The New “Men Can Stop Rape” Ad Campaign Succeeds in Balancing Concern with Respect

What Women Really Think
Jan. 13 2012 3:21 PM

The New “Men Can Stop Rape” Ad Campaign Succeeds in Balancing Concern with Respect

New anti-rape ads are targeting college-age men who like to party

Photo by Adem Altan/AFP/Getty Images

Yesterday, Zerlina Maxwell over at Feministing pointed to a new ad campaign by the anti-rape culture group Men Can Stop Rape with glowing praise, and I totally agree—it's great. The series of posters and other materials, titled “Where Do You Stand?,” feature college-age guys relating plausible (if a touch after-school-special-ish) campus situations in which they stood up for women in potential danger of sexual assault. For example, one states “When Kate seemed too drunk to leave with Chris, I checked in with her,” evoking the set-piece rape scenario of a female friend having had one too many at the frat party.

In a culture that tends either to grossly blame the victim or partake in a similarly discomfiting “white knight” dependence on men to save the tipsy damsel, these ads are admirably precise in their rhetoric. Kate seems too drunk to the protagonist, and so he “checks in” with her, instead of jumping to conclusions and stepping in uninvited. The woman in question is neither left alone in a risky situation nor controlled by a presumptuous hero. Rather, she is invited to partner with a concerned male friend in making her own decisions, and everyone involved is allowed their agency.


Some ads in the series follow a similar model, while others encourage guys to engage with their own gender group in terms more along the crude-but-effective lines of “dude, don’t be an asshole.” Hopefully, these ads will encourage more men to get involved in these discussions and move our culture away from one that in some ways reserves more scorn for a “cock block” than for a rapist.

J. Bryan Lowder is a Slate assistant editor. He writes and edits for Outward, Slate’s LGBTQ section, and for the culture section.



Blacks Don’t Have a Corporal Punishment Problem

Americans do. But when blacks exhibit the same behaviors as others, it becomes part of a greater black pathology. 

I Bought the Huge iPhone. I’m Already Thinking of Returning It.

Scotland Is Just the Beginning. Expect More Political Earthquakes in Europe.

Students Aren’t Going to College Football Games as Much Anymore

And schools are getting worried.

Two Damn Good, Very Different Movies About Soldiers Returning From War

The XX Factor

Lifetime Didn’t Think the Steubenville Rape Case Was Dramatic Enough

So they added a little self-immolation.

Medical Examiner

The Most Terrifying Thing About Ebola 

The disease threatens humanity by preying on humanity.

Why a Sketch of Chelsea Manning Is Stirring Up Controversy

How Worried Should Poland, the Baltic States, and Georgia Be About a Russian Invasion?

  News & Politics
Sept. 20 2014 11:13 AM -30-
Business Insider
Sept. 20 2014 6:30 AM The Man Making Bill Gates Richer
Sept. 20 2014 7:27 AM How Do Plants Grow Aboard the International Space Station?
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 19 2014 1:11 PM Why Men Never Remember Anything
  Slate Plus
Slate Picks
Sept. 19 2014 12:00 PM What Happened at Slate This Week? The Slatest editor tells us to read well-informed skepticism, media criticism, and more.
Brow Beat
Sept. 20 2014 3:21 PM “The More You Know (About Black People)” Uses Very Funny PSAs to Condemn Black Stereotypes
Future Tense
Sept. 19 2014 5:03 PM White House Chief Information Officer Will Run U.S. Ebola Response
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 20 2014 7:00 AM The Shaggy Sun
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.