Random Thoughts: The Don’t Drink and Rape Edition

If you care to know what inspired this post, you can mosey on over to Slate and look for the headline: “The Best Rape Prevention: Tell College Women to Stop Getting So Wasted”.

I can’t link to the article because of Slate’s horrible, terrible, no good redesign. On the upside, I am being more productive at work AND posting more here.

My thought on the article is this: It’s clickbait, pure and simple. The headline is enraging, meant to drive attention. Despite objections to the contrary, to me the way the article is written comes across as victim blaming. There’s a lot of phrases in the passive voice like, “ends up being raped”, and a small riff about how the author had a college career that was full of risks but not binge drinking (i.e. “You don’t know have to binge drink to have fun!” — a sentiment I fully agree with).

1. Yep, binge drinking is bad, and binge drinking is a huge problem on college campuses. It needs to be addressed.

2. Both sexes need to be apprised, and sternly, about the risks of binge drinking. Not just “those college lasses need to be told not to drink so darn much!” Binge drinking leads to accidents, brain damage, and death, too.

3. Drunk sex — like, really drunk sex — sucks. No one should be having sex when they are really drunk. It’s dumb, it’s dangerous, and it’s no good.

4. Rape is also a problem. Not just on college campuses. Yes, a rapist (usually a man) will use alcohol to incapacitate his chosen victim (usually a woman). But sober and not-blackout-drunk women get raped, too, by rapists. The problem isn’t the alcohol — though it doesn’t help. The problem is the rapist.

5. Yes means yes. Silence does not imply consent. Learn this lesson, boys and girls, and learn it well.

While I can understand people saying, “Well, we should tell women how to be safe!”, I do have a problem with the implied message that teaching women to look, act, BE a certain way will keep them safe.

If a girl goes to a party, and doesn’t get drunk, but still gets raped, victim-blamers are going to say, “She shouldn’t have gone to the party.” Or, “She shouldn’t have worn a skirt.” Or, “She shouldn’t have been so pretty.”

None of those messages is okay.

What if a woman goes on a few dates with a man? What if he decides he wants to have sex, but she doesn’t? If she invites him in for coffee, and he takes that as an invitation into her bedroom, and she is raped? Should she not have gone on the date? Invited him in?

No. He should not have raped her.

One of the root problems at the heart of rape is the double standard we hold for men and women when it comes to sex. Men are taught to expect sex; boys and men are taught that sex is their right, that they are entitled to have sex.

Women are taught that they have to be good girls. Act the right way, dress the right way, not associate with bad people, not drink too much.

Because of this double standard, it is very easy for some people to blame a victim of rape for her rape.

In rape, it is never the victim’s fault.


I will teach my two daughters and my son the risks inherent in binge drinking — all of the risks. I hope to instill in them a healthy respect for alcohol. I also hope that we can take away the taboo of alcohol, not treat it like a forbidden fruit. I hope by normalizing it a little, the allure will diminish.

An inherent risk of interacting with the opposite sex, however, is rape. And my daughters are not in control of not getting raped. A man is in control of choosing not to rape. We have to teach our sons better, get out the message to men: Don’t rape. Yes means yes.

We also have to make clear that rapes and assaults should be reported. Reported crimes need to be treated seriously, regardless of the social status of the criminal. Regardless of the sobriety of the victim. And the laws have to be more strictly enforced when someone is raped.

I’m not going to rant about ‘rape culture’ — or maybe I just did, I’m not 100 percent clear what that phrase means. Violent crimes of all kinds are down across the board, although you would never know it reading or watching the news.

But articles like the one in Slate, that try to address an aspect of sexual assault in our culture, don’t help the conversation when they are so one-dimensional, and demonize alcohol consumption (which, again, binge drinking = bad news) instead of demonizing rapists.

It Didn’t Happen to Me

[Dad, you may not want to read this post. It’s got some language and some information in it regarding me, your oldest daughter, that you’d rather maybe not know.]

[Okay, you’ve been warned. This is a post I don’t want my dad to read.]

