Rape culture 'huge' but most men who pass 'drunk' woman on Auckland street offer her help

Most men who happened by an apparently drunk young woman on an Auckland street at night offered to help her in a social experiment conducted by Seven Sharp to test attitudes.

How safe, or unsafe, are women if they're out by themselves after a few drinks? Source: Seven Sharp

The experiment was prompted by recent suggestions that 'rape culture' has become ingrained in New Zealand society and that some males need to change their attitude towards women.

Senior lecturer in psychology at AUT, Dr Pani Farvid, who has studied sexist behaviour for years, told Seven Sharp 'rape culture' is huge.

"We are dealing with huge rape culture problem - the notion that if a woman is dressed a certain way, if she's drunk, she's somehow asking for it," Dr Farvid said.

The programme hired an actor to play drunk on a Ponsonby street to test whether Kiwis helped or harassed her.

As one man walked past her, she told him: "I'm quite drunk."

The man responded: "Keen for a root?" and when the woman said, "sorry?" he repeated the question.

"Oh, no thanks," the woman replied.

But it wasn't harassment all night, with some men just chatting to her and many others trying to help her.

A couple in a car offered her a lift, and a bouncer tried to help her get sober, taking her to get water.

Other men checked she was ok, offering to call a friend to help her get home, or use their own car, while a taxi driver offered her a free ride.

All the young women who passed the 'drunk' female did nothing but look at her and walk on.

"We know that on a daily basis women deal with sexual harassment. It is so ostensibly inappropriate, but it's so common. So it's really difficult to really challenge it and go 'this is actually inappropriate behaviour'," Dr Farvid said.

"No matter what your gender, if you see someone that's intoxicated and on their own try and get them home in the safest way possible," she said.

As for the actor who spent the evening playing drunk, she said the men who approached her were "mostly really nice, caring". 

"All they wanted to do was help me get home safe, so that's really good to hear".