Anti-rape messaging offends Whistler bros

The Howe Sound Women’s Centre (HSWC) approached a number of Whistler bars earlier this year with the “Don’t Be That Guy” anti-rape campaign. The plan was to produce “posters depicting strong visuals and messaging that sex without consent constitutes sexual assault” and put them “in men’s washrooms in bars and pubs throughout Whistler.”

The “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign launched in 2012 and resulted in a 10 per cent drop in sexual offenses in Vancouver, according to Vancouver’s Deputy Chief Doug LePard. This was the first time the VPD had seen a decrease in years. The rate of sexual assault in the Sea to Sky corridor (i.e. the Whistler/Squamish area) was apparently three times higher than in Vancouver during 2000-2009. In Whistler, sexual assaults went from six in 2011 to 15 in 2012 (domestic violence rates went up as well). It’s clear that this is an issue that needs to be addressed.

Whistler is a favorite party-spot for douchebags (think of the bar scene there as a kind of Granville Street for snowboarders) so the campaign seemed a natural fit. Also, any bar is a natural fit for “Hey Guys Stop Raping”-type campaigns, as predators and men who care more about their penises than they do enthusiastic consent tend to prey on incapacitated women.

Initially, bar owners said they supported the campaign. As reported by The Question, Joey Gibbons, owner of a number of Whistler bars, including Tapley’s, Buffalo Bills, the Longhorn, and Garfinkel’s, said, “This initiative aligns with the values of our industry.” Once he saw the actual posters, though, he decided they were “too edgy.” A few of the posters had already gone up and *gasp* made some people feel uncomfortable, according to Gibbons.

Here’s a common thing I encounter as a feminist — most men think they like the idea of not-raping. Most of them will say, if asked “Oh yes! Of course I think violence against women is wrong and bad” and “Those men over there doing all the assaulting are bad and unlike me. Likewise, most men, when asked if they support “women having the same rights as men” will respond by saying, “Uh, yeah?” at which pointed they are gifted with a box of cookies and a t-shirt that reads: “This is what a feminist looks like!” And therein lies the problem with a definition of feminism that doesn’t include “end patriarchy and violence against women.” Just saying that you “support equal rights for women” doesn’t make you a feminist. It doesn’t. Anyone can parrot that basic idea and few men will literally respond to the suggestion of “equal rights” by saying, “You know, no — I actually think women are second-class citizens who shouldn’t be allowed to vote.” But when pressed — like, when asked if they are willing to give up porn or strip clubs or the right to objectify women — you’re more likely to get a less enthusiastic response from all these so-called feminist men. The “equal rights” definition of feminism basically tells men that they can be feminist without ever changing their behaviour or the way they think about women. Ending sexual assault (and patriarchy!) is going to take an actual change in behaviour and social norms. And that’s probably going to feel a little “uncomfortable.”

The idea behind the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign is that it shifts the blame from victim to perpetrator (and specifically addresses “alcohol-facilitated sexual assault”). It doesn’t tell women to not get drunk or not walk home alone at night. It doesn’t tell women how best they can avoid getting raped because, as evidenced by the history of patriarchy, there is little any woman can do to avoid male violence. Male violence is a choice men make, not women. So it’s understandable that men who think they are for sure progressive (or at least liberalish-thinking) and, you know, totally think #rapesux, when confronted with the reality of rape and the fact that rape is the fault of men who rape — men who hang out in their bars, at that — would be unenthused.

I’m sorrynotsorry, but if you’re not ready to “feel uncomfortable” then you’re not ready to understand and confront rape. Rape is more than “uncomfortable” for victims. The global epidemic of violence against women is pretty “uncomfortable” for women. If your main concern, with regard to confronting male violence against women and sexual assault is to avoid making men “uncomfortable” then you cannot for even a moment pretend as though you have any real interest in addressing the issue. Because actually you don’t give a shit about women. Actually you care more about men’s “comfort” than you do women’s safety and well-being.

I guess now the HSWC has had to come up with a new, less confrontational campaign that doesn’t make Whistler bros “uncomfortable.” Gosh I only hope that all the supposed not-raping men are gonna be doing doesn’t put them out to much or ruin the party-vibe at Buffalo Bills.

 

Meghan Murphy
Meghan Murphy

Founder & Editor

Meghan Murphy is a freelance writer and journalist. She has been podcasting and writing about feminism since 2010 and has published work in numerous national and international publications, including New Statesman, Vice, Al Jazeera, The Globe and Mail, I-D, Truthdig, and more. Meghan completed a Masters degree in the department of Gender, Sexuality and Women’s Studies at Simon Fraser University in 2012 and lives in Vancouver, B.C. with her dog.

