Most sexual assault prevention campaigns tend to target women -- providing them with tips like "Don't have long hair" or "Don't stay out late" in an effort to keep women safe. Obviously, this type of advice is meant to be helpful and empowering, but often it crosses the line into preemptive victim blaming.
For example, does this sort of message make anyone feel better? Well, ladies, you were certainly asking for it when you decided not to arm yourself with a rape whistle. Really, what did you expect?
Instead of acting like sexual assault is an oh-well-inevitable part of life and is solely the woman's responsibility for preventing it, wouldn't it be better to use anti-rape ads to target men -- the people who are actually doing the assaulting?
Well, that's exactly what a new, graphic anti-rape campaign in Canada is doing ...
The Don't Be That Guy campaign is a series of print ads that use blunt language and disturbing images to educate young men that 1) sex without consent is sexual assault; and 2) a person who is drunk or passed out cannot give consent.
The ads were designed after a coalition of groups fighting sexual assault in Edmonton, Canada, discovered that alcohol was a factor in half of all sexual assault cases investigated by the police. They were also influenced by this alarming study out of the U.K. showing that a whopping 48 percent of men ages 18 to 25 -- that's almost half! -- did not consider it rape if the women was too drunk to know it was happening.
In one ad, a women is passed out on a couch and the caption reads: "Just because she isn’t saying no ... doesn’t mean she’s saying yes.” In another, a man is helping a woman to her car and the caption reads: "Just because you help her home ... doesn’t mean you get to help yourself."
Disturbing? Yes. Persuasive? Hopefully.
Although I'm frightened by the fact that behavior in these situations is learned and not instinctual, at the very least, these ads set a precedent for holding men -- not women -- accountable for the crimes that men commit.
What do you think of the new anti-rape campaign?
Image via Nigsby/Flickr