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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

BasilRathbone Mon 20-Feb-12 22:47:34

God yes Lenin.

A sort of "amnesty" but in reverse - for women who have been raped, who have never reported, a massive awareness-raising campaign for them to call a number, to report their rape and talk to someone about it, on one day, like Comic Relief, but knowing that they didn't have to take it any further if they didn't want to. And then to publish the numbers.

But I bet most wouldn't get through, because the lines would be engaged. sad

LeninGrad Mon 20-Feb-12 23:05:39

Would have to be internet mostly, committing to phone support would be difficult without funding and organisation but the usual support orgs would be listed.

It needs all of it doesn't it really. People really do lose all common sense when it comes to rape and sexual assaults - of course rapists lie about it, they will say anything, the most preposterous nonsense, it's in their interests to lie. The balance is tipping in terms of conviction rates, reporting rates need to be improved though.

I actually like the "I believe you" better, hard to explain why but I think it's partly that using "We" assumes the person you're talking to is part of the "we" but therefore might turn off some of the not-so-sure people, who are I guess the ones who need their mindset changing?

I think it depends though what the main intention(s) of the campaign will be. Is it mainly about supporting victims, or about improving conviction/reporting rates, or about changing attitudes, or making potential rapists think twice (or all of the above)? That slogan would work for some of those but not others.

As for myths, I think many of those already mentioned are very important - non-stranger rape, dress/alcohol/flirting being "asking for it", false allegations.

But depending on the focus of the campaign, if part of it ends up being about supporting victims I would like to challenge the myth that they "should have done more" to stop it - it's well known by experts that women will often freeze and feel unable to fight back during an assault, for example, but as it's not more widely known it seems as though many people either blame themselves for not shouting/fighting/whatever, or feel that it "wasn't rape" because they weren't physically forced or threatened. So this could help to reassure them that this is normal and it was in no way their fault.

I also like BasilRathbone's post above, and this reminded me of a campaign I think someone linked to on here a while ago - it was a regional campaign I think, aimed at changing men's attitudes, with a slogan something like "don't be that man" or something, and I thought it seemed very good. Anyone know what I mean?

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 20-Feb-12 23:17:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

StewieGriffinsMom Mon 20-Feb-12 23:18:10

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

I agree with Basil that men need to be targeted, but I disagree that all the 'non-rapists' are not challenging rape myths. I can't think of any male friend of mine who would not immediately challenge someone who said 'oh she was asking for it' or some such. I think the problem is more that loads of men actually do believe these myths and that is why they don't challenge them.

I don't know how you convince men not to believe these things. Rape culture has a lot to answer for but I don't imagine anyone is going to do anything about that anytime soon.

FrothyDragon Tue 21-Feb-12 01:09:00

Ditto SGM's post.

Dreamingbohemian, I didn't read Basil's post as saying that all "non-rapists" are not challenging rape myths. I read it as saying the men who aren't doing so, should be. And I agree. But then I think everyone hearing rape myths should be challenging them.

But who are the men not challenging myths when they hear them? At least in my experience, it tends to be the men who also agree with the myths anyway.

That's just my experience though. Maybe you're right and there are lots of men who don't agree but don't challenge either.

I would like to offer my support for this campaign. It is a very important one and has the potential to be truly groundbreaking in its approach.
I have no real preference for we over I it he slogan. I think it will be brilliant whichever you go with (congrats Lenin!)

For my tuppennoth on the rape myths, I would echo what has already been said, especially those who advocate the need to emphasize that rape is not about sex or sexual desire, but about power. One person thinking that they should be able to override the opinions of another or inflict violence on another just because they are in a stronger position and thus able to do so.

I would also like to see emphasized the idea that there is no "typical" rape victim. That no one looks like a rape victim. There is only one common factor is all rapes and that is the rapist.

FrothyDragon Tue 21-Feb-12 05:59:54

I know quite a few, dreamingbohemian.

Was on a college course a couple of years back, discussing women in the army, when someone said "well, if you're a woman going into the army, you're kinda asking for it." hmm

One person challenged it. Out of a class of 15. And she's posting here now. There were 5 men in that class, as well.

I'm glad to see this, too.

I think most of what I would have added is already here, but IMO the most important myths to discourage are the "doing x, y and z will stop you from being raped-the power is in your hands!" like the posters in pub toilets saying to watch how much you drink etc is appalling and places blame with victims and lures other women into a false sense of security. Thus also making it harder for them to come to terms with should they be assaulted or raped "but I followed the rules..."

The fact that false allegations are so, so much lower than the general public believe needs to be up there. I saw a blog where it was compared with car theft, which was higher (as in people lying about having their car stolen) It might make people think a little?

Finally I do wish rape wasn't regarded as a so called sexual crime. It is violent--a violation--and needs to be treated as such.

AlwaysWild Tue 21-Feb-12 07:39:11

It isn't always violent though. It's about power. But that can be coercion rather than violence.

And I agree re the lack of challenging rape culture. The 'banter' about getting her drunk so you can get your leg over for instance. I don't hear men challenging that en masse.

