no. You’re wrong. And you support rape culture.
It is not sexist to imply men rape people, it is sexist to imply only men rape people. That is what the poster is about. Men cannot stop rape. Neither can women. The best we can do is teach men and women about consent and teach men and women how to defend themselves and hope than as few get raped as possible. But if you cannot see the problem with blaming all men, if you cannot see why it is sexist to presume that men are violent and sex hungry, then you are part of the problem.
The campaign is sexist and needs to end. Women are 40% of rapists and they are not recognized at all. All the MCSR does is reinforce the idea that men are perpetrators and women are victims. If you cannot see why that is wrong and sexist, there is no use talking to you.