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  • Leigh Ann

    I love your articles, this one included. But please don’t use the word “douchebag” as if it has no sexist connotations. It does. It’s like shaming women by taking an item used only by women–to “cleanse” a body part possessed only by women–a body part assumed to be dirty because only women have it–and using that to insult a man….Well, that’s just not feminist.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I feel that ‘douches’ are things that deserve to be insulted… They are offensive, stupid, and sexist by nature http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2009/11/16/in-defense-of-douchebag/

      • I get your point but I don’t think that’s how this term is intended. It’s more about vaginas being nasty. I agree that feminine hygiene products that are intended to mask natural vaginal smells are repellant.

        • Meghan Murphy

          But the term is intended to insult men, not women… A ‘douche’ is not a female thing — it’s a thing women were sold by sexist men which feminists reject. Douches = bad, douchebags = bad.

          • The Real Cie

            Exactly! A douche is something that a woman does not need near (or in) her vagina.

          • Sabine

            Ha!

          • We should also start calling douchebags (the offensive dudes, not the offensive “hygiene” products ) “stilettos”.

          • Meghan Murphy

            Or “bikini wax.”

          • This is a good (if somewhat derailing, oops!) discussion. But I do like to pay attention to context and where I’ve historically seen “douchebag” and “douche” used most commonly is among redditor dudes going after each other, and they are not known for being too stand-up about feminism.

            It reminds me of another debate I was in the middle of recently, about calling women bitches as a critical term. Arguments appear to be “don’t use anything female-related to insult women” and “don’t let men own language, take it over and redefine it.”

            What I’m seeing with this one is everybody agreeing that “douche” is icky, but for entirely opposite reasons. I guess we all have our own taste in insults. I still prefer to keep genitals out of it, though. ymmv.

          • “Abusive narcissist toxic creep” is an example of an ideal insult, for me.

          • Meghan Murphy

            I hear you and know that there are divergent opinions on ‘douchebag.’ Personally I like it as a way to insult men — I also enjoy calling men ‘dicks’ and ‘dickbags’ so it’s hard for me to get behind anti-genital insults (so long as they are male-type-genitals), but I respect your opinion.

          • I’d be okay on calling them “implants.”

          • It’s-a-Me

            I like to use the term “dickcheese”

          • Meghan Murphy

            Oh yes, that’s a good one…

          • FireWalkWithMe

            I have think using genital insults is fine, I mean it’s not like I only use ‘cunt’. I call plenty of dudes ‘pricks’, ‘cocks’, and ‘dicks’. In fact, just there are more terms to insult guys. I honestly rarely use ‘pussy’ because it implies cowardice and to extension female cowardice. But all those other terms are just for being a jerk!

          • Sabine

            Or “anal bleach”. 😉

        • sbrack

          Douchebags aren’t needed because vaginas aren’t nasty. I do like the defense of this term used as a metaphor for things women don’t need.

          • FireWalkWithMe

            So far in my life I still do not understand why vaginas are meant to be nasty. I mean I’ve heard girls (I call anyone below like 30 a girl or guy so don’t think I’m using sexist qualifiers) say penises are gross but honestly both seem same amount of uncleanliness/cleanliness to me. Of course, I have no idea if my partners have douched, but everything’s been fine with me. I honestly think genitals of either gender smell the same and the smell is fine with me. Unique and harmless.

    • Agreed. Using words with specific female connotations as insults comes with the baggage of “the worst thing you can possibly be is female.”

  • They look for loopholes in feminism that will enable them to be coercive while still claiming to be nice guys. Perfect the act, transgress, and then blame the woman, thus presenting themselves as poor misunderstood victims.

    If your feminism includes such loopholes, you’re doing it wrong, and it will bite you in the posterior in the end.

    • amongster

      True. Those are the same guys who will very quickly state that they think “humanism” was better anyway, because men suffer just the same after all. I just came across such a discussion and I’m so fed up with that rhetoric. But obviously those Nice Guys know exactly how playing dumb enables them to keep up the status quo. Ugh.

  • em em em

    those ‘stats’ are unbelievably low! on point as always Meghan, bro culture = rape culture.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well, as we know, the vast majority of sexual assaults aren’t reported…. And Whistler is a small place…

  • jo

    The posters were too edgy? I thought patriarchy liked edgy media. Wait, of course, only if it has a pro-patriarchy message.

