“Don’t Be That Guy” Campaign is Launched in Canada

Dear Engaged Bystander:  I have worked for years in the field of sexual violence prevention with a focus on stopping the perpetration of child sexual abuse.  So when I read about this new campaign in the blog "Feministing", I just loved her opening line: 

Finally, an anti-rape campaign that targets the perpetrators, rather than the victims!”

This new program in Edmonton, Canada was launched on November 22, 2010. According to the coalition or organizations called Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton:

 “… 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.” They developed a series of posters with messages that clearly tell us that a woman cannot consent to sex when she is drunk or passed out. These messages were tested with the target audience and bluntly state: “Just because she isn’t saying no… doesn’t mean that she’s saying yes.” And “Just because you’re helping her home… doesn’t mean you get to help yourself.” 

 This is an exciting new approach that I have not often seen used by rape prevention programs. Although I don’t agree with all of their assumptions, I do think that this is an approach that can complement programs that work with victims and with bystanders.  

 These are some small reservations. First, it is important to pay attention to language. They use the term “potential perpetrator.” I have talked with many sex offenders over the years and none of them felt that they would ever have identified as a potential perpetrator. But they might reach out for help if they felt that they could say they were at risk for sexually inappropriate to sexually abusive behaviors. I also think that the City seems to pit programs targeting victims against those targeting perpetrators. BOTH of these programs are essential. 

 Last, and mostly importantly, is the case for bystander programs. Often in the abuse dynamic between victim and perpetrator, neither the victim nor perpetrator are in a position to stop the abuse. The people who can make a difference are their friends and families – the bystanders – these are the people who can do something to stop someone they know from hurting anyone. 

 Take a look at this program.   And let’s look for information about how successful it will be.






Submitted by jlandrith on

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" (yes, that has happened - a lot) 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 rapists 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 raped - by a woman who used alcohol she bought to drug me. I'm not a statistical anomaly, more than simply a deliberately ignored demographic. Consent is not a gender issue, regardless of how some may wish to paint it for their own purposes.

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 I didn't know, men can't be raped, women can't 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 (or female on female) rape is considered a big joke, or worse - that he/she was asking for it (i.e., erections = consent, men can't be raped, men always want sex, women can't be rapists).

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.