[Trigger warning for sexual violence; rape apologia; victim-blaming.]
With depressing regularity, someone writes an article suggesting that women have to be more responsible about their drinking habits in order that they might avoid getting raped. It's exasperating enough when this shit is peddled as unapologetic victim-blaming in garbage rags like the Daily Mail, but when it's concern trolling with a "feminist" label slapped on it, it positively makes my teeth grind. It's just the same old victim-blaming horseshit re-spun with empowerment rhetoric.
To wit: The Frisky's "Girl Talk: Why Being Drunk Is a Feminist Issue," by Kate Torgovnick, who totes isn't a victim-blamer, she swears! It's just that we don't live in an ideal world, so because women "do not have control over what men, drunk or sober, will do when presented with our drunkeness," women should take control over "our side of the equation—how much we drink."
There is a lot wrong with that article (not least of which is the author's confusion about what actually constitutes rape), but I'm not going to waste my time fisking garbage. I'll merely note that the entire premise is fundamentally flawed in the same ways that every other piece in this despicable genre is, in addition to the evident issue that victim-blaming, even if cynically rebranded as "taking control," inexorably shifts responsibility from rapist to victim:
1. Asserting that women can avoid rape via sobriety only makes sense if the victim is drunk in the vast majority of rapes. That is not the case.
2. Asserting that women can avoid rape via sobriety only makes sense if the vast majority of women who drink are raped as a consequence. That is not the case.
3. Asserting that women can avoid rape via sobriety only makes sense if every rape that happens to a woman who's been drinking is committed by an opportunistic rapist who would not have otherwise raped her. That is not the case.
The ultimate value of this advice to potential rape victims is thus negligible, given that, in practical terms, it boils down to: "If you don't drink, it may or may not protect you from getting raped in some situations."
Very useful. (Nope.)
Supporters of this "don't drink to empower yourself" idea roll their eyes at people like me and demand to know how I can ignore that lots of women are raped after they've been drinking. The thing is, I'm not ignoring that. I know that happens. It has happened to women (and men) I love quite a lot. I'm just not of the opinion that it's good or decent or practical advice to tell people that not drinking will help them avoid rape, when every single person I know who's been raped after drinking has imbibed on other nights and not been raped.
For what is probably the hundredth time: Left to my own devices, I never would have been raped. The rapist was really the key component to the whole thing. I was sober; hardly scantily clad, I was wearing sweatpants and an oversized t-shirt; I was at home; my sexual history was, literally, nonexistent—I was a virgin; I struggled; I said no. There have been times since when I have been walking home, alone, after a few drinks, wearing something that might have shown a bit of leg or cleavage, and I wasn't raped. The difference was not in what I was doing. The difference was the presence of a rapist.
Enough blaming the victim. Enough.
Posted by Melissa McEwan at Thursday, June 02, 2011