More on drinking, sex, and rape

This is partly in response to recent comments by Nick Ross, who has been vilified in the British press for suggesting that every act the law defines as rape is not equally serious, and a post on xoJane about casual sex that once again reveals the impossibility of certain “progressive” and “feminist” ideas about sex.

Once again, we see people completely misunderstanding the relationship between drinking, sex, and the law.

Nobody–not Nick Ross, not me, not anybody since about 1975 and who even knows if anybody did then–thinks that, if a woman is saying no or resisting sex, her being drunk invalidates her no or her resistance. I’m not aware of any modern cases where a woman was struggling and saying no, and a man forced himself on her, and a judge or jury declared that, since she was drunk, her resistance didn’t count. That is NOT what’s at issue.

What is at issue is the fact that, legally, having sex with somebody who is drunk is considered rape. Period. It doesn’t matter if they don’t resist or say no. It doesn’t matter if they enthusiastically say yes. It doesn’t matter if they initiate the encounter. The law in many places is that, if a person (usually a woman) is drunk, she is incapable of giving consent. Women who have been drinking are in the same category as the mentally disabled and minors under the age of consent. 

That is a problem. It’s shocking and appalling to me that feminists don’t realize that is a problem. That a woman who has had–who has willingly chosen to drink–two or three beers is considered, legally, to be equivalent to a cognitively disabled person with an IQ of 40 or a child of 11 when it comes to sexual decision making should outrage feminists. They certainly shouldn’t be pushing this belief.

And then there’s the irony of supporting a culture of alcohol-fueled sex with strangers while also calling any woman who has any such encounter and feels even slightly regretful about it a rape victim.

xoJane is the place women go not, as the tagline says, to be selfish, but to revel in their victimhood. The site is filled with story after story, in both the content and comments, of women claiming sexual victimization of every kind. And yet, the same site where the person who talks about how horrifically victimized they were as an admittedly horny, precocious 13yo in a relationship they willingly entered into with a 19yo is lauded for their courage and bravery in finally “admitting” how traumatized they were, and women who claim that sex they willingly engaged in while drunk was rape are given unequivocal validation, we see casual sex lauded and presented as empowering. 

Nowhere in the “tips for casual sex nobody will regret” is there what should probably be the main piece of advice: DON’T DRINK. Nope. The #1 thing that causes people to both engage in and regret casual sex–alcohol–is ignored entirely, as if we live in a world where people often completely soberly decide to engage in sex with a stranger. I’d be willing to bet that the majority, if not the VAST majority, of casual sexual encounters involve alcohol. To ignore that, to not mention that anything you do while drinking you may regret, and that legally if you have sex while drunk you are a rape victim, is wildly irresponsible. It’s just going to lead to more tragic tales of victimization told by women who made a stupid choice while drunk they would not have made while sober and then, quite understandably, feel violated the next day.

Women are not empowered by the idea that, after they have a drink or two, they should be considered the legal equivalent of a child. People need to understand that alcohol actually does impair decision-making, and so mixing drinking and sex is a terrible idea. It’s not surprise, actually, that so many women who were just drinking completely willingly come to believe they were drugged (when, as the Ross piece points out, there is no evidence that date-rape drugs are used pretty much ever, much less that they are common). When you are drinking, you can get much drunker than you intended much faster than you expected. It seems like this is happening to many women, who then, rather than taking responsibility for willingly becoming that impaired, imagine they were slipped a roofie. 

This is a problem. Women are not children. Alcohol is not apple juice. Two completely sober people deciding to have one instance of equally-desired, mutually-fulfilling, completely rational and unemotional casual sex that both feel great about every moment thereafter probably happens less often than people are actually slipped roofies (i.e., never). 

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3 thoughts on “More on drinking, sex, and rape

  1. Shelly Stow

    This will not sit well with rape culture extremists and those who throw the term “rape apologists” around, but it is important. Rape victims do not pursue their rapists. Girls of 15 and 16 who claim to be 18 and, with fake id, go to adult clubs in order to pick up guys are not victims. Women who drink enough to lose enough of their inhibitions to pursue a sexual encounter with a total stranger or slight acquaintance are not victims. To allow them–to encourage them–to call themselves that and to agree that they, indeed, are, is the strongest possible insult insult imaginable to true victims of rape and sexual violence . A good rule of thumb might be, if you don’t think it is rape while it is happening, it almost certainly wasn’t rape at all. And before every feminist in America and beyond starts screaming at me, a man who engages in sex with a woman who is clearly bombed is sleazy and disgusting and every bit a jerk, but being a jerk must not carry the same penalty as being a rapist. We see the horrors that have been wrought upon us when we decided that a 16 and an 18-y-o having sex was the same as a 50-y-o man sexually molesting a 10-y-o.

    Reply
    1. mostboringradical Post author

      I’d go further and way that a 15 or 16yo girl who actively, eagerly seeks out sex with an older guy isn’t a victim. Does that mean that no teenage girl is ever a victim when she has sex with an older guy? Of course not. But just because it’s a situation where manipulation is possible–and I’d love to know about a human relationship where manipulation is impossible–doesn’t mean it’s always the case. To imagine that the 15yo who willingly, enthusiastically has sex with her 22yo boyfriend is in the exact same situation as a 15yo who is held down and forced to have sex against her will is crazy. And, it’s crazy to imagine that the guy who, at 22, would have sex with a willing, eager 15yo is no different from the guy who, at 22, would hold the same young woman down against her will, ignore her no, and forcibly rape her. If we cannot see these distinction, then I think we are doing a great disservice to both women and men.

      And, yes, we need to accept that you can be a jerk about sex without being a rapist. This world is full of pushy, manipulative people who like to exploit others whenever they can. However, there is a difference we have to make, legally and morally, between those who will use force or threat of force to get what they want and those who won’t. The guy who tries to guilt a woman into having sex with him is a jerk, but as long as he gives that woman the choice of saying no–if he doesn’t force her to have sex by holding her down or threatening her–then he’s not a rapist. The guy who takes advantage of the fact that a woman who freely and eagerly had 3 drinks might be making a decision she wouldn’t make if she were fully sober is a jerk, but if she’s happily, willingly engaging in drunk sex with him, then he’s not a rapist. If we refuse to make these distinction, then we are disrespecting women.

      Women are not children. Nor are their mentally disabled. To treat them as such–to act as if, by virtue of being female, they are in a constant state of disempowerment and victimhood and therefore unable to consent–seems profoundly misogynistic.

      Reply
  2. Shelly Stow

    I don’t know how else to contact you. This is something that I thought you might possibly be interested in. I just posted it on our–RSOL’s–Facebook page.

    Announcement: Documentary filmmakers are seeking interviewees for a film on CP and Internet offenders. They are interested in meeting with families and offenders who have these specific type offenses. They have requested a national awareness posting as well as a specific push to Boston as they are going to be in that area in the next week or so. The criteria are given below as well as a contact email and telephone number.
    If you contact them, tell the filmmakers Deb and Alex that you are responding to an announcement initiated by Gail of the Florida Action Committee.

    Profiles of potential interviewees for documentary, End of Love
    – Young men (25 and under) caught by law enforcement with child pornography on their computers/hard drives who began looking at adult Internet pornography and eventually encountered child porn.
    – Youth and adult men entrapped in chat rooms by law enforcement and convicted of child porn and/or attempted sex with a minor.
    – Youth charged with child porn because of sexting.
    – Parents/family members of youth convicted of the above crimes.
    – Youth and adult men who have an Internet pornography addiction that has impacted their families and intimate relationships.
    Contact:
    producers@endoflovefilm.com
    Phone: 802-324-2098

    Reply

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