Visual Analysis: Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board

Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board poster

By Kelly Matthews

The worst thing you can do to someone is blame them for something they didn’t do or control. For decades, women have been brainwashed to think that the reason they have been sexually assaulted is because they caused it upon themselves. This is why today we have posters like this made. To make women feel ashamed, guilty, belittled, and powerless. In 2011, this poster was created by Pennsylvania Liquor Control Board about alcohol consumption. What do you think this picture implies? What does the slogan mean? I went around my school and my town and showed people this picture and asked them what they thought the meaning was. The majority of them thought that the picture was warning people about the outcomes of too much alcohol, and bringing awareness. Of course that is a normal reaction, if you don’t look too deeply. But I’ll tell you what I really think it means. This photo is implying that when a female gets too drunk, it’s her fault that she gets raped, and if her friends are too intoxicated to help her it is their fault also.

The picture overall was not needed to inform people about the possibilities of date rape. In fact it is downright insulting. Do you see the way the girl is seductively posing? Again it seems like they are saying something without directly saying it. It’s as if they were trying to make the poster appealing by making her underwear match the tiles on the floor. They took an incredibly serious topic and made it seem like a silly one. Even though the Pennsylvania Liquor Control claims that the poster was made to alert young adults about the risk and consequences of being overly intoxicated, there were others ways to go about this touchy topic without offending many individuals. Even if they had a motive or not, the overall message had a passive aggressive meaning.

When you hear of someone getting sexually assaulted, quite often at times alcohol is involved. The quote “she didn’t want to do it, but she couldn’t say no” translates that since she was under the influence she is to blame. But it seems like everyone forgets about the perpetrator, stating “that person was too drunk so therefore that is what caused the sexual assault.” It’s so easy to blame and assume without actually taking time to analyze the situation. For instance, just because a women is drunk does not justify a man raping her, nor does wearing provocative clothing insinuate consent. When a woman does drink irresponsibly, that in no way condones any sexual act or absolves the perpetrator of guilt. Drunkenness does not cause sexual assault.

Behaviorism plays a big part in this argument. In a psychology book written by Spencer A. Rathus called Psychology Concepts and Connections, it is defined that Behaviorism is the school of psychology that focuses on the learning and effects of observable behavior. What does this have to do with alcohol consumption? Think about it. If you don’t think about doing something when you’re sober, why do it when you’re drunk? Alcohol consumption helps make things easier. It helps boost one’s ego. Does the term “liquor courage” ring a bell? Perpetrators commit the act of sexual assault and use drinking as an excuse and stimulus as a response for their deviant behavior. The alcohol acts as reinforcement of a result. This will influence the perpetrator’s behavior in the future.

Trying to keep young adults from becoming victims by telling them to control their alcohol consumption is not going to solve the problem. If anything it just causes a bigger one and neglects the real issue. The real issue is women are sexually assaulted every day, and to use alcohol as a reason to be violated is false. There are bad people everywhere. Although in some cases sexual assault is committed by a stranger, 70% of women are assaulted by a person they know. The point of that statistic is that sexual assault can happen at any given time, anywhere, any place. The person that is victimized is not the one that should be shamed or put in the spotlight. Maybe Pennsylvania Liquor Control should try put the focus on the potential rapist instead of the innocent person.

Work Cited
Spencer, Rathus. “Behaviorism Psychology.” Psychology Concepts and Connection. Massachusetts: National Survey Findings. Journal of Studies on Alcohol 58, 1997. 560. Print.

Submitted for ENG 101 Composition, Fall 2014.  Assignment: Textual Analysis
Instructor: Alexandra Carey
Instructor comments: Kelly chose an interesting visual image to analyze, because it had a meaning other than the primary intended one of the organization. Kelly explained well how the purpose of the image differs from how readers may perceive it, thereby uncovering layers and perspectives to social issues. This is a good example of a piece that looks at a text/image in multiple ways.

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