You’re Either Going to Love or Hate this Rape Awareness Campaign

You’re Either Going to Love or Hate this Rape Awareness Campaign

Once again, men's efforts to combat sexual assault on college campuses have turned into a strange fashion colonization effort. First, this summer, there was the rape nail polish introduced by male undergraduates at North Carolina State University; now some students at DePaul University in Chicago are in hot water over a crop of oddly worded anti-rape T-shirts.

The shirts sport the logo "Consent the D" — with "D" apparently referring to DePaul, not, er, something else. They represent the latest example of a well-intentioned but deeply unhelpful approach to raising awareness about sexual assault. Unsurprisingly, the shirts have divided students, with some denouncing the shirts as tasteless and offensive.


Source: Facebook

Consent the D is a self-described "nonprofit, pro-consent movement started by a DePaul University student, to raise awareness about sexual violence, generate funds for a nonprofit fighting sexual violence and make a statement during this critical time." According to the school's student paper, the nonprofit will donate half of the T-shirt proceeds to Chicago's Rape Victims Advocates.

In a CBS interview, Consent the D's founder, senior Randy Vollrath, described the movement as an "empowering alternative to a culture of lack of consent," and said the goal is "to create a culture of consent where consent is put as an absolute requirement for all interactions."

Source: Facebook

On the surface, this campaign seems like a positive development in light of the nation's campus sexual assault epidemic — the embodiment of Yes Means Yes, proactive consent policies sweeping across college campuses. But this is not the case, as several students have already articulated.

"I am appalled that these men are profiting from the activist work women have been doing around sexual assault on campus for years," one woman posted to Consent the D's Facebook page. Another wrote, "There's a difference between telling women to consent and asking them to. 'Consent the D' is not asking men to ask for sex and respect the women's choice, it sounds like you're just telling women to consent in a pretty aggressive way: Consent the dick... Also not a very tasteful way to bring awareness to an issue that has traumatized so many women."

Still another voiced concern over the campaign's unwillingness to listen to sexual assault victims:

"A lot of the responses to those who are disagreeing with these shirts are that people are being 'stupid/too sensitive' and 'should just appreciate that someone is trying.' But here's the thing: You're wearing a T-shirt that says you stand with survivors of sexual assault, but when activists and actual survivors speak out and say they are offended by this campaign, you tell them to pipe down, effectively invalidating their experiences/trauma. So it's like you're trying to show the world that you care about sexual assault, but when it comes to actually supporting victims... well, you're not."

This commenter's point becomes all the more imperative in light of recent accusations lobbied against DePaul of covering up sexual assaults, silencing victims and perpetuating rape culture. This past April, student activists organized a group called DePaul Exposed and protested the administration's lack of response to campus rape. Survivors, it seems, aren't being heard or taken seriously at DePaul.

Source: YouTube

Sure, Consent the D means well. But if a group of male students who are advocating for sexual violence reform — and partnering with fraternities, which are statistically known for high incidence of rape — they would do well to listen to survivors and not dismiss criticism. The success of affirmative consent depends on it.

If you or someone you know has been affected by sexual violence, it's not your fault. You are not alone. Help is available 24/7 through the National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-HOPE and online.rainn.org.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Maureen Shaw

Maureen is a contributor to Identities Mic and the founder of sherights.com. Her writing has appeared on the Huffington Post, Feministing, Jezebel, Fem2.0 and more. Follow Maureen on Twitter at @MaureenShaw.

MORE FROM

Anthony Scaramucci acknowledges “colorful language” after ‘New Yorker’ published his wild rant

Scaramucci's "colorful language" revealed the high-stakes tension going on at the White House.

Lindsey Graham says he is creating legislation to block Trump from firing Mueller

Graham said earlier that ousting Mueller would mark the "beginning of the end of the Trump presidency."

Despite Trump, military leaders say there will be no changes to transgender policy for now

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect."

Trump will visit Long Island to discuss gang violence — but some fear he could make the issue worse

Trump has celebrated mass deportations as fighting gang violence — but are his words helping or hurting?

Like his boss, Anthony Scaramucci seems to be a fan of disgraced football coach Joe Paterno

President Donald Trump also gave a shout-out to the late Penn State coach during the 2016 campaign.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: Transgender ban, GOP healthcare struggling, video games relieve work stress

What you need to know for Thursday, July 27.

Anthony Scaramucci acknowledges “colorful language” after ‘New Yorker’ published his wild rant

Scaramucci's "colorful language" revealed the high-stakes tension going on at the White House.

Lindsey Graham says he is creating legislation to block Trump from firing Mueller

Graham said earlier that ousting Mueller would mark the "beginning of the end of the Trump presidency."

Despite Trump, military leaders say there will be no changes to transgender policy for now

“In the meantime, we will continue to treat all of our personnel with respect."

Trump will visit Long Island to discuss gang violence — but some fear he could make the issue worse

Trump has celebrated mass deportations as fighting gang violence — but are his words helping or hurting?

Like his boss, Anthony Scaramucci seems to be a fan of disgraced football coach Joe Paterno

President Donald Trump also gave a shout-out to the late Penn State coach during the 2016 campaign.

‘Hot Mic’ podcast: Transgender ban, GOP healthcare struggling, video games relieve work stress

What you need to know for Thursday, July 27.