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101 Responses

  1. Erin
    Erin January 7, 2013 at 11:36 am |

    I hesitate to draw a hard-and-fast line for consent at sobriety.

    The truth is, as a queer woman, I was at first hesitant to express my sexuality, because I had always been told it was wrong and on some level I couldn’t shake that. I remember the first time I went to a party specifically to find someone for a one night stand, I needed to drink. Otherwise I would never have been able to get enough out of my own head to overcome all the taboos on my sexuality I’d heard my whole life. I found someone at the party, and not only did we negotiate consent, we even negotiated some light BDSM elements. I would never have been able to do that 100% sober. We both had a great time.

    To me, it’s obvious when someone is too drunk to consent. If there’s any doubt, my usual litmus test is to ask, “What would you like to do?” before any clothes come off or any body parts come into contact. If my prospective partner can’t respond with a coherent, affirmative sentence, then I back off and offer them help getting home if they need it. I don’t think this is so difficult to parse – after all, the essence of consent is to respond to “What would you like to do?” with “I would like to do XYZ.” Anyone who can’t form that response isn’t consenting.

    1. Will
      Will January 7, 2013 at 2:23 pm |

      I think this is spot-on.

      I’ve recently been struggling to articulate some of the issues this post works with: that there are sexual situations where both (or several) partners are impaired by alcohol (e.g., wouldn’t drive), and that there is an important conversation to be had about the point at which we should consider it impossible to give enthusiastic consent. I have given enthusiastic consent in situations where I wouldn’t get behind the wheel, which makes Michelle’s standard (“consent requires sobriety”) problematic for me. But Michelle is right that alcohol makes consent difficult.

      Point being, I don’t think the hypothetical where both parties are intoxicated is always posed in bad faith (rape apoligism), even though it sometimes is. A conscientious person *should* worry about his or her ability to do things like gauge and trust the enthusiasm of an impaired partner while also impaired. That puts people who get impaired as part of sex in a more difficult position when it comes to consent, especially (as Erin points out above) in the queer community where alcohol is used to get past social taboos. Concrete guidelines that are nevertheless easy enough for impaired people to follow and respond to (like Erin’s suggestion above, “what would you like to do?”) become a really, really important part of good consent education as long as people continue to seek out impaired sex.

  2. ChariD
    ChariD January 7, 2013 at 12:02 pm |

    Any decent human being can tell if someone is not able to provide consent. If you aren’t sure, you don’t proceed. It’s not hard or messy.

    1. Drahill
      Drahill January 7, 2013 at 12:30 pm |

      The problem with this happens when you have a mutual intoixication scenario. Its also implicated like the case above; the author notes that at the time of her assault, she was a heavy drinker who generally did not physically manifest the signs of heavy intoxication.

      The desire for hard and fast rules is nice, but it doesn’t actually help resolve the questions like the ones the author is posing.

      1. Miriam
        Miriam January 7, 2013 at 3:14 pm |

        In addition to mutual intoxication, there’s also the case where both people are using drugs. I have no idea how you deal with a situation like that. I don’t think anyone is a rapist–how would you choose between two equally f*cked up people? Also, I know personally I can’t always tell when someone’s high. But I do think there’s no meaningful consent. I’ve had one friend explicitly say he had sex while on a hallucinogen with someone he would never have had sex with sober (she was also on a hallucinogen but they had not made a choice to trip together). I don’t believe in defining other people’s experiences for them, but to me, even if rape isn’t the best word for that experience, a violation happened.

        Maybe just as social pressure is moving towards the concept of the designated driver to reduce drunk driving, we need to move towards a concept of something like a designated sober boundaries enforcer. Even just talking about it more, IMHO, would be progress. When I was active in my regional Burn culture, awareness that intoxicated sex could be legally and ethically a sexual violation was just beginning to happen. And it was both shocking to a lot of people and really difficult to talk about because of the lack of a clear wrongdoer in the scenario of mutual intoxication.

        1. Drahill
          Drahill January 7, 2013 at 3:51 pm |

          Miriam, I think there are different ways to address it. There’s the LEGAL level, which is what I think you’re getting at. Then there is the social, moral and ethical level.

          Here’s how I see it – if a woman feels violated by something that happens between her and a partner, she has every right to feel that violation. Nobody has any business telling her that what happened to her wasn’t wrong or was her fault, etc. However, many encounters that result in violations can’t be prosecuted as rape, because they either don’t meet the criteria or they lack the necessary evidence. Most cases of mutual intoxication will not be prosecuted for this reason.

          I can appreciate the desire to have “hard and fast rules” about consent. However, in reality, they are rarely useful. Many people drink expressly because they want to have sex and alcohol provides them with a pathway to it. Often, the drinking between partners is mutual. In those cases, it becomes really difficult. In theory, it could lead to a really messed up situation. For example – if a sober or mildly intoxicated woman has sex with a highly intoxicated man, is she a de facto rapist is she wasn’t sure of consent? You can see how messy this can get.

    2. matlun
      matlun January 7, 2013 at 12:49 pm |

      This depends on what you mean with “not able to provide consent”. If we are talking about the person being near to unconscious, then the situation is indeed pretty clear.

      If we are only talking about being drunk to the level of “severely impaired judgment”, then the situation far more difficult. It may not be obvious at all to an outside observer.

      At what level of intoxication is drunken consent no longer consent?

  3. kay
    kay January 7, 2013 at 12:10 pm |

    When you make the decision to get “fucked up”, then you also need to make the decision to not engage in sexual activity. You have to give up your right to consent, because you can not be responsible for someone else’s ability to consent.

    Wait who is “you” here – you mean women who drink too much? If so i agree with the entire article except this bit and am somewhat startled by the idea of “giving up right to consent” if you’ve consumed alcohol. ……….

    1. Anon21
      Anon21 January 7, 2013 at 12:33 pm |

      The wording is a bit confusing, but I think substituting the phrase “right to engage in sexual activity” for “right to consent” would preserve the author’s meaning while making the point clearer.

  4. jojo
    jojo January 7, 2013 at 12:11 pm |

    I don’t know how I feel about this, but this is from a consent workshop. It follows the red light, green light model:

    Red: Stop
    Someone is too intoxicated to gauge or give consent.
    Someone is asleep or passed out.
    Someone says they absolutely do not want to have sex.

    Yellow: Signs You Should Pause and Talk
    You are not sure what the other person wants.
    You feel like you are getting mixed signals.
    You have not talked about what you want to do.
    You assume that you will do the same thing as before
    Your partner stops or is not responsive.

    Green: Keep Communicating
    Partners come to a mutual decision about how far to go
    Partners clearly express their comfort with the situation
    You feel comfortable and safe stopping at any time
    Partners are excited!

