Rape Fallacy #1: Alcohol causes rape.
False. Obviously. Here’s my anecdotal evidence. I have been drunk. I have been around drunk men whilst being drunk. I have never been raped. I understand that this is untrue for many people, but this is my story.
We cannot blame alcohol for rape. We just can’t do it. Sure, sometimes people make horrible, terrible, life-changing decisions when they are drunk, that is true. Lately, the conversation has been taking things to the extreme. It feels like this is what I’m reading in the media: Men can’t control themselves when they are drunk. Men will rape and assault women when they are drunk. Men can’t be held responsible for things they do when they’re drunk because they’re drunk. What?
If I were a man, I would be outraged by this notion. I would be angry and fighting the media on this. Do we really believe that men are so weak and powerless that they can’t control themselves at all? What kind of a message is this sending to our children? To our sons, we’re saying two things – 1. don’t ever drink because if you do, you’ll probably rape someone. 2. it’s okay if you rape someone, just be sure you’re drunk when you do it.
The idea that this is just something that everyone does at parties isn’t a defense. It’s an excuse, and a horrible one. And it’s entirely untrue. I know that this behavior is pervasive, but I refuse to believe that every single man has assaulted a woman, and that every single boy will grow up to assault a woman. We can’t teach our children that this is the case. We have to teach our children that they can be better than this, and that they should expect better than this.
Rape Fallacy #2: Alcohol invites people to rape you.
Do I really even need to write about this? It is so obviously untrue and unfair and absurd. When a woman is so drunk that she can’t agree enthusiastically to having sex, the people in her company refrain from having sex with her. Period. End of discussion.
In fact, nothing invites rape. Nothing at all. There is no such thing as non-consentual sex because, that, by definition, is rape. If someone is inviting sexual contact, then it is just sex. We need to erase the terms ‘consensual sex’ and ‘non-consentual sex’ from our vocabularies and replace them with the terms ‘sex’ and ‘rape’ because that more accurately describes what it means to invite sex and to be assaulted.
Rape Fallacy #3: Kids are too young to hear about consent.
No, I am not telling my 2 and 4 year olds about what’s in the news and all over my Facebook feed. They don’t need to hear about that. It won’t help them.
Yes, I am teaching them about consent and good choices. Since birth, we have been teaching our girls about consent. When I am playing with my kids and tickling them, the moment they say “no” or “stop,” I stop. When my kids are playing together and one of them says “no” or “stop,” I make sure that the other kid stops. If they are doing something to me that I don’t like, even if it’s just poking my arm, or grabbing my belly, or climbing into my lap at a bad time, and I ask them to stop, I say, “This is my body and I don’t like what you’re doing to it. You need to stop. You need to respect my body.” I use the word consent. I use the word respect. I am clear and firm. I tell them to respect each other’s bodies, and to respect my body, and to respect their own body.
I have friends who have sons who are doing them same thing, and I appreciate it more than I can even express. I know little boys who know the word consent and understand what it means.
If we wait to teach our kids about consent until puberty, or high school, or when we drop them off at college, it will be too late. It has to be something that is ingrained in them from birth. It has to be second nature. For both boys and girls.
Rape Fallacy #4: Privilege has nothing to do with this.
If this rapist were black, or Latino, or anything other than white, he would be spending much more time in prison. We wouldn’t have seen his smiling, successful photos all over the internet – we would have seen his mugshot within hours of his arrest, or other photos of him that represent him as a ‘thug’ or some other derogatory term. The conversations would be different – the media wouldn’t even care what his friends and family had to say about him, the media would be digging up dirt, not presenting excuses.
If this rapist wasn’t wealthy, his lawyers would have presented the evidence (actual evidence) that would have told a very different story than the one that was presented. If he, and the judge, hadn’t both been Stanford students, the punishment would have been different. If the rapist hadn’t been a golden boy with a bright future, the judge wouldn’t have been as worried about ruining that future.
Do I even need to say anything about male privilege? The whole rape culture is built on and sustained by male privilege.
Truth: I refuse to raise my daughters in a world where their physical and emotional wellbeing can easily be thrown away – literally and figuratively – behind a dumpster.
Let’s change it.