Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Amoris Medicum: Bibunt Biberunt Bibebant

Oh dear... Slate.com is an online news source that generally puts out really good, interesting articles. But today on their splash page was a link to this article with the tagline: "Being Drunk Puts Women At Higher Risk of Rape. Why Will No One Tell Them To Stop Getting Wasted?"
The article, by Emily Yoffe, seems at first glance to offer good counsel.
We are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them...when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart.
I'm a big fan of personal responsibility. I try to live my life by making good choices and encouraging others to make good choices. The difficulty in trying to teach people to make better choices, is that in the case of this article, it's difficult to avoid victim-blaming when talking about bad choices. And unfortunately, this article fails to avoid victim-blaming, essentially saying that drunk women who are sexually assaulted are at fault, because they were drunk. There are a few moments in the article where the author or people she quotes, write a version of "I'm not literally saying women are to blame, but I'm certainly implying it."
That "but" always takes your first defensive statement and negates it. "I'm not a racist, but...I'm about to say something racist."

And you know what's (figuratively) funny? I wouldn't have as many problems with the article at all if the point was to teach people, specifically in this case women, to be more careful about drinking alcohol. But the point of the article was rape. And there's a big difference (albeit on a fine line) between teaching people the dangers of making poor choices and implying it's your own fault if it happens to you.

Women don't rape themselves. Period.
Could some women have made better choices, or placed themselves in positions where their chances of being raped were lower? Perhaps. But articles like this one imply that rape prevention begins by telling women not to wear big signs around their neck that say "rape me", even though that isn't what is really happening at all.
Women don't think, "I'm gonna wear skimpy clothes, go to a party of strangers, and then drink myself into oblivion. I sure hope somebody rapes me." They don't even think "I sure hope nobody rapes me."

What made the article even more disappointing was there was no mention of the email sent out to members of Georgia Tech's Phi Kappa Tau fraternity titled "Luring Your Rapebait", which included helpful suggestions like "If anything ever fails, go get more alcohol."

But don't worry, frat boys, if you succeed, it's the woman's fault.
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