A French organisation against sexual assault, Contre le Viol, has released a poster which pictures sexual assault as a means of encouraging women to sign an online petition (the poster may be NSFW, depending on where you work). The poster states:
“75,000 (French) women are raped every year. Rape: the shame should switch sides.”
I find this poster anything but empowering. In fact, it makes me outright uncomfortable. And I would argue that I don’t exactly need to feel more uncomfortable about rape. I’m pretty sure I’ve …
… already solidified it in my mind as a terrible thing – I don’t need assistance in making it stand forefront in my mind as something I’d like to not have happen to me.
If the goal is to get women to report sexual assault, I would argue that confronting them with an image of a sexual assault is in no way going to make them feel empowered. This can only conjure awful memories for women who have been assaulted, and I can only imagine some poor women sitting on the subway, trying to advert her eyes from this poster. I can even see being moved to tears by it.
So if the poster renders ineffective for women, then what does it say to men? Well, the pose held by the woman in the poster isn’t exactly what I would think representative of a victim of assault. A woman in that position would likely be trying to claw the bastard’s eyes out (I know I sure as hell would). Her pose is somewhat helpless, and I can’t see men viewing women as helpless-flail-abouts in need of someone to punch their attacker’s lights out as a helpful message. If the idea behind the poster is really about switching the blame, then shouldn’t the attacker be the focus, and not the victim (I understand it would be hard to find a model who would be willing to have their face splashed across posters advertising them as a rapist, but I’m sure if they can find actors to play herpes victims in commercials, they can find a guy willing to play a rapist)? I’m sure the image will at least make men feel uncomfortable, but I am really hoping they were already uncomfortable with the idea to start off with.
What do you think? Does this poster make you want to go online and sign the petition?