“Don’t be that guy!” ads target offenders not victims

Rebecca Watson’s “Elevator Guy” debacle over the summer highlighted a problem women and men need to deal with, not just in atheist circles but across our communities. I just learned this week that there’s an anti-rape ad campaign going on in Canada and posters hanging up in men’s rooms of bars and other places are inadvertently following in Watson’s footsteps here. I heard about it on CBC on the drive home from work one day and a quick poke of the interwebs finds me an article about the launch of these ads in Edmonton back in November. Chloe writes for Feminsting and her source is an article that no longer exists via her link, alas.

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.

A friend of mine dropped a tweet on Facebook yesterday about Saskatoon’s Premier Fine Wines, Spirits & Specialty Foods Festival going on now. Cammi noted,

Just left the wine premiere festival. great time, not sure how I feel about a rape whistle as a keepsake though.

Too bad she didn’t mention which booth provided it, or if it was something being given to women on their way in. I wonder what guys would have been getting.

I’ve never been raped. I’m starting to feel incredibly lucky because I can say that. A random check of statistics on sexual assault led me to some grim numbers.

Of every 100 incidents of sexual assault, only 6 are reported to the police
1 – 2% of “date rape” sexual assaults are reported to the police
1 in 4 North American women will be sexually assaulted during their lifetime
11% of women have physical injury resulting for sexual assault
Only 2 – 4% of all sexual assaults reported are false reports
About 50% of sex assaults occur on dates
60% of sexual abuse/assault victims are under the age of 17

And it goes on.

I’ve certainly been in positions where, had the company been different and less respectful of my right to consent, I’d be counted in those numbers. I’ve been stupid in bars ever since I was old enough to legally be in one. That’s 19 in Saskatchewan. I’m 37 now. Maybe “lucky” doesn’t begin to cover…

Chloe thinks this campaign shows promise.

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.”

I’m going to hold off on the applause for a bit yet. I don’t really know how ads like this will impact behaviour. Will they be taken to heart by the jerks truly in need of the lesson, or will they just freak out the inept, geeky flirters and result in a lot of lonely hearts going home defeated before they even get a chance to start a chance romance?

Over the summer, dozens of cities held SlutWalks. The events were prompted by shitty comments a police constable in Toronto made regarding victims of sexual assault. Saskatoon hosted one and some Freethinker friends and I were among the hundred or so hollering down the blocked off streets about respect and the like. One of these friends is one of those women born for cleavage, short skirts and hooker boots. She loves the style and how she looks, and her husband (and others) do as well. I almost wonder how we wound up friends, as I have my ample cleavage hidden usually and tend to keep my pants on. She’s sexually vocal, as well, not one who feels she should be ashamed of her carnal interests. I certainly admire her for that but have, on a few occasions, wondered how close she’s gotten to becoming a statistic, too. I’d hate to see her get hurt simply on account of how she’s dressed and false perceptions on the part of other people in terms of what kind of person they think she is. I think that’s badly worded, but hopefully understandable.

It is completely unfair to train girls and women into thinking that they have to hide themselves in public lest randy men lose all sense of themselves if they see a little skin or hair. Why should it be up to women alone to protect themselves from predators? Why shouldn’t guys carry more of the responsibility on their shoulders?

I don’t know. What do readers think? Can a campaign like this change much or is it more likely to be a fart in the wind?

About 1minionsopinion

Canadian Atheist Basically ordinary Library employee Avid book lover Ditto for movies Wanna-be writer Procrastinator
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3 Responses to “Don’t be that guy!” ads target offenders not victims

  1. Laurance says:

    Hello, Minion…I was not aware of any slutwalks around here, but if there had been one, I would have participated. I would have carried a sign that said, “This is what I was wearing when I was groped and molested.”

    And what was I wearing? What? A skimpy miniskirt? No. A low-cut bra thing showing cleavage? No. Anything sexy and enticing? No. Anything that could be considered an excuse to hurt me? No.

    I was at a Zen Center, and I was wearing a black robe that covered me up from neck to feet. I looked like a nun. But the roshi groped me and made ugly f*ck noises at me. I felt slimed and humiliated and confused. There was no reason for this to happen. I soon found out that he was noted for this kind of crap, and his disciples protected him and kept him from being held accountable.

