Slate and Feministing are both singing the praises of a new ad campaign from Men Can Stop Rape targeted at a young, heterosexual male demographic to take a stand against rape and sexual harassment. These ads succeed in addressing common situations where a man can easily step into prevent violence against women. As Slate points out, while this type of ad could easily veer into a white knight saving the damsel in distress paradigm, they do not remove any power from the woman in question but offer men a simple way of helping to prevent a potentially dangerous situation. In reference to the ad featured above at left, Slate says:
The woman in question is neither left alone in a risky situation nor controlled by a presumptuous hero. Rather, she is invited to partner with a concerned male friend in making her own decisions, and everyone involved is allowed their agency.
Men Can Stop Rape’s campaign offers men an alternative to acting as a passive bystander. Rape and assault are not always the product of explicit violence and these ads recognize a far more common situation where women are susceptible to harassment or assault. The ad campaign addresses a near everyday reality for many women in the form of street harassment; the image pictured at right asks men to take a perhaps very difficult but very simple role in preventing this kind of harassment. Street harassment, while not as easily recognized as a form of assault as it is not physical, is still an overwhelming problem which violates a woman’s right to access a public space. To call out a friend for participating in such behavior requires a certain amount of courage and the campaign is very progressive in asking men to take a stand against such a widespread activity. Asking young men to alter rape culture amongst themselves is an almost unseen but welcome and necessary approach to preventing sexual assault.
Taking an active role in preventing sexual assault is easier said than done, for anyone of any demographic, but in viewing these ads maybe more young men wil feel they can do so in their everyday lives.
The Where Do You Stand? Campaign [Men Can Stop Rape]
New ‘Men Can Stop Rape’ Ads Rock [Feministing]