Don't Be That Guy

Content Warning:  Sexual assault and Rape

Don’t Be That Guy is a viral and behavioral marketing campaign that sends the message that sex without consent is rape.  It is aimed at would-be rapists, rather than the victims of rape.

Sex without consent is sexual assault, also known as, rape. Battered Women’s Support Services has partnered with Vancouver Police Department, Bar Watch, WAVAW and BC Women’s Hospital and Health Centre in Don’t Be That Guy.

Don’t Be That Guy – a behavioural marketing campaign sends the message that sex without consent is sexual assault. We are sending a visual message to men between the ages of 18 and 25, graphically demonstrating their role in ending alcohol facilitated sexual assaults. Don’t Be That Guy shifts the emphasis to men to take responsibility for their behaviour. Studies involving 18-25 year old men revealed that 48 per cent of the men did not consider it rape if a woman is too drunk to know what is going on.

The original vision for Don’t Be That Guy was a community collaboration in Edmonton, Alberta in response to recognition of increased reports of alcohol facilitated sexual assaults in their city. The community collaboration called themselves SAVE (Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton) and their major partners were Edmonton Police Service, Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre, Saffron Centre, Alberta Health Services – Covenant Health, Prostitution Action and Awareness Foundation of Edmonton, University of Alberta Women’s Studies Program, Red Cross (Edmonton), Responsible Hospitality Edmonton and several community advocates.

Here are a few of the ‘Don’t Be That Guy’ campaign posters:

This campaign is not aimed at the victims of rape (and it also recognizes that the victims of rape are not always women; men can be and are victims of rape).  It is aimed at men because men are the ones who most often are rapists (however, women can be rapists as well).  Taking the onus off rape victims to end rape is important because they aren’t responsible for rape. Rapists are.  You cannot prevent what you cannot control.  In a thread at Pharyngula, I elaborate more on this:

On an individual level, rape prevention tips might work. Think about the claims of rape apologists.
“If you hadn’t gone to the frat party, you wouldn’t have been raped.”
“If you hadn’t worn that cosplay outfit, you wouldn’t have been raped.”
“If you hadn’t invited xim to your room, you wouldn’t have been raped.

I’m sure you know that’s victim blaming, as it literally blames the victim for the actions of the rapist. But remember that that victim blaming occurs everywhere. The message that there are things people can do to avoid or prevent rape is projected from the valleys to the mountains. It’s heard on tv, in the movies, at work, at school, at church, at home. It has insinuated itself into the foundation of society such that it’s become the default response from a great many people when they hear about someone being raped.

Now, we know that’s not right. But what about the people who don’t know that’s not right? What about the people who don’t understand or even know about Rape Culture? They’ve been living in this culture like the rest of us and have soaked in the harmful Rape Culture ideas, but haven’t heard them refuted. For many of them, they may think there is indeed something they can do to prevent getting raped.

They might wear more clothes.
They might choose to not go for that jog at night by themselves.
They might opt to use drug detecting nail varnish.

On the individual level, that’s perfectly fine. If someone chooses to take steps to make themselves feel more secure, GO FOR IT.

But culturally, from the perspective of society at large? It’s not going to amount to a hill o’ beans, bc rapists find ways to rape. And they use all manner of tactics. Getting someone drunk is not the only way. In fact, as I was trying to get Helen to understand upthread, the nail varnish isn’t going to do a lot of good for the youth under 17 who are sexually assaulted.

Also, as I mentioned upthread, even if potential victims were to use the nail varnish and they detected the presence of drugs, what does that do? It might alert them to the possibility that someone is trying to drug and maybe rape them. What then? Tell the owner or manager of the bar? Call the cops? Remember that we live in a Rape Culture where victims of attempted and completed rape are routinely not believed. Chances are the potential victim will not be believed and the rapist will still be at large. All they’re going to do is find another way to rape. Or they’ll find another target. Or both.

The other problem with pushing the idea of using so-called rape prevention tools is that it shifts the discussion away from the perpetrators of rape. Instead of talking about educating people about consent and respecting the boundaries of others, the conversation becomes “do this and your chances of being raped drop”. That doesn’t affect the wider culture. It doesn’t target the people who are doing the rape. It doesn’t change minds.

Another way to look at it-people often say “learn self-defense’. Ok, great. What if every person concerned about rape learned self defense*. Remember how many intimate partner rapes there are? There are countless stories of women and men being raped by their partners. This isn’t stranger rape we’re talking about where one’s guard might be up. This is people they know, and trust that are violating them. How effective are self defense techniques going to be against people they trust and/or love, when they’re thinking they won’t be harmed by them?

Also, as I alluded to above, attempting to protect oneself from rape is quite understandable. But does that stop rape from happening period? Or just send the rapist elsewhere? Should we push and suggest rape prevention methods that just shift the rape onto someone else? Does that work to lower the overall incidence of rape? No. It doesn’t. At a guess, I’d say many people not only don’t want themselves raped, they don’t want others raped either.

Which means efforts to reduce rape need to target the people who are responsible for rape: the rapists.

*and remember, there are going to be many people with limited mobility for whom self defense classes won’t work

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Don't Be That Guy
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