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The “Don’t Be That Girl” Poster Controversy in Edmonton, and A Voice for Men’s History of Rape Apologia

Two of the Don't Be that Girl posters
Two of the Don’t Be that Girl posters

I‘ve been traveling, so I’m a bit late getting to the whole “Don’t Be That Girl” poster controversy in Edmonton. For those of you who don’t already know all about it: A group called Men’s Rights Edmonton, closely associated with our favorite Men’s Rights hate site A Voice for Men, has been putting up some pretty obnoxious posters parodying an anti-rape poster campaign called “Don’t Be That Guy,” turning the anti-date rape message into one that targets alleged false accusers of rape.

Salon’s Mary Elizabeth Williams has a pretty good dissection of the whole thing here. As she notes, one of the biggest problems with the “Don’t Be That Girl” posters is

the idiotic defensive assumption that [the original “Don’t Be That Guy”] campaign expressly created to educate men and women about consent merits a hateful, finger-pointing response. And it makes the classic presumption that getting drunk, hooking up and then crying rape is a standard chick operating procedure — an idea that is based, by the way, on no solid statistical evidence.

That’s as good as far as it goes, but I would go a bit further:

I don’t think that MRAs are really concerned about false accusations. If they were, they would be working with groups like the Innocence Project that actually help men (and women) who have been wrongly convicted for crimes they didn’t commit.

No, it seems to me that what they’re really worried about is true accusations.

MRAs, with these posters, and with their endless whinging about the alleged complexities of sexual consent, are trying to push back against the date rape awareness campaigns of the last several decades. MRAs and PUAs like to pretend that consent is a complicated and weirdly arbitrary thing — something that women decide to bestow or not to bestow on a whim, and that women sometimes like to retract after the fact.

Feminists say that whenever there is a question about whether or not you have consent, you need to stop and ask. MRAs and PUAs pretend that this somehow means the death of spontaneous sex if not all sex altogether.

Ironically, for all their complaining about the allegedly blurry line between consent and non-consent, many MRAs and PUAs want to keep that line as blurry as possible. But unlike feminists, who want the blurriness to be resolved before anything happens, most MRAs and PUAs seem to want “blurry” to count as “yes.” That is, unless a woman is shouting no, guys are good to go, and if a woman later says she was raped, it’s because she’s “That Girl” and she’s arbitrarily decided to revoke her consent after the fact.

That’s what’s so insidious about the “That Girl” poster campaign.

And that’s why those responding to it should point out the history of the people sponsoring the campaign. Men’s Rights Edmonton and its spokesperson, Karen Straughan (Girl Writes What) are both closely connected with A Voice for Men, which is actively helping coordinate MRA activism around the issue.

So it’s worth pointing out what A Voice for Men has previously posted about rape — and perhaps putting some of these things on posters.

AVFM founder and publisher Paul Elam blames date rape on its victims, writing in one notorious post — which regular readers here will no doubt remember — that women who are raped after drinking and going home with a man are “begging” to be raped:

I have ideas about women who spend evenings in bars hustling men for drinks …  paying their bar tab with the pussy pass. And the women who drink and make out, doing everything short of sex with men all evening, and then go to his apartment at 2:00 a.m..  Sometimes both of these women end up being the “victims” of rape.

But are these women asking to get raped?

In the most severe and emphatic terms possible the answer is NO, THEY ARE NOT ASKING TO GET RAPED.

They are freaking begging for it.

Damn near demanding it.

And all the outraged PC demands to get huffy and point out how nothing justifies or excuses rape won’t change the fact that there are a lot of women who get pummeled and pumped because they are stupid (and often arrogant) enough to walk though life with the equivalent of a I’M A STUPID, CONNIVING BITCH – PLEASE RAPE ME neon sign glowing above their empty little narcissistic heads.

Elam has also said that if he is ever on a jury in a rape case he will vote to acquit even if there is clear evidence that the accused is guilty, and he has urged other men to similarly “nullify.” Here is his exact quote:

Should I be called to sit on a jury for a rape trial, I vow publicly to vote not guilty, even in the face of overwhelming evidence that the charges are true.

