Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Responds to Offensive Date-Rape Ad

By now, you’ve probably seen the controversial Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board ads. You know, the ones that feature photos of what appear to be a young girl’s legs splayed on a tiled bathroom floor with underwear around her ankles.

The ads send the message that women are not only at fault for getting themselves raped—a societal bias reflected in and re-enforced by too many court decisions—it’s your fault if your friend gets raped, too.

Last night, after receiving hundreds of phone calls and hundreds of email complaints, the PLCB has yanked the ads.

“We feel very strong, and still do, that when we entered the initial discussion about doing a campaign like this it was important to bring the most difficult conversations about over-consumption of alcohol to the forefront and all of the dangers associated with it—date rape being one of these things,” says PLCB spokesperson Stacey Witalec. “That being said, due to the number of concerns that we heard about that specific ad, and the victims especially that we heard from talking about how the image … made them feel victimized all over again, we felt it was prudent to pull it.”

The campaign, developed with Philadelphia-based ad agency Neiman Group, has been in the works since 2009.

PW recently spoke with Dr. Veronique Valliere, a therapist, member of Pennsylvania’s Sexual Offenders Assessment Board and nationally renowned expert on alcohol and rape.

“Alcohol is a very accessible date-rape drug, and there’s a couple of ways it’s used by offenders,” says Valliere, speaking on the phone from her office in Foglesville, Pa.

Valliere says excessive drinking won’t create the desire to assault someone in a person who doesn’t already have it, but if the urge is lurking in there somewhere, alcohol will minimize the effect of the factors that usually prevent a person from acting on it. “[Alcohol] doesn’t create deviance, but it facilitates the expression of it,” she says.

Valliere adds that offenders consciously introduce or exploit the presence of alcohol in a situation knowing full well it will increase the odds that society—and juries, and sometimes even the victim—will blame the victim.

“There’s a dynamic just in terms of the belief of culpability with alcohol that goes on in our society that offenders are well aware of and often use. Offenders know that when people are drinking … when somebody commits a crime or bad deed, we hold them far less responsible for their behavior. The flip side is … when a victim is drinking, we hold them more responsible for what happens.”

Valliere points out yet another advantage alcohol provides to the rapist.

“They also use a victim’s intoxication to increase [opportunity] through the social things required, like “Oh, she’s getting sick, ‘I’ll take her to her room’ or ‘She can’t drive, I’ll take her home,’” she says.r

When asked if the agency considered creating an ad targeting men that tells them it’s not OK to rape a woman just because she’s been drinking, Witalec responded, “Yes, there [were] many different scenarios. This is just the one the agency chose to go with.”

Meanwhile, the agency claims it is not surprised “at all” by the widespread backlash. “If we can prevent one person from taking that next drink, then we feel this campaign has been an enormous success,” said Witalec.

Pennsylvania is the only state in the country that doesn’t allow expert testimony in rape cases, making it easier to get away with sexual assault here than anywhere else—partly because without an expert to testify, jurors are left making judgments based on the biases perpetuated in the PLCB ad.

What PLCB did get right is to show that the product it peddles can indeed be extremely dangerous. Perhaps that’s partly why PLCB kept the news of a new program that delivers the stuff to your front door, launched just before the ad, on the hush.

46 Responses to “ Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board Responds to Offensive Date-Rape Ad ”

  1. rgl says:

    so, a huge problem with this ad is that it is very triggering to many survivors- you might want to reconsider posting the ad huge and front-and-center in your coverage about this, because it means that women trying to seek updates are confronted by this image.

  2. Joe says:

    This is bullshit. This fucking country is shit when it comes to having adult conversations about important things. You see provocative advertising in tons of other countries, but we can’t handle this? IT’S RAPE FOR FUCK’S SAKE. HOW THE FUCK ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO TALK ABOUT IT? Politely, quietly in rooms with nobody listening?

  3. Nicole says:

    I can’t imagine what idiot chose this message over “DON’T RAPE WOMEN”.

  4. Rita says:

    as long as the powers that be see rape as sex and not as an act of violence and control by the rapist, we will never be free from the stigma that the rape event is our fault.
    I’m sure 5 year old girls raped by family members or neighbors really brought it on themselves by acting so provacatively…..and according to the PLCB drinking and exercising bad judgment….

    I agree with RGL: This IS Bullshit and it always has been bullshit and until the men in power free their minds, the women in this state are footbound to the blame.

  5. [...] IS ON THE AIR AT 3PM!UPDATE: PLCB Pulls Rape AdAccording to (Philebrity Award nominee) Tara Murtha at Philadelphia Weekly, the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board has pulled the ad depicting a date rape victim we told you [...]

