Quicklink: Rape prevention aimed at rapists works

Greta Christina of FreeThought Blogs is back to blogging regularly after her cancer treatment last year, and as usual is linking to very interesting stuff, particularly around the intersection of sex-positivity and dismantling rape culture.

Rape prevention aimed at rapists does work looks at a successful anti-rape campaign in Canada, and unlike the rape prevention tipsmyths currently being passed around on Facebook, this education campaign offers useful information:

The “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign is a public service rape prevention campaign launched in Edmonton in 2010, and adopted by other cities in Canada, which took the radical step of aiming its message, not at potential rape victims, but at potential rapists. It took the radical step of educating potential rapists about what rape actually is. It recognized the role that alcohol commonly plays in rape — and it educates potential rapists that having sex with someone who doesn’t consent, or who is too drunk to consent, or who is passed out and therefore unable to consent, is rape.

The campaign didn’t target the stereotypical media image of rapists, the drooling psychopaths springing on suspects in a dark alley with a knife. It targeted ordinary folks, frat boys and partiers and bar-hoppers and folks who just like to toss a few back now and then… who have been brought up in a culture that teaches that drunkenness equals consent. It was influenced by a study out of the U.K. showing that 48 percent of men ages 18 to 25 did not consider it rape if the women was too drunk to know it was happening. And it teaches them that no: drunkenness does not equal consent, being stoned does not equal consent, being passed out does not equal consent. It had slogans like, “Just because she isn’t saying no… doesn’t mean she’s saying yes.” “Just because you help her home… doesn’t mean you get to help yourself.” “Just because she’s drunk doesn’t mean she wants to f**k.” It had slogans on every poster saying, “Sex without consent = sexual assault.”

And the campaign has been so successful, the number of reported sexual assaults in Vancouver fell by 10 per cent.

The first campaign focussed on male perpetrators and women. New campaigns will include same-sex scenarios. Other countries are expressing interest in adapting the campaign for their own communities.

Greta raises some typically cogent points in her introduction and her subsequent analysis. Read the whole thing.

Categories: education, gender & feminism, law & order, violence

Tags: , , ,

3 replies

  1. The fun thing is that the campaign being referenced isn’t the only one of its type in the world. I’m sure I’ve seen references to a similar style of campaign in Scotland and the comment thread lists a number of similar campaigns occurring on college campuses and similar such places in the USA.
    I’d be interested in seeing whether the information coming back out of these campaigns corresponds with the Canadian data, indicating they’re successful in reducing the rates of sexual assault.
    I also suspect another thing which might also reduce the rate of sexual assault is a sensibly designed sexual education curriculum which dealt with the actual legal ramifications of what people do to one another. Explaining things like “this is what actually constitutes assault in our legal system” along with defining what’s covered by terms like “sexual assault”, “molestation”, and other such legal terms means there’s no longer the excuse of “but I didn’t know”. I tend to think this might be a good way of dealing with things like the bullying culture in high schools as well (if the consequences of a schoolyard brawl, prank war, or bullying campaign included the very real legal penalties for such things, I doubt we’d get so many parents saying “oh, it’s just kids being kids” about it – high school age is a good age to start “getting real” with the penalties for such things).
    By the age of thirteen or so, most young adults have entered the developmental stage where they can deal with cause-and-effect reasoning, and with moral and ethical thought. They’re old enough to learn about the legal world they’re walking through.

  2. I think explaining to men what the law actually means is really important. There’s plenty who think that
    1. They’re a super awesome playa or
    2. They’re just a bit of an arsehole or
    3. What they do is perfectly okay
    when in fact what they are doing or think is fine or possibly just on the line is in fact an illegal assault for which they can be charged and convicted, as well as being something that the woman would regard as an assault, not simply regret the next day.
    I know for a fact that when I went to Uni (1997) it was a widely held belief amongst my fellow male students that getting a woman leglessly drunk and then having sex with her was totally fine. I never heard anyone, male or female express disquiet or disagreement with this view.

  3. Nice post. I can think of other social policies that could use this type of thinking. I also think education can and should play a role in the educational process. After all, it is probably in the school’s social environment where kids begin to develop a lot of bad ideas – as part of becoming independent or rebellious.

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