What Exactly About Sexual Assault is Funny?

**Trigger Warning**

The following ad/picture has been circling around the internet since the end of March.  It has taken me a while to be able to post about it because I could not trust myself to keep from lapsing into an angry tirade.  While I am still extremely upset I have been able to sit and think on it for a while.

The ad above was originally posted on Belvedere’s Facebook page.  It (immediately) started receiving criticism, and rightly so.  The company took the ad down and tweeted an apology:

First of all this apology is incredibly passive considering the ad.  The ad is using date rape, sexual assault, and violence to promote vodka.  Sorry you were offended hardly cuts it if you ask me.  The apology also borders on “victim blaming.”  It implies that safe and responsible drinking can prevent rape and sexual assault.  The fact that the offender and/or the victim were drinking has nothing to do with it.  People are raped because the rapist makes the decision to rape someone.  A woman, because most survivors are women, should be able to walk into a room full of men, completely naked, and never be touched by another soul.  People are responsible for their own actions.  Always.  Blaming it on alcohol or the victim is completely unacceptable.

A study was done a while ago on college students.  Read the whole study called, “The Undetected Rapist” here.  The researcher, David Lisak, found that the perpetrators (in this case upper class men) basically “groomed” their victims.  They would find younger, and vulnerable freshman girls who often didn’t have any friends yet, and cozy up to them.  They built up their self-esteem and invited them to a party.  At that party they got the girls really, really drunk and then raped them.  The fact that alcohol was involved is not as important as the fact that they whole thing was premeditated.  To an outsider it just looks like they were drinking and got “carried away.”  This is not the case, the male student had been planning to sexually assault the female for weeks.  In fact, one interviewee in the study reported that he was upset with with woman when she started to struggle and protest.  He had worked hard to get her to that point and she was messing everything up.  He felt entitled to her body and sex.  That makes me sick to my stomach.  For a rapist is not about sex, it is about power and control over the victim.  Period.  The perpetrator will use exactly the amount of violence that is needed to keep the victim “compliant.”  This is what is known as escalatory violence.  In other words a sexual assault or rape may not be violent because the victim is not struggling.  That does not mean that she could have gotten away though.  The perpetrator matches her struggles with the level of violence.

Knowing all of this then, what about it is funny?  What could possibly make the above ad ok?  Nothing.  Using humor and sexual assault to sell anything is not okay.  As I followed the story of this ad it turns out it was a screen shot from a parody video and the actress had no idea it was being used in the above fashion.  Way to take non-consent to a whole new level Belvedere.  She is suing the company, and rightly so.

The ad promotes sexually violence and a woman’s terror as being funny.  It is perpetuating rape culture.  She couldn’t possibly haven’t meant no.  Ever heard, “no means yes, and yes means harder (or anal)?”  There are all kinds of articles out there teaching men how to turn a no into a yes…  Does anyone else see something inherently very wrong with this?

This ad, even though it may have been a practical joke, by no one of importance in the company, is dehumanizing and misogynistic.  The woman is obviously terrified and uncomfortable and he is laughing about it.  It doesn’t matter if it was a legitimate ad or not.  Someone thought it was funny and tried to use sexual violence to sell a product.  I hope the individual responsible was found and promptly fired.

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