  6. bsreferee says:

    This ad is complete crap. Whatever message was meant to be sent was completely missed. Essentially they have said the same thing as if a black man or woman drinks too much and there is a racist white biggot that decides to assault or murder them, then it is the black persons fault. Same concept… criminal commits crime, victim is at fault.

  7. [...] after hundreds of complaints and phone calls, the PLCB has removed the ad. In a Philadelphia Weekly article, PLCB spokesperson Stacey Witalec stated, “… due to the number of concerns that we heard about [...]

  8. Bill says:

    The ad was genius. By getting under the skin of some very sensitive folks, we now have tons of attention focused on the truth… which is that drunk women get raped a lot more than sober women.

  9. @bill @joe says:

    While it might be true that alcohol plays a large part in rape culture, the problem with this ad isn’t that it advertises a ‘controversial’ policy (and, by the way, this isn’t some new, groundbreaking conversation), or that we’re talking about rape at all. The problem is that it lays the blame of the rape on the victim. 21% of women were reported to be intoxicated while they were being attacked. I throw that fact out there just to counter it with this one: 26% of men report to be intoxicated at the time of the rape they committed. That means more men rape drunk than women get raped drunk. Does that mean that women still shouldn’t drink? The way this ad was framed is offensive–by putting the woman in charge it implies that SHE is the one in control, she is the one who put herself in the position of being raped. How is that fair? How is it overly sensitive to be offended by the blame being put on the victim rather than the perpetrator? While alcohol and rape might be an issue worth talking about, it’s not a gendered issue, and it is NOT acceptable to imply that whether or not the rape happened was up to her.

  10. LanceSmith says:

    What a crock. Only in this insane world of perpetual female infantalization would it be acceptable to NOT give them the tools they need to defend themselves against bad people. You are taught to lock your door at night. You are taught to lock your car. But it is suddenly wrong to teach you to not be an idiot.

    Author: “When asked if the agency considered creating an ad targeting men that tells them it’s not OK to rape a woman just because she’s been drinking, ”

    Considering rape along with all violent crime is on the decline and considering the VAST majority of men already know that it’s not ok to rape women, such an ad really would be offensive. Vilifying men isn’t the answer…teaching women to lock the door is.

  11. Bill says:

    @8:27 PM

    Sorry, but what’s NOT acceptable is hiding behind accusations of “victim blaming” to deflect criticism about the social cost of alcohol consumption by women.

    Folks that don’t or can’t afford to pedestalized women (Liquor Boards) realize that female drinking isn’t just a nuisance, but a real problem… just like men’s. Drunk women endanger their children, their husbands, their friends and themselves. The purpose of the ad was “Ladies, control your drinking” Was it effective? Yup. And why was it effective? Because nothing gets women to actually start listening like the subject of rape. Unfortunately that doesn’t mean all of them will receive the message properly. This is a gendered issue if there ever was one.

  12. [...] House pass bill extending Sunday beer sales Post Gazette: Republicans block payroll tax extension Philly Weekly: Pa liquor control board responds to offensive date-rape ad Philly Weekly: SEPTA Gets $1.2 million [...]

  13. Maria says:

    Rape culture and some of the comments here are completely disgusting. This ad is about blaming the VICTIM rather than the RAPIST who took advantage of her because she had a few drinks. How about, instead of blaming the woman, we look at the men who see women drinking and decide they’re an easy target. And of course all of these comments are made by MEN who have no idea how truly offensive this ad is, not to mention triggering to women who have suffered from sexual abuse. So, if I have a few drinks and a man sexually abuses me it’s my fault for being drunk? I can’t believe some people!

  14. Maria says:

    “Vilifying men isn’t the answer, teaching women how to lock the doors is.”

    How about we teach men, from a young age, that raping women and taking advantage of them is not okay, even if they are drunk or wearing a miniskirt or whatever else some people will find to blame the victim? This is not about vilifying men, it is about teaching them to respect women. Why should we have to take extra steps to be safe and not get raped? Why can’t some men just control themselves?

  15. [...] hundreds of rape victims that the ads were extremely upsetting, even traumatizing, the board has decided to pull them: The ads send the message that women are not only at fault for getting themselves raped—a [...]

  16. Bill says:

    How about we teach women, from a young age, that using sex to get attention from men is not okay. “Hello” works as well the miniskirt, ya know?

    And why can’t women just control themselves?

    I have seen inebriated women in bars hurl sexual insults that started a physical altercation with other woman. I have seen a staggering woman in a bar hurl racial insults that almost started a riot. A woman’s drunken bad behavior can be a major contributor to creating an environment of emotional or sexual conflict. It’s common sense!

