Monday, February 14, 2011

V-Day Love for Iowa Rape Crisis Center's Ad

Today is V-Day, and we’re celebrating people who work to end violence against all people. Chicago is lucky to have a strong community of people who care deeply about the causes of violence and are working to stop them. To that end, CAASE is sponsoring a mayoral forum tomorrow with other organizations who also address these very issues—it’s free and open to the public, and starts at 6 p.m. at Chicago-Kent College of Law in the Loop. Learn more about the event here.

On a day that’s also about showing your love for the people and causes you care about, we’d like to extend a word of support to a rape crisis center in Iowa called Riverview Center. Their innovative ad campaign is working to prevent rape, but they’re using a message that many people don’t want to hear: "You’re not born to be a rapist, you're not born to beat up your husband or wife, you learn it," said Josh Jasper, the head of the center, which helps domestic violence and rape survivors in Wisconsin, Iowa, and Illinois. Check it out:

This ad is completely right-on, but it's making a lot of people mad. I think it’s making viewers uncomfortable because it addresses key misconceptions about rape. We need to stop blaming victims and start holding rapists accountable. When I was in college, they taught self-defense to women and encouraged us to carry pepper spray or a rape whistle. There was no discussion about what consent really means and the role that men and boys have in stopping rape. More than 80% of sexual assaults happen between acquaintances—women don’t expect to be raped by their boyfriends, their family members, their friends. Unless we start talking to boys at a young age about rape a violence, and how they can stop it, we aren’t addressing the real problem. There are, however, many organizations across the country that are led by men and are working to end violence against women. CAASE has compiled a list of these wonderful groups here, let us know if you know of other organizations that should be listed.

In local news, there’s going to be a report on Fox 32 tonight at 9 p.m. about the issue of rape in Chicago and how it’s reported and prosecuted. We’ll be tuning in, and look for more on the topic this week.

-Kristin Claes is the communications manager for the Chicago Alliance Against Sexual Exploitation

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