Unless you live under a rock, you know about the sex scandal rocking Penn State right now. You know about the allegations of sexual assault/harassment being leveled against the GOP primary frontrunner.

As I drove home yesterday, I thought about my post of yesterday. In my comment section, another woman I consider a friend had come forth to tell about the sexual assault she suffered as a teenager. As I said in one of my replies to her, “the inaction on the part of the adults [at the school] is reprehensible.”

Maybe in one way, in some way, the anti-bullying campaigns that are rampant in schools now will nip some of these horrible offenses in the bud. Maybe the boy picking on the girl he likes will learn another way to communicate, or will simply learn another way of talking to a girl he likes, or will learn to deal with rejection. Not everyone has to like everyone else. We don’t all have to be BFFs.

But the other thing I thought about was this: It never happened to me. And I wonder why.

I was never raped.
I was never sexually assaulted. I was never sexually harassed.
I haven’t even been significantly bullied.


On Twitter, @QueenofSpain threw out there (in light of the Cain allegations, I think): “Can any woman in my timeline say they’ve NEVER been sexually harassed in some way, shape, form?”

I thought about it. I really did.

The only thing I could recall was of a part-time job I had in my early 20s. I was trying to make ends meet, and so I took an evening job with a company that delivered food from area restaurants. I took the calls when they came in.

The guy who owned the company and was my boss was a real jackass. I’m no prude, but this guy was a foul-mouthed jerk. He used the “c” word with impunity, and he had one phrase – I believe it was “lick my balls” or maybe “suck my cock” — that offended the hell out of me. He’d get off the phone with a restaurant, and say, “That jerk can lick my balls” if he was upset.

Yeah, he was a *peach*.

One night, I finally said to him, “Look, stop saying that when I’m here. It offends me. It’s hostile. I don’t want to fucking hear it any more.”

And you know what? He stopped saying it when I was working.

I guess I wonder too (and this goes to yesterday’s post a bit as well): What do we mean by harassment?

I have been hit on while I’ve been out in public by people – men – that I’d rather had not hit on me. I’ve been inappropriately groped once or twice in my life (not by the same person). But unwanted attention at a bar isn’t harassment – unless, of course, the guy can’t take a hint. This is when guy friends with tattoos come in handy.

I have never been propositioned by a person in authority above me. Not once.

I have never felt pressured to have sex. I have been in bed with a man, going hot and heavy, and when a condom proved unavailable, I have called it off. I have enjoyed consensual sex with guys who didn’t call me back the next day. Or ever. I have lived to tell these tales.

Now, obviously, the fact that I have not been raped or assaulted or harassed does not mean that rape, assault, and harassment don’t exist. It just means it hasn’t happened to me. And just because I can with a fair amount of certainty say it hasn’t happen to me does not make it okay that it has happened to ANYONE.

But how come it hasn’t happened to me, but has happened to two or five or 10 or 100 or however many people I know? What the hell makes me so special?

I am trying to suss this out a bit because I’m raising children here, children I don’t want to be raped, assaulted, or harassed; children I don’t want be bullies, rapists, assaulters, harassers.

Maybe I didn’t find myself in bed or alone with assholes, although the absence of a phone call after a night of sex would disprove this theory. I guess they weren’t violent assholes.

Maybe the fact that I did attend an all-girl Catholic high school protected me from sexual assault as a teen. This would seem to make sense. Maybe the guys I dated back then, and through college were good guys. Again, not all of them could be called gentlemen, per se, but I didn’t ever get a black eye from leaving someone with blue balls. No one shoved a hand under my skirt unexpectedly, or grabbed my head to make him go down on him.

The people I know who have suffered these things aren’t weak. They don’t have a victim mentality. When I’ve heard these stories, I’ve more or less said, “YOU? That happened to YOU?” They are beautiful, successful people; many of them are in loving relationships; many of them are parents.

If it can happen to these kind, sweet, lovely, successful people, it can fucking happen to anyone.

So why doesn’t it? And what armor, what lessons, can I pass along to my kids so they can say, “It’s not going to happen to me.”