Submission Title

Exposing Rape on Campus: A Semiotic Analysis of the Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign “It Happens”

Location

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

Subject Area

Communication Arts/Rhetoric

Description

Sexual assault on college campuses continues to be a major problem. With cases like Brock Turner receiving national attention, anti-assault awareness campaigns have been on the rise. Recent trends in these campaigns involve the inclusion of graphic images to attract the viewers’ attention. This study focuses on the “It Happens” campaign, which consists of nine posed photos that illustrate sexual assault. The images depict victims and alleged perpetrators from diverse communities. The semiotic analysis looks at how the visual rhetoric and graphic nature of the images portrays sexual assault on college campuses and how those elements attempt to persuade the audience. The study found that the campaign persuades the audience to connect with the victim while also providing rhetoric to redefine who can be sexually assaulted. The use of graphic images to raise awareness could, however, be triggering for victims and result in a reinforcement of the rape culture that exists on college campuses.

The paper upon which this poster is based was written for Linfield’s Senior Seminar course in Communication Arts. The paper was competitively selected for presentation at the Northwest Communication Association Conference in April 2017.

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Exposing Rape on Campus: A Semiotic Analysis of the Sexual Assault Awareness Campaign “It Happens”

Jereld R. Nicholson Library: Grand Avenue

Sexual assault on college campuses continues to be a major problem. With cases like Brock Turner receiving national attention, anti-assault awareness campaigns have been on the rise. Recent trends in these campaigns involve the inclusion of graphic images to attract the viewers’ attention. This study focuses on the “It Happens” campaign, which consists of nine posed photos that illustrate sexual assault. The images depict victims and alleged perpetrators from diverse communities. The semiotic analysis looks at how the visual rhetoric and graphic nature of the images portrays sexual assault on college campuses and how those elements attempt to persuade the audience. The study found that the campaign persuades the audience to connect with the victim while also providing rhetoric to redefine who can be sexually assaulted. The use of graphic images to raise awareness could, however, be triggering for victims and result in a reinforcement of the rape culture that exists on college campuses.

The paper upon which this poster is based was written for Linfield’s Senior Seminar course in Communication Arts. The paper was competitively selected for presentation at the Northwest Communication Association Conference in April 2017.