    Is it really too much to ask that women not chat up some guy half the night, take him home, get naked with him and then do a complete 180 as if she’s a toddler and he’s a toy that she just go bored with? Seriously WTF. No wonder most rape is date rape. Women taking zero responsibility for their part in making volatile sexual situations is not the solution to “rape culture”

  17. Maria says:

    Yes, of course! Let’s blame the women, why didn’t I think of that? Oh wait, maybe it’s because women are allowed to change their minds whenever they want. Oh, and also because maybe women don’t wear miniskirts for men’s enjoyment, but because they feel like wearing them. Who says me wearing a miniskirt = me wanting to talk to you? But I guess it’s easier to blame women than to take a look at ourselves and how we are helping rape culture.

  18. Someone says:

    And who tells women (even as they’re little girls) that they’re supposed to use sex to get attention from men? Hmm? MEN!

    Why is it the women’s fault for “not controlling herself” if she takes a man home and decides she doesn’t want to have sex with him? Does inviting a man into her home automatically means “yes I have consented to sex”? NO! If she doesn’t want sex, why doesn’t the man’s ability to control himself matter here – he should have enough control to NOT RAPE HER. Is that that hard?

    Why should this ad target women, again and again and again, women are told not to wear short skirts, not to drink alcohol, not to go places alone and in the dark – since when has there been an ad targeted at men, who commit the rape?

  19. Bill says:

    “Oh wait, maybe it’s because women are allowed to change their minds whenever they want.”

    Yup you are, just like women are allowed to say whatever they want.

    But remember that women’s prerogative and the 1st amendment don’t matter when another woman whom you’ve just insulted decides to kick your butt… or some dude you took home and lead on decides to care about your feelings as little as you do his. Just sayin…

  20. Bill says:

    “women don’t wear miniskirts for men’s enjoyment…”

    Except that it’s the favorite article of clothing for club girls and hookers everywhere.

    Tell it to someone that doesn’t know any better.

  21. Someone says:

    Oh yes, a woman hurt a man’s feelings by not having sex with him, so he decides to RAPE her. This is totally fair and right.

  22. Maria says:

    Just because women wear short skirts to clubs or wherever the heck they want does not excuse men for not being able to control themselves. Listen, I’ll wear whatever I want to the club or a bar and it is a man’s responsibility to respect me. It is not okay that women have to worry about what they wear/how they act/what they say/etc etc etc for fear of getting raped.

  23. Bill says:

    “Oh yes, a woman hurt a man’s feelings by not having sex with him.”

    No, actually a woman hurts a man’s feelings by flaunting her short skirt, chatting him up half the night, taking him home, getting naked with him and then doing a complete 180 as if she’s a toddler and he’s a toy that she just go bored with…

  24. ugg says:

    I’m sorry, but we do teach men not to rape women. It’s taught in sex ed classes, college orientations and living rooms around the country. We even have laws against rape, how about that? Normal men with any shred of decency know it’s not okay to rape people.

    However, rapists are not moral men with decency who will refrain from raping just because Jezebel says its not okay and Maria wonders “Why should we have to take extra steps to be safe and not get raped?” Rapists are assholes. They don’t care if you, me or society tells them not to rape.

    By discouraging women from taking responsibility for their safety against these assholes, you are increasing the number of potential rapes. It’s not the victim’s fault when they get raped. It’s the fault of Jezebel, the “rape culture” ideologues, and the people commenting on this thread. By discouraging women from looking out for their own safety, you are implicated in rapes that might not have happened, and you should be ashamed of yourselves.

  25. Bill says:

    “It is not okay that women have to worry about what they wear/how they act/what they say/etc etc etc for fear of getting raped.”

    Sure it is.

    You’re one of those obnoxious people that puts hateful bumper stickers on your car aren’t you. Other people have eyes ya know, and if you’re wondering why your car gets keyed so much… well…

  26. Bryan says:

    I think we’re really missing the point here. I’m much less concerned that they are trying to inform women that drinking could leave you defensless, and more concerned that this looks like an ad for Axe Body Spray or a condom manufacturer.

    http://fckthis.com/hey-rape-ad-youre-doing-it-wrong/

  27. Biff says:

    If a man spends all his time on the internet lecturing women about how they get raped because they’re not careful enough, he should be forced to spend the rest of his life having dozens of people constantly lecture him that every bad thing that happens to him happened because he’s too slutty and irresponsible.