  5. kay
    kay January 7, 2013 at 12:12 pm |

    wait, ignore that comment, i understand what shes saying now. I was misinterpreting the line “right to consent” to mean something else.

  6. AMM
    AMM January 7, 2013 at 12:14 pm |

    I have to say, I find this post disturbing. We have someone saying she drinks “chronically”, sometimes to excess, but no one can tell if she’s drunk or not. She’s very vague about what happened, but it sounds like she had sex with the guy, and believes the guy thought she consented, but she didn’t really, because she was drunk (though the guy could not have known she was.) And so it was rape.

    This story may be true, but I have to say, it sets my skeptical eye to blinking. I’ve read too many rape apologists’ hypotheticals and friend-of-a-friend accounts which sound an awful lot like this (only told from the guy’s perspective.) It’s also coming right after those infamous GMP posts.

    The advice is also hard to interpret. Is she speaking to women or men when she says:

    when you go out to get impaired you need to turn your sexual expectations in.

    Did the rape happen because she was impaired or because he was? Whose expectations are we talking about?

    As for “consent requires sobriety,” I can’t help thinking it’s an odd thing for someone to say who has already indicated she’s a problem drinker. It sounds like saying you should use safety equipment when playing Russian roullette. But then, as a non-drinker, I can’t get into the mindset of the drinking culture, which may be why I don’t get why anyone would want “non-sober” sex in the first place.

    1. Erin
      Erin January 7, 2013 at 12:31 pm |

      Let’s tone down the judgment about her account being “very vague”; it’s hard enough to share a story about rape without going into detail. And whatever her drinking habits are, she is entitled to her opinion about sobriety and consent (even though, as I indicated above, I don’t agree with it.)

      I think that quote means that if you go out to get drunk that you should set aside all plans to have sex, because you won’t be able to properly give or gauge consent. Again, I don’t think alcohol in the bloodstream automatically disqualifies someone from giving or gauging consent, but that’s what the quote means.

    2. Drahill
      Drahill January 7, 2013 at 12:36 pm |

      I think the author is referring to something that is often called functional alcoholism or something like that. Chronic drinkers often build up an incredible physical tolerance – however, the mental effects of alcohol can remain the same. Its sorta what people mean when they refer to “holding one’s liquor.” The author indicated that she was not manifesting physical symptoms of intoxication – what most people would consider the signs of drunkeness. That doesn’t mean that she wasn’t drunk in the least – it means that her body had adapted to alcohol.

    3. Colin
      Colin January 7, 2013 at 2:08 pm |

      The advice is also hard to interpret. Is she speaking to women or men when she says:

      “when you go out to get impaired you need to turn your sexual expectations in.”

      Both, I’d have thought. It means you have to be prepared to respond to an (apparent) offer of sex with ‘sorry, I’m too drunk’ and/or ‘sorry, I think you’ve had too much to drink for that’. Just like you would refuse to drive a car when drunk, and also refuse to get in a car if you think the driver is drunk.

  7. Fang
    Fang January 7, 2013 at 12:34 pm |

    I was very confused by this post, but I’d rather have some clarification befor jumping to any conclusions.

    Is the op suggesting that (some) rape happens because the rapist is too drunk to know if the victim is consenting? Because this attitude is exactly what lets rapists off the hook. If, as I understand the op is suggesting, we begin to make it unacceptable to engage in sex while drunk and impaired that would limit the usefulness of that excuse. I’m skeptical, however, that it would reduce rape, if that is what the op is arguing.

    1. Jill
      Jill January 7, 2013 at 12:59 pm | *

      Is the op suggesting that (some) rape happens because the rapist is too drunk to know if the victim is consenting?

      No. The author is saying that, as a rape survivor, she sometimes finds herself buying into rape-apologist arguments. And then she realizes those arguments are rape apologism. She is definitely not saying that rapists rape because they’re too drunk to understand consent. She’s saying that’s a common rape apologist line that has sucked her in in the past.

      1. Fang
        Fang January 7, 2013 at 1:05 pm |

        I understood that to be the set up for the post, but the conclusion is still very confusing to me because it doesn’t seem to follow.

      2. samanthab.
        samanthab. January 7, 2013 at 1:56 pm |

        I don’t get the my rapist is a nice guy stuff, then? Is she being sarcastic? Otherwise, I’m sorry, but I don’t find that plausible. The sick fuck that raped me was highly manipulative and very good at playing the nice guy. I imagine this to be true of many rapists. Maybe I’m misguided, but I don’t think anyone stumbles into rape. I think predators seize on circumstances. There are no accidental rapists, as far as I’m concerned.

        1. Jill
          Jill January 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm | *

          She’s detailing the rape myths that even she finds herself sometimes buying into. She says she finds herself falling for rape apologist language. As examples, she lists:

          The guy that raped me would be most likely be horrified if I had accused him of rape. The guy that raped me is a good person. In fact, the guy that raped me was someone I found sexually attractive and had been flirting with for several weeks. I remember accepting his invitation for a ride home from a party. I don’t know what I was thinking. I do know that as a chronic drinker it is nearly impossible for others to tell when I’ve had too much.

      3. Colin
        Colin January 7, 2013 at 2:13 pm |

        Even if they were too drunk to understand consent, it would be the same as the driver who is too drunk to respond correctly to events on the road. It doesn’t make them any less to blame.

        1. Fang
          Fang January 7, 2013 at 2:22 pm |

          You are missing the point.

      4. SomeGuy
        SomeGuy January 7, 2013 at 2:40 pm |

        Of course she’s saying that consent may be difficult to understand. She’s not specific about her case, which is fine, but this –

        The guy that raped me would be most likely be horrified if I had accused him of rape.

        clearly indicates she believes he didn’t consider it rape after the fact, which also usually implies he didn’t consider it rape before and during. She seems to be describing an instance of “rape without rapist”.

        But be that as it may, it brings up, again, the question of how to define both rape and rapist and their relationship. I don’t think it’s particularly useful to separate them entirely despite the potential need of victims to label their experience as rape.

        But think of the OPs suggestion:

        When you make the decision to get “fucked up”, then you also need to make the decision to not engage in sexual activity. You have to give up your right to consent, because you can not be responsible for someone else’s ability to consent.

        that can easily evolve into a situation in which both people feel raped by each other without being each others rapists, should they have been drunk while consenting.

        I think, in general, most people will be able to make the right decision in such situations, and it’s a bad idea to make sobriety mandatory, only because intoxication is used as an excuse by some predators.

        What level of intoxication invalidates enthusiastic consent, in your opinion? And how many people are out there only drinking because they’re unable to get sexual without drinking? Are you telling them they cannot consent to have sex? Should they get a chastity belt with an attached breathalizer?