The post of his in which this quote appeared is now missing from the AVFM site, but he has confirmed he’s said this elsewhere on the site. [EDIT: I’ve been informed that the original post is also available via the Wayback Machine here.]

Meanwhile, AVFM Editor in Chief John Hembling takes a certain pride in his callousness towards rape victims, and has gone so far as to make several videos in which he’s announced that he doesn’t care about rape, and that if he ever sees anyone being raped, he will simply walk on by. (You can find excerpts of both vidoes here.)

There are many other examples of the site’s utter contempt for rape victims, but perhaps the most telling is the site’s use of the term “rapetard” to describe people who take the issue of rape seriously.

The people behind the Don’t Be That Girl posters claim that they’re merely trying to protect innocent men from false accusers. Their real agenda is much more insidious than that.

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Kittehserf
8 years ago

Just what I was thinking too, katz.

Helen
8 years ago

Wow, has Paul Elam ever heard of a thing called “perjury”?

remote
remote
8 years ago

That quote from Elam should probably be publicized as much as possible, to minimize the chances of him actually sitting on such a jury.

Shaun DarthBatman Day
8 years ago

So *now* MR-E (anyone notice that they have appropriated Batman? Batman for fuck sake!) is appropriating Emmet Till.

I have to say it here. They are a misery, wrapped in an enema, encased in a skid mark.

*******MASSIVE TRIGGER WARNING IF YOU SEEK THIS OUT********
Photo of Emmet Till’s corpse

remote
remote
8 years ago

Holy shit, AVfM is hilarious.

Christo
Christo
8 years ago

I think A Voice for Men has a small core of people who agree with them, then a huge audience of rubberneckers who read it to learn about what goes on in the minds of rapists and abusers.

opium4themasses
opium4themasses
8 years ago
auguries8
8 years ago

Reblogged this on auguries14.

Viscaria
Viscaria
8 years ago

opium4themasses’ link is to something clever and it is worth clicking. Be aware, though, that if you visit the front page of that tumblr there is porn. I just mention it because whenever I’m linked to something on tumblr I almost always check out the rest of the blog to see if there are any more gems, and I was a bit startled. The name should have tipped me off, really, but it’s late!

Petey
8 years ago

Also why you’re so obsessed with rape…

cloudiah
8 years ago

Also why you’re so obsessed with rape…

MELTDOWN is so bad he can’t even find his way to the right thread. 😀

leftwingfox
8 years ago

opium4themasses’ link is to something clever and it is worth clicking. Be aware, though, that if you visit the front page of that tumblr there is porn.

I really wish I read that before trying to explore the tumblr.

I’m really REALLY glad no-one around me was watching my screen when I did. =P

Mike
Mike
8 years ago

If the feminist posters are allowed to exist, then the MRA’s posters should be allowed too.

titianblue
titianblue
8 years ago

Mike, why?

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

Because Mike is under the impression that everything has two sides that should be respected. Which is complete bunk.

titianblue
titianblue
8 years ago

I think Mike’s a hit-&-run troll, no fun at all 🙁

leftwingfox
8 years ago

The MRAs are certainly allowed to make their case.

They aren’t allowed to violate copyright to do so.

And that doesn’t meant their points are at all valid, or should be free of criticism.

cloudiah
8 years ago

I think the issue with the posters is less about copyright (because parody), and more about trademark, since they were designed to look so much like the original posters that a reasonable person might assume they were put out by/endorsed by the organization behind the originals. But I am not a lawyer, particularly not a Canadian lawyer, so I will just shut up now.

Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

FALLACY ALERT! FALLACY ALERT!

Appeal to Moderation — a comprimise only works if both positions are equally valid, which they are not in this case. That is, rape happens a hell of a lot more than false accusations do, which brings us to our second fallacy!

False Analogy the comparison between the two fails immediately because of the amount of examples in each category (i.e. category one: false accusation, frequency <10% of reports; category 2: rapes, frequency ~20% of women in the US [lifetime risk])

SandinaFem
SandinaFem
8 years ago

This is why Paul Elam is the *Happy Misogynist*
MRAs who still support AVFM after reading Elam’s disgusting bullshit are only proving themselves to be just as disgusting.

