Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton (SAVE), a collection of groups working to fight sexual assault in Edmonton, Canada announced Friday the creation of the “Don’t Be That Guy” Campaign. The title sounds strange, but the campaign itself is definitely worth looking at.
The ads, which are supposed to target males between the ages of 18 and 24, will be posted in print, on buses, and in urinals in bars. There will be three different ads, and their messages read as follows:
“Just because you help her home … doesn’t mean you get to help yourself.”
“Just because she isn’t saying no … doesn’t mean she’s saying yes.” (This features an image of a woman passed out on a couch.)
“Just because she’s drunk doesn’t mean she wants to f***.”
The messages were chosen after testing among focus groups showed that the messages clearly resonated with young men. The Edmonton police reports that over half of the sexual assault cases it dealt with last year had alcohol as a factor.
The linked article mentions a study in the UK that showed that 48% of men ages 18 to 25 who were polled did not consider it rape if the woman was too drunk to know what was happening. I find that to be incredibly scary–and it makes me think that these ads are not only useful, but necessary. There is often a lot of talk about the ambiguous line of who is to blame for rape when the girl chooses to drink enough to become intoxicated, and these discussions, when respectful, can be interesting and important to have–but it is still important to remember that a woman who is passed out or drunk beyond cognizance cannot give consent. Rather than dealing with this blame game after the fact, this ad campaign is trying to prevent rape from happening by reminding men that consent is still consent, and that even if you can take advantage of a drunk person, you should choose not to.
There are a lot of campaigns out there targeting women and urging them to be uber-cautious when going out with men–and there are people who finds these campaigns to be excessive and dismissive of women’s sexual desires and choices. Personally, I think there’s nothing wrong with reminding women to be careful when they go out, and to make sure that they’re safe–it’s just smart. Telling women to be careful is not equivalent to telling them not to have sex; it is simply telling them to look out for themselves.
That being said, I think this campaign is important because it moves beyond simply encouraging women to look out for themselves and turns to men, the people being accused of rape, and reminds them that consent from women who are unconscious or extremely drunk is not actually consent. It targets them (hopefully) preemptively–and therefore can hopefully lead to a change in the mindset of men who once thought it would be okay to take advantage of an incredibly drunk woman. In order to prevent rape, both women and men need to be aware of how it happens and try to prevent it through their personal actions.