    • Meghan Murphy

      “Edgy” is all good so long as women are being degraded and dehumanized, obvi.

      • Like American Apparel! It’s so edgy!

        • Meghan Murphy

          The edgiest! Where do they come up with this stuff!

  • Sabine

    “Once he saw the actual posters, though, he decided they were “too edgy.” A few of the posters had already gone up and *gasp* made some people feel uncomfortable, according to Gibbons.”

    In a vaguely sane world you’d think that would be taken as the fucking POINT!!! But God forbid that men are made to feel uncomfortable about rape. Nope, we can’t have men being offended by realizing just how common and prolific sexual assault against women is. (Something no woman walking this planet can ever forget, what with it being part and parcel of being a woman and all.)

    It’s all the more galling because the statistics clearly demonstrate that this campaign has had a very real effect on the number of assaults in other areas. The blatant message here is: rape is not as important as protecting men’s feelings about it. What an absolute crock…

    • Bottom line, menz don’t like taking responsibility for anything, ever, (universal scapegoat in dudebroland is ‘blame some woman’ – even if that woman is the victim herself).

      A poster reminding menz, particularly rapist menz, to stop raping? zmog, where is the woman-blaming in all that? “make it stop please, my feels getz hurtz!!”

      Menz potential hurt feelz, definitely not greater than victim’s damage from rape and sexual assault.

      What the objection does tell us though, is most of them have already been “that guy”.

      • But also Davina, a woman might read that poster and be reminded to be more careful about not getting raped. You really do hate men don’t you? Party pooper!

  • Ellesar

    I guess that being told ‘Don’t be that guy’ reminds some men that at some point they HAVE been that guy, or are friends with that guy. Heaven forbid we should make rapists or their friends feel uncomfortable!

    • Meghan Murphy

      You got it. I’m certain that’s exactly why it makes some men ‘uncomfortable.’ Because they or their friends are or have been ‘that guy.’

  • Anon

    I moved to Whistler over a year ago. I moved for the snowboarding/skiing and to live in the mountains. I am a male that goes to almost all of the gibbons bars. I would feel really uncomfortable seeing that poster in the bars because it makes guys like me feel like scummy rapists… That poster makes me feel really uncomfortable. I don’t think the writer of this article has spent much time talking to the residents of whistler. I mean the REAL locals who love Whistler. Maybe the article should be targeted at the people who come up on the weekends from Vancouver. Its really worth thinking about.

    • Meghan Murphy

      The poster is supposed to make you uncomfortable. You should feel uncomfortable. Sexual assault is uncomfortable. The article isn’t targeted at anyone in particular… But certainly I hope tourists and ‘locals’ (aren’t most of the ‘locals’ in Whistler still tourists, really?) alike start to take this issue seriously.

      • “only tourists rape” lmao. New frontiers in “othering.”

        • Meghan Murphy

          Many small communities have this attitude. When I lived on Denman Island everything was blamed on the “Courtenay kids” (i.e. the young adults and teenagers who would come over from “the big island” (Vancouver island). The locals, of course, could do no wrong.

    • When you see “Wanted” posters does it make you feel like a scummy felon? Do you routinely identify with everything negative you look at?

      • Because he knows he’s just like every other male out there. We were all socialized the same, we all know what we’re capable of…

    • Lola

      Oh these posters make you feel uncomfortable. Imagine how comfortable being raped must be. Wait a second: when you go out at night you don’t fear being raped. Or gang raped, for that matter. You have never felt that terror. Tell us about feeling uncomfortable in bars.

      Real locals, tourists? It sounds like digressing to me. Whatever, dude.

      • amongster

        I recently read what I think was a quote by some popular feminist that went something like: “Don’t be angry that women point out that men rape, be angry that men rape.” Does anyone know more? Can’t find it.
        Anyways, of course it’s telling when men make it all about their feelings again instead of listening for once and maybe empathize with women. But they are the good and caring guys, sure.
        So often I have ended up making sure that the men are not hurt by telling them that they hurt me. Enough of this bullshit. Men need to act like adults and take responsibility for their behavior.

      • Anon

        So you’re saying that my opinions are wrong because I don’t know what it feels like to be raped… I don’t feel like you’re respecting my opinion. “Tell us about feeling uncomfortable in bars” Im not telling you anything.

        Isn’t that what being a feminist is about? Respect and listening to one another?

        Please, tell me what point you’re trying to make?