StewieGriffinsMom Tue 21-Feb-12 08:26:51

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

mousymouseafraidofdogs Tue 21-Feb-12 08:54:12

I would prefer the 'I believe you - we believe you' in combination.
as in individuals who work with the victim and society as a whole.

good myths posted above, nothing to add.

I'm really pleased to see this campaign taking shape.

I think 'I believe you' / 'we believe you' could work well together in different contexts. I also agree that MNHQ should be deleting victim-blaming posts.

WRT rape myths, most of the ones I can think of have already been mentioned although I'd like to add that there are no 'degrees' of rape.

Also, I'm not sure if this is a rape myth as such but I'd like to see challenged the idea that men can't control themselves / must have sex or they'll explode / have a right to sex.

LineRunner Tue 21-Feb-12 09:07:01

I hate seeing juries expoited in the courtroom by defence barristers who claim that if the victim can be shown to have lied about anything, ever, just once, then the jury has to accept that she's a liar. And that she therefore is not a credible complainant.

What person has never, ever told a lie or made a mistake?

Prosecution barristers rarely have the same latitude with the accused.

This is really important and explains why quite a lot of rapists 'walk'.

Victims aren't perfect - not should they have to be to get justice.

ballroompink Tue 21-Feb-12 09:10:15

Great that you are doing this. As has been mentioned further up the thread, part of it definitely needs to focus on busting the myth that a large proportion of rape claims are made by lying women who are either regretting sleeping with a man or seeking to 'get revenge' on him and 'ruin his life'. The false accusation rate is no higher than it is for any other crime yet thanks to the tabloids and popular narrative surrounding rape, people's automatic reaction seems to be to talk about rape in terms of 'all those women who lie about it'.

loads of good stuff on here smile

i would add that there needs to be heightened awareness that rape is violent. people seem to talk about rape where someone doesn't get punched in the face as if it was somehow not violent. the very act of forcing yourself onto/into someone is violence against them. it's not sex you know? it's rape which is a violent act.

if they also punch, kick, cut etc the victim that is rape plus assault of whatever degree. there's not 'nice rape' and 'violent rape'. rape is rape and is violent and if someone also commits other crimes in the process these will also be charges in addition to the rape.

there seems to be a lot of muddle about this in people's minds whereby they start classifying some rapes as worse than others. rape is rape. gbh is gbh. one adds on to the other rather than qualifying it itms. we and a jury don't have to consider was it an especially violent rape or not, just that it was rape. other crimes in addition eg: abh, kidnapping etc are additional crimes, the absence of them doesn't make the rape less of a rape.

sorry - not sure i've been at all clear but hope it makes sense. actually hope someone more articulate than me will come along and put it very clearly in a couple of sentences for me! (usually happens)

totally agree that we need to focus on challenging this prevalent idea (encouraged by the coalitions rapist anonymity furor) that lots of women make it up. there are stats out there on how it compares to false reporting of other crimes that are helpful on this.

being both a rape victim and having sat on the jury of a rape trial i can tell you that you are almost advised not to find the man guilty.

At the end of the trial the judge gives a little speech and tells you that rape is not about just having sex without the woman wanting to, but the man must have believed that she meant no.

that still haunts me now. That a woman can say no. Can prove that she said no, yet he could still get off because the jury have been told he didn't believe that she meant no.

I had a very similar discussion to this recently. sadly myself and a male colleague were arguing with another male and female colleague.
They were of the opinion that women who dress provocatively or who get drunk were somehow to blame if they were raped. I think that much of their viewpoint came from their very strong religious views. (one catholic one muslim)

I was both cheered by the strength of my male colleagues argument against such myths, he is usually considered a bit of a womaniser and i was very pleasantly surprised by his responses. And saddened by the highly intelligent caring and compassionate woman i work with holding such opinions.

It isn't always violent though. It's about power. But that can be coercion rather than violence.

It absolutely IS always violent. they are forcing penetration. they may not punch or hit their victim but the very act of rape IS violent.

Kveta Tue 21-Feb-12 09:44:11

great idea for a campaign, and totally agree with the 'we believe you - I believe you' message.

agree with the myths too - especially 'there are no degrees of rape', and that a rape is a rape, but sometimes can have other crimes on top of it.

It's very sad though that a campaign is needed to encourage people to believe rape victims - rather than a campaign to try and prevent rape occurring. I know the latter has been tried before, but it strikes me as wrong that this is a campaign to support victims of crime rather than prevent occurence of crime - it shouldn't be needed. Unfortunately, it is very necessary though sad

SardineQueen Tue 21-Feb-12 09:46:52

Very much in support of this campaign and just marking place really, great posts on here smile

mousymouseafraidofdogs Tue 21-Feb-12 09:48:17

valar that is shocking regarding the courts. did the rapist get convicted in your case?

sadly not mouse. I argued for hours that she had made it clear she wanted to stop. But it was a date rape. She had initially agreed to kissing/cuddling etc.
They held her underwear up as evidence to prove that she was "intending for sex" simply because they weren't giant white things.

i felt sick the entire time.

Eventually i got a bit of a telling off for wasting everyones time and i am ashamed to say that i agreed to vote not guilty. sad

That poor womans face haunts me still. I can only hope that my voluntary work with Rape crisis has in some part made up for that.

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