'Don't be that guy': New anti-sexual violence campaign makes men responsible for women's safety

·4-min read

In the wake of the horrific death of Sarah Everard, and countless other female victims of sexual violence, a new campaign is handing the responsibility back to men.

In contrast to other, widely derided suggestions on how women can stay safe on the streets and at home, the #Don'tBeThatGuy campaign, from Police Scotland, makes it clear that the responsibility lies primarily with men.

Tackling the insidious messaging of rape culture, the newly released video shows a succession of young men repeating familiar derogatory or entitled phrases used by men about women, and challenging them to 'look in the mirror' and understand what they're doing.

The message from the Twitter account @ThatGuyScotland reads:

"Most guys don't look in the mirror & see a problem. But it's staring us in the face. Sexual violence begins long before you think it does. 

#DontBeThatGuy".

The new campaign "aims to reduce sexual crimes by having frank conversations with men about sexual entitlement."

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The hard hitting video is just 60 second long (Police Scotland)

In the video, ordinary twenty and thirty something men ask the viewer, "have you ever called a girl 'doll'?

"Whistled at her walking down the street?

"Ever started at a women on a bus and said to your mate, 'Yeah, I'd do that.'?"

They go on to say "ever slid into a girl's DMs, then went ahead and just...showed her it?"

"Then, what... bundled her, wasted, into a taxi and took her back to yours?" "Ever guilt tripped her into it and left feeling like a lad?"

The short video concludes, "Most men don't see a problem. But it's staring us right in the face." 

Read more: DJ Emma B says Sarah Everard’s killer PC Wayne Couzens flashed her in 2008

The campaign states, "We want to reduce sexual violence. We want women to feel safer.

"Guys: we can make a real difference by taking a hard look at our attitudes and behaviour, at home, at work, and socialising with our mates.

"As men, we need to stop contributing to a culture that targets, minimises, demeans and brutalises women. 

"We need to talk openly to our male friends and relatives about behaviour that's damaging to women and puts men at risk of offending.

"So #DontBeThatGuy, join the conversation and find better ways to be a man."

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The video shows ordinary men asking other men how they speak and think about women. (Police Scotland)

The campaign has been widely praised after its launch this week.

Rape Crisis Scotland tweeted: "Great to see a campaign from @PoliceScotland about sexual violence that puts the focus on the only people responsible: the perpetrators. 

"Safety advice aimed at women won't stop sexual violence, but changing men's attitudes and behaviours can". 

A follower wrote: "Love this. Such a change from the usual message to women to alter their behaviour instead", while another added, "This is great. Every girl/woman I've ever known has experienced some kind of assault/harassment. 

"We're not saying ALL MEN are guilty, but we are asking ALL MEN to be more aware and to call out toxic, threatening behaviour when they see/hear it."

One woman said, "Great message. Parents need to teach their boys early so they are aware." 

Others expressed the hope that other police organisations across Britain would follow suit.

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The video challenges male assumptions about sexual entitlement. (Police Scotland)

Immediate reaction after Couzen's sentencing disappointed many women with Philip Allott, the police, fire and crime commissioner (PFCC) for North Yorkshire saying Sarah Everard should "never have...submitted" to being arrested by former police officer Wayne Couzens.

“So women, first of all, need to be streetwise about when they can be arrested and when they can’t be arrested. She should never have been arrested and submitted to that," he said. 

Read more: Sarah Everard’s killer guarded the Commons

He apologised after a storm of criticism and calls to resign. Other ideas from politicians included an 888 number for women to call, and further advice on staying safe. But until now, very little official action has targeted men's behaviour and attitudes.

The @PoliceScotland campaign could be a game-changer - and the hope is that by helping men to understand the roots of misogynist attitudes, the bar of what's acceptable will be raised. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted, "This new campaign from @PoliceScotland is powerful and important. I’d ask all men to watch this film - and then encourage your sons, fathers, brothers and friends to do likewise."

Find out more: that-guy.co.uk

Watch: PM calls on women to have faith in 'overwhelmingly trustworthy' police

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