    • Sara Jennings

      Anon – I live in Whistler and have for many years. I was sexually assaulted in Whistler! When I first heard about the posters being pulled, I was pissed and I still am. I am sorry it makes you feel uncomfortable, but women who have been sexually assaulted feel uncomfortable every time they see ANYTHING about sexual assault – it reminds them of what they went through. We need to address the problem by targeting the perpetrators, until we know every potential assulters name (impossible), we need to find a way to target those that are most likely to commit an offence…men and in this case, men who have been or are drinking. Sorry you are offended, take that offence and turn it into good by doing something to end sexual assaults!

      • Anon

        I have read all of the replies, it has been enlightening for sure. Im starting to get a better idea of the situation now! I don’t want anyone thinking that I “HATE” and “DISLIKE” the idea. I just wanted to voice my opinion. I want to be part of the discussion and share a young males opinion. Maybe having males in the discussion would help find a brand new and original idea that will 100% work for everyone!

        Thanks for being respectful of my views, You really have taken my opinion seriously and I appreciate that 🙂

        • Morag

          “Maybe having males in the discussion would help find a brand new and original idea that will 100% work for everyone!”

          Sigh. Anon, it’s a winter wonderland out there. Please go hop on a snowboard. And don’t forget your mittens.

  • Wait, wait. I support what most people have said (except for Anon scum) but a BOX of cookies? I thought feminist males were supposed to get just one cookie. I got a cookie, but I didn’t get a BOX of cookies. When did that change?

    I also did not get a t-shirt that said “This is what a feminist looks like!”, but I wouldn’t wear that because I’m not a total douchebag (as Meghan said, a thing that shouldn’t be anywhere near women, just like “feminist males”). But I am a fatty and can always eat more cookies.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I don’t know why the commission didn’t send you your cookies and t-shirt. #fundingcuts #StopHarper

    • How are we supposed to train men to behave with the bare minimum of decency towards women if we don’t ration the cookies? Slipping again, ladies.

      • I personally ration out the cookies in a crumbs-only format. That is because I am one of those big meanie feminists.

        And certainly, no dude wearing a TIWAFLL t-shirt gets a cookie, nor a crumb of a cookie, because TRY HARDER.

        • Meghan Murphy

          Maybe we start just mailing out the bottom of the chip bag?

          • Yes! Dudes give us crumbs of respect, we give them Cheetos dust!

            Equality, at last!

          • Meghan Murphy

            🙂

          • As long as they’re crumbs with chocolate chips in them.

          • Next you’ll be wanting nut fragments. There’s never any end to it with you people.

          • Aw nuts

          • Mar Iguana

            Now, that’s just plain insensitive, Miep. Maybe you’re unaware of the heartbreak of carpel tunnel orange syndrome (CTOS). It’s been around since the general public began using personal computers in the ‘90s, and men began using keyboards, which men had previously avoided since it was considered unmanly. Hence, men key while women type.

            The mystery of why only men are stricken with CTOS became clear when doctors noted that men began suffering from carpel tunnel syndrome as often as women do, however it was often accompanied by their penises turning a bright orange. Extensive research concluded keys were not the only things being stroked and the combination of internet porn and an addiction to Cheetos causes CTOS.

            Therapy includes ergonomics training and overcoming the addiction to Cheetos or taking care not to use the same hand to snack that is used to stroke. Researchers remain skeptical that men can be addicted to porn while Cheetos is a known gateway snack.

          • Meghan Murphy

            HAAAA

  • Dee Raffo

    Dear Megan,

    I work for Gibbons Hospitatlity and I, along with our team wanted to respond to the piece you wrote about us and our community.

    We were saddened by the article as we’ve been working with the Howe Sound Women’s Centre on developing a program with our staff to cover bystander training. This goes beyond a poster campaign, as we’re investing in education which we think will have a greater effect on the safety of our customers. As a company we believe in results and the posters we put up were often torn down. Because we believe in the importance of this campaign we asked the HSWC to work with us to come up with another way of creating awareness and ambassadors for this cause through our staff.

    We believe that by training our staff and giving them the right tools to intervene in situations safely and with a code of conduct that we come up with as a company we’ll have the best impact for safety at our venues. Our core purpose as a company is to make people happy, and to do this we provide safe, clean and fun environments. We’ve ramped up our training this season, and one of the new elements is to have the HSWC come in and do a course with our staff on bystander training. However, under our own steam, we thought that more businesses would want to partake so that’s why we opened the discussion up to include the Whistler Chamber of Commerce so the effect could be even bigger across our community.

