In terms of makeup, red lipstick is pretty rad. The perfect “lazy girl” beauty hack, a red lip can jazz up an outfit or for some, trick people into thinking you understand makeup when in reality you use eyeliner pencils as stationary.
However, for the month of April, men and women around the world, including students at the ANU, are donning a shade of scarlet for an entirely different purpose.
“Red My Lip” began in 2012, after Danielle Tansino, an American social worker who was raped by a friend on a night out, founded the campaign in response to her traumatic experiences with the court system. A female district attorney told Tansino that her case would not be brought to prosecution because “jurors don’t like girls who drink”.1 This phrase struck a chord with Tansino and millions of men and women around the world wanting to combat the attitude that a rape victim was “asking for it” by drinking or making “slutty” clothing choices.
This cause is particularly relevant for students at the ANU in light of recent reports of sexual assault on campus. In a recent Woroni article about unwanted sexual attention on campus, Professor Richard Baker, Pro-Vice Chancellor of Student Experience, noted that “while there is some evidence that the rate of incidents on campus may be lower than that in the broader community, there remains more we can do to improve the situation on our campus”.2 While the Dean of Students’ Report3 noted that nine allegations of unwanted sexual attention were reported on and off campus last year, the real figure is irrefutably much higher due to lack of official reportage.
For students looking to raise awareness about this issue, “Red My Lip” is an apt way to engender dialogue about assault and harassment on campus, and more broadly, the culture of victim blaming, which still pervades some parts of our society. Reflecting on her participation in the campaign so far, first year International Relations/Law student Sophie Jones told Woroni; “as someone who hardly wears makeup, let alone bold lipstick, it’s taken people by surprise and initiated lots of really important discussions”.
While the Women’s Department is not holding an official campaign event, Women’s Officer Loren Ovens maintains that “every month is sexual assault awareness [month] for the department”, pointing to The Pledge campaign run by the department which also addresses violence on campus. Scheduled for early Semester Two, ANUSA’s Sex and Consent Week will also highlight the issue while at the same time as celebrating healthy expressions of sexuality.