“Most men do not consider sexual harassment as violence. Saying things to women, whistling at them, are considered absolutely normal. The campaign seeks to change (this view), to stop men thinking that sexual harassment is normal. There are many men who do not harass and we want these men to be brave and go out and say that this is not normal.”
Consent is… beautiful, it is enthusiasm, it is a free choice, it is mutual. It is NOT assumed, NOT a right of marriage, NOT in the clothes you wear.
Ask for Angela
One of the most recognised campaigns for sexual consent is the “Ask for Angela” campaign. It’s also known as a code-word campaign. The campaign began when Hayley Child the Substance Misuse Strategy Coordinator for Lincolnshire County Council, posted a poster online describing Ask for Angela. ‘Hi I’m Angela,’ the poster says. ‘Are you on a date that isn’t working out? Do you feel like you’re not in a safe situation? Is your Tinder or POF [Plenty of Fish] date not who they said they were on their profile? Does it all feel a bit weird? ‘If you go to the bar and ask for ‘Angela’ the bar staff will know you need some help getting out of your situation and will call you a taxi or help you out discreetly – without too much fuss.’ It just began as an awareness poster on Twitter in 2016. The poster was re-twitted by Hollywood celebrity Ashton Kutcher and got global attention. Since then all the pubs around the UK have been asked by the National Pubwatch to support Ask for Angela. An initiative such as this will only be effective if all staff are fully aware of the poster and have the confidence to act and support the customer if they are approached for help.
From just a Twitter hashtag, #MeToo became a campaign against sexual harassment. It began with a report enumerating incalculable claims against Hollywood film maker Harvey Weinstein. Soon, individual stories started pouring in from women in all enterprises around the world, and the hashtag #MeToo turned into an encouraging cry against rape and badgering. The movement started via social media networks after actor Alyssa Milano, one of Weinstein’s most vocal critics, expressed: “If all the women who have been sexually harassed or assaulted wrote ‘Me too’ as a status, we might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.” Within a few days, millions of women and men used Twitter, Facebook and Instagram as a medium to unveil the harassment and abuse they have faced in their lives. This included big names and some public figures, for example, Björk and Olympic gymnast McKayla Maroney, who felt empowered to finally stand up. It was empowering to witness worldwide female solidarity take place online. However, it is imperative to proceed with this discussion, in order to initiate the kind of change all women have been hoping for.
Mexico City metro’s ‘penis seat’
9 out of 10 women in Mexico City have been victims of some form of sexual violence in their daily commutes. As a part of their new campaign to combat sexual harassment on the city’s public transport network, the United Nations and the Mexico City authorities installed an unusual looking seat, with a penis and protruding male chest build into the moulded plastic on the metro. The sign on the seat said, ‘for men only’. The seat features in an online video where the men are shocked to see the seat and they make an attempt to sit down. A sign on the floor reads: “It is annoying to travel this way, but not compared to the sexual violence women suffer in their daily commutes.” At the launch of the campaign, Ana Güezmes, representative of UN Women in Mexico said:
Jane Stapleton, a University of New Hampshire researcher gave shape to the Bystander Intervention campaign. The posters on the bus at the University of Massachusetts says, ‘If I see the potential for sexual assault I’ll be an active bystander. DO SOMETHING.’ The main objective of the campaign was if a drunk young man at a party is pawing a drunk young woman, then someone nearby (the bystander) needs to intervene and get the victim out of the situation. Stapleton runs the bystander intervention programs at colleges around the country and in Europe, telling students they’ll need to be creative about outmanoeuvring aggressors.
The Crown Prosecution Service in 2015 launched a new awareness campaign on sexual consent. It was a social media campaign where the main motive of the CPS was to get people talking about consent to sex within the context of sexual assault and rape. For the campaign, CPS partnered with Rape Crisis, End Violence against Women Coalition, Survivors Manchester, White Ribbon Campaign and the National Union of Students. The campaign aimed to raise awareness that people should not confuse what exactly social consent is and people should openly talk about the issue and understand it, by using the hashtag #ConsentIs on Twitter and Instagram.
More and more people recognise what consent is and are actively trying to understand it. It is important, particularly as it is something that rape cases hinge on in court, and is a key consideration when deciding whether to bring charges.