Sex, booze and feminism

The topic of alcohol and sexual violence, especially among students, has been discussed a lot lately.

The topic of alcohol and sexual violence, especially among students, has been discussed a lot lately. A few months ago, Emily Yoffe made a big splash in Slate, arguing that we need to do more to warn young women that heavy drinking puts them at risk of rape. And now, Wall Street Journal columnist James Taranto is under fire for claiming that if the victim was drunk at the time of the rape, she is just as guilty as the rapist.

Taranto, who, among other things, has recently linked the decline in marriages to the over-educated women, is not particularly sympathetic in terms of his position on gender issues. However, in this case, he got it in vain - in his column, he makes an important (and highly misinterpreted) point: many participants in the current discussions mistakenly consider drunk sex to be rape, thus perpetuating an openly sexist double standard.

Of course, if a drunken woman is raped while unconscious or almost unconscious, she is, of course, very imprudent, but she cannot be blamed. However, the definitions of sexual assault while intoxicated, widely used both in the rhetoric of activists and by official authorities, cover a much wider range of much more ambiguous situations.

For example, President Obama recently reiterated that one in five female students is the victim of sexual assault. This figure comes from the Campus Sex Crime Study, which interviewed 5,000 female students between 2005 and 2007. Approximately 70% of incidents classified as sexual violence were classified as such based on the stories of the girls themselves about sexual contacts that took place when they “could not give their consent or put an end to what was happening” due to the fact that they were “in passed out, under the influence of drugs, drunk, unable or asleep." However, only a quarter of these women - 37% in cases where penetration has taken place - consider themselves raped. Remember, we are talking about college students who, at their age, are already well aware of the risk of "date rape." Two-thirds did not think that the incident was serious enough to complain about.

When it comes to the state of "passed out", there can be no two opinions, and even with "not able" everything is very clear. However, “could not give her consent due to intoxication” can mean completely different things - from a case where a girl is subjected to sexual acts while in alcoholic unconsciousness, to stories in which the person involved wakes up with vague memories of sexual contacts, in which she would not began to get involved sober.

Indeed, there are serial maniacs who deliberately choose very drunk victims for rape, often while remaining sober themselves. But it's equally true that many cases of sexual assault today involve two drunken, crazy young men.

This behavior was the subject of a recent New York Times article about outsiders intervening in situations that could lead to sexual violence. Xiaolu "Peter" Yu, an American-educated Chinese, is currently suing Vassar College, from which he was expelled on charges of "non-consensual sex." The accusation was based solely on the statement of a girl who, a year after contact, filed a complaint, saying that when the two of them went to Yu's room after a party where both consumed alcohol, she was too drunk and could not give consent.

A particularly egregious example of terminological loopholes and gender double standards in the topic of “drunk rape” took place last October at Ohio University, when a videotaped sex in a public place turned into rape allegations that rocked campus—and crumbled. to pieces when the jury concluded that the woman did not look like a person incapable of giving her consent.

Two twenty-year-old students met in a bar outside the university. After leaving the bar, they started hugging in the street; eventually, at around 3:00 am, the man began to give the woman oral pleasure while she stood leaning against the bank window. A small crowd gathered, and by morning, photos and videos of the couple had already spread all over the Internet. By evening, the girl went to the police and said that she did not remember what had happened and believed that she had been subjected to sexual violence. (The accusation included the word rape, because the video showed that the man also entered her with his fingers).

In fact, the photos and videos—which were deleted after the complaint but soon resurfaced—show mutual agreement, and even enthusiastic demeanor—the woman smiling, holding the man by the back of her head, and brushing her hair back. One of the observers cheered her up with cries of “Come on, girl!”. Witnesses confirmed that she gave the impression of being aware of what she was doing and enjoying herself; at some point the man apparently asked if they should stop and the woman said no. Subsequently, they left together, and the girl walked on her own.

