I had to watch it like three times before I completely understood the accent, but unfortunately the scenario itself is not so foreign. A sexy woman is enjoying herself at a party – drinking some wine, laughing, being fabulous, maybe flirting a little – and a male bystander (presumably a stranger) seizes the opportunity to interject that her skirt indicates that “she’s asking for it.” The viewer is left to make an obvious observation:
Um, asking for what, dude? Asking for another drink? A stick of gum? Directions to the Scottish Parliament?
The short PSA illustrates the absurdity of the “asking for it” rape myth while placing due gravity on its pervasiveness. Yeah, the guy’s an idiot, but he’s also engaging in a pattern of violence, and the real problem is that our culture condones and encourages his violent behavior.
The “asking for it” myth is so deeply ingrained in our rape culture that it’s become second nature to most of us. Sexual violence is treated as an inevitable consequence of certain behaviors, and, when you think about it, that’s a pretty effective way of maintaining social control over women and other disenfranchised groups. We’re frequently asked to surrender our rights to even the most basic of human freedoms in order to avoid being victimized. Don’t live in that part of the city, you’ll get raped. Never walk alone at night, you’ll get raped. Don’t talk to strangers, wear revealing clothing, leave your doors or windows unlocked, take drugs, drink in excess, take public transportation, travel alone, or sleep around – because you will get raped. The list of don’ts goes on and on, each rule wildly impractical, blatantly inconsistent with actual statistics related to sexual assault, and specifically crafted to distract us from the culpability of rapists. Why do we have entire dossiers on How to Not Get Raped and no guidelines for How to Not Rape People? We need a cultural revolution.
I can just imagine the headlines:
Police warn rapists against crime.
Campus leaders urge students to engage in consensual sex.
Why is that message so absent from discussions of sexual assault? Why focus so much time and energy on training women to avoid danger while men walk around with carte fucking blanche? In thousands of ways, our culture has conditioned us to anticipate rape as a natural consequence of violating social norms. Rape myths serve to keep women out of the public sphere, and rape culture wants you to believe that the only safe place for a woman is her kitchen.
You have the right to live your life however you like without being subjected to violence. You have the right to live without fear. And no one has the right to violate you. Ever.