  8. Drahill
    Drahill January 7, 2013 at 12:41 pm |

    I’m not entirely sure of the argument here. It seems to, at the end of the day, be making an argument that intoxication and consent, fundamentally, are at odds. Any level of intoxication is dangerous because it can impair both the ability to consent and the ability to gauge consent. Okay, makes sense. But it seems so odd because alcohol and other substances are often expressly used to enhance the sexual experience and make it easier to interact with potential partners. So is the piece a critique of rape culture (as it says it is) or is it more a critique of the current model for going out and trying to find a partner while using alcohol as “social lube,” I’d suppose. I’m not sure where this is actually ending up.

  9. AndrewJenny
    AndrewJenny January 7, 2013 at 12:51 pm |

    I look at the drunk driving analogy this way: if you had too much to drink and got behind the wheel, and then while you were driving someone jumped in your car and assaulted you. Because while you were drunk, your actions didn’t cause what happened, and without this guy’s conscious decision to assault you, you would have made it home whether you were drunk or not.

  10. matlun
    matlun January 7, 2013 at 1:06 pm |

    Consent is awareness of all consequences of the intended action. Consent requires sobriety. It is that simple

    This is not right, surely?

    The first sentence “Consent is awareness of all consequences of the intended action” is obviously not right. If that was required virtually no one would ever consent to anything. That may be more of a semantic/nitpicky argument though.

    However: “Consent requires sobriety” seems also obviously incorrect and also more problematic. Are you incapable of consent if you earlier had one glass of wine with dinner?

    Even if you interpret “sobriety” very loosely, I am really against the idea that all drunken sex is mutual rape. It sounds nonsensical to me, and I think you just have to accept that the world is not that black and white.

  11. Jamie
    Jamie January 7, 2013 at 1:27 pm |

    I wrote a really long bit about my own rape (that my phone ate) but in doing so worked out what bothers me about this narrative when it comes to positing the person offering the ride as not fully aware or culpable:

    Someone who is offering to drive you home from a party is (hopefully) sober, and has almost certainly seen you drinking, and drinking heavily enough that they would question you before giving you literal keys to a car. But somehow when we start talking about sex he’s not supposed to be aware that any state that makes car-driving inadvisable should also be a giant warning sign when it comes to consent? (And in particular, consent for first-time sex.)

    We expect people to make sure their partners are of age and capable of giving competent consent. The same standard applies to intoxicants; if someone has reason to suspect their partner is intoxicated, it’s up to them to choose between bringing that up or risking being a rapist.

  12. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar January 7, 2013 at 1:35 pm |

    As one of the leading popularizers of Predator Theory, here’s how I see it: most rapes are committed by a relatively small part of the population, that know exactly what they are doing and know how to get away with it. There are other rapes that don’t follow that pattern, and for which many other dynamics may be applicable. To reduce the number of rapes, the most powerful thing people can do is to create social circumstances that make it harder for the predators to blend in and excuse their behavior and get support, what I generally call their “Social License To Operate.” Reducing the role of intoxicants as a social lubricant and adjunct to finding sex partners and having sex will do wonders in this area, because intoxication is both the predators’ favorite weapon and favorite excuse. Stopping people from making mistakes about consent when intoxicated is a good thing, but I think that stopping people from thinking mistake-of-consent is normal is actually more important, because it is so important in our culture to serial rapists’ social license to operate.

    1. Alexandra
      Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 5:22 pm |

      This is a great comment.

      And on the topic of “drunk consent” more broadly – about how active consent while intoxicated but not clearly incapacitated differs from sober consent – I think it’s one of those things where you need to KNOW your partner and how drinking changes their judgment. Some people change very little when drinking, except to become “more themselves” – louder, more exuberant, more demonstrative. But some people really change in their behavior. It’s often not clear unless you know someone well how alcohol is affecting them.

    2. SomeGuy
      SomeGuy January 7, 2013 at 9:01 pm |

      @Thomas

      Reducing the role of intoxicants as a social lubricant and adjunct to finding sex partners and having sex will do wonders in this area,

      I’m sure you’re aware that most people turn to social lubricants in this matter for a reason: sexuality is an area that’s so personal and usually individually so complicated that they *choose* to not be entirely sober because that’s the easiest way to handle their issues, meet people, and potentially even have sex (and yes, that’s both women and men). What you’re suggesting is that *most* people should be forced to change their habits, which likely aren’t ideal in the light of sex-positive theory, but still usually harmless, because *some* people exploit that situation?

      And you think that’s a reasonable suggestion?

      1. Alexandra
        Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 9:05 pm |

        Frankly, having seen the damage done by people’s reliance on alcohol as a way to deal with painful or frightening emotions, I would be thrilled to see people change their habits.

        1. SomeGuy
          SomeGuy January 7, 2013 at 9:26 pm |

          Well, I imagine they would do that if there were a reasonable alternative available.

          GABA is powerful stuff. And of course, it appears that women looking for sex also turn to alcohol as a social lubricant because it appears that it leads to a testosterone spike, which means: Lowered inhibitions + less sexual selectivity. Exactly what you’d want from a social lubricant, don’t you think?

  13. Dear Prudence: How should I respond to your rape denialism?

    […] violence. Do I think that, by her friend’s account, this woman does not seem to have been able to consent? Does traumatic “blackout sex” sound like rape to me? Sure. But the only thing that you or I or […]

  14. Hina
    Hina January 7, 2013 at 2:09 pm |

    Here’s my advice

    Always make your intentions clear. Always ask before moving to the next step and don’t continue till you hear a “yes”. If you end up in the same room and things are getting hot just ask the person, “do you want to have sex?” If ze says yes then you can proceed, unless the other person wants you to stop at any time then you stop. Also if the other person says no, it doesn’t mean you should try to convince hir to say yes because being coerced into giving consent doesn’t count.

    If everyone abides by these rules, there wont be much of a question on whether its rape or not.

  15. DP
    DP January 7, 2013 at 2:59 pm |

    I don’t understand anything that’s going on in this piece:

    When you make the decision to get “fucked up”, then you also need to make the decision to not engage in sexual activity. You have to give up your right to consent, because you can not be responsible for someone else’s ability to consent.

    What does this mean? If you’re that fucked up that if someone had sex with you, it would be rape, you can’t choose to give up something or not. That’s the whole point – you are incapacitated and incapable of consent.

    And if you are drinking but NOT too drunk to process someone else’s consent, then why can’t you accept someone else’s consent? Consenting sex with alcohol is still consenting sex.

    Who is she addressing in that paragraph? Men or women? Potential rapists or potential rape victims? Both?

    In any case, I don’t agree. Most people I know have had drunk sex at various points in their lives and none (to my knowledge) regard those instances as rape.

