Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Alcohol and Rape: Intoxication Doesn't Equal Consent

In light of the massive outrage over the story of Daisy Coleman I thought it would be appropriate to discuss a very serious flaw we have in our logic concerning rape. Daisy is a girl from Maryville, MO that was allegedly raped, dropped on to her front lawn in freezing temperatures, and then harassed to the point of having to move. Her alleged rapist was let off the hook entirely, with no explanation. While this story is most definitely tragic, it's not the first of it's kind. A common factor in this particular case and many others in alcohol and what that means towards your consent.

But let's talk about what the fact that she willing drank alcohol means in terms of her being raped.... NOTHING.

Unfortunately, this may actually be a radical idea, that a female choosing to drink alcohol in no way makes her at fault for her rape. To often we hear the "she was asking for it" or "she shouldn't have been drinking" as ways to justify men's horrific actions against women. During the Stubenville trial the defenders of the men convicted held the fact that the girl chose to get drunk as reason enough for it to be okay to sexual assault her.

Maybe you're having your doubts. You're not sure if it can really be rape if a girl voluntarily put herself in that position. But let's think about the implications of that thought process. Essentially that means that as a female I shouldn't drink alcohol because then I'm putting myself in a position to be raped. I shouldn't wear revealing clothing because I'm asking to be raped. Hell, I shouldn't leave the house because then I put myself in the way of men that may attempt to rape me. While it seems dramatic it's exactly what that ideology applies. We have a word for it and it's called rape culture.

Our society has a major problem of deeming women as the reason behind their sexual assaults. I'm not meaning people that are radical, chauvinist extremist but everyday people who would probably say they consider women as completely equal. Rape culture, the ideologies that help to blame the victims for their assaults, is something so engrained in our society it's nearly sub-conscience.

We instantly try to rationalize a reason for what that girl could have done to protect herself. Why do we never stop and ask why we even need to worry about protecting ourselves?

I won't walk down dark alley's alone or get into a strangers car or accept a drink from someone I don't know, but the problem is that, that isn't enough. Rapists are not psycho's or creepy old men, they're men that you may feel comfortable around. They're boys that you thought were cute. They're someone you know. Over 2/3rd's of rapes are committed by someone the victim knows. Just let that soak in.

The question shouldn't be what did she do wrong, but rather what is society doing wrong in that so many men can't understand why having sex with an intoxicated or otherwise girl is wrong?

Instead of teaching me how to "protect" myself by essentially limiting my personal freedoms, why aren't we teaching men how to not be the criminal.

I shouldn't have to be afraid to have a drink because someone may take advantage of me. I live in hope of the day where I can drink, dress, and go where I want without living in fear that someone may take that as my consent their sexual advances. While sometimes that seems hopeless, it can only happen if we start the conversation and change our ideology.

So rather than saying "no means no" let's start saying, ONLY YES MEANS YES. Anything less, is not consensual. I don't have to say no for a man to realize that having sex with a highly intoxicated person is wrong, that should be a no brainer.

Honestly, I could go on about this for days but I'll leave it at this. It breaks my heart that I feel so compelled to explain why this is a problem and I look forward to time where it is universally understood.

Most Sincerely,

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