Remember when I was praising the Edmonton Police Services for its revolutionary anti-rape campaign? Apparently, the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department didn’t get the memo. Sigh.
Check out this tweet posted on Dec. 22:
When you click on the video, you get this:
The video now shows a literacy program but if you click on their youtube feed you get the original PSA featuring cast-members from Fantasy encouraging women to, “Be smart. Don’t let your friends leave with a guy they just met. You never know what their intentions are.”
Okay. Deep breath. Let me tell you why this PSA is problematic.
This campaign is yet another example of those so-called well-meaning public awareness campaigns that reinforce victim-blaming rape culture (like this). And what I mean by victim-blaming rape culture is the idea that women are responsible for being raped. We see this all the time with judges who tell women that they have not been raped because their pants were too tight to get off; that pregnancy can’t occur in cases of “legitimate rape;” or when pundits blame service women who are raped for, essentially, being there. (If they weren’t there in the first place, they wouldn’t get raped!)
In this case, Metro’s PSA fosters some of the same-old tired rape culture ideas: (1) All men are rapists (they can’t help themselves); and (2) bad girls get raped.
Look, I am not against the buddy system. And I do believe that all people — of all genders — should be on the look-out for anyone who is trying to take advantage of them or hurt them in any way. There are predatory people in this world. Watching your back is smart. But putting the responsibility solely on women is a bad way to go. We can encourage people to make smart decisions in their lives without using guilt trips or tired sexist stereotypes.
You can do better LVMPD. And the people you serve deserve better.
**UPDATE 12/27/12: The LVMPD tweeted me this morning saying, “I do see that when [the video is] previewed on Twitter’s page, the wrong thumbnail shows for the vid. Must be glitch on Twitters part.” They then told me they are deleting the tweet. But that doesn’t really fix what’s wrong with this tweet! The real problem is the idea that the responsibility for rape is solely on women’s shoulders. If a woman leaves with a strange guy, then she’s asking for it? No way, LVMPD!