Sunday, July 21, 2013

Let's not blame Eve because Adam ate the apple

They countered with a parody campaign, ‘Don’t Be That Girl’. It’s a response to the 2013 ‘Don’t Be That Guy’ anti-sexual assault campaign.

The goal of ‘Don’t Be That Guy’ is to reduce the incidence of sexual assault by reaching out to perpetrators in its target demographic, 18-25 year old males. The campaign uses bold and direct posters to address the specific problem of sexual violence where alcohol consumption plays a major role.  The message is unequivocal: no consent or sex with someone unable to consent is sexual assault. 

Men’s Rights Edmonton has taken exception to the message. Using the images and layout of the ‘Don’t Be That Guy’ posters, the group has altered the language to disseminate their message: women lie about rape.  

The group’s website defends the posters. One post presents the view that there is a “present imbalance in the collective psyche” that the group is challenging with the “pro-male message” of their posters.  The “pro-male message” is that women commonly make false accusations about rape and this makes men the victims.  The other post rationalizes that the campaign raises awareness about false allegations.  While the group is correct that false allegations of rape damage the lives of those wrongly accused and constitute a wrong, it demonstrates a skewed view of the nature and frequency of sexual assault.

Men’s Rights Edmonton would have Canadians believe that false allegations are the norm when in fact they are rare. Through propagating the myth that women frequently lie about rape, the group reinforces the culture of violence against women, condones rape and rationalizes it by placing blame on the victim. The first blogger quoted above, in a callous show of disdain, dismisses victimization as “that tired out chestnut”, rhetorically demanding, “Victim? What victim? Give proof.” In this view, the real victim is almost always the guy.

The suggestion that a woman is responsible for her rape is to blame Eve because Adam ate the apple. In this prelapsarian myth embedded in the collective psyche, Adam points the finger at Eve and protesting his innocence exclaims, “She made me do it.” It is an unconvincing denial of responsibility and a display of moral immaturity.

‘Don’t Be That Girl’ exposes a deeply subconscious attitude, that of ‘woman as seducer’, which has been part of the collective psyche for millennia.  Regrettably, 1 in 5 Canadians still hold this view, and think that women provoke sexual assault either by their actions or appearance.  Although not the intention of ‘Don’t Be That Girl’, the campaign places the onus for rape on the woman.

The members of Men’s Rights Edmonton who support, endorse and proudly defend the campaign might be naively oblivious to the very real problem of sexual violence against women; it is much more likely that they are willfully blind.  ‘Don’t Be That Girl’ demonstrates the necessity for ‘Don’t Be That Guy’.

Men’s Rights Edmonton has a peculiar idea of what constitutes an acceptable method of advocating for men falsely accused. Their tactics are offensive and dangerous; the parodic campaign is an affront to both men and women. To unabashedly transform an anti-sexual assault campaign into an attack on the integrity of women is a strange way to promote the dignity of men.

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