Editorial: Sexual assault ads could have same positive effect at UConn as in Canada
Published: Wednesday, December 5, 2012
Updated: Tuesday, December 4, 2012 19:12
A successful campaign designed to combat sexual assault in Edmonton, Canada, has been reinstated and given new life both in the Edmonton and in several other cities across the country.
Sponsored by the Sexual Assault Voices of Edmonton (SAVE), the ads are a part of the “Don’t be that guy” campaign, which began trying to combat alcohol related sexual assaults and has since branched out to include all types of sexual assault, including same sex. Their most recent ad features a man rejecting another man’s physical advance with the caption reading “It’s not sex when he changes his mind…”
The “Don’t be that guy” campaign is different from most of its kind in that it doesn’t target the victims of sexual assault to either comfort them or teach them safety. Instead, the ads speak out against the potential offenders. The ads take common situations that may result in a sexual assault and confronts the public with them. For example; an ad that specifies that a woman who is drinking is not necessarily a woman who is looking for sex or another that makes the point that helping a woman home does not mean you can “help yourself.”
The impact and importance of these ads is their educational value to the public, bringing these situations that men and women might otherwise find themselves in to the forefront of the public’s consciousness and shows them for the serious issue that they are. While there is value in tailoring these ads to victims, it makes more sense to go after the offenders and place the blame and responsibility exactly where it belongs. This is especially true in the case of alcohol culture where these assaults aren’t necessarily premeditated. It doesn’t universally blame all men or condemn them right out of the box. The name of the campaign itself, “Don’t be that guy,” implies that the men reading them are not guilty and if they want to remain that way, they’ll keep the content of these ads in mind. While this may sound like common sense advice, the sad truth is that it isn’t.
We would like to go as far as to condone picking up these ads in the U.S. and UConn specifically. While we aren’t responding to any particular event or problem, we feel that these ads are an important and successful educational tool that can prevent sexual crimes simply by nature of being on everyone’s minds. In 2011, sexual assaults were down for the first time in several years by ten percent. We believe that were we to have a similar campaign active here at UConn, it might be a big step toward prevention and safety in our community.