    Every month we meet with other bar operators and invite the HSWC to the table to discuss issues like these and we focus on finding solutions. This isn’t a new thing, it’s an ongoing initiative that we started so that as a community we could come together to tackle issues that are often hard to talk about.

    Back in October we helped organize an event that celebrated International Day of the Girl. It brought girls and women together with three amazing speakers to discuss closing the “confidence gap”, before showing an all-female ski movie called Pretty Faces. We raised $2,500 for the HSWC and another $1,200 for a Kenyan charity called One Horizon, where we’re working on a reusable sanitary towel project that will hopefully keep more girls in school there.

    We invest an incredible amount into our community and our team, and we hadn’t dismissed this campaign but were looking for a way for it to have the best and most effective impact.

    What’s made us sad about this article is that we have always been behind this campaign and spoken up when others haven’t about its importance.

    We want to be part of the change, and we will be because this is who we are as people and as a company.

    Megan – if you want to talk to us more about this please get in touch. You’re welcome to come to the training we’re holding or to our monthly meetings with the HSWC.

    Regards,

    Dee Raffo

    • Meghan Murphy

      Thanks for getting in touch.

      So what was the problem with the original posters they came up with and the “Don’t Be That Guy” campaign? I understand you and the HSWC are going with the bystander campaign now, but my understanding is also that this is because Gibbons felt the initial posters/campaign were making people ‘uncomfortable’ and were too ‘edgy’. Why?

      (Thanks for the invite to the meetings/training but I live in Vancouver and don’t drive.)

      • Also, “three amazing speakers to discuss closing the “confidence gap””? Talk about blaming the victim.

        • Yes, I too am interested in parsing out “confidence gap.” good catch Francois.

        • It really comes down to looking at the whole hookup culture, and how women get coerced into it and hurt by it. Not a popular thing to address. “The Confidence Gap” sounds to me like the space between successfully talking a woman in a bar into sex and not being judged poorly for doing so, and alternately being seen as predatory.

          Easy way out: stop conning strange women at bars into sex. Maybe get to know them a bit first? Or is that just too complicated for these confidence men?

          • Meghan Murphy

            Well yeah, the whole idea that men should/must coerce women into sex/talk them into going home with them, etc. is totally tied in (as is, of course, the whole PUA thing that’s so popular these days). If we continue to think of sex as something men must pressure women into doing, we’re not going to get very far in terms of ending rape culture…

        • amongster

          This is something I hear again and again whenever there is someone complaining about sexism (or any other injustice): just be strong and stand above it, a confident person isn’t bothered by that, don’t be a victim etc etc… Yes, it’s nice to be a confident person and to not feel like shit whenever someone tries to put you down, but that doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t point out the wrong behaviour of others. The worst is that those people who give such “great advice” do not only refrain from trying to change the world, they also tell us to just endure what is done to us and want to make us belief that this is real strengh.
          By the way, that is the same bullshit coming from doms: submissive people endure everything, so they have power! I don’t think that endurance doesn’t require strength, but it is wasted energy when you could actually use your power to get rid of what hurts you.
          I’m rambling, but I get so mad when people only focus on steeling girls against sexism instead of teaching boys to be decent persons.

    • “An all-female ski movie called “Pretty Faces.”

      The defense rests.

    • amongster

      I think it is the mimimum of decency to train your staff how to react when assault happens. What is much harder – and probably not so great for making profit – is to change the minds of your male costumers so they don’t assault women in the first place.
      We wouldn’t need to help women if they were not oppressed by men. So when do you start to address male violence? Using those posters would have been an easy way to show that you are on the victim’s side, but you chose to pretend like there are no attackers to not spoil menz fun that includes sexual assault. Makes you part of the problem.

    • Seriously Dee, how much are they paying to write these insipid PR messages? Is selling out your sisters really worth it?

    • “the posters we put up were often torn down.”

      Ah well, geez, whaddayagonnado?

      Here’s a couple of responses to the torn down poster rather than shrugging and going back to counting the till.

      1) Use the plexiglass protected units that advertisers use. You know, the one’s inside stall doors that force you to look at [often sexist] advertising while you’re sitting down. Maybe at least try to look like you give a shit by PUTTING MORE UP.

      2) Recognize that if your patrons are tearing down these posters then they are probably narcissistic douchbags who disrespect women. (Hint: men who rape are usually found within the population of men who destroy anti-rape messaging). So as the responsible business people you present yourselves to be, take the indication that at least some men who frequent your establishment have no problem putting the women (whose dollars equal 100 cents, just like dude dollars!) at risk.

