Finally: An Anti-Rape PSA that Puts the Onus on Men

A still from the video, via YouTube.How hard is it to not blame the victim when it comes to rape? Extremely hard, apparently—as in nearly impossible.

That’s judging by the hideous social media reactions to the rape cases of young women in both Steubenville and Torrington. And the recent asinine statements made by public figures, from Todd Akin to Joanna Lumley.

Add to that a parade of recent anti-rape PSAs that fall right in line by focusing on how women—not men—should go about avoiding rape by dressing appropriately and curbing their booze intake. (The most noteworthy example, as Business Insider pointed out on Monday, was when the Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board released a series of posters showing a woman’s legs sprawled on a bathroom floor, panties at ankles, with the text, “See what happens when your friends drink too much?”)

But every once in a while, someone figures out how to get the anti-rape message across in a way that’s smart, straightforward, and powerful all at once. This time around, that someone is Samantha Stendal, a 19-year-old film student at the University of Oregon, whose basic, beautiful, 26-second PSA “A Needed Response” has garnered nearly one million hits on YouTube since she posted it there Friday.

It begins with a young man speaking directly to the viewer. Behind him, sprawled motionless on a couch, lies a young woman in a T-shirt and short skirt. “Hey bros. Check who passed out on the couch,” he says. “Guess what I’m going to do to her?”

Then, just as your stomach begins to drop, he steps out of view and then right back in, with a pillow, which he gently tucks under the girl’s head. Then he covers her with a blanket, and sets up a little table next to her, topping it with a mug of water.

“Real men? Treat women with respect,” he says, before shutting off the camera. End of story.

The video’s impact is chilling in its simplicity.

It's garnered more than 2,600 YouTube comments, plenty of which applaud the message. "I think I just fell in love with this guy," wrote one woman. "Really, really well done. It's refreshing to see young men who know the difference between right and wrong. More refreshing to know young men are respectful. Thanks for making this very important video," wrote a male reader.

But plenty, like Dave Fininzio, just couldn't control themselves; he wrote, "And real women don't get wasted out of their goddamn minds."

Stendall told Yahoo! Shine that she was inspired by the Steubenville to make the video. “But it was also an attempt in general to move the public conversation away from victim blaming, and toward the idea of treating others with respect when they are vulnerable,” she said in an email.

“The idea of the message is that we need to treat one another with respect,” she added. “My video is specifically about a male and a female, but I believe that no matter your gender you should respect one another’s rights to their own body and have your rights respected as well.”

Easy, right? Let’s just hope other PSA makers—and the haters in general—will get schooled by this student.

Here's the video: