Rudely Revised Anti-Rape Posters Show Victim-Blaming Is Alive And Well In Alberta

In Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, an anti-rape poster campaign has proven that rape culture is alive and well. How? Posters that parody the original anti-rape message have been reinvented to spout victim-blaming messages.

The "Don't Be That Guy" poster campaign, which aims to reach the perpetrators of rape and sexual assault, was started in 2010. Very successful in Alberta, it's been used throughout Canada, as well as in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. But apparently the popular posters against rape were perceived as offensive in some way, because at least four incredibly distasteful revised versions of the posters were seen in and around downtown Alberta this week.

One poster originally read "Just because she's drunk, doesn't mean she wants to fuck." The parody poster read "Just because you regret your life choices, doesn't mean it's rape." Wow. That certainly sounds like misogynistic victim-blaming to me!

Men's Rights Edmonton is taking responsibility for the posters. One member said their counter-campaign was in protest of the posters that made rape a "gendered issue." He said, “We don’t blame victims for anything, we’re simply looking for an accurate discourse on the subject.”

Women's studies professor Dr. Cristina Stasi and other academics in the Edmonton area don't agree, saying that the redesigned posters clearly promote dangerous victim-blaming. When Dr. Stasi tweeted a picture of one of the posters, it ignited a social media firestorm, drawing comments from the Alberta mayoral candidate and others.

Although men's rights groups obviously have the right to voice their opposition to this campaign, their means of doing so is tacky, inappropriate, and ultimately, just reiterates the need for the original message of the posters.

One thing the men's rights group probably didn't anticipate isthat their revised versions of the posters likely violate copyright laws. Professor Lise Gotell told The Edmonton Journal, “My position is that this demands some kind of a legal response. There are clear intellectual property issues. When someone has manipulated our images to disseminate such an offensive message, of course, we should respond to this in a very clear way.”

While I'm hopeful that Men's Rights Edmonton will be taken to task for their copyright violation, I'm glad to see that their offensive poster campaign has been widely eviscerated in the media. The offensive, woman-blaming rebranding of a message that's intended to prevent rape and sexual assault is unconscionable.

Photo: Dr. Cristina Stasi's Twitter account