Emily Yoffe, AKA Slate's Dear Prudence, has written a piece wherein she suggests that the way to prevent rape is to encourage women to avoid alcohol.
Her logic is that since alcohol has been involved in a lot of high profile sexual assaults, removing the alcohol from the girls will remove the sexual assaults.
Here is a short list of other things which were present at those high profile sexual assaults:
- Young people
- Cell phones
If it were up to me, I'd remove the last item on that list.
In fact, alcohol was not a factor in all the non-high profile sexual assaults we never hear about. The ones between domestic partners, the ones involving children, the ones in detention centers, etc., etc. But you know what feature every rape has in common with these high profile one? The existence of a rapist.
True fact: You remove the rapist, you avoid the rape.
But let's take Yoffe's logic for granted. Let's pretend that alcohol is involved with every, or even most, rapes. There are two possibilities here:
- There are predators out there who target drunk women.
Fine, so I don't drink. But another woman does. And she gets raped. Presumably, if there are no drunk women, a predator will either encourage a woman to drink or will drug her. The actual rate of rape has been reduced by zero. It just got shoved off on to someone else.
- There is something about drunkenness that causes a rape to take place where otherwise there would be no rape.
Did I say "causes a rape"? I meant to say "causes someone to make the decision to rape." Does it really need to be reiterated that victims — by definition — do not choose to be raped? That only the rapist is making the choice? So how does a woman's choice to drink become her choice to be raped? It doesn't.
Maybe — maybe — some rapists act impulsively when their inhibitions are down. In which case, it's not the women and girls in those high profile situations who should have been sober, it's the people who raped them.
In other words, if alcohol directly leads to rape, then it's men who should stop drinking.
I'm sure Yoffe would consider my headline to be entirely unjustified and misleading about her opinion. It isn't. She and others may delude themselves into thinking that constantly harping about what women do in public isn't victim blaming, but it is. It's saying that a victim's choice to her leave her house, drink, wear particular clothing, etc., is the genesis of the rape. That absent the victim's choice, there would be no rape and no rapist.
Getting drunk, in and of itself, is not a bad thing. I started going to bars and clubs as a very young teenager. I did stupid, stupid shit. I went to stupid places and put myself in vulnerable situations. Guess what? I was never assaulted. Not because I didn't drink, but no rapist decided to target me. It wasn't the presence of the alcohol that mattered, it was the absence of a rapist.
But according to Yoffe and her ilk, the responsibility for (usually) men's illegal behavior falls on women and girls. Not only can they do what they want to us, but it's our fault when they do. The solution, in her view, is for women and girls to return to some kind of Victorian morality, where we deny ourselves normal recreation, let alone excess. Where we remain pure, where we hem ourselves in, where we behave like good girls.
Good girls don't drink, and bad things don't happen to good girls.