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SAVE’s “Don’t Be That Guy” Campaign

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Campaigns against sexual assault and violence often focus on telling women how to stay safe.  “Don’t wear this”, “don’t drink too much”, “don’t take unlicensed taxi cabs”.  This represents an unacceptable level of victim-blaming where the spotlight is always placed on what a women was doing at the time of an unprovoked and violent attack.  Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton (SAVE) is a coalition of educators, NGO’s, sexual assault counsellors, the Edmonton Police Service, and interested business and individuals who aim to change the way in which sexual assault campaigns are presented. 

SAVE campaign Don't Be That Guy (Saying No)Their common goal is to reduce the number of alcohol facilitated sexual assaults by targeting not the individuals who are victims of these assaults but those who commit them.  The coalition seeks to raise awareness about alcohol facilitated sexual violence, challenge myths and stereotypes, stand in solidarity with survivors and most of all, fight victim-blaming. 

On November 22, 2010 SAVE launched their brand new Don’t Be That Guy campaign.  The message is simple: don’t be that guy, don’t be the one to take advantage of an intoxicated woman and the byline of the campaign is “sex without consent = sexual assault”.

The coalition are aware of the daunting task that lies ahead of them and they have a five-year timeframe in which they plan to launch several campaigns.  As they say on their website, “We’re looking for a shift in society that’s about respecting each other. Smoking used to be cool, drunk driving was once a joke – well, the way that we think about and respond to sexual assault is evolving. And it’s time”. 

SAVE campaign Don't Be That Guy (Help Her Home)One thing is for sure, this campaign is leagues ahead of the Transport for London Cabwise campaign run in London, England which features a woman being assaulted and the words “Stop, no.  Stop please, no, please. Please stop taking unbooked minicabs”.  It is time indeed to stop blaming the victim. 

The SAVE website also includes several resources including a fact sheet detailing the myths about sexual assault and rape as well as documents entitled Defining Sexual Assault & Consent, Acquaintance Sexual Assault, Drug & Alcohol Facilitated Sexual Assault and Male Survivors of Sexual Assault.


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About Mandy Southgate

Mandy Southgate is a blogger, serial expat and eternal tourist living and working in London. Aside from writing at Blogcritics, she blogs about travel and London at Emm in London, entertainment and media at Addicted to Media and war crimes, genocide and social justice over at A Passion to Understand. Mandy has continued to write for Blogcritics under the new profile Mandy Southgate.
  • 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” 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 being 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 rape is considered a big joke, or worse – that he was asking for it (i.e., erections = consent, men can’t be raped, men always want sex).

    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.