Last summer, the city of Vancouver started putting up a series of provocative posters in bars and taverns, whose purpose was to reduce the rate of sexual assault.
Now, of course, when reading that, what you’re probably imagining is you’re standard bit of victim-blaming boiler-plate, telling women not to leave their drinks unattended and so forth. Not this time, though: this time the posters were aimed, primarily, and men and essentially told them not to rape unconscious women.
Now, the statistics are in, and (while correlation does not necessarily imply causation) the rate of reported sexual assault in Vancouver is down by ten percent.
To me, this seems like it should have been pretty fucking obvious to begin with. I mean, given that any sexual assault involves two people, only one of whom (definitionally) has a say in whether the assault is going to take place, is it really that surprising that targeting a message towards the people with agency over the assault is more effective that blaming the victims for their inability to not be victimized?
The standard objection to this line of reasoning is, of course, that “telling criminals not to commit crimes is never effective!” This argument, of course, brazenly overlooks the fact that a lot of perpetrators of sexual assault don’t even realize that they’re committing a crime, because a lot of guys are shockingly unfamiliar with the nuances of consent; moreover, we now have empirical evidence that it is, in fact, effective.
I look forward to seeing this campaign spread to other Canadian cities.