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I’ll Speak Out

The ODE published an anonymous letter today, titled “Speaking out,” which related a tale of sexual assault. It’s a usual story of date rape: I thought you were my friend – I thought I was safe – I got sauced up on drugs and booze until I was comatose – I can’t believe you took advantage of me – I am traumatized – You are a jerk.

I am aware that I’m opening a real can of worms here because such conflict exists between the  personal responsibility and “blaming the victim” crowds. I just don’t think letters like these serve any purpose (outside of being therapeutic for the author). Sexual assault prevention advocates often defend the practice of passing out drunk by saying “girls have the right to have fun.” That’s true; they do. It could also be said that you have the right to sleep on train tracks, but that isn’t going to stop you from getting hit by a train. Which brings me to my point: No one ever talks about what is really important – not getting raped in the first place.

As the old adage goes, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” How come there isn’t any emphasis on teaching women that if they incapacitate themselves with drugs people will take advantage of them given half a chance?

If you know why, tell me all about it in the comments.

  1. No u says:

    Would you describe getting black out drunk on bowls and booze risky behavior? Would you!?

  2. Fuck off says:

    I would not describe drinking with somebody you think is a friend as “risky behavior.” Go sleep on the train tracks.

  3. Josh M. says:

    Ah, this all makes me wistful for the days of “No More Curfews” rallies.

  4. Timothy says:

    That’s my big objection really – a drunk guy is responsible but a drunk girl isn’t. Frankly, I think that’s condescending to women. Plays into the whole helpless damsel thing.

    I agree that if you’re sober and you take advantage of a gal who’s blackout drunk, yeah…hand in your man card and step into the castration chamber, thanks. But if you’re both drunk, why should the male party to the encounter bear responsibility? If “I didn’t know I was saying yes!” is a valid reason to accuse a guy of rape, which is a (rightly) serious crime, why isn’t “I was too wasted to know what she was saying!” a valid defense?

    I can see the argument, I guess – that then you open up a whole can of worms about intent and what if he gets off and he really raped her and all of that. But, and I’m not saying this to be callous, in this country the rule is supposed be that the state must prove guilt, and if you can’t prove guilt to a 95% confidence interval, then the guy walks. That’s how it is, or is supposed to be, and it doesn’t really matter how heinos or morally objectionable the crime is, the standard must be adhered to lest we have completely arbitrary results.

  5. Scott says:

    I don’t disagree with you Matt. If you rape or drive drunk you should be punished. It’s against the law.

    What I’m arguing for, I suppose advocating is a better word, is that you can’t argue that they knew what they were doing and that the victim didn’t.

    Example, one of S.W.A.T.’s big talking points is that it’s not consensual if you’re drunk. Well, if we’re arguing that the drunk driver is legally wrong and the drunk assaulter (this argument solely from the basis that the participants are all not sober) is legally in the wrong because they knew what they were doing than you have to simultaneously argue that the victim also knew what they were experiencing.

    You can’t argue that you didn’t know if we’re simultaneously arguing that they did.

    I’m not arguing morals here, rape is immoral. Just not a fan of double standards is all.

  6. Matt says:

    Eh, it’s a decent point. Still I come down pretty vehemently that the attacker will always bear more responsibility – in fact, in my mind, all responsibility – than the attacked simply because, well, they’re the attacker. I mean, my argument is not that you shouldn’t take responsibility for being raped, it’s that if you’re raped, you really have no responsibility to take; a criminal committed a crime of which you were victim. At some point the victim isn’t just “playing the victim,” here the victim is actually the victim.

    I mean, you could argue that drunk drivers should get a pass for their actions because “they were too drunk to realize they shouldn’t be driving.” Doesn’t really make sense to me. The law is the law, and in this case the law is right, so if you can’t adhere to it when you’re drunk, you probably shouldn’t get drunk, or else expect to face consequences for what you do while drunk. Even if they person you’re doing it to is also drunk. In short, they’re not breaking any laws or acting immorally by getting raped, someone is both breaking laws and acting immorally by raping someone.

  7. Scott says:

    Everyone feels sorry for the intoxicated girl/guy.

    “Boo hoo, I was drunk and someone took advantage of me, or I couldn’t control myself I was drunk it’s not real consent.”

    By that logic than the guy/girl who takes advantage shouldn’t get in trouble then. Generally, at the college level these “sexual assualts” are committed between two drunk students.

    I’m not arguing that sober people don’t assault others but in the context of college-aged people generally it’s two drunk people.

    My point is that if you’re too drunk to take responsibility for what happens to you than you should be allowed to argue that you were too drunk to take responsibility for what you do.

    Doesn’t make it right but you can’t have it one way.

  8. Matt says:

    Well, I think the author’s point is simply to communicate with their attacker and their community that they feel what happened to them was wrong, such that other people might understand the problems she, and our society, has to face.

    The problem I have with the “train tracks” analogy is essentially what Deb is saying: it is not a societal ill that we have trains running on tracks. Trains do and should run on tracks, and the people who get in their way should be aware of the consequences. Men however should not, in the same way, rape or assault women if even if they “put themselves in the situation.” Unlike the train situation, we should not live in a society where you should expect yourself to get raped if you make less than ideal decisions. Ultimately, rape and sexual assault should not happen to anyone, regardless of how drunk they are, what they’re wearing, or who they hang out with.

