On April 11th, 2015, four feminists — Nathalie Gordon, Lydia Pang, Abigail Bergstrom, and Karlie McCulloch, alongside renowned photographer Perou — took to the streets to take photos of women for the Rape Crisis center in South London. Through his pop-up photography studio, he got to know more about these women’s stories and their thoughts on rape culture. These women’s answers were outstandingly immersive and an eye-opener for those who have looked through the stereotypical lens of rape culture for so long.
According to Amnesty International, more than a quarter of British citizens believe that if a woman is raped, she ought to be held responsible for it due to her having been wearing revealing clothing. Additionally, women who find it difficult in the situation to say “no” when they really mean it are still forced to have sex. Occurrences like these mean that the victims have in fact been raped, but to the perpetrators and culture at large, they haven’t been. The blame for the rape is then put on the victim.
But this new campaign — #ThisDoesntMeanYes — defies victim blaming. They’ve put up billboards of women dressed a little provocatively, in skirts or low-cut shirts. They’re making the declaration that women should be free to dress however they want and express their form of beauty without being harassed. How a woman dresses or acts shouldn’t be justification for rape or sexual harassment.
According to the campaign’s website, “There’s a myth that surrounds women, a myth that embroils them: women who dress or behave suggestively, women who are playful or who act provocatively, women who flirt or openly discuss sex — they’re ‘asking for it.'”
The campaign has also released this manifesto:
A short skirt is not a yes.
A red lip is not a yes.
A wink is not a yes.
A slow dance is not a yes.
A walk home is not a yes.
A drink back at mine is not a yes.
A kiss on the sofa is not a yes.
The only ‘yes’ is a ‘yes’.
The long and short of it is that a woman can dress how she wants, whether it may be conservative or a little revealing, and there’s nothing that should stop her from doing that. And if it is revealing, a man should not objectify her and think that a woman actually ‘wants it.’ It’s wrong and should always be wrong.
According to Rape Crisis, approximately 85,000 women are raped on average every year in England and Wales, and 400,000 women are sexually assaulted each year.
Hopefully, that number will go down with this campaign, and people will be educated about victim blaming. I personally do not want to go out on the streets and have to be conscious of what I wear. I would like to enjoy a day out, maybe with friends, and not be hollered at or told that I’m asking for it. This is the real world, but it should be different.
This campaign is currently supported by 21 countries, including the UK, the US, Amsterdam, Mexico, and Australia. May it affect your country as well, and let this be a start for the needed change against objectifying women and blaming the victim.
For more #ThisDoesntMeanYes photos and inspiring stories, you can check out their website and their Instagram. You can also check out the Rape Crisis website for more information about sexual assault and more. You can also check your local government’s website or find organizations in your country supporting such a cause.
Images via #ThisDoesntMeanYes