  • Sabine

    I have been on the receiving end of what “that guy” thinks he is entitled to because I have dared to have a few too many drinks (also when I haven’t) and so have many of my female friends. This predatory male behavior is rampant and all too often the onus is placed on us women to “not be silly” by putting themselves in a vulnerable position, as if we should just accept that “this is what men do”. This enrages me and smacks of the old “she was asking for it” trope. Since when do men have to concern themselves with not getting too drunk in case they end up being raped? Or fearing having their drinks spiked with the same result? (This happened to my friend a little while back. She came round just in time to discover her work colleague removing her underwear and put a stop to his “fun”). The VERY least we need is a campaign that makes men feel bloody uncomfortable. To back down citing that as the reason is pathetic. If the guys complaining are so squeaky clean why would they feel offended by something that doesn’t resonate with them whatsoever? They simply do not wish to be confronted with an unsavory truth that hits very close to home.

    • They argue that women who get drunk want to “have fun” meaning be fucked. People drink to self-medicate for many reasons, not arguing in favor of that, just pointing it out. Maybe you just had a shitty day, maybe you are starved for social contact. Maybe you are just a mess. Nonconsensual sex will make you even more of a mess, less able to work out satisfactory social contact, and definitely you will have another shitty day. No fun to be had there.

      • Sabine

        Yes. It’s always the women’s “behavior” that is the focal point as opposed to the assholes looking to “take advantage”. It’s a sad state of affairs when anybody should feel the need to get hammered in order to feel some respite from the society we’re living in but that’s not the point. I for one found myself off my head many times in my younger days when I didn’t know how much was too much for me. How that could be interpreted as it being open season on my body by random, known and unknown men I don’t know. The idea of fucking a barely conscious, inebriated individual instead of making sure they are taken care of makes feel sick to my stomach. It’s monstrous. But commonplace.

  • Dee Raffo

    Dear Meghan,

    We put the original posters up. The result was that they were being ripped down constantly. We asked the HWSC what the goal of the posters were and they said to raise awareness, with the main purpose to reduce the number of sexual assaults. If prevention is the number one goal then we thought a better way to bring this number down would be to have our staff trained on what to look out for and how to intervene.

    One of the commenters mentioned that it’s the bear minimum we can do to train our staff on how to react when assault happens, and that’s already in place. What we’re working on with the HSWC is how to spot and react before it occurs.

    I would like to believe that we’re all working towards the same goal – the reduce of sexual assaults.

    Instead of attacking and berating us for trying, why not help us be a stronger part of the solution? No one else would speak to the Question (the original newspaper article), but we did because we want to move this issue forward. We’re not looking for a box of cookies for this, but for support so that the issue can be pushed to the forefront not our perceived inaction. We might not get it right straight away but that’s why we’re working with the HSWC so they can help and guide us.

    Dee

    • Meghan Murphy

      Certainly I appreciate your interest and efforts. My critiques, though, are not only directed at you and your co-workers. They are directed at the men who felt ‘uncomfortable’ about the campaign/didn’t like the posters as well as at bar owners in Whistler. It isn’t only one person’s responsibility to address the issue of sexual assault — it is everyone’s. I don’t feel that I attacked *you*, I feel that I was critical of Gibbons’ comments and the decision to go with a different campaign because of men’s reactions. If we’re simply going to alter our message every time a man gets angry or feels ‘uncomfortable’ because, for once, he is the focus (rather than victims), I just don’t think we’re going to get very far…

      I am sorry you feel attacked and do appreciate your efforts to learn and engage and to address this issue/problem, but I also still feel my critiques are relevant…

      Thanks again for your response. I appreciate the dialogue.

    • You keep talking about training your staff, but that’s only going to help with incidents that take place in the bar in plain view. What about when drunk patrons leave the bar and assault women back at their hotel rooms? These posters aim to challenge men on the way they think about women and sex. It’s meant to change their behaviour everywhere, not just in the bar, but in the hotels and apartments where sexual assaults are often taking place. You could easily support the poster campaign by using plexiglass protectors. If your patrons are angry about being told not to rape, chances are they think rape is acceptable and that pointing out men’s violence is not. If you do care about women, you’ll recognize that this poster campaign was working—it was making rapists uncomfortable. Put them back up.

