“Don’t be that guy” rape prevention campaign


Image from poster from www.globaltvedmonton.com

In Edmonton, Canada, a coalition of organizations called Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton has launched a new rape prevention campaign targeting potential perpetrators. Their website describes the thinking behind this campaign:

Typically, sexual assault awareness campaigns target potential victims by urging women to restrict their behavior. Research is telling us that targeting the behavior of victims is not only ineffective, but also contributes to how much they blame themselves after the assault. That’s why our campaign is targeting potential offenders – they are the ones responsible for the assault and responsible for stopping it. By addressing alcohol-facilitated sexual assault without victim-blaming, we intend to mark Edmonton on the map as a model for other cities.

What you you think about this campaign?

(Thanks to Feministing for alerting me to this campaign.)

David Lee

David S. Lee, MPH, is the Director of Prevention Services at the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault (CALCASA) where he provides training and technical assistance on prevention. David manages the national project Prevention Connection, an online community of violence against women prevention practitioners, funders, researchers and activists. For over 29 years David has worked in efforts to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Ashley November 23, 2010, 8:27 AM

    I like the intention to focus on perpetration. Is there a place to view more campaign materials? The negatives in this poster makes me wonder if the message could be reframed. Honestly, I can’t see past the fact that this woman needs desperately to be taken to the hospital – two bottles of wine and 2 bottles of something else. Holy hell.

    Seriously, though, what do YOU think?

  • Jenny Dills November 23, 2010, 8:39 AM

    It’s targeting a very specific behavior — alcohol-facilitated sexual assault. I do see the argument that it’s treating all men as potential perpetrators and that could have a negative impact. But, it’s also working to address the norms.

    The discussion thread going on at Feministing is quite interesting. The notion of bystanders as chaperones or “designated watchers” vs. friends and acquaintances holding each other responsible and accountable. Seems like the former can very easily transform into victim blaming. I just hadn’t heard anyone describe bystanders as chaperones. I don’t quite agree that that is what they are or are encouraged to be…

  • Jody November 23, 2010, 9:08 AM

    I like that this is a campaign that the entire city of Edmonton is committed to. Too often we see these types of messages and they are only targeted at specific populations (colleges and universities for example). While I feel that these types of campaigns should continue at targeted populations, we cannot overlook the universal populations.
    Good job, Edmonton… and good luck!

  • ramesh kathanadhi November 23, 2010, 9:51 AM

    i am curious if other materials in this campaign help to set the victim and offender in a social context of family, friends, co workers etc.
    for instance, another way to focus on folks that choose to rape, is to place them in a family photo, ask what they talk about at breakfast with their grandma, show them in their professional roles (future or current) as doctors or university administrators.

    and i wonder how on college campuses to hold the reality that sexual harassment and rape happen in these scenarios but also in scenarios where elder adults have positions of authority, administrators, faculty, security…

    great work to keep the conversation moving.


  • James Landrith March 10, 2011, 6:14 PM

    I have mixed feelings about this campaign. I do like that it targets behaviours rather than telling survivors how to avoid being raped. However, the frequent portrayals of the campaign as “finally telling men not to be rapists” is more than a little minimizing to male rape survivors. Further, it does give the impression that only men commit rape and that they are all going to be rapist unless taught otherwise. Consent campaigns are an improvement, but I take offense at the concept that I have to be taught not to be a rapist. When I was the age of the target demographic – I was being raped – by a woman who used alcohol she bought to drug me.

    The woman who raped me BOUGHT my drinks for me and spiked the second one before doing what she wanted and then blackmailing me into silence. Of course, I’ve been told by both men and women that I must have wanted it, was at fault for drinking with a woman, men can’t be raped, women can be rapists and every other victim-blaming tidbit you can think up.

    Someone never told my rapist “Don’t Be That Gal.” 20 years, countless panic attacks, years of lost sleep, and thousands of dollars in therapy bills could have been avoided if she’d cared about consent herself. How many women violate the consent of their partners regularly, only to get away with it because female on male rape is considered a big joke, or worse – that he was asking for it (i.e., erections = consent, men can’t be raped, men always want sex).

    Somedays I hate her and other days I reserve my stronger emotions for those who make excuses for people (not just men) who violate consent and do what they want, when they want, without regard to the damage they leave behind.