Ally S
8 years ago

“If the feminist posters are allowed to exist, then the MRA’s posters should be allowed too.”

Of course they should. But they’re still horrible.

Ally S
8 years ago

I love how he thinks that saying that a poster is shitty is the same as saying that it should be banned. MRAs are an amusing bunch.

Sarah Rose
Sarah Rose
8 years ago

Just when I thought the anti-feminist universe couldn’t get any more disgusting, you manage to post about some totally new mansophere development that makes my skin crawl.

Mike
Mike
8 years ago

As someone who hates feminists, I think the MRA posters are disgusting, but I think the feminist posters are no better.

Tim Duncan
Tim Duncan
8 years ago

Elam is disgusting. He should be ashamed of himself.

Argenti Aertheri
8 years ago

There’s an XKCD for Mike!

Mike
Mike
8 years ago

`Whatever helps you dismiss what I’m saying.

Radical Parrot
8 years ago

First off: Thanks for the hugs, guys. I’ll try not to bring up my personal issues so often. And if I do, I’ll do it in the “open thread for personal stuff”-threads.

Mike: Did you have a point to make, or are you just flinging your holier-than-thou attitude around?

As suggested by baileyrenee in the very first comment, the MRAs could have made their spin-off campaign about the very real, often ignored (particularly in dudebro circles) problem of male rape. The disgusting belief that a (conventionally attractive) woman raping a man does not count as rape is purely a patriarchal construct. It’s based on the ideas that men are always horny and willing, that women aren’t actually a threat, that sex is something a woman has and chooses what man to bestow it upon etc.

It’s horrible. The spin-off campaign could have been about that, to challenge the notion that men who are raped (whether by a woman or a man) are “lesser beings”; to let them know that what was done to them was not okay, that they did not deserve it, and that they deserve sympathy, not mockery and belittling insults.

But no, that would require the MRAs to care about anyone else except their own narcissistic asses. Instead it’s just another attempt to uphold the status quo. “It’s your own fault for getting raped! Rapists are a force of nature/an act of God/the hand of justice and not at all horrible, pathetic, scum of the earth assholes with serious boundary issues and enormous privilege!”

hellkell
hellkell
8 years ago

As someone who hates feminists, I think the MRA posters are disgusting, but I think the feminist posters are no better.

Of course, cupcake, of course.

SittieKitty
8 years ago

Whatever helps you dismiss what I’m saying.

You aren’t saying anything. It’s not hard to dismiss nothing.

leftwingfox
8 years ago

Cloudiah: I’m thinking primarily the photos used, especially if they are stock photography which the original posters licensed.

Viscaria
Viscaria
8 years ago

I, for one, would just love to hear what Mike thinks about how his/our* culture’s attitudes towards rape.

*Not sure where Mike lives…

Viscaria
Viscaria
8 years ago

That was quite the grammar fail!

cloudiah
8 years ago

Good point, leftwingfox. I hate copyright law, so I’m actually not rooting for a copyright violation lawsuit, much as I hate those posters.

Mike, make an argument first, then we can try dismissing it. 😀

Seriously, dudes, if you don’t like the feminist anti-rape posters, can you describe some anti-rape educational posters or campaigns you could support? Because you get apoplectic at posters that say that some men might be rapists, so I’m not seeing how we any anti-rape campaign could be framed that would not make you apoplectic, which makes me think “Well, fuck those asshats.”

sarahlizhousespouse
8 years ago

@Cloudiah
As much as the MRM brings up women raping men I wonder that they didn’t create a counter poster campaign addressing gendered language and societal expectations about rape.
They could have added to the repertoire of posters and addressed sexism when it comes to male rape survivors.
I was pleased that the original campaign at least addressed men raping other men. An acquaintance of mine (friend of a friend) was date raped by a man he barely knew. It can and does happen, even in little towns of less than 30,000 people. I’m not sure how his parents handled the news, but I know my friend did her best to be supportive.

cloudiah
8 years ago

I’m pretty sure MRAs think women are currently raped at the appropriate rate, and don’t really care about male rape, except as something to attack women over. They never mention RAINN, Just Detention, or any of the other groups working on it.

pecunium
8 years ago

“If the feminist posters are allowed to exist, then the MRA’s posters should be allowed too.”

