Was Budweiser Really Promoting Rape Culture?

Above: Bud Light has apologized after critics said a label printed on some bottles of beer endorsed rape

Budweiser has been running their #UpForWhatever campaign for two years now, and the intention is relatively clear. Up for whatever means trying new things, getting out of your comfort zone, and tossing the plan aside. We all know alcohol means lowered inhibitions, and therefore a willingness to do things we might not do sober. According to the slogans on Budweiser bottles, that could include, “taking off the blindfold and showing the piñata who’s boss”, or “tuning up the old air guitar.” But they went too far with one of their slogans.

A picture of a Budweiser bottle with the slogan “The perfect beer for removing ‘no’ from your vocabulary for the night” was posted on Reddit on Monday night, and people immediately started tweeting. The slogan was taken by some as a form of promoting rape culture. The idea that no shouldn’t be an option is obviously something rapists believe, and the fact that drinking is often a huge factor in a lot of rapes just added insult to injury.

Budweiser has apologized for this obvious oversight, with Alexander Lambrecht, Vice President of Anheuser-Busch’s Bud Light division saying, “The Bud Light Up for Whatever campaign, now in its second year, has inspired millions of consumers to engage with our brands in a positive and light-hearted way. In this spirit, we created more than 140 different scroll messages intended to encourage spontaneous fun. It’s clear that this message missed the mark, and we regret it. We would never condone disrespect or irresponsible behaviour.”

It seems like that particular slogan was just a huge mistake that somehow managed to slip past the entire team at Anheuser-Busch. Stupid? Yes. Clueless and tone deaf? Definitely. But an attempt to paint rape in a positive light, and make it seem like people who are “up for anything” are also up for getting raped? No way.

The intention was to make drinking beer seem fun, and carefree. Drinking Budweiser is a great way to loosen up, and have a good time. Of course, drinking too much is a huge problem when it comes to rape cases. Budweiser definitely should have realized that that particular slogan was going to rub people the wrong way, but the idea that they would consciously choose to associate their product with something as awful as rape, is just crazy. No company in their right mind would do that.

The outrage surrounding the #UpForWhatever campaign as a whole seems to be a little blown out of proportion as well. The problem here isn’t the slogan, it’s people who would actually believe that “up for anything” means up for unwanted sexual advances. Those people are the problem, not the fact that drinking leads to lowered inhibitions. It goes back to the idea that teaching men, and woman as well, not to rape would result in a lot less rape in general. It shouldn’t be the victim’s responsibility to prevent rape. It just shouldn’t be something that crosses anyone’s mind as an option in the first place. It’s sad that we’re all so sensitive about possibly, maybe, accidentally promoting rape culture, that a suggestion like being “up for anything” could be a negative thing. No one is ever up for rape. And that should be a given.

Budweiser definitely deserved to be called out for their error, because that one slogan in particular is in bad taste. But again, it was not their intention to promote rape, so can we just accept their apology and move on?

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