    Lost your job? Probably for waggling your saggy ass at your manager, dude. Car broke down? Maybe you were slowing down to flirt with construction workers and firemen and it was bad for your engine, bro. Kids bad at school? Maybe they just think you’re a weak, trashy man and don’t feel any drive to impress you, stud. Hit by a truck? Maybe you shouldn’t have been slutting around near a road, buddy.

  28. Diane says:

    The image assosciated with the ad was so incredibly offensive. The picture kept flashing up on Philly.com and I couldn’t for the life of me figure out what was being advertised so vulgarly on the site. I was shocked to find out it was a PSA. Major fail. But hey, we can get boozed shipped to our house in the keystone state as long as we check “Yes I am over 21″ on the website. Brilliant.

  29. Mindy says:

    This is a highly charged issue and the goal is to lessen the number of attacks. Blaming women and their friends, while an issue to be talked about, should not be started by a trauma inducing or predator triggering image. This ad was offensive, not genius. The same institutions which allowed Sandusky to keep victimizing boys is the same institutions which allow rapists to prey on women. Please take the time to read this post, and follow David Lisak’s teachings. http://mencanstoprape.blogspot.com/2011/11/predatory-rape-on-college-campuses.html

  30. Bill says:

    Umm. Let’s not conflate the actions of a prepubescent minor with those of a drunken out of control woman on a date.

  31. Mindy says:

    My statements are not talking about the actions of either kind of victim. You made that connection. I was comparing the complacency in the institutions surrounding sexual assualt in general. Do you have a personal story regarding your actions with drunk women? You seem to be taking this quite personal. Have you read the article?

  32. xmestizax says:

    For all the women so upset at the suggestion they take preventive measures so as not to end up a victim, what alternate reality r u living in? The reality’s there are men who prey upon women. You need to use common sense to protect yourself.

  33. Bill says:

    Do you have a personal story regarding your actions as a drunk woman? I’m not the one who mentions trauma and triggers when I see an ad. Just sayin…

  34. [...] House pass bill extending Sunday beer sales Post Gazette: Republicans block payroll tax extension Philly Weekly: Pa liquor control board responds to offensive date-rape ad Philly Weekly: SEPTA Gets $1.2 million [...]

  35. Mindy says:

    @xmestizax Taking offense to the ad in no way assumes women or anyone in general should not protect themselves. If you ask a woman, do you walk out of stores and into parking lots by scanning the lot first and seeing who may be lurking…you may get a surprising answer as to how many of us actually do that. When in an elevator by yourself and a man comes in, do you get the slightest bit of fear and quickly anticipate your next move? How about going into a public bathroom by yourself? Do some of the men on this panel truly empathize what it means to be constantly vigilant, as a result less free? And on top of that, how it feels for institutions and society to not fully support you if violence was to occur.

    The reality is that most of us our conscious of possible violence against us and other women… all the time. What is so offensive about this ad is that it suggests women shouldn’t drink alcohol, because if you do and you get raped, it was your fault. Or it was your friend’s fault for not helping you.

    The reality is that there are so many men who prey on women, and so many men who see it, but choose to not stand up to those men. Or choose to not lead by example. Many women will shame other women when heinous behavior is observed. Do men shame other men when predatory behavior is observed? I don’t know the answer to this, so I’m asking any man on this panel that question.

  36. Mindy says:

    @Bill

    Do you have a personal story regarding your actions as a drunk woman? I’m not the one who mentions trauma and triggers when I see an ad. Just sayin…

    Bill I’m assuming you’re asking me if I was raped as a result of being drunk. I was not, but it would not be my fault if I was.

    The reason I mentioned trauma and triggers is because I empathize and am able to put myself into the shoes of a victim. I’m able to understand what it means to be violently penetrated even though I have not experienced this myself. I’m able to understand feeling disgusted by predators and feeling disgusted that any human being is capable of behaving so callously to other human beings. I’m also able to put myself into the shoes of someone who experienced such a gross violation and imagine how one might react to tha picture. It would bring back memories of rape, maybe memories of someone who pretended to be decent, and memories of the people who didn’t care or blamed me for it.

    That type of empathy also allows me to put myself into the shoes of the rapist. Someone totally charged by the power of the situation and the powerlessness of the victim. Someone who doesn’t care about the absolute selfishness of this act. So yes, that picture could also trigger a rapist. That’s why the ad is so offensive, because REAL victims understand this.

    This is why these discussions are so offensive, they are a constant repeat of the blaming mentality towards victims.

    Men who look to what they can do to prevent more violence are truly heroes. For the victims, each day they move past such qrotesque cruelty is courageous and heroic.