Although this was widely known, the incident was treated by the university community as a shocking public rape. The university held a student meeting on the topic of sexual violence and the need for witnesses to intervene; students at the scene of the alleged crime left notes with words of support, such as "It's not your fault", "you are strong and brave"; letters to the student newspaper denounced the "violent culture" that caused the woman to become a rape victim and denounced "misguided skeptics" who questioned her status as a victim. blogger Tara Culp-Ressler, who recently accused Taranto of blaming rape victims, joined the fray. In October, she wrote a post criticizing the "blaming the victim" case at Ohio University. She noted that the witness, who claimed that the sexual encounter appeared to be consensual, also mentioned that "both participants were very, very drunk," which falls under "the Ohio University official definition of violence."

In fact, according to Ohio University, a person who is "not able" cannot give consent. Let's leave the question of terminology aside. Culp-Ressler seems to be oblivious to the fact that both men were drunk, a perfect illustration of the very attitude that Taranto criticizes: placing the blame on the man one-sidedly, when the evidence indicates that both are responsible.

Yes, "they were both drunk, why is he the only one to blame?" - this is a bad argument in the case when the drunk takes advantage of the fact that the woman has passed out or has little idea what is happening. In this case, however, the degree of inadequacy seems to have been the same on both sides. Is a man considered an abuser because he was the one who performed the sexual act on the woman? If a drunk woman was kneeling on the sidewalk giving a blowjob to a drunk man, he would hardly be considered a victim - and that's putting it mildly.

On the contrary, many - including feminists - find it difficult to recognize the existence of male victimization even in the most obvious cases of forced sex while intoxicated. In a 2009 article on The Frisky, Amelia McDonell-Parry cited a startling passage from psychologist Jennifer Austin Lee's book of advice to teenage girls, "Love It or Make It Dangerous," which dealt with, among other things, the topic of female sexual aggressiveness. The boy Lee spoke to told (with regret) about losing his innocence at a crowded party when he was drunk—a girl pulled his pants down, gave him an erection, and had sex with him. McDonell-Parry commented on this only like this - “Wow! Plague, ”and then became annoyed about the negative attitude towards sexually assertive girls.

Yes, if drunkenness is considered rape, which the defendant then regrets, the differences between the sexes are not so strong: according to the results of several studies, male students almost do not lag behind their peers in having such an experience. In a 2005 study of 2,400 people, 11% of women and 8% of men reported that they had experienced sexual intercourse at such a stage of intoxication that they could not give their consent within six months before.

These double standards largely reflect the pre-feminist conservative approach that persists despite the emancipation of women: sex is what a man gets from a woman. Many social conservatists will no doubt say that such an assumption is based on natural differences, and that trying to get rid of them is both pointless and harmful. Some of these conservatives, including Taranto, see the fight to redefine rape as evidence that women are not in control of their sexual freedom: strip them of their traditional norms of male chivalry and female chastity and young women will begin to feel hurt and used by sex-seeking men. and require special protection.

In fact, little evidence indicates that female students (apart from a dedicated core of activists) require special protection from drunken or adventurous sex. Reports that women suffer from university "promiscuous" practices are greatly exaggerated. And yet, activists, despite their feminist rhetoric, promote an unhealthy paternalistic view of women. A man who has had a lot to drink the night before and wakes up in bed with someone he wouldn't sleep with when sober may feel embarrassed and annoyed, but it is generally assumed that he will move on and probably learn from the story. A woman in such a situation is expected to perceive this experience as very unpleasant, traumatic - and not to consider that this is her fault too.

This approach suggests treating young women as unreasonable children, and young men are not only demonized, but sometimes punished. If anyone in the Ohio University case was the victim, it was most certainly a young man who waited for days to be charged with a felony or subjected to disciplinary action by the university. The policy of many universities, including Stanford, for example, treats as rape any sexual activity while intoxicated, if one of the parties believes that the activity was "undesirable".

Colleges have every right to speak out against alcohol abuse and irresponsible sex. However, it is worth doing this by promoting responsible behavior among both women and men. By defining all such contact as rape—almost always with a male perpetrator and a female victim—we insult women and discriminate against men—and also free the hands of those who really want a return to the days when women were the “weaker sex.”

Author: Cathy Young «The Daily Beast»