ARE YOU OK?
The goal of the Are You Okay? campaign is to make undesirable sexual behavior in nightlife discussable. The campaign calls everyone to Are you okay? asking when someone is being harassed. Because we have come to think unwanted sexual behavior is far too normal. Especially while going out, it seems to come with it. Are you okay calls on everyone to break this and work together to create a culture shift that makes going out even more fun and safe.
Everyone has a different boundary
Everyone has a different boundary for what behavior they find desirable or undesirable. Is one fine with being kissed by a stranger? Another person is totally not into that. During outings, therefore, it is not always clear where that boundary lies. Young people go out for drinks, flirt with each other, and then those boundaries blur even more. They also find it very difficult to check the border with each other. That’s when things can go wrong.
Bystanders at the ready
The focus on bystanders is a conscious choice; it proves very difficult for young people to state their boundaries and discuss them in the moment, so it can be nice to have another person check to see if everything is okay. By looking out for each other while going out, everyone can contribute to a good atmosphere. We cannot make victims of unwanted sexual behavior responsible for solving the problem. And just focusing on victims as other dating campaigns do does not do enough to break the culture that normalizes unwanted behavior. In addition, research shows that perpetrators do not recognize themselves as perpetrators and do not see their own behavior as harmful to others.
Are you okay? gives youth a concrete action perspective, tells them what they can do if they see someone is uncomfortable, how to handle it and who they can talk to. If someone cannot figure it out on their own, they can always turn to bar and security staff at the venue for help. Are you okay? is an initiative of Rutgers in partnership with the Association of Dutch Pop Stages and Festivals, Celebrate Safe and No Thanks. In the coming period, Rutgers will be running the Are You Okay? Expand network further towards pubs and student unions.