BY Jim Byset
AS REGULAR readers of AVfM are no doubt aware, the “Don’t be that Guy” poster campaign has once again raised its bigoted head. This time the campaign has made an appearance in Canada’s capital – Ottawa. However, while the posters did attract some media attention, it wasn’t nearly as much as previous occasions. What’s also of note is that for the first time the posters were torn down. It seems that someone at the University of Ottawa had had enough. While AVfM does not condone censorship, we certainly do understand the anger that motivates such action. Labeling an entire gender as potential rapists while simultaneously ignoring the realities of sexual assault and rape is clearly morally bankrupt. That is why we sent our tireless Director of Activism Attila Vinczer to Ottawa armed with glue, some “Don’t be that Girl” posters, and a gutful of FTSU attitude. AVfM spoke with Vinczer upon his return from Ottawa. Below are some excerpts from the conversation:
Hi Attila – so first off – how did you get to Ottawa?
Well, I drove to Ottawa. It took about four-and-half hours – got a nice present from the OPP on the way – a speeding ticket. I told the officer that I couldn’t accept his kind gift but, you know, he insisted.
What’s your take on the Don’t be that Guy campaign?
The Don’t be That Guy campaign is absolutely ridiculous. The message of that poster, of that campaign, is completely wrong. It paints guys in a way that men are like that – and they’re not. It goes hand-in-hand with the one-in-four nonsense. It’s a misleading campaign and stigmatizes men.
What happened when you got to Ottawa?
I met with William Mullins-Johnson, Janice Fiamengo, and Stephen Bindman. I have worked with Bill for years, who talks about wrongful conviction stuff – Stephen teaches a class to law students about wrongful convictions. We had lunch and talked about Elizabeth Sheehy and agreed that her proposals are just ludicrous. Bill helped me poster – we put out fifty Don’t Be That Girl posters – one of them was the one about the woman hitting her child and the glass ceiling poster. We walked about for about an hour-and-a-half – and went into the faculty of law where we put up about five or six posters.
Was there any reaction?
The posters instantly drew attention. We got a few snarky looks from students – particularly women – but it was pretty peaceful. We got a few, what I’d call condescending stares. There was a sense of passive hostility although nobody bugged us or bothered us – even inside the university. That was probably because Bill is a huge guy – he’s 6’6, 200lbs. We got a lot of posters up really high thanks to him. But what we noticed is that people actually stopped and read the posters – the creators (Men’s Rights Edmonton) did a good job in that regard.
Did you see any Don’t be that Guy posters?
We didn’t see any – I heard that they were being torn down, so they were long gone by the time we got there.
How did it feel to put up the Don’t be that Girl posters?
It felt very good to put up those posters – I felt we were balancing it out so that people were seeing both ends of the spectrum and we need to be persistent – someone needs to put these posters up consistently. Every time I go to Ottawa from now on I am going to put posters up. Although I’m going to use rubber gloves – the glue is very sticky. The guys from Men’s Rights Edmonton gave me advice on that one – they’re professionals.