Over the summer, a poster campaign was launched in bathrooms at bars across Regina warning against sexual assault crimes. The campaign, called “Don’t Be That Guy” consists of two posters that demonstrate the dangers for women under the influence of alcohol. The first poster pictures a young woman passed out on a couch that reads, “Just because she isn’t saying no… doesn’t meant she’s saying yes”. The second is an image of a young man helping a drunk woman into a cab, that warns “Just because you help her home… doesn’t mean you get to help yourself”. The posters both have the slogan “Don’t Be That Guy” written in bold beneath the images.
Dianna Graves, the executive director of the Saskatchewan Association of Sexual Assault Services (SASAS) explained what it means to be “that guy.”
“In a group of men… there’s almost always that guy who doesn’t really care, who knows what’s right and wrong but he goes to the bar and takes a girl home at the end of the night and says ‘She’s really drunk, I’m going to sleep with her,” she explained.
This is the attitude that the posters hope to prevent, and Graves believes that peer pressure can be one of the things that prevent it.
“Friends will stop their friends from being that guy,” she said.
The posters were placed in bathrooms at bars across Regina in June, and there will be a campus-wide launch with the posters appearing on billboards and in bathrooms in the next few weeks.
Scott Crawley, the manager of security operations at Campus Security, insists that this is not a persistent problem at the University of Regina.
“We’ve not had any issues here, that’s not why we’re launching the posters,” he commented. However, they are designed to appeal to young people.
Amy Balfour, a strategic research officer at Regina Police Service, gave some insight to the demographic the posters are aimed at. Balfour said that approximately 98% of sexual assaults have female victims and male offenders, with the victims being 24 years old and offenders around 30 years old, on average.
Like Crawley, Balfour insists that the campaign was not launched in Regina because there was a spike in sexual assaults. However, she admits that the number of reported incidents increases every summer, and suggests that “young people, who are out of school drinking and partying more” is the reason behind this.
“University studies with Canadian college-aged males indicate that 60% of them would commit a sexual assault if they were absolutely certain they would not get caught.” – Dianna Graves
“Don’t Be That Guy” was originally a campaign that was created in Edmonton due to the increased number of sexual assaults reported there. SASAS later picked up the campaign from the Edmonton police, hoping to raise awareness and educate citizens about sexual assault crimes, with an aim at encouraging young women to be aware of their rights and safety.
In her speech at the launch of the campaign in June, Graves said that “women have been told to be conscious of their clothing, their movements, and even where they look…. While it is positive to advocate self-responsible behaviour, most of the time these social messages tell the listener that it is their responsibility to avoid sexual assault and it’s their fault if it happens.” This notion of the ‘victim’s responsibility’ has a large impact on the safety of others, as Balfour points out.
“We estimate that only one in ten sexual assaults are reported,” she said, and believes many are not reported due to shame or guilt.
Graves agrees, commenting that “if you’re a woman at the bar, and you go home with a guy because you wanted a ride home or you thought he was cute, you are going to feel responsible. You’re going to feel like you asked for it.”
Graves hopes the campaign will reduce the number of sexual assaults in Regina, although she acknowledges that prevention cannot be measured.
Unfortunately, she pointed out, “one in four women in North America will be sexually assaulted at some point…University studies with Canadian college-aged males indicate that 60 per cent of them would commit a sexual assault if they were absolutely certain they would not get caught.”
For this reason, she hopes that the posters will encourage young men to know what consent really is. “Education for prevention is key,” Graves stressed.
While the campaign aims to inform women of the dangers of getting drunk, there has been some negative feedback.
“There are people who don’t like that the posters have drunk women, or that it looks like only men [assault] women,” Balfour said.
While the Regina Police does not deny that assaults can occur between any combination of men and women, the facts demonstrate that the majority of assaults are women being assaulted by men. Similarly, more than half of reported assaults occur when at least one person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
What most people do not know, Balfour suspects, is that legally, one cannot consent to sex while impaired by alcohol or drugs. This law is in place to protect vulnerable men or women who are taken home from the bar without understanding what they are agreeing to. Similarly, many people believe that rape is the only form of sexual assault, however, any unwanted touching, verbal advances, or threats can be considered harassment or even assault. This is a key part of the campaign, as the aim is to educate young people on the laws around rape and sexual assault.
“People can become sexual offenders without realizing it,” Balfour said.
Over the next few weeks, the “Don’t Be That Guy” posters will begin to appear on campus. The campaign organizers hope that these will remind students that they need to be aware of their rights, aware of the law, and ensure that they are not making decisions while drunk that they might regret later.