Monday, 22 July 2013

Don't be that [Insert Gender]

This week in Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, a radical men’s rights group called Men’s Rights Edmonton started a campaign entitled “Don’t be that Girl.” The campaign sprouted as a parody of the “Don’t be that Guy” message that was created to bring attention to the fact that sex without consent is rape.

See one of the campaign posters here:

With this twist on the well-known original campaign, Men’s Rights Edmonton intended to shine a spotlight on women who report false rape/sexual assault allegations, highlighting that lying about sexual assault is a crime. I must speak to how greatly this organization has perverted the original message. The campaign has ground up the crucial message that non-consensual sex is rape and spit it out, turning it into a blame-game. It is an act of victim shaming and it is absolutely possible that this campaign will have a negative impact on the victims of sexual assault. I have no doubt that it will prevent many victims from coming forward and reporting this hideous crime.

In addition, according to Sean Armstrong of the Serious Crimes branch of the Edmonton Police Service, false accusations are not common: “I was a sexual assault detective for 4½ years and in that time I only dealt with one [false accusation], and I dealt with numerous files,” he states, “so they are very, very rare.”

Men’s Rights Edmonton writes on their website:

“Men’s Rights Edmonton believes the original “Don’t be that guy” campaign is hate speech. It specifically targets a gender and all members of that gender as perpetrators of rape. Sexual violations, including rape, can be committed by anyone. While a majority of reported sexual assaults are committed by men, associating or claiming all men are potential rapists is analogous to claiming all minorities will commit theft.”

I agree that their organization has a valid point in saying that not all perpetrators of rape are men. It is true that women have committed such acts as well as their male counterparts. However, I do not believe that spreading the message that non-consensual sex is rape is hate speech. I also find it difficult to believe that the original campaign targeted all men as potential rapists. The title of the original, “Don’t be that Guy” was targeted towards males as just as Men’s Rights Edmonton stated, the majority of reported sexual assaults are committed by men. It has been studied, however, that the majority of rapes are committed by men, but a small percentage of men who admit to repeated rapes.

At the end of the day, no, not all men are rapists, women can commit these heinous crimes and also falsely report them (albeit on an extremely rare basis), and yes, this is a crime. We are all aware of the illegality of falsely reporting a crime.  So, will someone please tell me what the point of this campaign is, aside from Men’s Rights Edmonton throwing an anti-feminist temper tantrum?

If you would like to find out more information on Men’s Rights Edmonton, you can find it here:

Jennifer Andrews

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