Tea Cups & Buzzfeed & Bears, Oh My! The Sexual Assault PSAs You NEED To Watch

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Here in the US there is a huge movement to prevent rape and sexual assault, especially in light of data concerning the number of assaults that happen across colleges campuses each year. Statistics show that 1 in 5 women will be sexually assaulted by the time she finishes college. Issues concerning sexual violence and rape have become so prominent that even the President has gotten in involved.

In 2014 the Obama Administration launched the Its On Us campaign designed to tackle sexual assault in all areas of society, but they have recently turned their attention to focus on campus assault by releasing a PSA starring Hollywood actors Josh Hutcherson, Zoe Saldana and musicians Haim to explain why consent is the first and most important thing to obtain before having sex.

The U.S. Department of Justice released a survey last year that reaffirmed that women ages 18 to 24 are the demographic most likely to experience sexual violence. Most of the time it’s at the hands of someone they know.

The push to define and teach society about consent seems benign, but not when you learn that only 2 out of 50 states in the US have laws that specifically define consent in order to prevent and better prosecute cases of rape and sexual assault. So far only New York and California are the only states with Governors willing to understand that defining this crucial concept is key in alleviating any grey areas. California is also the ONLY state to mandate sexual consent lessons in high school, acknowledging the importance of teaching it while young.

During November, Vice President Joe Biden is traveling around the country speaking at various college campuses about the Its On Us campaign to encourage students to get on board, and explain in detail why preventing sexual assault and rape is everyone’s responsibility. It should be noted, for those who aren’t already away, Joe Biden was the then-Senator who wrote the Violence Against Women Act 21 years ago to end the scourge of violence against women and hold perpetrators accountable. So this is not a new mission to him and clearly it is something he cares about deeply.

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So how do we get the rest of society to care deeply about this issue, when we’re not all personally affected? Sure the serious Its On Us PSAs are important, and documentaries like The Hunting Ground certainly hit home with the message. But there are also other ways to make a serious message have a lasting impact in people’s minds, one of those being comedy.

We think comedy is an incredibly powerful vehicle for change, and one that sometimes gets overlooked in favor of simply an entertainment medium, because it doesn’t come across as daunting or “preachy”. Which is why two recent PSAs have been a huge hit when explaining the concepts of consent and sexual assault.

The first video explains consent using stick figure animations, and tea. Yep, good old fashioned tea. The video was created by Blue Seat Studios and a UK blogger who goes by the name of Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess (aka, best name ever!).

“It seems like every time an article is written about consent, or a move made towards increasing the onus on the initiator of the sex to ensure that the person they are trying to have sex with, you know, actually WANTS to have sex with them, there are a wave of comments and criticisms. It seems a lot of people really, REALLY don’t get what ‘consent’ means. It seems people really have a problem understanding that before you have sex with someone, and that’s every time you have sex with them, make sure they want to have sex with you. This goes for men, women, everyone. Whether it’s tea or sex, Consent Is Everything,” she writes.

And so we see the stick figure in the video go through a series of situations explaining, using tea, how consent works. From someone saying “yes” to a cup of tea, to someone initially saying “yes” then changing their mind, all the way to someone being unconscious and not being able to make a valid decision on whether they want a cup of tea or not, the message is clear.

It seems simplistic, but it is a great resource that we feel could be used in schools to explain the concept in a non-threatening or intimidating manner. The video already has over 1.1 million views, which is a good sign.

In her blog post, Rockstar Dinosaur Pirate Princess talks about examples in pop culture such as the “Blurred Lines” music video and song atrocity, as well as the effects of the ’50 Shades of Grey’ movie and books have literally blurred the lines between normal, healthy, consensual sex, and glorifying rape culture. So it only makes sense that when we recognize what a culture war we are fighting when it comes to the representation of sex in entertainment, we have to find adequate resources that will stand out just as much as Robin Thicke and Pharrell Williams gyrating next to naked models in a music video.

Will this tea video break through like ‘Blurred Lines’? So far the response is good (just don’t read the comments section of the Youtube video, or any Youtube video for that fact!), and there are a couple of other videos which we think will also stand alongside this one in the growing list of clever examples of how to tackle a serious societal problem.

Comedians Jake Johnson, Rob Riggle, David Walton, Lamorne Morris and Steve Berg star in this next College Humor video explaining the problem not just with sexual assault statistics, but the way we as a society talk about it (which is probably the most shocking aspect of it all).

In the video below we see the 5 guys sitting in a basement watching TV, when all of a sudden a bear starts breaking down the door of the room. The guys get mad at Jake for not letting them know the danger that was lurking behind the door, and his response was that statistically 1 in 5 people will be killed by a bear, but uses all sorts of excuses to absolve himself of any responsibility if any of them do happen to get attacked.

“Guys you’re overreacting. The bear’s not gonna eat all of us,” Jake says.

“It affects all of us Jake! One in Five! How can you ignore something so important?” asks one of his friends just before the bear bursts through the door.

Jake even uses the popular phrase “bears will be bears” playing on the problematic “boys will be boys” statement that seems to be used when excusing or justifying men and boys for their behavior toward women in society.

And finally the Buzzfeed video. This message focuses on the culture of silence and shame attached to sexual assault. In the video, we see three young people, a guy and two girls, who all recount their experiences being sexually assaulted.

“It happened to me even though I’m a guy.”

“It happened to me even though I wasn’t wearing revealing clothing.”

“I wasn’t drunk or inebriated.”

They talk about dealing with PTSD, feeling guilty and embarrassed about what happened to them, which is all too common among sexual assault and rape survivors. Buzzfeed wants to reverse this stigma by encouraging other survivors to speak out and share their stories.

It’s important we see more of these videos being shared on social media and among communities in order for the right message to disrupt the harmful representations that are all too common in mainstream media and entertainment. The College Humor video has over 1.2 million views, and the Buzzfeed video has over 450,000 which means they are being seen and heard.

In a statement ahead of his tour across US college campuses, Vice President Joe Biden urges both students and all of us that it is our collective responsibility to stop sexual assault and rape.

“We have more to do to change the culture that asks the wrong questions, like why were you there? What were you wearing? Were you drinking? We have to ask the right questions—What made him think that he could do what he did without my consent? Why on Earth did no one stop him instead of standing by? What can we do to make sure everyone has the courage to speak up, intervene, prevent and end sexual assault once and for all?” he asks.

“You know that survivors are not statistics. They’re our sisters; they’re our classmates; they’re our friends. They’re at every university, every college, in every community—large and small. For all of them, everywhere, we can and we must end sexual and dating violence on campus.”

The videos bring across a powerful message in a simple way, and the Its On Us campaign reminds us how we can all play a part in ending this epidemic for the younger generation and make college campuses a safer place for everyone.

Watch Vice President Biden passionately tell students as Syracuse University how they need to stand up, raise their voice and be part of a generation willing to step in to prevent sexual violence:


 

 

 

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