  • Shannon

    I had a hard time with this article in the protective defensive sense that it was my home. I was a Whistler resident for 5 years and dealt with 2 sexual assaults personally, and neither guy was from Whistler. I wish I had been a more mature 20 something but I wasn’t. I didn’t know about the Howe Sound Women’s center and wish I had. A lot of assault goes unreported, and that includes the male residents of Whistler who get beat up for no reason. While it disappoints me that the posters made some men uncomfortable, I wonder how we can change or move on to make people aware there is a support system, and that you can report assaults. Maybe HSWC could target some of the larger seasonal employers in Whistler, target the influx of a large percentage of the seasonal population with their messages. Not all Whistler guys are douchebags, not all Whistler guys are from “Whistler” (year round residents). It’s a great article, just not applicable to all Whistler males.

    • Meghan Murphy

      I understand that feeling of defensiveness. Certainly my point wasn’t to say that all men from Whistler are ‘douchebags’ (though I stand by my comment that the bar scene up there is pretty douchey, same as the bar scene in downtown Vancouver, though… And, like lots of bar scenes, generally..). I would definitely think that part of the problem re: sexual assault in Whistler is that there are so many people who come up there just to party and who aren’t locals/are tourists. The point isn’t to say that all men from Whistler are rapists — that said, I think it’s important that we aren’t so protective of our communities that we aren’t willing to be critical or hold people to account.

  • Dee Raffo

    Dear Shannon,

    Thank you for sharing what happened to you and your thoughts on this issue.

    We have monthly meetings with the HSWC and other bar owners in Whistler, and we will continue to push hard to raise awareness of what the HSWC does for our community, at the same time as empowering our staff with better training on bystander intervention.

    Safety of our guests and staff is a priority at Gibbons, and this is why we continue to speak up and push our community members to do more. The new campaign focuses on “helpers” rather than perpetrators or victims and encourages the community to work together towards ending sexual violence.

    As Meghan says in her comment above, it’s everyone’s job to address the issue of sexual assault and if we can engage the whole community and the larger businesses in Whistler we can have a wider reaching effect.

    If you want to reach out to me at all: info@gibbonshospitality.com

    Thank you,

    Dee

  • Shana Murray

    Sexual assault and gender violence is an issue for every community, and the Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society remains committed to the prevention of violence against women in all its forms.

    Part of this strategy includes engaging community partners to participate in our sexual assault prevention efforts – it is not an issue we can tackle alone.

    We feel that sexual assault prevention is an integrated approach and that there is more than one way to convey the message. We also feel strongly that the new Make Your Move campaign will be effective in helping to address this issue. It is focused on empowering bystanders, men and women alike, to take action and help prevent sexual assaults from happening.

    In addition, we will continue to work with our community partners, including Gibbons Hospitality Group, to offer Whistler workforce training on sexual assault prevention based on a framework for safe and effective ways of intervening. Our long term vision is to see a real and effective reduction in sexual assaults in our community and around the world.

    Thank you,

    Howe Sound Women’s Centre Society

    • I’m wondering how the “empowering” bystanders is meant to work. I understand that most rapes happen in private – i.e. the guy who is “making sure she gets home OK”, etc. My rape happened because no one thought my rapist was a rapist so we ended up alone together. The women assaulted by Ghomeshi, Cosby etc did not think these men were rapists until they were alone with them.

      Could you explain bit how the third party approach is supposed to work? Isn’t making rapists necessary, as in “We know you’re a rapist, so don’t be one”?

      Honest questions.

  • Sabine

    I think this suggestion from lizor bears repeating again:

    “Here’s a couple of responses to the torn down poster rather than shrugging and going back to counting the till.

    1) Use the plexiglass protected units that advertisers use. You know, the one’s inside stall doors that force you to look at [often sexist] advertising while you’re sitting down. Maybe at least try to look like you give a shit by PUTTING MORE UP.

    2) Recognize that if your patrons are tearing down these posters then they are probably narcissistic douchbags who disrespect women. (Hint: men who rape are usually found within the population of men who destroy anti-rape messaging). So as the responsible business people you present yourselves to be, take the indication that at least some men who frequent your establishment have no problem putting the women (whose dollars equal 100 cents, just like dude dollars!) at risk.”

    These predatory guys MUST be confronted with their own behaviour. As vital as it is that bystanders do not unwittingly turn a blind eye, in the end it is these men who need to STOP. I think the fact there was such opposition to the poster campaign demonstrates just how very serious the situation is and modifying it is sending out the wrong signal. The reactions of many of us here should not be taken as an attack on a group of people who are clearly doing great work in combatting sexual assault, but as constructive criticism. It may sound angry, but that’s because we have been on the receiving end of “those guys” and I, for one, feel it’s OUR voices that should be taken into account here, not those of upset and offended men.

