Bud Light ads should encourage proper consent

Photo Credit: Phoebe Lim
Photo Credit: Phoebe Lim
Photo Credit: Phoebe Lim

“We’ll be heading out for drinks after. Where do you want to go?”

“Oh, anywhere. . . I’m up for whatever.”

This is the social dialogue that many of us use with our friends when we go out. We wish to seem ambivalent, easy going, easy to please, and ready to have a good time.

Bud Light drew on this attitude for their recent advertising campaign titled, #UpforWhatever, in which their main tagline read, “The perfect beer from removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night.” However, the wording of this slogan is worrisome; it perpetuates rape culture and the acceptance of sexual harassment through its dismissal of a person’s right to consent to any activity.     

This is not the first time that rape culture has been perpetuated within media. In fact, the culture surrounds us, hidden in catchy song lyrics like those in Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines” and in the erotic fan fiction Fifty Shades of Grey. The message given is that sex can be taken at any point, even if one person involved says ‘no.’

The brand has diminished the experiences of sexual assault survivors.

I understand the concept behind the ad — people associate alcohol with having a good time, having a fun night out with friends, letting go of their inhibitions, and, well, being up for whatever. This campaign is supposed to be fun, one that people should not take too seriously. After all, the easiest way for rape culture to be accepted in society is when it can go down easy, disguised as having a good time, am I right?

However, we must consider that survivors of sexual assault did not find sex a pleasurable experience. According to Sexual Assault and Rape Statistics Canada, one in four women in North America will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime. Furthermore, it says 57 per cent of Aboriginal women and 83 per cent of disabled women will experience sexual assault. Men and children are also victims of these crimes.

Given these statistics, sexual assault is far more common than we would like to believe. These incidents are also vastly underreported to authorities, meaning that the numbers are actually greater than what statistics have gathered.

In regards to the Bud Light campaign, removing “no” from one’s vocabulary does not mean that somebody is “up for whatever.” Consent for an activity is given with an enthusiastic, affirmative, “yes,” and can be retracted at any time. Silence does not equal consent, and most importantly, it cannot be given when someone is drunk. Having enough alcohol in one’s system until they become agreeable to anything is a worrisome and dangerous attitude to promote, as what happens after that night could lead to a lifetime of regret and pain.

The Bud Light slogan wishes to remove “no” from a person’s vocabulary for the night, but the removal of that word also implies the removal of a person’s right to consent to sexual activity, and diminishes the experiences of sexual assault survivors in the process.  Being able to say no is just as important as being able to say yes. If Bud Light prioritized the concept of consent in their ads, then everybody would be having a good time.