Anti-alcohol Abuse Ad Blames Rape Victims

Pulled: Pennsylvania's Liquor Control Board pulled two PSAs warning women of the correlation between heavy drinking and rapeBY ELIZABETH GYORI

Alcohol abuse and underage drinking are certainly problems faced by many teenagers and young adults across the U.S. We’ve all learned about the effects of excessive alcohol consumption in health class. With excessive drinking comes a decrease in motor skills, negative health effects on the liver, judgment impairment and the possibility of alcohol poisoning. We’ve also been taught that we should always watch our drinks at parties and to never leave our drinks unattended so that no one slips unwanted drugs or substances into our drinks. A new ad by the Pennsylvania state liquor board tries to warn young adults against alcohol abuse by linking excessive drinking with date rape. The ad was eventually pulled after an influx of criticism though.

Yes, that is a real ad that was OK’ed by a government agency to be run as part of the “Control Tonight” online campaign against alcohol abuse.

Not only is this ad very, very racy, but it also does nothing more than blame rape victims (who may have been drinking) for the trauma they suffered. Yes, drinking excessively can severely impair judgment and lead to regrettable mistakes. Yes, alcohol abuse can lead to a decrease in awareness of surroundings, making it easier for someone to slip date rape into your drink. And these are issues that must be addressed. But if someone is sick enough to slip date rape into a person’s drink and then rape him or her, it’s far from the victim’s fault that she or he couldn’t say no.

If Rape is an intentional choice on the part of the rapist, especially if the choice to use date rape drugs is involved. The PA state liquor board should be running ads that tell people to abstain from rape (or they could end up in jail), not telling women that it’ll be their fault they are raped while trying to have a fun and enjoyable night out. The fact that this ad even ran just goes to show how we really do live in a society that teaches, “Don’t get raped,” rather than, “Don’t rape.”

Beyond the victim blaming, this ad doesn’t account for the legality of having sex with someone who is intoxicated. The law states that you cannot consent to sex if you’ve been drinking. That’s the bottom line, no ifs, and’s or buts. If you have sex with someone who has been drinking, that’s rape and you could go to jail for it. Maybe we should be running ads with a picture of someone being put in the back of a police car and big, white, capital letters saying, “Sober consent: the only real and legal way to say ‘yes’ to sex.”

Finally, this ad makes it seem like only women are date raped and only women could possibly make irresponsible sexual choices while drinking. Date rape is not gender neutral. I’ve personally known men who’ve been slipped date rape while out drinking and I’ve known men who’ve been raped while drunk. Furthermore, rape is not only a problem in heterosexual relationships, but it is also an issue in gay and transgender relationships. Perhaps ads need to be more all-inclusive in order to make a real impact.

Date rape drugs, lack of consent during sex, rape and alcohol abuse are all pervasive problems that need to be tackled via a massive public education campaign and other initiatives. But we have to target the source of the problem when it comes to each of these issues. That is, people should be taught: Respect people enough to not slip drugs into others’ drinks; Consenting to sex while intoxicated is not consent at all; And rape is—to put it as simply as possible—bad.


9 responses to “Anti-alcohol Abuse Ad Blames Rape Victims

  1. If you are not shour that it is YES (and by shour I meen thay are in sober anuf to make a choes, thay are not skaid of saying no) then it is NO – If you have sex with somone and its not a YES its rape….. simpul, why do people not get this.

  2. Thank you for constantly putting the spotlight on the perp rather than the victim. Ads like this only help to continue a society of protection for those who rape and hurt. As a man who spends his life trying to be open and loving I thank you for helping turn the tide against those who hate and hurt.

  3. ok, i DEFNITELY DO NOT BLAME RAPE VICTIMS FOR RAPE, that being said, i don’t disagree with this ad being run.

    It’s not removing blame from the perpetrator, but it’s saying take steps to protect yourself which is a great message! if you get wasted (aka abuse alcohol) it could lead to you having sex when you would not have had sex sober, that is all this ad is saying.

    it’s not saying it’s not the rapist’s fault, but it’s saying it might not have happened if you hadn’t been drunk.

    i have heard people transfer blame to the victim and this is the most belittling and senseless argument, but i don’t think this ad campaign participates in this in any way

  4. It’s important for you to get all of your facts straight if you really want to be taken seriously. I think you make some really great points and whole-heartedly agree with your message, but you can’t just bullshit facts about rape laws without anyone noticing. There are no laws that say you can’t consent to sex if you’ve “been drinking.” If a man and a woman go out to dinner, split a bottle of wine, and go home and have sex, that is in no way rape. There should probably be some more concrete laws so women have more power to press charges when they HAVE been raped after consuming alcohol, but unfortunately that isn’t the case at the moment. Regardless, keep up the good fight.

  5. “show me a man who will not rape and I will show you a woman who has had a sex change” It is time that we meet men where they are instead of where we wish they would be. Men may place responsibiity on women because they acknowledge something that women do not want to accept, that most men will rape. It is not that men cannot respect a woman or even many women, it is just that they do not respect all women. These men are the so called “good men”. Then we have men who will rape if they can and will also create situations where they can rape. These men represent the rest of the male population. Perhaps men simply acknowledge that rape is as much a part of being male as is making war and making money. Is it possible to change the nature of the beast? Men clearly have concluded that we cannot.

  6. There’s another thing about this ad which I feel very uneasy about. The girl is obviously white, young, and has long legs which are considered stereotypically attractive. And you only see part of her body, in a very sexually suggestive pose. It’s almost soft porn!

    It falls right into the narrow media generated definition of what is attractive: young, white, slim. This coupled with the soft porn look gives me a totally ick feeling.

    And seriously, they’re saying that if you’re young, white, female and attractive that you can’t drink alcohol otherwise LOOK OUT you might get raped and then it’ll be your fault.

    Bollocks to that!

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