It's On Us Takes On The Absurd Logic Of Victim Blaming With Wedding Cake PSA

"This is the logic used to excuse sexual assault."

A 2013 study published in the journal JAMA Pediatrics, which surveyed 1,058 teenagers and young adults, ages 14 to 21, found 50 percent of perpetrators of sexual assault felt the people they had assaulted were "completely" responsible. But it's not just assailants who hold survivors responsible for crimes committed against them: school administrators, judges, and politicians have all been accused of victim-blaming.

A new PSA aims to illustrate just how wildly illogical that line of thinking is.

Created in conjunction with the It's On Us campaign — a movement championed by former vice president Joe Biden that aims to end sexual assault by changing the way we look at and address it — the below ad features a chef placing the final touches on a wedding cake as a hotel guest passes by after her workout. Without so much as a warning, the woman grabs a fistful of cake and eats it, rendering the chef momentarily speechless.

"Why would you do this?" he asks, visibly outraged.

The woman replies, "You were the one that made it so tempting. Tahitian vanilla icing and pretty little flowers? It's like you were begging me to taste it."

Following the woman's retort, some poignant text appears on screen. It simply reads: "This is the logic used to excuse sexual assault."

"You had no right to touch that," the chef angrily counters as the woman is surprised she's being turned into the "bad guy."

The ad concludes with the question, "Not very logical, is it?" 

Per Upworthy, the language used in the ad is obviously meant to mirror what's typically heard when sexual assault survivors are discussed, as emphasis is often placed on what they were wearing or how intoxicated they might have been. Instead of placing blame on the assailant for his or her actions, the survivor is made out to be the one who is at fault. In addition, victim blaming is often what prevents many sexual assault survivors from speaking out.

"Victim blaming is problematic because it takes the blame away from the offender and puts it on the victim," Elvin Bruno Jr.,It's On Us campus program director, told A Plus in an email. "This behavior is harmful because it can discourage survivors from reporting their assault and makes them feel less supported."

Bruno also told A Plus that it's time for Americans to commit to being "active bystanders."

"Commit to being part of the solution and foster an environment in which sexual assault is unacceptable and survivors are supported," he wrote. "Culture change starts with each and every one of us and by recognizing and ending victim shaming behaviors."

Upworthy  points out the cake PSA debuted on September 13 — the 23rd anniversary of the Violence Against Women Act. VAWA, which was written by then-senator Biden, established a national hotline for sexual assault survivors to call, and greatly expanded the number of services and shelters available to survivors nationwide.

Given Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos' recent announcement regarding her department's intent to end guidelines put in place for handling campus sexual assault investigations, this PSA and the message behind it is more critical than ever. As Biden wrote in response to DeVos's controversial decision, "Tell this administration that we refuse to go backwards."

This story has been updated to include comments from It's On Us.

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