New Ad Campaign from PA Liquor Control Board Blames Victims

by Olivia Saperstein

Control Tonight, the new ad campaign from the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board, recently released an ad intended to curb binge drinking, using rape as the dire consequence of partying. However, rather than saying that alcohol impairs the judgment of both parties, (including the rapist) the ad instead uses the age-old framework that implies that rape is the woman’s (and her friends’) fault.

The ad features an image of a woman’s nude legs on a bathroom floor with her panties pulled down to her ankles. The text reads, “She didn’t want to do it, but couldn’t say no.” Below, in a smaller font, it reads, “When your friends drink, they can end up making bad decisions, like going home with someone they don’t know very well…decisions like that leave them vulnerable to dangers like date rape. Help your friends stay in control and stay safe.”

Okay so we get the message, alcohol impairs judgment. But let’s make it clear that even if said friend goes home with someone they don’t know very well, they are by no means asking to be raped. Not to mention that this message could add to anxiety that some rape victims already feel about the rape being their fault. 

And how come this ad campaign is also placing blame for the rape on the victim’s friends? For instance, on the Control Tonight website is a message: “Calling the shots starts with you. What if you didn’t watch out for your friends during a night of drinking?” Sure, this is meant to be empowering–placing “control” or responsibility in the hands of youngsters. But it’s really a scare tactic, one that takes responsibility off the shoulders of the rapist.

How about redirecting this argument, or perhaps instructing drinkers how to give and receive proper consent, instead of instilling fear in women and their friends? It seems like a better solution.

Text credit: Feministing

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