In recent weeks, much virtual ink has been spilled debating the role of alcohol in on campus sexual assaults. Should women stop drinking, because many rapes are committed against intoxicated women? Should women stop knowing men, since many rapes are committed by men who are known to the women? Should women just... stop... in general, since many rapes are committed against women? Here's an important reminder: nothing a woman does or does not do can make a rapist materialize. Not even drinking to the point of sloppiness.
Think Progress's Tara Culp-Ressler points out in a must-read piece today that the link between drinking and rape isn't as direct as certain teetotaling advice columnists might imply. While many victims of sexual assaults are intoxicated, so are victims of other crimes — like robbery — in similar percentages. Further, as many have written, a woman can drink until she's blue in the face and unless a rapist is present, she won't get raped. She might have a really bad headache the next day, but she won't get raped.
But what about men who drink and then get all handsy and don't know that they've raped until they wake up the next morning horrified with themselves? A myth, says Culp-Reeser, who cites research that shows men who already plan on victimizing women will sometimes drink as a way to justify their behavior. Further, men who rape don't just do it once; they tend to consciously select a victim, deliberately isolate her, and use alcohol to diminish her ability to say no. Alcohol is among the many "tools" employed by rapists who wish to victimize women; it's not a potion that transforms a carefree college girl into a sexual assault victim.
I've prepared some stupid follow up comments for readers who have neither read nor intellectually processed anything, inspired by emails and Tweets I've gotten on the topic:
- Yeah but if women didn't get drunk they wouldn't get raped.
- Sorry but if women want to get sloppy drunk they should be prepared to face the consequences. (Ed note: Ew, why aren't you in jail?)
- Sometimes women get drunk because they want to have sex and then they just feel bad about being sluts afterward.
- Yeah but women lie.
So if you were going to contribute anything to that effect, save yourself the trouble and just write down the number of the stupid thing you were going to say. Or, you know, firmly usher your brain past the year 1990.