Pennsylvania Public Service Announcement Blames Rape Victims

6 comments
Feminism, Media/Media Criticism, Rape/ Sexual Assault, Sexism, The Courts

Rape reporting, prosecution, and conviction rates across the country are appallingly low, but it’s easier to get away with sexual assault in some places compared to others.  Pennsylvania is one of those places. In Pennsylvania, expert testimony isn’t allowed in the courtroom.  Instead, jurors frequently rely on abundant, harmful rape myths.

We shouldn’t be that surprised, then, that earlier this week the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board (PLCB) aired an ad plainly promoting the idea that women are to blame for being raped.

Pennsylvania PSA

The ad shows a young woman sprawled on what appears to be a bathroom floor, underwear down at her ankles, with the caption, “She didn’t want to do it, but she couldn’t say no.”  The victim blaming here couldn’t be any clearer, right down to the illogical language suggesting that the victim both had agency (she is to blame) and lacked agency (because she couldn’t say “no”).

Crafted by the Neiman Group, this ad was part of a larger $600,00 campaign — two years in the making — to raise awareness of the ill effects of drinking.  Several different themes were proposed, but this was the “winner.”  Another ad in the same campaign holds a rape victim’s friend responsible for her rape.

The PLCB pulled the ad campaign in response to hundreds of messages from concerned citizens, some of whom claimed they were traumatized by the image/message.  However, a statement from the PLCB shows that those in charge still don’t comprehend the problem:

“We feel very strong, and still do, that when we entered the initial discussion about doing a campaign like this it was important to bring the most difficult conversations about over-consumption of alcohol to the forefront and all of the dangers associated with it—date rape being one of these things.”

The PLCB is right that alcohol and “date” rape (a term that trivializes rape) go hand in hand, but not because women are responsible for the criminal actions of the approximate 6% of men who perpetrate this crime.  Instead, perpetrators exploit cultural narratives — like the idea that intoxication = miscommunication and that “date rape” isn’t “real” rape — to repeatedly commit this crime.  In a recent study of college students, 4% of men were found to be serial rapists; they committed an average of 5.8 rapes each.

Sexual assault is committed by perpetrators.  Ad campaigns like this ensure that rape/sexual assault will continue to be the only crime in which society treats the victim like a perpetrator.

6 thoughts on “Pennsylvania Public Service Announcement Blames Rape Victims”

  1. She may not have wanted to do it had she been sober, but alcohol impaired her judgment. That’s what alcohol does, in both sexes—remember the warning label on beer bottles: “After a couple of these, some women may appear more attractive than they actually are.”

    • julia says:

      Whoa! some women may appear more attractive than they really are? Way to say that its a woman’s fault for being attractive to a man, whether real or not, and therefore he is biologically unable to resist. Yes the woman may have been drunk but guess what? If men really are the stronger species maybe they should take control of their actions and think of others well being like the husbands and fathers and men that you are supposed to be, not “the lazy full of excuses and lack of responsibility” generation that men are today. I mean, why do men get raped and not women? Because anatomically, women don’t have the ability to block off their organs whereas men don’t have the openness and vulnerability of a female organ. So if men want sex, be more of a man and don’t steal it from someone. I can’t BELIEVE you just said that. IF your daughter got raped, would you say “well you do appear more attractive to men whem they drink.” Teach your SONS not your daughters. And secondly, women associate sex with love while to men it might be just an easy lay. Grow a pair.

  2. KittieFox says:

    But what about the women who are drugged? Cause I have heard of times where the girl was drinking JUST juice and the guy distracted her while his friend dropped something into her drink. Meaning no alcohol involved. And once she passes out, she can no longer say no. Does that make it ok? Pathetic, the guy should be the one in trouble!
    Oh and does that mean the 9 month out who was raped bloody, and the 6 month old who got an STD were willing cause they didn’t say “no”?!?! Just cause a girl can not say no does NOT mean she was “willing”. They should go by if the girl said yes or agreed! These guys should NOT have any rights once they take what they were NOT told they could have!

  3. No doubt a man thought to use that image on the ad as well!
    The words used make me angry. They only enhance the viability of rape to those 5% of sociapathic men who do this! Idiotic ad!

    They could have got the message across and scarred the s*** out of men and women about alcohol, rape, pregnancy and disease! How about a man behind bars and a woman having an unwanted pregnancy!

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