Sunday, February 16, 2014

Alcohol, College Life, and Sex

I'm a bit late getting to this but after reading it I think I'm missing something.

First there is this article by James Taranto, "Drunkeness and Double Standards"

Second is a response by Hannah Groch-Begley, "WSJ Editor: Intoxicated Sexual Assault Victims Are Just As Guilty As Their Attackers"

And finally another response by Tara Culp-Ressler, "Wall Street Journal Columnist: Rape Victims Are Just As Guilty As Rapists If They’re Both Drunk"

From Begley:
While it is true that reckless alcohol consumption can play a role in encouraging damaging behavior, and that male and female college students (particularly underage students) could probably benefit from learning to moderate their drinking for a variety of reasons, Taranto's accusation that women who drink -- and then are forced to have sex against their will -- are not only equally at fault for their assault but are guilty of an equivalent crime takes victim blaming to a new and dangerous low.
To me though I don't think Taranto was trying to say that women who drink and then forced to have sex against their will are equally at fault for their assault. Maybe I'm wrong but I thought he was asking the question of who is the rapist and who is the victim if both parties are drunk.

That's not to say that every single instance of both the man and woman being drunk and having sex is some unknown circumstance where it can't be figured out which is which. Taranto points out the following:
Winerip notes that between 2005 and 2010, "more than 60 percent of claims involving sexual violence handled by United Educators"--an insurance company owned by member schools--"involved young women who were so drunk they had no clear memory of the assault." We know from Sgt. Cournoyer that the accused young men typically are drinking to excess, too.
Again I am not trying to say that in that over 60% of cases it wasn't sexual violence. But I am wondering how bringing up things like this mean that Taranto is victim blaming rape victims.

Well female victims that is.

Near the end of her piece Begley throws this out:
If Taranto is concerned about the treatment of men in such cases, he could have written about male sexual assault victims, who are a smaller but nevertheless important portion of victims. But when men are sexually assaulted the perpetrator is usually also male; in fact, 98 percent of all perpetrators are male. The "double standard" Taranto is worried about, in which men are more often the accused, isn't a double standard at all -- it's just reality.
Notice how she tries to change the shift from thinking about males who are accused to males who are victims in an attempt to accuse him of ignoring those who "really need help". And frankly I think its a dishonest thing to do. The fact that Taranto asked the questions he did doesn't mean that he doesn't care about male victims.

Also his questioning about how alcohol affects the ability to consent. That's not going to change depending on the genders of the two people involved. So even if we were talking about those male victims there is still a question of if both have consumed alcohol to the point of not being able to consent then maybe its not always a clear case of one raping the other.

To me it seemed like Taranto was trying to ask if consumption of alcohol can render a woman unable to consent to sex then doesn't it do the same to men. Begeley seems to be responding by saying that mere asking this question constitutes victim blaming (of female victims).

I don't know maybe I've been out of touch for too long and I'm missing something here.