Edgy campaign targets sexual assault

Post-secondary students in Kingston, Ont., will be met with a bold message about sex and alcohol when they return to school next month.

Post-secondary students in Kingston, Ont., will be met with a bold message about sex and alcohol when they return to school next month.

A new campaign labelled "Don't Be That Guy" aims to change attitudes about women who are at risk of being sexually assaulted after drinking in a bar.

A new sexual assault campaign plans to target male post-secondary students in Kingston, Ont. ((The Canadian Press))

Kim Graham, a spokeswoman with the Sexual Assault Centre in Kingston, said society has typically focused on women, asking them to change behaviours, such as closely watching their drinks and being careful about the type of clothing they wear.

But she said it is now time to focus on the men.

"We're targeting every guy. Every guy that goes out drinking…goes to the bar and thinks he's going to pick up a girl, a girl at the bar that's drinking as well," she said.

"Maybe they've been chatting throughout the night, he's been buying her drinks or whatever. He thinks that getting drunk and getting this girl drunk is an easy way to have sex with someone."

Organizers plan to blanket on-campus magazines, bus shelters and the washrooms of popular bars with ads about the effort beginning Sept. 1.

"It's one of the few campaigns that is targeting the perpetrator and not the victim. So we're not seeing posters that are saying: 'This is what your drink will look like if it's had something put in it, or walk with a friend home at night,'" said Graham.

The bottom line, Graham said, is "just because a girl goes to a bar and gets drunk doesn't mean she wants to have sex with you."

The campaign first started in Edmonton last fall and Lily Tsui, an advocate of women's rights in Edmonton, said there is a reason the program is attracting the attention of a growing number of communities in Canada.

"This campaign really challenges some traditional views of what sexual violence is and whose responsibility it is," Tsui said. "We know that most sexual assaults are committed by men so it makes sense to target them specifically."

Research shows females between the ages of 14 and 24 are at the highest risk of being sexually assaulted.