Don’t Be That Guy: activists praise campaign tackling sexual violence

·3 min read

Activists have hailed a police campaign that calls on men to look first to themselves when considering how to tackle violence against women.

The Don’t Be That Guy campaign by Police Scotland includes a video in which several men describe actions often passed off as insignificant but that women might find threatening or intimidating.

The video bears the caption: “Most guys don’t look in the mirror and see a problem. But it’s staring us in the face. Sexual violence begins long before you think it does.”

In it, male actors address the viewer directly and explain how gestures that can be dismissed by some as insignificant can form part of a larger problem, from unwanted compliments to calling a woman “doll”.

Campaigners welcomed the framing, especially in the wake of responses to the murder of Sarah Everard by a serving police officer that appeared to emphasise the need for female victims to protect themselves.

“At a time when women are being advised by the Met [police] to ‘flag down a bus’ as a response to threats of violence at the hands of its officers, this campaign has a really welcome focus on men’s attitudes and behaviours, and what all men can do to hold each other to account and prevent abuse,” said Andrea Simon, director of the End Violence Against Women coalition.

“Too often we see violence against women framed as an issue women are burdened with solving, by adapting our behaviours to keep ourselves safe. This is not only ineffective, exhausting and an impossible task, but it perpetuates misguided and harmful beliefs that victims are to blame for what happens to them.

“We need to see more police forces and government campaigns that challenge men and boys’ attitudes and behaviours, so that violence against women and girls is no longer tolerated or accepted as a normal part of our daily lives. This is an issue of equality and our fundamental rights, and unless we invest in changing the deeply rooted attitudes and beliefs that underpin violence against women, nothing will change.”

The campaign was backed by the Scottish first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, who called it “powerful and important”. She said: “I’d ask all men to watch this film – and then encourage your sons, fathers, brothers and friends to do likewise.”

As of Thursday evening the video had been viewed on Twitter more than 800,000 times and retweeted more than 9,000 times.

Campaigners have been angered by official responses to Everard’s murder. There were calls for the Met police commissioner, Cressida Dick, to resign after her force put out advice telling women who feel threatened during any interaction with the police to try “waving a bus down”, asking where the officer’s colleagues are and verifying their identity by asking to speak to the radio operator themselves.

On Thursday the Tory police commissioner in North Yorkshire, Philip Allott, resigned after fury at him for saying women should know the law and be “streetwise”.

Wayne Couzens used his position of trust and power as a Met police officer to kidnap, rape and murder Everard as she walked home in March.

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