Two years ago, Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton launched a campaign that got quite a bit of attention online. Called “Don’t be that guy,” it featured a notorious men’s bathroom ad that read “Just because she’s drunk, doesn’t mean she wants to f**k”
The new campaign continues a fairly frank and confrontational approach in addressing male sexual aggressors:
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 and increases self-blame in survivors. Instead, the SAVE campaigns targets potential offenders - ultimately the ones who hold the power and responsibility to end sexual assault.. By addressing sexual assault without victim-blaming, we intend to mark Edmonton on the map as a model for other cities.
This approach may not be effective with men who intend to rape. But I doubt that’s the point. Rather than addressing a hardcore, repeated behaviour, these ads seem to try to shake the “nice guy” who “takes advantage” of a female peer out of his delusion that what he did was OK. And perhaps to encourage victims to report what is really a crime and a violation committed against them, for which they need not feel guilt.
Edmonton Police report that more than half of the assaults their Sexual Assault Section investigated in in 2011 involved alcohol. The scenarios we see here are all too familiar to young people who spend a lot of their time drunk and wild. It’s the classic myth of aroused and impaired men being “out of control” when they find themselves in a potentially sexual situation.
Even with each other:
Designed to reach youth when they are at most risk of entering these situations, the ads will be posted in men’s washrooms in bars and clubs in Edmonton, Alberta, as well as in LRT stations and campus and entertainment newspapers.
SAVE spokesperson Karen Smith says she believes the campaign will work, adding “the posters are certainly creating conversation around the issue of consent.”
It’s certainly a conversation we need to be having.
Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton
· Edmonton Police Service
· Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton
· University of Alberta Sexual Assault Centre
· University of Alberta Women's Studies
· Responsible Hospitality Edmonton
· Saffron Centre of Sherwood Park
· Center to End All Sexual Exploitation
· Covenant Health Prevention of Alcohol Related Trauma in Youth (The PARTY Program
· Red Cross