A new PSA is showing how language can subtly reinforce rape culture.
The 30-second video is simple but powerful, focusing on a text message conversation between two guy friends. As the conversation goes on, it becomes increasingly clear that a non-consensual sexual interaction between one of the men and a woman may have occurred the night prior. The PSA takes the casual language used between two bros and makes its subtext the actual text.
When one guy asks his friend if he remembers that “drunk chick” he was “talking to” at a recent party, the chat autocorrects “talking to” to “targeting.” When the friends asks if he “got some,” the guy responds, “Well… I had to encourage her a bit.” “Encourage” quickly autocorrects to “force.”
The spot was created by marketing company Mekanism for sexual assault awareness and prevention organization It’s On Us, which was spearheaded in 2014 by former President Barack Obama and former Vice President Joe Biden.
It’s On Us Director Rebecca Kaplan explained to The Huffington Post why it’s so important to call out these subtleties of language.
“At It’s On Us, we believe it’s important to highlight the subtle and common language that perpetuates rape culture because it’s so pervasive in our society and often goes unnoticed,” Kaplan said. “When we don’t check ourselves and our friends who are using that type of language, we make it acceptable. This is dangerous because language can make rape culture acceptable, and even perpetuate it.”
Towards the end of the video a voiceover sums up the PSA: “Don’t ignore the subtexts.”
As Kaplan added: “What we say matters and this video was created to demonstrate that it’s on all of us to choose our words wisely.”
Head over to It’s On Us to read more about the organization’s work.
Need help? Visit RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Online Hotline or the National Sexual Violence Resource Center’s website.