    1. Alexandra
      Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 5:13 pm |

      In ancient Persia, the tradition, when weighing grave matters of state, was to discuss any decision once when drunk and once when sober, to see whether one’s decisions changed. I think this is an interesting bit of wisdom to keep in mind – although people absolutely are able to think and make decisions when drinking, those decisions are not identical to the decisions people make when sober, and how those decisions differ really matters when we’re talking about sex and consent.

      Why do people drink when they want to have sex? A lot of time, to dull fear and anxiety. We call it “Dutch Courage”, we call it “social lubricant” – and what we mean is, so many people feel fear and shame at the thought of having sex, they are incapable of overcoming these negative emotions without getting liquored up. This is a MAJOR part of rape culture. This is what allows rapists to claim that it was a misunderstanding, that they were both drunk; this is what makes many of these crimes difficult to prosecute, because of mens rea issues (I believe; IANAL).

      I honestly think one of the most important steps in dismantling rape culture is taking apart the fear and shame people feel that leads them to want to be not just tipsy, but flat-out drunk, before they feel capable of having sex.

      1. Ismone
        Ismone January 7, 2013 at 8:03 pm |

        Voluntary intoxication generally isn’t a defense to a crime like rape. I think it can make it harder for either the alleged victim or perpetrator to give clear testimony.

  16. a lawyer
    a lawyer January 7, 2013 at 3:46 pm |

    I think the post raises a good ethical issue.

    If you’re fucked up and give active consent to sex (or initiate sexual activity–drunk people do both) you’re putting the burden on someone ELSE to make the call for you.

    So especially if you know that you’re someone with a very bad mismatch between how drunk you LOOK and how drunk you ARE, then it’s probably better for everyone (including but not limited to you!) if you stay far far away from sex while drinking.

    Because otherwise you’re putting the decision-making power with someone else. They may make the right call or not. They may have a shitty excuse for making a bad call (the common rape apology) or they may actually have been drunk enough that they interpreted your consent as real (the rare but occasional who-to-blame issue, especially understandable with mismatches.) Or they may be a sexual predator. None of those outcomes are good.

    Drunk driving is actually a pretty good analogy.

    Has anyone else ever gotten into a car with a drunk driver? I have. And if you’d asked the driver whether I was forced in the car, they’d say I consented. And if you asked me whether I was forced in the car, I’d probably have (inaccurately at the time) judged that the driver wasn’t all that drunk. but damn, did I make a bad choice. It wasn’t so different, really, from agreeing to have sex with them (or them me:) just a set of missed consents, albeit with a different set of risks. And yes, I’ve been the driver, too–once, when very young–and got lucky.

    Now, like most folks, I know to shut down the “driving” box long before I get too deep into the “drinking” box. It would be sensible to do the same thing for sex, wouldn’t it?

  17. Thomas MacAulay Millar
    Thomas MacAulay Millar January 7, 2013 at 4:19 pm |

    About the drunk driving analogy:

    Let’s imagine that the majority of drunk driving accidents were actually caused by a relatively small number of people who liked to crash, who kept getting away with it, who set out to crash into people and used drunkenness as a tool and as an excuse, who targeted times when people were coming home from parties and looked for drivers who showed signs of tiredness or intoxication so they’d get away with it.

    Imagine that, because that’s how rape is. If that’s how drunk driving accidents were, how would be deal with it?

    1. (BFing)Sarah
      (BFing)Sarah January 7, 2013 at 8:56 pm |

      Thank you for saying this.

  18. Daniel Schealler
    Daniel Schealler January 7, 2013 at 4:31 pm |

    From the guy’s side: In the absence of prior (sober) consent, if she’s drunk, then you must be doubtful about her ability to consent. When in doubt, err on the side of caution and don’t.

    For what it’s worth, I greatly appreciate items like this. This article and other contributions just like it are very valuable contributions to culture and individual lives.

    Rape is a disgusting violation of another person, and I would hate to have to think of myself as a rapist. However, a couple of times in the past I’ve been in the position to move forward with a girl who was on the far side of tipsy. That sick feeling in my stomach of ‘something’s wrong here’ was what kept my actions in check despite being drunk myself.

    I don’t think I would have had that feeling if it wasn’t for the input of feminist writing such as this. In the absence of such writing I would have made and been completely responsible for at least two very terrible mistakes. The conclusion: Raising awareness like this works and it is very valuable.

    Thank you for writing and contributing. Articles such as this have helped to prevent me from making very very big mistakes in the past. Hopefully this will contribute to others as well.

    Thank you.

    1. Radiant Sophia
      Radiant Sophia January 7, 2013 at 4:43 pm |

      It’s not just a man’s responsibility, it’s everyone’s. If your potential sex partner is drunk DO NOT CONTINUE.

  19. Alexandra
    Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 5:00 pm |

    Having had a number of wonderful, memorable tipsy/drunk sexual encounters, I will say that what made those experiences possible was a long-standing positive relationship between my partner(s) and me. We knew each other drunk, we knew each other sober, and we knew how drinking or sobriety changed our judgments. None of us, by the way, were chronic alcoholics.

    Having lived with two chronic alcoholics, I will say that there is a kind of “drunk” that you see where they’re not walking unsteadily, they’re not slurring their words, but their temperament, their judgment, absolutely is changed – impaired. Even now I still find myself wondering, when speaking with these two people, whether they’ve been drinking… because they do not drink for merriment or pleasure, but out of an addict’s need, a lot of the social cues surrounding drinking – the outrageous behavior, laughter, flirting, etc – are missing.

    But absolutely I would not go to a bar to pick up a stranger. Absolutely I would not have sex with a new partner if either or both of us had been drinking. I first began to grasp this concept when I was still dabbling in kink/BDSM – the idea that there is risk associated with kink (and sex), and that if you are going to be risk-aware, you cannot impair yourself with alcohol or drugs.

    I think the strength of this blog post is the argument that we need to change culture so that it is socially unacceptable to have sex with strangers or acquaintances while one or both parties have been drinking, just as it is increasingly socially unacceptable to drive after drinking. If you are too drunk to drive, you are too drunk to have sex with someone you don’t know well, and with whom you don’t have a long-standing relationship. The risk is too high, the trust is too low.

  20. Bruce From Missouri
    Bruce From Missouri January 7, 2013 at 5:06 pm |

    I find it hard too really have any opinion on this post because we weren’t given any clue as to what happened except that alcohol was involved with one or both of the people.

    Did she say no?
    was she too “f***ed up” to say no?
    Did she enthusiastically consent, but was too “f***ed up” for it to be valid?
    Was he drunk?
    Who was drunker?

    It sounds like she might have consented at the time, but was drunk.

