The videos drive home an important point about the stigma surrounding sexual assault
Did you know only 20% of female student sexual assault victims report to law enforcement? That statistic alone is one of the many reasons It’s On Us launched in 2014 as a national movement to end sexual assault.
In a new PSA, the It’s On Us campaign nails why the notion that sexual assault survivors are in any way to blame for their abusers’ actions is completely illogical and absurd. The videos were released earlier this week, on the 23rd anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act, which was written by none other than Joe Biden during his time in the senate. The act expanded the amount of services and shelters available to victims of sexual assault all over the country.
In the video, we see a baker putting the finishing touches on an exquisite wedding cake when a hotel employee strolls in. She shoves her fist directly into the cake and begins eating. “It looks so delicious,” she says. The baker stands by, utterly taken aback at the lady’s crude behavior.
When he voices his objections, she blames him for her actions. “You were the one that made it so tempting,” she tells him. “Tahitian vanilla icing and pretty little flowers? It’s like you were begging me to taste it.”
It’s On Us released three PSAs in total, all unique presentations that drive home the same point: enough with the victim blaming.
Johanna Stein, co-creator of the PSAs along with her husband, David Gassman, tells Scary Mommy that the idea that “people should not be held responsible for acting on an uncontrollable urge” infuriates her. So she wrote these sketches to demonstrate what happens when you apply that kind of logic to everyday situations.
“My mouth may water when I walk into a candy store, but that doesn’t give me license to grab a handful of chocolates and jam them in my mouth,” she says. “And then blame the clerk for having put the candy there in the first place.”
Were you drunk? What were you wearing? Why did you put yourself in that situation? These kind of questions take the blame directly from the perpetrators and put it squarely on the shoulders of victims, which just discourages victims from reporting their assaults to law enforcement.
Welcome to the sexual assault stigma, everyone.
Is it a tongue-in-cheek way to address the similarities between this video and the horror of sexual assault? Sure. But it’s the exact same argument and logic — or lack thereof — that so many sexual assault victims hear time and time again.
“So far the reaction has been great,” says Stein, who hopes to create more PSAs like these. “They’re really resonating with people, not just college students, but with pretty much everyone.”
The current It’s On Us campaign is right on time: Just last week, Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos announced plans to review the protections put in place for campus sexual assault survivors under Title IX. Which basically boils down to DeVos feeling that accused campus rapists should have more rights.
It really is on all of us now to stand up to the stigma of sexual assault and victim-blaming. Thanks to organizations like It’s On Us, there are plenty of ways we can take action and become part of the solution. Whether that means hosting campus events, taking the pledge to join their movement, or making our own PSAs, it’s on us to do whatever we can to promote the importance of consent, intervention, and survivor support in instances of sexual assault.
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