Maybe.

If it can be shown the one is a public harm, then there is every reason to take them down.

If there are restrictions on who is allowed to post bills, then they may not be inside the safe harbor.

If, for example, the first are a public safety message, endorsed by the college/police, then they may have a priority which outweighs a de facto assumption of acceptability: i.e. they may need to show the political nature of the speech outweighs the consideration of the damage it does to the public safety message.

And, as this isn’t the US, the Charter of Rights may further reduce the presumption of, “free speech” as a reason to put up with a campaign of rape apologism.

CassandraSays
CassandraSays
8 years ago

There’s also the fact that saying that the posters suck on a blog is not the same thing as trying to have them banned. Do we need to have the “criticizing things is not censorship” conversation again

Kittehserf
8 years ago

Oy Jones

dump the hat motif

you are not worthy

Viscaria
Viscaria
8 years ago

What? Are you trying to tell me that my free speech does not guarantee that nobody ever questions the things I say?? BUT WHAT ABOUT MY FREEDOM

Kittehserf
8 years ago

Of course, Viscaria! FREEZE PEACH is only for teh menz! Wimminz just need to have it all assplained to us.

serrana
serrana
8 years ago

Ooh, I forgot, I made some First Amendment Muffins last weekend. I promised y’all a picture of them, as I recall.

http://i.imgur.com/40EKqLT.jpg

They’re made from grilled peaches in a Kahlua-brown sugar syrup. I froze some of the peaches until I could get around to making the muffins, hence the name. They were sticky and delicious and we ate them all.

Kittehserf
8 years ago

Yum!

SweetGeekGoddess
8 years ago

First of all as a BDSM practitioner, where consent is one of the key elements in our lifestyle, it is paramount to realize that consent is a not black and white, but a fluid living entity. Consent is based upon trust and safety whose elements can change quickly in a sexual situation, thus making consent fluid. Consent can be withdrawn at any point in time. When it is withdrawn all play/sex needs to stop. In addition to talking about consent, a dialogue about respect is also necessary as respect is at the center of every healthy relationship.

Also, please remember that rape isn’t just a women’s issue. Men are raped as well and not just by other men. Men can and are raped by women. 40% of all gay men, 47% of all bi-sexual men and 21% of heterosexual men will experience sexual violence in their lifetime.

We need to create awareness that this is a HUMAN issue, not just a women’s issue. We need to keep the dialogue open and begin to talk about solutions and quit finger pointing.

Katie
Katie
8 years ago

Please think, how many men have you met that have been victims of false rape accusations, and then think how many women (AND MEN!) do you know that have been sexually victimized…What’s the bigger issue?

jojo
jojo
7 years ago

@katie — not sure, are you?
The phenom of women drinking and doing stupid things they regret later is prominent. Men have the same argument going for them — alcohol impedes judgement. Women need to take responsibility for the actions.

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

I almost missed the necro troll!

RE: jojo

Women need to take responsibility for the actions.

Okay, say that I get drunk and raped at a party.

My actions: having a drink (possibly drugged).

Rapist’s actions: raping me (and possibly drugging my drink).

WOW JEEZ I SURE SHOULD TAKE RESPONSIBILITY FOR MY ACTIONS. Daring to drink! The nerve of me!

LBT
LBT
7 years ago

Also, ‘getting raped’ is not doing a stupid thing. My former roommate got roofied once. She didn’t get raped, due to having a friend watching her back, but she had to be carried home and was sick for the rest of the day. How is that her fault?

vaiyt
7 years ago

The phenom of women drinking and doing stupid things they regret later is prominent.

Being raped is not something people do to themselves, you know.

kittehserf
7 years ago

So the necro troll calls raping someone “doing stupid things”? Colour me surprised.