    So, at that point, are we saying that women can’t give consent while drunk?

    How is she defining rape in this case?

    Until we know the answers to at least some of these questions, I don’t know what there is to discuss.

    1. Combray
      Combray January 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm |

      Whether she was raped or not isn’t the topic of discussion. She states clearly that she was.

      1. Bruce From Missouri
        Bruce From Missouri January 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm |

        I realize that.
        I just don’t know what she is defining as rape.
        Is it any sex had while inebriated? That’s kind of what I am getting from the post. If that is what she is trying to say, I have to think she’s going to find very few takers on her definition.

        Like I said, without even knowing the broad strokes of what happened, I’m not sure how you can form a valid opinion from the information in the post.

        IOW, What is she trying to say? It is excessively unclear.

        1. Kasabian
          Kasabian January 7, 2013 at 7:20 pm |

          “Sex while inebriated” is rape. Therefore, people shouldn’t have sex while inebriated. I’m buying it.

    2. Alexandra
      Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 5:20 pm |

      Jesus, why do we feel the need to interrogate this woman about her experience of rape? Her article starts with the personal, but broadens quickly to the universal. Her personal experiences of violation are NOT UP FOR DEBATE. Her conclusions about rape culture are, but Jesus Christ, I am not willing to do an analysis of whether or not this woman was raped enough for you.

      1. Jill
        Jill January 7, 2013 at 7:01 pm | *

        Yep, end this line of discussion now please. She was raped. As far as I know, this is the first time she’s written publicly about it. That is incredibly brave and soul-bearing, and I’ll be deleting further comments that second-guess her.

  21. emilybites
    emilybites January 7, 2013 at 5:12 pm |

    I am completely confused by this post. The op seems to be conflating the choice to engage in sexual activity after drinking with getting raped while drunk.
    This, for example:

    When you make the decision to get “fucked up”, then you also need to make the decision to not engage in sexual activity

    I do not get. A rape victim who decides to get fucked up isn’t making a decision to get raped, because…that’s a contradiction in terms. Drunk people who are raped don’t necessarily have any intention to engage in sexual activity, so it’s not like they went out and got drunk and ended up with three wrong kind out sex because they’re irresponsible drunks.

    1. Alexandra
      Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm |

      This is a frustratingly simplistic way of reading the OP’s post.

      Many rapes occur in the presence of heavy drinking. Why? If you believe the predator theory, because places where lots of people are intoxicated create an atmosphere that allows rapists to operate with impunity. There is already a built in defense: “I didn’t know she was that drunk.” “I’d been drinking too, so really SHE raped ME.” “She just regrets the sex after the fact, she wanted it THEN.” These are excuses, vile excuses, that work. Really, really well.

      But these excuses work because lots of people drink, often heavily, as a prelude to sex. Particularly in colleges, but also in bars and nightclubs and other party environments, people treat alcohol as a 1st step in losing one’s inhibitions sufficiently to be able to have sex with acquaintances or strangers. Why do people need to lose their inhibitions? Because many of us were brought up to feel both fear and shame at the thought of having sex. The fears and shames are often different between the sexes, and between sexual orientations, but most of us felt fear and shame at some point, and I know I still struggle with it myself.

      So, how do we dismantle rape culture? Short term, we try to make it socially unacceptable to “drink and have sex”, much as it is increasingly socially unacceptable to “drink and drive,” because while there is no inherent harm in the act of drunk driving, there’s real danger of hurting someone. Long term, you try to get rid of the shame and fear so many people fear that motivates people to problem drinking.

      1. Fang
        Fang January 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm |

        This isn’t convincing to me at all. There are frequent articles bemoaning the combination of alcohol and sex and to date all it has accomplished is shaming women and increasing the blame on victims who were drinking before they were raped.

        IMO the focus should be on enthusiastic consent in all situations, which focuses on what kind of behavior we expect people to engage in rather than bright line rules that don’t reflect the underlying concern.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 5:40 pm |

          I just have a hard time understanding how consent education is going to work if the people receiving education are then going out and getting intoxicated, and thus changing their abilities to make smart choices and judgments, because they are impaired – legally impaired! Education about consent when someone is 18 or 21, after a decade or more of having been taught that sex is shameful and that alcohol is a way to erase shame, seems like a drop in the bucket.

          Bright line rules suck because all of us have experiences that don’t fit neatly on one side or the other of the boundary, but bright line rules can be helpful from a public health or social change standpoint because of their universality and clarity.

          I guess the question is – am I thinking as an individual, about my own life? Then yes, I want to leave space for drunk sex, drunk flirtation, drunk experimentation. But am I thinking tactically, about how to destroy Rape Culture? Then I need to think broadly, and when I think broadly I don’t know how to leave that space. I really don’t – and I am so so open to being corrected and shown a different way, but I don’t see it.

        2. samanthab.
          samanthab. January 7, 2013 at 6:07 pm |

          Who said that education about consent is the end all be all? I think it’s a toxic approach myself. It’s just a form of rape apology in of itself. Rapists wouldn’t be rapists if they were better informed? I call bullshit on that logic.

        3. Alexandra
          Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 7:09 pm |

          I guess I’m confused, samanthab. If the solution isn’t “bright line” rules about drinking and sex, but is, as Fang suggests, promoting enthusiastic consent, how does one do that in a way that doesn’t involve education of some sort?

          I’ll also add that I have found feminist sex and consent education incredibly helpful to me. By identifying what true consent looks like, I’m a lot better at spotting people who are pushing my boundaries and trying to coerce me into “consent”. After years of self-doubt and recrimination after having been raped, I finally feel like I have the skills to spot predators before I let them get too close to me, and it’s in large part because feminist websites like this one, and like Yes Means Yes among others, have taught me about how predators operate, and about what environments they operate in.

        4. Ismone
          Ismone January 7, 2013 at 8:12 pm |

          Fang,

          I think this is different, because it isn’t finger-wagging, saying, ladies, don’t get drunk or you’ll get raped.

          It is saying people, don’t get drunk and choose to have sex/choose to have sex with drinking people. People, yourself included, can only consent when sober. So take out the grey.

          Samanthab,

          Consent education is great. It is not just for rapists, it is to also show everyone that you don’t have to go around screaming “no” in order to be fairly objecting to people just randomly initiating sex with you. Or trying to.

        5. (BFing)Sarah
          (BFing)Sarah January 7, 2013 at 9:27 pm |

          It is saying people, don’t get drunk and choose to have sex/choose to have sex with drinking people. People, yourself included, can only consent when sober. So take out the grey.

