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Sunday, 18 March 2018 05:15 pm

Why I love It’s Not Ok! campaign


PICTURE: Campaign Against Famliy Violence poster aiming the message in the right direction

THERE’S a new public awareness campaign in Wellington at the moment – billboards showing a group of chums out on the town with the tag line: “Friends make sure friends get home safe.”

They reminded me of a series of ads in the UK aimed at raising awareness about the dangers of taking unlicensed mini-cabs.

In the UK adverts, a group of girls, dressed up for a night on the town, totter towards a cab rank.

A dodgy cab driver offers one of the girls a lift.  She is reluctant, but then her girlfriends start to drag her, kicking and screaming towards the cab driver.

Cut to indistinct images of the girl struggling and crying as she is raped.

Cue tag line: If you let your friend take a mini cab you could be helping a rapist.

Subtext: Rape and rapists are inevitable.

Subtext: If you get into a situation where you may be raped it’ll be your friends or your own fault.

It’s not though.

Listen up.  This is important and no one seems to want to say this out loud let alone in an ad campaign or on a billboard:

The only person at fault in a rape is the rapist.
The only person at fault in an assault is the assaulter.
The only person at fault in a mugging is the mugger.

But are we ever likely to see the alternate advert in which the girl takes any cab she likes home and the tag line is “If she gets in your cab: Don’t rape her.”

Not likely.

That’s what was so strong in the Campaign Against Family Violence’s It’s Not Ok, adverts.

It addresses the perpetrators of the problem, and not the victims.  It puts the responsibility for the deed squarely on the shoulders of – shock of shocks – the ones who are responsible, the aggressors.

And it states simply and clearly the standards of the society it’s designed to inform: It’s not OK to take your anger out on your family.  It’s not OK.

Compare that with the message of the UK’s Cabwise advert, or even the Friends billboards: rape and violence are inevitable, if you get hurt it’s because you contribute to it.

This is what feminists call “Rape Culture”.  It is anything in society which enforces the idea that rape and violence are inevitable and victims are responsible for creating or avoiding the circumstances in which these things happen.

We like to think the days when a rape survivor could be accused of “asking for it” are long gone, but ad campaigns pointing out the ways in which you contribute rape or assault or muggings are saying just that:  If you don’t make sure your friend gets home safe you’re asking for it.

Well, it’s not working.  It’s not working and it’s not helping.

Madness is attempting the same thing over and over and expecting a different outcome.

The It’s Not Ok campaign recognised that.  It understood the issues, recognised what hasn’t worked in the past and aimed its message straight at the people who need to make the changes in their behaviour.

Because it is not ok to knock your family about.

And it’s not OK to rape or rob or assault someone because they just happened to be alone on a street late at night.


So when are we going to start telling the people who need to hear it most?

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is is a Whitireia Journalism student passionate about pop culture, loud music, comic books and the news. She blogs about gender issues, sexual harassment and violence at but isn't nearly as angry as that might make her seem. She secretly dreams of writing for Fangoria magazine, but would settle for a desk at The New York Times.
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