    If there’s a slutwalk in the future, and I can get there, I will go wearing my black Zen robe, and I will say that women can be molested, groped, and otherwise violated even when we’re covered up and sexless.

    I’ve heard tell that there are Muslim women in burkas who have been raped in spite of being even more covered up than I was.

  2. 1minionsopinion says:

    I’d say thanks for sharing that but yikes. What a thing to go through. A coworker of mine was accosted last week by a guy masturbating in the park. There have been reports of a flasher around lately, too, or maybe is the same guy. Police were called and a dog was brought in; the park is quite close to a couple high schools. I don’t know if they caught him.

  3. Laurance says:

    Yes, Minion, it was a thing to go through, all right.

    It was a betrayal of trust. It was an abuse of position and power. It caught me totally by surprise, and, as I said, I was not being sexy or provocative, nor was there anything about my clothes or behavior that could be turned against me. This was totally out of left field.

    What was painful was the way everybody around him protected him. I was sickened when I turned to others for help and validation, and found myself blamed for not being “enlightened” enough to understand that that’s just how roshi is, and it’s no big deal. I was now the bad guy for objecting. What’s wrong with you? He isn’t going to get you pregnant, after all. You’re just attached to your woman’s body, that’s all, you need to meditate more. He does this to all the women. After all, he only has a few minutes with you in Sanzen (the private consultation between the roshi and the practitioner), and this is how he gets to know you in that short time. And besides, he’s so enlightened and so holy, he’s not like other men, and when he does that to you, it’s not like ordinary men doing it to you.

    Shit! Jeez! There’s this bridge in Brooklyn for sale…

    There was another woman who’d had a position at our local branch of this Zen Center, and when girls came to her crying, tried to advocate for them. She tried to contact the board of directors of the Zen Center headquarters or whatever governing committee there was, and she ran into an impenetrable stone wall. I mean, there was this impenetrable WALL of protection around this damn roshi, everyone circled the wagons and protected him when anybody dared to object.

    (Some people even think his drinking and love of sexy movies are cute. I mean, really…made me sick to see this.)

    This woman and I spent a day together, and we talked about how this shit affected us, and how damaging it was to run into the utter denial of any wrongdoing, and shifting the blame on to us. We’d both been so troubled by this crap that we bailed out and left Zen.

    (I feel so bad for the little Catholic boys who get molested by priests and run into similar denials and abuses.)

    And then there’s the matter of degree. I was not raped. There was no penis, no ripping off of clothes. It was groping and ugly f*ck noises and f*ck simulation. Because I wasn’t beaten and violently raped, it was no big deal, what’s the matter with you?

    For that matter, I would be surprised if anybody actually got a dick in them – this guy was getting old, and I doubt he could get it up properly anyway.

    He was fiddling around, not actually violently raping anyone.

    But it’s still abuse. It’s still that aforementioned betrayal of trust, that devaluing and dehumanizing of his victims.

    It’s still sexual abuse, even if there was no dick and no penetration. I’m thinking now of the women you wrote of who were accosted by the masturbating flasher. Even if they weren’t raped, they were still violated.

    And it’s still abuse even if the victim doesn’t get it. I talked with one young woman about what happened to me, and she blew it off. She was in her very late teens when the roshi persuaded her to take her clothes off and sit in his lap. She thought it was cuddly and cozy, she wondered what was wrong with me for being distressed. She didn’t seem to realize that she’d been exploited and used.

    It’s been a long time, back in the mid-80’s. That formerly young woman is now pushing 50 or so. I wonder if she’s thought about it and has come to see that she was mistreated and devalued and invalidated.

    Thank you, Minion, for responding to me. Even though it’s been a very long time and I’m now an old woman, I still find the topic relevant. I still feel weirded out by what happened so long ago, and I still feel as if there’s some unfinished business for me. The whole experience was very damaging.

    If there’s a Slutwalk and I can get to it, I will be there. I still have that black hakama and kimono after all these years put away in a closet, and I can trot them out and put them on again.

    The young and pretty women in the short skirts can make the point that their clothes are NOT an invitation to abuse; and I can make the point that when someone wants to abuse women the damn clothes don’t matter.

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