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Mumsnet campaign on rape and sexual violence

(169 Posts)
KatieMumsnet (MNHQ) Mon 20-Feb-12 16:12:17

Hiya

Following on from lots of discussions and requests for a MN campaign on this - we've been putting a bit of thought into how we can help and are planning on making getting a campaign going in mid March. Before this we'll get on with a survey, asking for Mumsnetters experiences, and working on a press release to raise the profile of the campaign - and hopefully tackling a few myths.

KateMumsnet's been collaborating with Rape Crisis and the End Violence Against Women coalition, and we're hoping to host a webchat during the course of the week.

Before we start finalising detail though, we really need your help.

1. The title of the campaign - 'I believe you' - I know was really strongly supported on here (and is popular with us too). But after a bit of discussion in the office, we were wondering if 'we believe you' is more effective - showing the collective effect of our campaign, and emphasising that we're not just lone voices supporting individuals? It would be good to have your thoughts.

2. Dispelling myths. What are the 5 most important myths to dispel (rape is usually by a stranger, victims are usually to blame) - suggestions really appreciated - we'll then source the best facts to prove them wrong.

And as ever - do let us know any other thoughts.

MNHQ

Prolesworth Mon 20-Feb-12 16:19:01

Glad to see this is happening.

Re: dispelling myths - please include the mythical idea that many allegations of rape are false.

Re: the name - I agree that 'we' sounds better than 'I' as a campaign title. I think the 'I believe you' slogan (thought up by Leningrad - credit where credit's due) is brilliant for, say, a campaign where individual people are pictured holding a sign or something along those lines.

TBE Mon 20-Feb-12 16:31:23

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Prolesworth Mon 20-Feb-12 16:33:39

Indeed, the slogan doesn't make a whole lot of sense as the title of a general campaign unless busting the myth of false allegations (being a common occurrence) is central. I think Lenin came up with it when we were battling against the coalition's anonymity for rape defendants proposal which was 'justified' by that particular myth.

FrothyDragon Mon 20-Feb-12 16:40:57

Prolesworth, that's a good idea.

There's a similar campaign running stateside, called Project Unbreakable, but it's from the victim's perspective. I think your idea sounds even better and less triggery.

MNHQ, I'm glad you are still going ahead with this. Had been a little concerned wrt lack of action on your behalf with a thread over the weekend. Can we extend the campaign to the boards, please? I'd like to see a zero tolerance from MNHQ towards victim blaming, regardless of how the community reacts to the posts. I think that's an important message to send out, no matter how much you dislike policing the boards.

5 most important myths to dispel:
1) Lots of rape claims are false - they're not. The stats sit at around 6%, IIRC.
2) Victims were "asking" for it, in anyway. - They weren't! Ever.
3) Rape is usually by a stranger - these account for 10% of rapes, IIRC.
4) You can prevent rape by doing x, y or z - this just leads to victim blaming.
5) A man being found not guilty of rape doesn't mean he's innocent. It just means there wasn't enough evidence to find him guilty.

Prolesworth Mon 20-Feb-12 17:23:16

It wasn't my idea in particular, just one of the ideas that came up when a campaign was discussed before (just after the general election).

Zero tolerance of rape myths on the boards is so important - walking the walk.

I would like to see something about the idea that rape is usually 'her word against his'. I'm not sure if this does count as a myth exactly but many people do seem to ignore the whole question of evidence - police failures to investigate properly being a key reason for lack of evidence in some (many?) cases, which is in turn (iirc) one of the key reasons for the high rate of attrition.

But rape crisis and EVAW will be totally clued up on all of this and presumably will be able to provide the necessary stats and so on.

allthequeensmen Mon 20-Feb-12 17:36:25

'We' is definately better.

I'm not sure I'm referring to a rape myth as such but I would like the campaign to look at the issue of women who have been prosecuted/ sued after her rapist has been found not guilty. I just can't believe this is allowed to happen.

nailak Mon 20-Feb-12 17:43:22

Writing from a cultural perspective, I would like the myths that there is no such thing as marital.rape, and the idea that a woman in a burka is less likely to get raped, women out after dark are more likely to get raped, drunk women are more likely to get raped, tackled.

trice Mon 20-Feb-12 17:49:18

Don't ignore male rape. I know it's a minority but if you don't mention it it will be all some people will focus on. Proper stats wouldn't go amiss.

KateSpade Mon 20-Feb-12 18:08:41

How about 'you didn't do anything wrong?'
Victims often blame themselves, when it's not their fault at all.

LeninGrad Mon 20-Feb-12 18:15:32

'I believe you' would work in terms of getting people to hold up placards, taking pictures and those being used to create a collage of support for example, you could do both slogans in different contexts maybe.

Fantastic you're running a campaign, the wall of silence around rape and sexual assualt and the myths that proliferate need to be addressed. Will be watching how it goes.

FrothyDragon Mon 20-Feb-12 18:22:37

The "her word against his" is another important one. It allows for so much speculation, usually "we don't know what happened", or something along those lines, leading, again, to the doubt being placed on the victim's testimony.

Allthequeensmen, I think that's something important to tackle. It sends out such a strong, anti-woman message. the case of Layla Ibrahim is one that sticks in my mind so much. sad

Nailak, that's another good point.

We also need to see the idea that rape is to do with sexuality challenged. I've lost count of how many times I've seen people claim that he must have been attracted.