          Okay, I’m not picking on you here, Ismone, but this popped out at me and made me breathe just a little harder and feel kind of like vomiting. I don’t know if you are saying this personally (which I kind of assume, because below you also say that if you care about human beings you shouldn’t have sex when drunk) or if this is how you are interpreting the OP, but I completely disagree. Me making a decision to not have sex while drunk in general does not help rapey individuals decide not to rape someone when they are drunk. The night I was sexually assaulted (see how I STILL cannot write raped…Jesus god I just can’t stop apologizing for this fucker) I actually did think to myself “I am not going to hook up with this guy (the guy who was my bf at the time and who took me to this party in his hometown) tonight.” I made the fucking decision NOT to have sex because I knew I’d be drinking and because I was not fucking ready yet. And guess what? He did not give a single shit. Not one. I said no as loudly and as clearly as I could, despite the fact that I was embarrassed to have to be doing this in his parent’s house (yup, thank you shaming rape culture, I didn’t want to wake anyone up so I was being nice and fucking demure about my LACK of consent). I was drunk, but I think I made it pretty clear I was not consenting. And he was drunk, but I’m pretty sure that he knew I was not consenting either. I believe the words “I don’t want to” are clear, even after ten beers. I could have, and DID, make all kinds of conscious decisions not to have sex and it didn’t matter. Like the OP, I make apologies for this guy all the time. I shouldn’t have agreed to go to his hometown, I was putting myself in a situation I couldn’t get out of easily if he turned out to be a bad guy, I should have known he wasn’t the nice guy he seemed to be…blah, blah, blah. But the fact of the matter is, women and non-rapists can decide to not have sex during intoxication all they want and I don’t think it will matter. His drunkenness didn’t lead him to not know I was consenting. He knew. He just didn’t care. I think that IS a particular type of person that does that and, IMHO, the rest of us deciding to forgo drunk sex won’t help.

          So, yeah, although I feel for the OP in that I, too, feel those “rape apologist” type feelings and I am just now (about a decade later) starting to be open with my experience (again, yeah, not using the word…WHY??? [shaking my head at myself]) and only online when using a very common name. But, I resent the implication that I contribute to rape culture by having had sex (with enthusiastic consent from both parties) after drinking. Rapists create rape culture with their predatory behavior and by dehumanizing others that they would like to overpower and use. It is not my fault.

          Again, I’m not picking on you Ismone, I’m responding to the OP and to similar statements others have made in the same vein.

      2. Brenda
        Brenda January 7, 2013 at 6:55 pm |

        So, how do we dismantle rape culture? Short term, we try to make it socially unacceptable to “drink and have sex”, much as it is increasingly socially unacceptable to “drink and drive,” because while there is no inherent harm in the act of drunk driving, there’s real danger of hurting someone. Long term, you try to get rid of the shame and fear so many people fear that motivates people to problem drinking.

        Wouldnt the fault be with the party who is drunk? IE if she is drunk and he is not and they have sex with each other, according to what you said the girl needs to be shamed for having engaged in drunk sex.

        1. Alexandra
          Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 7:00 pm |

          Er, no. Drunk driving is an analogy that can be useful, but only if it’s not carried too far. Someone who has sex with a person who is more intoxicated than them, someone who has sex with a drunk person when sober, is at best not a very wise or ethical person, and is often a predator. I do not believe in shaming women for being the victims of predators. I do not believe in shaming women for having sex, or in shaming women who are victims of rape.

          I don’t believe in shaming women (or anybody) who gets drunk and has sex, either. I think we need to get past using shame as a method of social control. I think it is possible to criticize our society’s conflation of heavy drinking with sexual freedom without saying that people who have sex after drinking heavily are shameful, rotten people.

  22. Brenda
    Brenda January 7, 2013 at 5:15 pm |

    I dont get the drinking analogy, why even bring it up? If you were drunk and said no, it is rape, whether you are sober or not. If you are passed out and he sexes you its rape, whether you pass out from alcohol or low blood sugar.

    If you decided to accept the ride home and he raped you, it does not matter whether you accepted the ride because you trusted him, or because you were drunk, it is still rape.

    So how does alcohol factor in?

    1. Fang
      Fang January 7, 2013 at 5:39 pm |

      I am just as confused. I appreciate the points about how difficult it is to stop thinking in rape apologist terms, but after that I just don’t know what to make of it.

  23. emilybites
    emilybites January 7, 2013 at 5:16 pm |

    I am completely confused by this post. The op seems to be conflating the choice to engage in sexual activity after drinking with getting raped while drunk. This, for example:

    When you make the decision to get “fucked up”, then you also need to make the decision to not engage in sexual activity

    I do not get. A rape victim who decides to get fucked up isn’t making a decision to get raped, because…that’s a contradiction in terms. Drunk people who are raped don’t necessarily have any intention to engage in sexual activity, so it’s not like they went out and got drunk and just ended up with the wrong kind of sex because they’re irresponsible drunks.

  24. emilybites
    emilybites January 7, 2013 at 5:18 pm |

    Sorry, posting from phone…typing be hard.

  25. Radiant Sophia
    Radiant Sophia January 7, 2013 at 5:32 pm |

    If someone is drunk, a functioning alcoholic, but gives consent, and someone else cannot possibly tell that the first person is drunk, is it rape? YES, it is. If a person feels they have been violated, THEN THEY HAVE BEEN VIOLATED. Obviously if the second person can not, in any way, tell that the first was drunk, they cannot be held accountable for their actions. This does not change the fact that someone was violated. If someone is intoxicated, you have a social duty to NOT HAVE SEX WITH THEM. Period. It’s no different than your social duty to call emergency services when someone has a heart attack, or you see an auto accident. I’m not talking about legal responsibility. I’m talking about being a good person.

    1. Brenda
      Brenda January 7, 2013 at 6:52 pm |

      If she gives consent it is not rape. If you give consent under the influence you regret the next morning you have to make a choice, keep getting drunk with the risk of engaging in drunk sex you regret or drinking less, because you rather not risk it to engage in drunk sex.

      The issue is with a rape magically not being a rape when the victim had a few beers.

      1. Radiant Sophia
        Radiant Sophia January 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm |

        Which one is “she”?

        1. Brenda
          Brenda January 7, 2013 at 8:12 pm |

          The functioning alcoholic. Yes means yes. You think you can turn yourself into some kind of bait, by getting drunk giving consent and then having the guy you sexed thrown into jail, just by drinking a lot? Think again.

          However there is a problem with alcohol and rape. The problem is, if a woman is raped and she was drunk, it magically was not a rape when it would have been one if she was sober.

      2. Ismone
        Ismone January 7, 2013 at 8:17 pm |

        The issue is also with consent being invalid when a person is too intoxicated to give valid consent.