  • Yumi

    These “don’t be that guy” posters made some dudebros uncomfortable?

    The term “if the shoe fits” comes to mind.

    You felt like a rapist for a little bit when you saw a poster saying don’t be a rapist? Why? Are you in the habit of taking advantage of unconscious or barely conscious women? Or are you inclined to want to? Or maybe you hang out with bros who do or want to? I’m playing the world’s smallest violin for you, pal. How would you like to trade places with a woman and spend a large portion of your life feeling like you might be raped?

    I commend the efforts to get bystanders to intervene, but at the same time I think posters targeted at “that guy” help with these efforts. There’s no reason they can’t be used at the same time. Nothing says “more than one way” and “integrated approach” like using multiple methods aimed at different people.

  • Lydia

    I have to ask how would you respond to this?

    http://www.edmontonsun.com/2012/01/26/sex-crimes-on-rise-in-city

    “Vancouver has picked up the campaign, too, and has seen its number of sexual assaults go down. Unfortunately, Edmonton is not seeing the same results, but Smith hopes that changes with time.”

    This doesn’t prove that the anti-rape campaigns don’t work, but that there’s not enough evidence to maintain that they necessarily do. There must be other variables to account for if it has improved circumstances in one city but not the other.

    • Meghan Murphy

      Well honestly I don’t think any one campaign is going to be the thing that stops sexual assaults from happening… I think the entire culture and conversation needs to change and I think the campaigns can potentially be part of, or signify, that shift. I think that the actual problem is the way men and boys are socialized to see and treat women — as conquests, as things that exist to provide pleasure, as sexualized objects. There are a lot of factors influencing that perception — porn, prostitution, PUA culture — and there is also the larger issue of patriarchy, that gives men more power than women in our culture. I like the Don’t Be That Guy campaign because it shifts the blame from victim to perpetrator and it’s about time we started talking about the real problem: men, male culture, masculinity, male power. Women can’t avoid patriarchy anymore than they can avoid violence and assault because it’s all connected. We can’t end patriarchy in one fell swoop though, of course, so we chip away at it. Part of the way we do this is through education and through changing the conversation, changing people’s minds in terms of how they think about sex, sexuality and gender relations..

  • Jane

    I couldn’t help but notice the second line on the first poster there “Doesn’t mean you get to help yourself”. While I am of course very supportive of this campaign, this particular line doesn’t sit well with me. Isn’t it playing on notions of women as ‘thing that is consumed’.

    • Morag

      I felt the same way, Jane! In fact, I immediately got the mental image of a man using a spoon to scrape out a helping of a woman’s body–which is an appropriately violent image for rape–an “edible woman,” a thing to be consumed.

      BUT, I also got the feeling that, because this campaign is about “consent” the implication is that a man must get consent before helping himself to a woman. That consumption of woman, itself, isn’t a problem. Only whether a man has been expressly invited. Something like that. As with you, it just doesn’t sit well with me.

      • Jane

        Yes I think that particular poster, though it has good intentions in attempting to discourage rape, nevertheless reinforces/reproduces meanings of women as edible/for consumption by men (just they need to ask nicely right?).

      • Sabine

        I agree with Jane and Morag. I think this tagline was pretty poorly thought out. Women are not to be “consumed” even when consent is given. Again, in this context, women are reduced to “treats” for men as opposed to being considered as autonomous human beings in their own right. It doesn’t sit well with me either.

        • Morag

          Yes, exactly –a “treat” rather than an “autonomous human being.” And treats, which are things, are tempting, aren’t they? So, we SYMPATHIZE with someone who is tempted by something they are not allowed to have under certain circumstances. That is, even as we enforce the “rule” we acknowledge that the rule is difficult to follow.

          So, the campaign is in general a practical one, and this poster in particular doesn’t challenge the underlying belief that women exist for men’s sexual pleasure. All it does encourage men to be more “gentlemanly” about it.

          These are well-intentioned ads, I suppose, and not designed to get at the root of the problem, but to reduce the number of sexual assaults. OK. But I’m glad we’re talking with each other about where this goes wrong–how it, perhaps, shames would-be rapists on one the hand, and reinforces “women=sex supply” on the other.

          I think we have to always guard ourselves against slipping into a kind of slavish gratitude for any sliver of public acknowledgement of our humanity and autonomy. To be afraid to ask for more, for better, because that would be somehow “greedy.” You know, greedy for a woman …