U.S. Navy posts feminist-produced poster advising sailors ‘don’t assault people’

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A poster about sexual assault displayed on the U.S. Navy’s Facebook page is causing quite a stir. Titled “Sexual Assault Prevention Tips,” the poster advises readers not to assault anyone.

“When you see somebody walking by themselves, leave them alone!” it reads. “If you pull over to help someone with car problems, remember not to assault them!”

The poster doesn’t stop there.

“USE THE BUDDY SYSTEM! If you are not able to stop yourself from assaulting people, ask a friend to stay with you while you are in public,” the poster continues. “Don’t forget, you can’t have sex with somebody unless they are awake!”

Some Facebook posts are meant to be humorous or sarcastic, but this is the U.S. Navy. Reactions to the poster’s 10 tips were harsh, with many seeming to believe it was a joke. The Navy says it was not.

“[B]eyond stupid – juvenile” read one of the 258 comments. “Wow, I had no idea … What a f_cking joke! If Conan doesn’t have a field day with this one, I’ll be surprised,” posted another. (TSA to roll out ‘trusted traveler’ program)

“As an Active Duty Service Member for almost 15 years and a SAVI/SAPR advocate for 11 years,” wrote another commenter, “I’m disappointed that this was the best foot forward. If it was YOUR sister or YOUR Sailor would you still think it was funny? Since when did sexual assault become a joke? I must have missed that symposium.”

A blog post at the U.S. Naval Institute lambasted the Facebook poster, calling it a “messaging fail of epic proportions.”

“There are ways to address sexual assault, and there is good advice to provide to our Sailors,” the blog read. “This fails on all accounts, and is actually counter-productive on many levels. Not only is the advice worthless for Sailors – it makes the Navy seem idiotic for having it on their wall.”

When the posts on Facebook got out of hand, the Navy posted a brief clarification.

“Navy fans, we’re appreciative of the interest on a topic that doesn’t get enough serious scrutiny. A few things we’d offer: 1) This is not a Navy-generated poster, but we extended it to get your attention; 2) As sad as it is, you’d be surprised how many people need to be told these seemingly basic things; 3) It’s everyone’s responsibility to stop sexual assault. Let’s get to it,” the Navy wrote.

The Navy explained to TheDC that this is part of its ongoing effort to stamp out sexual assault in its ranks.

“The initial posting was put up with insufficient context,” Navy spokeswoman, LT Alana Garas told TheDC. “We quickly provided it. The intention of posting the poster was to encourage discussion on a serious issue in our Navy. Sexual assault is a crime that will not be tolerated. One sexual assault is too many and the Navy will continue to explore ways to reach our sailors on this serious issue.”

Between the “hahas” and “is this a joke?” the poster did generate some buzz about the importance of ending sexual assault. (‘Pastafarian’ claims pasta strainer as religious headgear)

“As a woman, I take absolutely no offense to this poster. I find it extremely informative. It’s not meant to be funny and I don’t see any humor in it,” one woman explained. “I think it’s sad that so many people can’t see the real objective behind this poster. Truth is, you can present rape in a light manner or a serious one. Doesn’t change the fact that rape exists, has always existed and will always exist as long as there are humans on earth.”

The poster was not a Navy-produced document, but rather a product of the feminist blog TumblinFeminist.

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