My 2 cents: Rape and drinking.

October 27, 2013

There has recently been a raging debate on the Internet, since Emily Yoffe wrote an article called, College Women: Stop Getting Drunk.
Basically – Girls, if you don’t want to get raped – don’t drink around men.

A plethora of articles were written in light of this perspective – most notably Mia Freedman, who basically agreed with Yoffe and received quite the backlash from many women.


So what’s my 2 cents’ worth?

First cent:
In essence, I agree that drinking impairs people’s behaviour as well as reduce one’s ability to think coherently – depending on the amount consumed and other circumstances.
This type of conversation should cover both men and women, as well as look at the many areas of life the consumption of alcohol effects. For all.

But that’s not what’s happening.

This argument is (again) about what women/girls need to do, to better their chances of not being raped…which our logical brains know – is impossible.
Have we moved on from outfits or do we just go ahead and add that to the list?
What’s next – curfew for girls and women?

It doesn’t matter how else I look at it, listing what women and girls need to do should not be the primary topic of discussion.

First we need to flood the debate with discourse about men.
Men, guys and boys:
* Why they’re participating in more crimes of this nature and
* What they (and we as a society) need to do to curb its violent trajectory.

First and FOREMOST.

But we’re doing it the other way round; looking at how women need to ‘prevent’ (the unpreventable) while the nature of men goes largely untouched and – for the most part – unpunished.

This graph was created by the Enliven Project using data from Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey and FBI reports. It appeared in the Washington Post at the start of the year.


This particular form of advice does nothing but provide a disservice to both genders:

* Men/boys because they’re being painted as barbaric animals who use the primal urge they can’t stop, to take advantage of intoxicated (and sober) women and girls, rape them, sometimes take turns and film the whole thing on their smartphones;
* Women/girls because they need to be taught to restrict their life practices, in the hope that the predatory male gender doesn’t stick their penis in them without consent.

Second cent:
This is not to say that parents – and society at large – shouldn’t stop mentoring their children and the youth of today, of the dangers of alcohol; that annihilating themselves is harmful on many levels.

So I hope it’s clear that I think the current drinking culture of all our youth is excessive, dangerous and violent.

BUT – the second problem I have with this discourse is that, as good as this advice may be for girls and women of today and beyond:

Question #189: What are we saying to the young women who have ALREADY been raped and may have been drinking when it happened?

What if they felt safe with the men/man/boys/boy they were with?

What if they were tricked? Deceived?

Then raped/gang-raped.

Then left.

What about them?

Articles like Yoffe’s only help to drive home the deep-seeded shame they already feel by ultimately saying, it wouldn’t have happened IF:
* you had stayed home
* you hadn’t drunk alcohol
* you hadn’t gone to that party
* you hadn’t…
* you hadn’t…

We make them feel guilt.

That’s victim-blaming.

While this type of conversation continues to ignore the elephant in the room – the rapist – we neglect the mental health and recovery of those countless girls and women who have experienced a life-altering violation of their rights as a human being.

All they are seeing are guys/men getting off from being charged – even with filmed evidence^ – whilst girls/women are being given an instruction manual on how to stop the behaviour of another (???) through lists of recommendations including how much they drink, where they go, who they talk to, what they wear, etc., etc., etc.

I think we owe those women a lot more.

Deep Breath.


^ In the case of Daisy Coleman – who was 14, given an intoxicating drink by a group of 17 year olds, gang-raped and left unconscious in the snow – saw charges against the football ‘hero’ dropped DESPITE filmed footage.
If we live in a world, where filmed footage is not enough to convict, then women are truly and royally screwed.

5 Responses to “My 2 cents: Rape and drinking.”

  1. Verina said

    I agree with you…
    I believe we need to change the drinking culture for both Men and Women..
    I also agree, that we are still trying to teach girls how not to get raped.. rather than teaching boys not to do it.
    It must change…
    because they will just find something else…
    if women stop getting drunk what will it be next time… not to be out after midnight??
    not to go to bars and clubs?
    it is ridiculous…. the ONLY common denominator in ALL rape cases … is a RAPIST…. and generally that is a male… so isn’t it about time that we started the conversation with them????
    breathing with you… *sigh*

    • questionsforwomen said

      Exactly. Exactly.
      Time to dust off the curfew sirens, I think…hope no one in the home rapes.
      *taking another breath.

  2. Kay Schultz said

    I’m with you. I have 4 years of experience as a volunteer at a shelter for victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and 5 years working at a victim benefits unit in Washington. The actual number of prosecutions seems high in your graph.

    • questionsforwomen said

      I’m in Australia and I got the graph off the Net, but appeared in The Washington Post at the start of the year.
      The graph was by the Enliven Project using data from Department of Justice’s National Crime Victimization Survey and FBI reports.
      I have a friend who works here with victims of sexual assault and domestic violence and she would probably agree with you about the number of prosecutions.
      Thanks for stopping by and shedding more light on this horrible state of affairs, Kay. I think what you do is amazing. x

  3. godtisx said

    First I want to apologize for not being around that much. Explanation:

    On this topic:

    I agree, agree and agree with what you’ve said here. We really need to move away from advice on how to deter rape and the language which suggest reasons it occurred. There is a buried shaming in it, even if unintentional at times.

    Instead the dialogue should be creating a strong resistance to any views that would support rape being okay under “any,” circumstance. ANY.

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