  37. Bill says:

    @Mindy

    Empathetic? More like brainwashed. If you were truly empathetic you wouldn’t be sending me to a URL titled “men can stop rape”. That’s as vulgar as sending a homosexual to “gays can stop molestation”, or a female to the link “women can stop prostitution”. All men aren’t rapists and all rapists aren’t men, lady.

    And you’re right that its NEVER a woman’s fault if she gets raped, but often times it is Karma.

    When a women drinks to the point that she’s indifferent to insulting strangers or leading them on at 2am … she is complicit in creating a risky environment that could have easily been avoided.

    If a women are going to drink they need to be smart and responsible, not dangerous and obnoxious. As the ad says “control tonight”, but of course you’d prefer women “out of control tonight” rather than hurt their delicate sensibilities.

    Stop putting women on a pedestal!

  38. Biff says:

    Bill, what kind of pathetic guy are you that you can’t handle a little rejection without berating the internet about what sluts women are and how they deserve to get raped? Boo hoo hoo, she led you on and hurt your feelings. Get over it. Be a man and take some responsibility for the way you act. If you’re not man enough to be a grown up and put it away when she says “no,” you need to keep your pants on and stay away from normal people.

    What kind of person would consent to having sex with such a little baby?

  39. Bill says:

    Dear concerned, niceguy hero:

    While I’m sure you’re an expert on rejection, here’s a little advice about acceptance… women don’t like kiss asses. So if you think chivalric attempts to “put other guys in their place” are gonna finally get you laid… think again.

    I don’t drink, and am not into women that abuse alcohol so you’re barking up the wrong tree, “dude”.

    What kind of pathetic guy are you that you spend so much time on dreaming up a contrived life history for me? You can’t even disagree like a man, so what do you know about being a man?

  40. Mindy says:

    I don’t like men who kiss other men’s asses. And Bill seems to want Biff to do exactly that. Women like confident men who think for themselves.

    I bet Biff is more man than Bill on any day of the week and Bill could learn something from him.

    Rape is deserved because a woman made an intoxicated childish insult? You might want to unpack that karma thing with a therapist. I’m sensing some hostile, exaggerated beliefs.

  41. Bill says:

    Biff doesn’t think for himself. He’s a Parrot. I mean seriously. His tactics are straight from the internet bad debaters playbook. Don’t make a valid counter argument, make personal attacks!

    And as for hostility and exaggeration… I sense it too… all over your misquote.

    I actually wrote this about intoxicated women…

    “Is it really too much to ask that women not chat up some guy half the night, take him home, get naked with him and then do a complete 180 as if she’s a toddler and he’s a toy that she just go bored with? Seriously WTF. No wonder most rape is date rape. Women taking zero responsibility for their part in making volatile sexual situations is not the solution to “rape culture”

    Anyways, women need to be responsible drinkers. I recommend you talk with you local AA group as you are textbook enabler and that organization could probably help you overcome this personality flaw.

  42. Mindy says:

    You also wrote this:

    And you’re right that its NEVER a woman’s fault if she gets raped, but often times it is Karma.

    When a women drinks to the point that she’s indifferent to insulting strangers or leading them on at 2am … she is complicit in creating a risky environment that could have easily been avoided.

  43. Mindy says:

    You also wrote this:

    “And you’re right that its NEVER a woman’s fault if she gets raped, but often times it is Karma.

    When a women drinks to the point that she’s indifferent to insulting strangers or leading them on at 2am … she is complicit in creating a risky environment that could have easily been avoided.”

  44. Bilbo says:

    I totally fapped to the picture. Hot.

  45. Deborah says:

    Obviously it’s never a woman’s fault if she is raped. Period. I have 3 friends who were raped — all 3 rapes involved completely different circumstances; and in all 3 cases there was absolutely nothing they could have done to avoid the rape. With that said, I do not see the harm in reminding young women that certain behaviors can increase the odds of them becoming a victim of this horrific crime. It does not mean the woman is being blamed. It is reminding a woman of something she can do to help avoid being in a circumstance that would increase the odds of being a victim. We tell our daughters not to walk alone down a deserted alley in a bad neighborhood at 2 a.m. If she was raped while doing so, we wouldn’t blame her. The rape would not be her fault. However, now she has to live with the rape. Wouldn’t it have been better for her if she hadn’t walk down that alley? Knowing what circumstances to avoid is empowering. This knowledge helps a young woman have more control over her own destiny. I talked about this with my 2 teenage daughters, one of whom is in college now. She knows she has the “right” to get as drunk whenever/wherever. She also knows that she lives in the real world, where others do things they do not have the “right” to do, while she is exercising her right to get as drunk as she pleases at a frat party.

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