LeninGrad Mon 20-Feb-12 18:28:14

For me if you show support for those who have been raped or sexually assaulted that is automatically addressing some myths. So hopefully you would get people doing something visible and active to show their support, people who have been attacked feel supported and others are made to think.

Haiku man might run us up some billboards.

Nyac Mon 20-Feb-12 18:36:57

It's great you're doing this, in particular using the "we believe you" slogan.

If you're doing a survey, make sure to ask the sex of the respondent (you probably don't need that mentioning, but just in case). Is there a resident Mumsnet sociologist who will be designing it?

nailak Mon 20-Feb-12 19:52:35

i also second the myth surrounding rape being a crime of sexuality when it is a crime of violence and control.

AlwaysWild Mon 20-Feb-12 19:53:56

So pleased you're doing this. I agree with other posters that mn needs to walk the walk and stop tolerating rape myths on the boards. That is what 'we believe you' is about to me. And agree policies need shoring up on this.

MarriedtotheMod Mon 20-Feb-12 20:22:20

My god, am so pleased to see this. I've recently reported a rape and it's in the early stages of investigation. It happened a long time ago which makes it difficult and has raised a lot of issues but have just started facing up and dealing with them. I have lots more to say on this so I'm just marking my place but I'll be back...

FrothyDragon Mon 20-Feb-12 20:39:07

Thinking of you, Marriedtothemod. You've done well reporting it. Hope it gets easier for you.

1. Rape only happens if you come across a rapist.

2. there is no such thing as a "point of no return" for a man. No means stop immediately

3. Your rapist is most likely going to be your husband/partner/boyfriend/friend ie someone you know well and trust. He probably wont be wearing a balaclava and hiding in a dark alley.

4. You do not ever deserve or encourage rape. No matter what your sexual history or what you are wearing.

5. It is not just women that are raped. Whilst women do make up the larger majority of victims men can also be raped

Actually scrap all of them.

the biggest myth of all is that rape is about sexual desire. It has nothing to do with lust love or attraction.

It is about power and control. Always. Every single time.

I think you should be careful about saying it's a myth 'that women are usually raped by strangers.' A lot of women are raped by strangers and it's no myth to them. Can it be worded more sensitively? Like, it's a myth that you can't be raped by your boyfriend or husband, or coworker or what have you?

I also have to disagree with Valar I'm afraid. I don't think it's possible to make universal statements about rape and what it's about. Sometimes it is indeed about power and sex, at least in my case I believe it was. Sometimes it's not about sex or attraction at all. But I don't think we should generalise.

omarlittlest Mon 20-Feb-12 22:16:14

Just another poster/ lurker who is really glad you are supporting this campaign. One of the saddest threads I ever read (maybe about year ago) on MN was about the sheer amount of women who had been raped but felt it was not only useless to report it but were fairly sure that the legal process would simply add to their violation. That thread haunts me.

BasilRathbone Mon 20-Feb-12 22:28:03

I would like some focus on men.

They are the ones who can actually stop rape. The best people to undermine the culture which allows rapists to rape and get away with it, are non-rapist men. If all the men out there who are not rapists, contradicted the rape myths which directly concern them every time they heard them - that there's a point of no-return, that sometimes it's hard to tell if a woman is consenting and a man can't be expected to refrain from penetrating a woman's body if there is any ambiguity about consent, that if a woman wears a mini skirt/ low-cut top/ flirts, kisses him, she has consented to penetration - that if she's drunk, she's consented to penetration - they would be choosing to dissociate themselves from rapists and they would be undermining the environment of enablement, in which rapists currently operate.

As well as undermining the support rapists currently get from society, this would have the added benefit, that it would become much easier to spot a rapist, wouldn't it? Because as soon as a man agreed that he gets all rapey when he sees a woman in a mini skirt and assumes she's "asking for it", we'd all know that - aha! - he's the rapist - because all the non-rapist men in the room, would be disagreeing with him.

This falls down as a rapist-spotting technique at the moment, because the majority of men who are not rapists, don't tend to contradict rape myths when they hear them, even though they know in their own life, that they're perfectly capable of stopping mid-shag or that they know perfectly well that if a woman is drunk, that doesn't mean they have the right to penetrate her body without her full and enthusiastic participation. Yet they don't speak out. If they did, it would be an incredibly powerful undermining of rape culture.

I'm not sure how it can be done, but I think it needs to be considered.

LeninGrad Mon 20-Feb-12 22:38:37

Beer mats with conviction rates and prison sentences on them would get attention.

Mostly though I think we have to support those who have been attacked and enable them to talk about this more. Many rapists get away with it because women also know/think they won't be believed so they don't report it.

Another idea was to have a mass 'report your assault' event, just to get it out there, find a way where people can report without having to take it any further. But have it acknowledged at least. You could 'match' it with the 'I/we believe you' idea but I appreciate that might be too much for one campaign.

Concerns about not being believed and myths about rape and sexual assault are at the heart of not reporting though so that's where the work needs to be done.

LeninGrad Mon 20-Feb-12 22:45:17

One of the biggest myths about rape and sexual assault is the common idea that women routinely lie about it, it's simply not true but it is remarkably effective in stopping women talking about their experiences. This is why a campaign should focus on stating that women should be believed in order to explode that myth.

Society used to say that children weren't to be trusted and were lying when they talked about the abuse they experienced, I don't think that attitude is true any more, the same needs to happen around rape and sexual assault for women and men (although I don't think men are commonly thought to be lying about their experiences).

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