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IN THE NEWS THIS WEEK: Milkshakes bring all the boys to the yard to criticise awkward government consent ad

With the ongoing discussion of sexual consent prevalent amongst the media, this week things took an even uglier turn when a series of videos released by the government to educate youth on sexual consent left most shaking their heads in disgust!

From an astounding amount of secondary school girls opening up about their experiences with sexual assault from boys at partnering schools to sexual harassment and assault scandals rocking the Australian parliament over the past few months, most will agree it was time for a change. To address the matter and ensure improvements were made, the Federal Government launched the ‘Respect Matters’ program earlier this month, which was designed for school age students, to provide the necessary resources to assist in educating youth on sexual consent. The execution however has been heavily criticized by sex educators and advertising bodies. The backlash comes as these “resources” were delivered in the form of videos using unusual metaphors for sexual consent, such as tacos, going for a swim and the now largely infamous milkshakes, which has since resulted in the videos being removed.

The milkshake video shows a boy and a girl enjoying a milkshake together. This harmless act then turns into the girl smearing her milkshake over the boy’s face without his consent. This was highly criticized as “infantilising” which is detrimental as kids need to understand sexual consent as a serious issue. Another major criticism is the fact they swapped gender roles in a gender related issue. Stats suggest that 97% of sexual assault victims are female. Although, in an attempt to strip gender from the message, they have made the female the offender, making it even more confusing. On top of all of this, the video is excruciatingly awkward and hard to watch. This is due to the strange style of acting and producing giving it an immature feel to the video, when the solution to the issue at hand should be “a mature, ongoing and open conversation”.

As a small PR agency we have seen many times, a failed campaign to promote a highly sensitive topic can have a detrimental effect. In this case, despite being an absolute PR nightmare for the organising parties, a new approach to an otherwise positive campaign has been encouraged and is seriously necessary.

Now don’t mind me as I sit back with my milkshake and wait patiently for the government to get this one right…

By Michael Fitness – PR and Influencer Coordinator at InsideOut PR and #AsSeenON

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