Canadian anti-rape campaign: “Don’t be that guy”

Finally, an anti-rape campaign that targets the perpetrators, rather than the victims! The campaign, which was launched in Edmonton, Alberta, last week, is called “Don’t Be That Guy.” In a series of posters, it addresses the legal reality that a woman who is extremely drunk, or even passed out, cannot consent to sex. With messages like “just because she isn’t saying no… doesn’t mean she’s saying yes ”and“ Just because you’re helping her home… doesn’t mean you get to help yourself,” the campaign targets “opportunistic offenders,” as Edmonton Police Superintendent calls them. According to the Vancouver Sun:

The three advertisements were chosen after focus-group testing showed the messages were clearly understood by, and resonated with, young men.

Campbell said she hopes the “graphic” and “blunt” messages make a real difference in educating young men and reducing sexual assaults.

In 2009, alcohol was a factor in half the cases investigated by the police sexual assault section, said Campbell. In the first six months of this year, 52 per cent of cases investigated, involving 153 victims, had alcohol as a factor, she said.

“In each of these cases, the victims were clearly intoxicated … in some cases passed out at the time of the sexual assault. In each and every case, the offender was known to the victim,” Campbell said.

I applaud the Edmonton Police force for the strong stance they’ve taken on this issue and for their willingness to work with assault prevention groups and hospitality industry representatives to create the kind of anti-assault campaign we so rarely see. This kind of approach is the only kind that can truly end sexual assault. After all, in the words of Karen Smith of the Sexual Assault Centre of Edmonton, “as long as society directs prevention strategies at women, we all stop looking at what the real problem is – the perpetrators.”

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Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia. She joined the Feministing team in 2009. Her writing about politics and popular culture has been published in The Atlantic, The Guardian, New York magazine, Reuters, The LA Times and many other outlets in the US, Australia, UK, and France. She makes regular appearances on radio and television in the US and Australia. She has an AB in Sociology from Princeton University and a PhD in Arts and Media from the University of New South Wales. Her academic work focuses on Hollywood romantic comedies; her doctoral thesis was about how the genre depicts gender, sex, and power, and grew out of a series she wrote for Feministing, the Feministing Rom Com Review. Chloe is a Senior Facilitator at The OpEd Project and a Senior Advisor to The Harry Potter Alliance. You can read more of her writing at

Chloe Angyal is a journalist and scholar of popular culture from Sydney, Australia.

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