    This being said, we do live in reality, so your point does have some validity. The unfortunate truth is that there are stupid-ass men out there, or otherwise good men who fuck up royally and inexcusably, and until we actually achieve an end to this societal atrocity, it does make sense to take necessary precautions given that reality.

    It’s like locking your doors: even if you leave your doors unlocked, you shouldn’t have to expect people to come steal from you. Nonetheless, we’re aware that idiot people do steal, so lock your doors. Doesn’t make it “okay” or even remotely your fault for them to steal from you if you leave the doors unlocked – by no means – but, in practical terms, it’s just a good idea to lock your doors.

    Don’t get me wrong: this doesn’t mean that we should, by any means, justify or even tolerate the reality as it stands, it simply means we should keep in mind that as of right now, unfortunately and atrociously, it is the reality. And that’s not an “okay” reality. So in a way, I sort of agree with both sides on this, but it’s really, really complicated.

  9. Jerome Cole says:

    I will play with your dong for the low, low price of $4.95. Please send me your address.

  10. ThunderLove says:

    All i do is get blacked out drunk in hopes some one will play with my dong while i am lying on the bed.

  11. Alex Peters says:

    “If I remember correctly, three wise men once said

  12. Betz says:

    Its been a while since I saw a Lifetime movie or went to a sex-ed. class, but the last time I checked, I remember educators teaching us exactly these things: how NOT to be taken advantage of. There is always safety in numbers; use the buddy system – it works; Girls – don’t accept drinks from strangers, and either don’t accept or be extra cautious of “open” beverages (anything that is not sealed in a can or bottle). When did sexual assault prevention advocates suddenly change their tune to declare that its OK to get comatose drunk? Sounds to me that if this is your idea of “fun”, well…. thats your opinion.

    And anyways … having fun was NEVER a right. If I remember correctly, three wise men once said “You have to FIGHT … FOr your RIGHT … to Party.”

  13. Timothy says:

    One of the points that the Victims’ advocates make, that I don’t agree with but can at least see where they’re coming from, is that the risks presented to men and women from the same behaviors are different and, often, unequitable.

    And, while that’s true, I can’t manage to make the leap to “and that’s wrong and we should engage in massive social engineering and complaining until ALL RISKS ARE THE SAME FOR EVERY ZOMG!” There are several days, hell, several periods of whole days from my OC years that I honestly have no recollection of. On more than one occasion I passed out in Alton Baker park on my way home from {downtown bar}, and only by sheer dumb luck did nothing horrible happen to me.

    The truth of the matter is that the world is a dangerous place, and that if you make risky decisions eventually something bad is probably going to happen to you. In the case of women, the unfortunate truth is that there are plenty of douchetards who will sexually assault you if you have a few too many. Does having too many mean you have it coming? No. Does that mean that anyone other than the aforementioned douchetards are to blame for their behavior? No. But it does mean that you should be careful about when/where you get too wasted, and about the people around when you do it.

  14. Gsim says:

    Trains and train tracks are often associated with inevitability:

    If you habitually sleep on train tracks inevitably you will be hit by a train.

    If you habitually drink to incapacitation inevitably someone will take advantage of you.

    It is an excellent analogy. I have to ask, how is advocating for women to avoid being raped make me a jerk? That’s a riddle for sure.

  15. Alex Peters says:

    Here’s what I’ll say about the right to have fun, because I think this is what you’re getting at.

    Everyone DOES have right to have fun, but at the end of the day you’re the only person in the world who is responsible for taking care of you and if you’re too fucked up to do it you’re a lot easier to victimize.

    An anecdote, because I’m also a victim of being too fucked up:
    I blacked out downtown last term and got the fucking shit kicked out of me by a 3 or 4 guys. I don’t remember getting hit, I vaguely remember cold concrete, the taste of blood and spitting out part of a molar. The next thing I knew I was on a bench surrounded by paramedics. I had no idea what happened to me until I woke up on my friends couch with crusted blood coming from one of my ears, and I was clutching a pink release form stating that I declined medical attention and it was not the responsibility of EMS if I died in my sleep from a severe concussion. Signed and dated, “Santa Claus, 1/49/101.”

    It took a few days to recover all of my faculties from the concussion, and after the initial shock of realizing I could have died from internal bleeding on my friend’s couch I realized my assailants had stolen my watch. All over a fucking wristwatch.

  16. CJ Ciaramella says:

    Yeah, it’s not a great analogy. But I think the main point, that women should be proactive in their own safety, is valid.

  17. Deborah Bloom says:

    Getting blackout drunk at a party and groped is to sleeping on train tracks and getting run over. Yeah. Still don’t see it.

  18. CJ Ciaramella says:

    I think he was equating getting blackout drunk with sleeping on train tracks.

  19. Deborah Bloom says:

    I can’t believe you’re equating getting groped at a party to sleeping on train tracks – I am ashamed for the Commentator – You’re a jerk

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