Too often in our culture we are exposed to “humor” that suggests drugging someone (which includes deliberately getting them wasted drunk) in order to take advantage of them is, at times, acceptable. This “humor” is tragic, especially since we know that there are thousand upon thousands of women (and many men) in the U.S. who are raped every year with drugs and/or alcohol being their attackers weapon of choice.
This last week I heard a radio advertisement–undoubtedly designed to be “controversial”–on a popular Clear Channel radio station in San Diego. The ad is from a company called, the Anti-Gym. They’ve been criticized for MANY of their ad campaigns, several of which refer to overweight people (in particular women) as “cubbies.”
While I find this company and its ads offensive, I think the fact they are running this type of ad reflects a larger cultural problem…namely our beliefs that drug-facilitated rape doesn’t really happen or isn’t serious, that men cannot be raped because they’re men, and that there are some circumstances in which it is acceptable to tease/joke about sexual violence.
So here’s the ad. Have a listen.
Now I’m not sure how you feel after listening, but I was, to say the least, SERIOUSLY disturbed by the ad. First, this is just another example of advertisers in the health/beauty industry helping women hate their bodies no matter what their bodies look like (so they can then sell them more stuff to “fix” the bodies they’ve been taught to hate). Yet what REALLY disturbs me about this ad is the way that it makes light of sexual violence. What in the world is this ad trying to say? That it is okay for women who can’t afford the Anti-Gym to use drugs/alcohol to rape men? That it’s okay to support your friend’s body issues even when they tell you they’re considering DRUGGING THEIR DATES!?!? This ad not only fails to denounce such ideas as negative, illegal, or immoral, it actually suggests that sexual violence is an acceptable consideration when someone is desperate because they do not feel physically attractive or appealing enough.
How many times must we be exposed to the idea that sexual violence is, at times, acceptable?!?! How many times will our culture repeat the idea that there are some excuses for an act THERE SHOULD BE NO EXCUSES FOR!!!
Now I recognize that at no time in this advertisement does someone say, “it’s okay to rape,” but the idea that drugging someone to facilitate rape (yes, rape, because it’s no longer sex once you’ve drugged them) should be seen as silly, playful or funny, is actually dangerous. I don’t mean to imply that someone listening to this ad will rape; what I mean is that this ad, along with a culture full of other ads/ideas like it, creates a space where those people who do rape can think that what they’re doing is acceptable, and people who are raped can think that it’s their fault for not “knowing better.”
Bottom line…this ad is dangerous for ANYONE living in a culture where people can hear it, and not be bothered by it.
Together We Can.