    2. Ismone
      Ismone January 7, 2013 at 8:16 pm |

      You are even right as to the law. If a person did not consent (or the consent was legally invalid) then that person was raped, but if the other person could not have reasonably (reasonably also means soberly) perceived the lack of consent or the legal invalidity of the consent, that second person could not be convicted.

  26. WallyInternet
    WallyInternet January 7, 2013 at 5:34 pm |

    I’m against any definition of rape that implies millions of women have enjoyed getting raped and recall the experience fondly.

    It’d be better to say that alcohol CAN cause someone to be in a mindset where they can’t consent. The criteria for determining this should be whether they say they were raped.

    1. Jill
      Jill January 7, 2013 at 7:02 pm | *

      Luckily, exactly NO ONE is promoting that definition of rape. Next please.

      1. WallyInternet
        WallyInternet January 7, 2013 at 7:52 pm |

        Yeah they are. Are you denying that tons of women have enjoyed having sex while intoxicated or that people in this thread are defining rape to include any intoxicated sex?

        1. Lo
          Lo January 7, 2013 at 8:15 pm |

          While some on the thread have debated whether sex while drunk is rape, I haven’t read one comment that said anything close to “women enjoy getting raped”. Saying that any sex while drunk equals rape does not mean “women enjoy getting raped”. I understand what you’re trying to say but please watch how you word things.

        2. Ismone
          Ismone January 7, 2013 at 8:21 pm |

          Some people on this thread are suggesting that to prevent rape, perhaps no one should have sex while intoxicated.

          It is not that drinking means that people do the opposite of what they would do sober. It means that sometimes they do. Or that sometimes drinking makes it hard to say “no.” Or hard to fight back.

          I mean, if you actually care about other human beings, a safe rule is no first time sex with a partner who has had more than a drink or two and who you think wouldn’t be safe to drive.

        3. WallyInternet
          WallyInternet January 7, 2013 at 9:03 pm |

          I want to be careful how I word things and understand the danger of even stringing together a few words like “enjoyed being rape” that often feature in rape culture ideology. That said, its hard for me to understand how anyone could get the implication that I thought anyone had said women enjoyed being raped. I said the definition they were using IMPLIED that, and it’s inescapable that it does. But multiple people gathered that I did think that so I may just be oblivious.

          I think its an important point to make because when someone from the Victim’s Advocate office gave a presentation to the Coalition to End Rape Culture at USF (http://www.wtsp.com/news/article/284648/250/USF-students-urge-more-rape-education the video gives a much better idea of what we’re doing than the article), she explicitly said any sex under the influence was rape. After some debate among our members, we concluded that this was a bad definition for the reason I said and we collectively generated the alternative definition I posted – a definition that agrees with every woman who identifies her experience as rape without potentially questioning the agency of those who don’t.

      2. matlun
        matlun January 7, 2013 at 8:16 pm |

        Both the OP (“consent requires sobriety”) and Kasabian in this thread have indeed defined rape in that way.

        Surely you were aware that this is the position of some feminists (even though it is a minority view)? This is not a new discussion.

        1. Jill
          Jill January 7, 2013 at 8:25 pm | *

          What part of “next please” was not clear?

          Let me be clearer. You have two choices: (1) move on, or (2) have all future comments on this topic deleted until I get annoyed enough to ban you.

        2. Jill
          Jill January 7, 2013 at 8:30 pm | *

          Aaand for calling me a “cunt,” among other things, Brenda is now banned.

          Seriously, I am holding the laaaaaast straw here. Please be decent.

  27. Kasabian
    Kasabian January 7, 2013 at 6:58 pm |

    My first day at college, at a pretty large school in the deep south, my entire freshman class got a lecture from the school legal consul that basically amounted to “don’t drink and fuck.” Did no one else get that lecture? Because it seems like that lecture is what OP’s driving at.

    1. Alexandra
      Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 7:15 pm |

      I’m sure I got something similar at the start of my freshman year, but frankly, one speech from my dormitory floor’s RA about avoiding mixing alcohol and sex really wasn’t sufficient when the entire school’s party scene revolved around getting drunk and dancing in one’s underwear. All of which are lovely activities, but the name of the start-of-the-year mixer was Seducers and Corrupters, freshmen wore white and upperclassmen wore black, and “everyone knew” that upperclassmen without girlfriends would go to the party to try to pick up freshmen girls. I knew – I had been warned by my parents, alumni of the school! – and it still didn’t keep me safe I was sober, too – he was the one who had been drinking when he raped me.

      How is a speech from an RA or administrator supposed to affect anything, when the big party, paid for with college funds, is all about getting drunk and “seducing” freshmen?

      1. Kasabian
        Kasabian January 7, 2013 at 7:28 pm |

        Obviously speeches from RA’s or administrators aren’t the be-all end-all of rape prevention, but I thought the way mine was given was a pretty good start.

        It was the legal consul of the school, it was more directed at men than at women, and the line was basically, “If you fuck while drunk or while she’s drunk, you’re going to go to jail and the school won’t bail you out.” I don’t know if it actively deterred anyone at the time, but it did set a certain tone at least; and wasn’t immediately undermined by any nudge-nudge-wink-wink bullshit mixers.

        Mainly, I think “Don’t drink and fuck” needs to become a bigger point and needs to be made often; particularly at colleges. I think that’s what the author’s driving at.

        If we foster an environment where drinking and having sex is an unacceptable activity, it’s going to be a lot harder for predators to hide behind lines like “oh, we were both drunk”, etc etc.

        1. Kasabian
          Kasabian January 7, 2013 at 7:32 pm |

          Can someone delete my previous comment? It sounds vaguely dickish to me now…

        2. Alexandra
          Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 7:35 pm |

          I agree. I’m sorry if it sounded like I was jumping over you. I think speeches from administrators are important, but I get twitchy when I see a perfunctory speech about alcohol and consent and then a big kegger the next weekend with little oversight. Your school sounds like it actually takes sexual assault seriously, which is more than I can say for my original undergraduate institution.

      2. Brenda
        Brenda January 7, 2013 at 8:17 pm |

        I knew – I had been warned by my parents, alumni of the school! – and it still didn’t keep me safe I was sober, too – he was the one who had been drinking when he raped me.

        According to the logic of some people posting here, you are actually the rapist, because you a sober person had sex with an intoxicated person and him being very willing to sex you does not count as consent, because he was under the influence.

        1. Ismone
          Ismone January 7, 2013 at 8:24 pm |

          Penetrating someone, or causing someone to penetrate you, without their consent is rape regardless of whether you are drunk or sober.

          So if a woman stuffs a drunk man’s cock into her, yes, that would be rape.

          Way to call a survivor a rapist though. That’s like troll scrabble triple-word-score.

        2. Alexandra
          Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 8:54 pm |

          You know, I consider it a victory for me as a survivor that, at this point, seven years on, this comment doesn’t upset me or offend me particularly, it just makes me laugh.

          Yes, okay, Brenda: I was the perpetrator, because I was sober when he forced himself on me. Good to know!

  28. Jill
    Jill January 7, 2013 at 8:27 pm | *

    Ok. I am about 10 minutes away from shutting down comments on this post. Let me reiterate: Michelle has opened up a piece of her history here, to all of us, and that is scary and brave and important. If people are not going to treat that with the respect and gravity it deserves, I’m going to start wielding the ban hammer. No one forces you to comment on a blog post. If what you’re saying is something that might be harmful to a writer who has just publicly written about her assault for the first time, I would strongly urge you to consider not saying it.

    1. Echo Zen
      Echo Zen January 7, 2013 at 8:43 pm |

      I had a bad feeling when I checked on this post tonight and saw 82 comments, on what should be a bloody straightforward topic for a feminist blog…

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune January 7, 2013 at 8:46 pm |

      But that would be compassionate, and we can’t be NICE on the internet!

      …this is why I’m staying the fuck out of this thread. Didn’t even bother to read comments. It can’t possibly be anything good.

      1. Jill
        Jill January 7, 2013 at 8:52 pm | *

        Well there’s a comment in moderation telling me to go “bump fat clams” with the other “diesel dykes” on this site. So yeah things are definitely productive.

        1. macavitykitsune
          macavitykitsune January 7, 2013 at 8:55 pm |

          Jesus. Sometimes I think that red star needs to be, like, captioned MARK OF BRAVE MODERATION or something.

          O_O Diesel dyke? Is that even a thing?

          Well, I’m glad I’m reading your comments on this thread at least; I’m getting the Wank Digest that way.

        2. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia January 7, 2013 at 8:57 pm |

          Jill,
          I… can’t… even.

        3. Alexandra
          Alexandra January 7, 2013 at 9:02 pm |

          I am so glad I don’t have to moderate comments on a site like this. Truly yours is a thankless task.

          So, er, thank you? It would be a lot harder to participate on these threads without you.

        4. Radiant Sophia
          Radiant Sophia January 7, 2013 at 9:28 pm |

          Also, as Alexandra said, yes, thank you.

  29. tomek
    tomek January 7, 2013 at 8:39 pm |

    my comments on this subject ends often in moderate of comment. so i shall try to explain in clear term. i am in agreemant with feminist about rape of woman in drunk situation. that if man and woman are too drunk to consent, and woman feels she was raped in situation, then woman was raped. man was not.

    i think femanist need to admit that this situation is not gender neutral. this is what anger other commenter on this subject. feminist attempt to present this topic in gender neutral mode and other commenter naturally are annoyed when they see that men in same situation are not treated the same as woman by feminists.

    feminists need to be clear that there is something different between men and woman that mean woman is vulnerable to rape and man is not (at least from woman). this is because woman having sex can result in far worst consequences than for man. she can end up with baby to take care of and much years of life taken away. best case for man is he pass on his genes. either femanist should make this viewpoint clear in their argument, in which case they will not receive the push back such as here. OR feminist should treat severely impair sex of man and woman in consistant way (which i think is silly, because man and woman are different in this instantce).

    1. Radiant Sophia
      Radiant Sophia January 7, 2013 at 9:35 pm |

      You are completely wrong, and you just dismissed the rape of someone very close to me.

    2. macavitykitsune
      macavitykitsune January 7, 2013 at 9:38 pm |

      feminists need to be clear that there is something different between men and woman that mean woman is vulnerable to rape and man is not (at least from woman). this is because woman having sex can result in far worst consequences than for man.

      WHAT? PTSD isn’t bad enough of a consequence for you? Men can be raped. Men ARE raped. Every damn day. And thanks to chucklefucks like you, they feel utterly unable to do a damn thing about it. Thanks, buddy.

      1. tomek
        tomek January 7, 2013 at 9:46 pm |

        i think my comment is be misunderstood. i claim not men cannot be rape.

        i am trying to explain why in both-party-drunk scenario, people is view woman as more vulnerable. because feminist often do gender equal viewpoint, people get angry in this case because they do not. but i think there is reasons why it is not equal in this case.

  30. A4
    A4 January 7, 2013 at 9:36 pm |

    You have to give up your right to consent, because you can not be responsible for someone else’s ability to consent.

    This is so smart.

    First Ms. Acciavatti, as Jill has pointed out exhaustively above, your willingness to post publicly about your rape experience is astoundingly brave, and your willingness to do so under your own name is even more so. I am sorry that this community of commenters is apparently unable to treat you with the respect, decency, and trust that you have shown us by telling us your story.

    Second, thank you for allowing me to read your words and educate myself. I’ve been thinking about the above quotation, and the point that I’m reading here is that anyone who wants to engage sexually with someone else needs to not only have the capacity to consent, but must also have the capacity to understand their potential partner’s capacity for consent.

    It is my job to be absolutely sure that my partner feels as positive and safe about a sexual encounter as I do. This is a difficult task, one that simply cannot be done properly if my judgment and perception is impaired by drugs or alcohol.

    Right now our culture of sexual objectification has taken the concept of consent and tried to objectify it:
    “Consent looks like X Y and Z”
    “Consent is when your partner says the right words”
    “Consent is when your partner’s body is this way”

    But those aren’t consent.

    Consent is when you absolutely know that you are not hurting your partner. Consent is when you absolutely know that the other person will now and thereafter feel positive, safe, and happy about the sexual encounter that you are having.

    Many people will protest that this is too hard, that it’s too imprecise, or that it is unreasonable to expect someone to know absolutely what someone else is feeling or will feel.

    Those people are placing their desire for a human sex object over their desire to look out for the health and happiness of their sexual partner. Those people suck.

    Part of looking out for your sexual partner is making sure you are in the right state of mind to mediate this incredibly intimate interaction. Drunk or high are not the right state of mind for this.

    People here seem to like metaphors. Here’s a metaphor for them:
    Having sex while your judgment or perception are impaired is like throwing baseballs blindly in a random direction and assuming that anyone who doesn’t want to catch it will get out of the way.

  31. Jill
    Jill January 7, 2013 at 9:53 pm | *

    Alright, unfortunately I do not have the time and brain power to moderate every comment on this thread, and since we got linked to from Reddit’s MRA board, there are a lot of ugly ones coming in and at some point I need to sleep. So I’m shutting down comments. Thanks to those who participated kindly.

  32. Noli Irritare Leones » Things I don’t get: alcohol and sex

    […] Drunk to Consent”. And here’s a pseudonymous guest blogger at Feministe, arguing that when you get drunk you should check your sexual expectations in the same way you check your car keys in. (She’s making a point about when you might be to […]

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