Girls Drinking

Girls and Boys and Personal Responsibility – and Common Sense

The Guardian’s Jessica Valenti recently declared, rightly, “alcohol-facilitated rape is not just drunk sex.” used, this week (Sept. 26), the term “rape culture” to describe an aspect of what Ms. Valenti was indirectly attacking: the idea that women (more than men) expose themselves, at their own, self-chosen discretion, to go places where they might, but shouldn’t have to, fear physical (read: sexual, in the case of women) attacks.

Slate columnist Emily Yoffee, whose ‘Dear Prudence’ columns are among the most lowest-common-dominator panderings of the web’s offerings, faults society for failing to discourage young women, particularly those in college, where the issue is a significant one, from getting drunk. Doing so, Yoffe said, puts them in positions where decisions they make – including getting drunk in the first place – expose them to the risk that, “by the time they are seniors, almost 20% of college women will become victims, overwhelmingly of a fellow classmate”, of a sexual assault.

There are several issues here:

[1] While Valenti’s ‘alcohol-facilitated rape’ is hardly a problem confined to college women, it is an issue that begs the question, ‘Don’t you watch movies? Or ‘SVU’ (Dick Wolf’s brilliant TV series centered on a NYC police unit focused on sexual crime)? Did your mother/grandmother/guardian/whatever never warn you about the assorted risks you run simply being a female in a male-dominated society?

[2] Like many other men, I frequently deny in my mind, and out-spokenly, a man’s ‘right’ to consider himself somehow ‘superior’ to women – as many do, individually, and as many cultures encourage them to; The number of times I’ve emotionally railed against unfair hiring practices – and worked to provide a job or opportunity to a woman whenever I’ve had a chance to, have been many.

[3] The slowly dying practice of victimizing rape sufferers – a realization in both legal and, to a lesser degree, in social circles, that women often are, indeed, victims, and

[4]  The extent to which as women have in recent decades come to feel more ‘liberated’, able to do whatever they want, whenever and wherever they want, just as men always have been able to, too many women – particularly young, vulnerable college-aged ones – continue to put themselves in situations where they are far more vulnerable than they should be because . . .

[5] Lots of men, particularly young, college-age ones, continue to have what seems to be (and may actually be) a genetically-induced belief that they are superior beings, and they can do whatever they want with women.

There’s another, actually more serious issue where young women, and young men, are concerned, when they engage in the consumption of what, regardless of legal issues, is considered to be a ‘sanctioned’ substance such as alcohol. (And, sadly, too often, many imagining-themselves-to-be-adults engage in the consumption of stronger ‘drugs’ – and there’s little denying that alcohol is, in its way, a drug.)

I recall an evening, some years ago, driving through a small ‘college town’ on the south edge of New York’s Peekskill Mountains. It was late in the ‘evening’ – near or after 10 p.m. Reveling students were much in evidence – many of them much worse for wear. And, undoubtedly, many of them were a good way short of the legal drinking age of 21. Few of them, given that they were walking (or staggering) about, could be assumed to be associated with ‘Greek’ organizations – the logic of the existence of which always has totally escaped me – because they were out in public. And whatever else you may say about the

‘Greeks’, they tend to confine their drinking to the car-key-free environment of their cooler-appointed chapter houses.

Which isn’t to say the ‘Greeks’ don’t encourage drinking by members or pledges who’ve yet to attain the age when purchasing – or consuming – alcohol is legal. Most of them certainly do.

As, by being silent (or low-keyed) on the issue, do a substantial share of universities and colleges across this country. Why so many of them refuse to address the underage drinking issue is something legal authorities – who waste considerable resources dealing with intoxicated students – should be seriously exploring. As should legislators.

Jessica Valenti, whom I respect and as a feminist but have issues with on some of her positions, views as “archaic to most feminists and anti-rape advocates” the idea that [young] women who drink and end up in situations they can’t control – often by implying ‘yes’ while never actually saying ‘no’ – might be excused from being responsible for whatever happens. I emphatically disagree – with that premise, but not with the a ‘right’ of a man to force himself upon a partner who, in one or more ways, has indicated a willingness – perhaps even an eagerness – to ‘go all the way’.

Like it or not, we still live, today, in 2015, in a society where – a lot less than in some others – men are programmed  to assume certain superiorities over women – to even be able, despite laws prohibiting it, to discriminate against them in some instances.

I don’t have a lot of sympathy for a young women who’s [1] allowed herself to become intoxicated and  [2] who knows, or certainly should know by the age of 18 or so, that men are socially and biologically programmed to function as fanatic farmers – to plant their seed as often, and as far and wide, as they can.

This is, in no way, intended to excuse young (or older) men from the need to contain themselves, to keep their seed safely stowed until an appropriate ‘field’ – a willing woman – is at hand.

Both men and women – young and old – have to accept responsibility for situations they put themselves into. In lots of situations, ‘he raped me’ carries little more weight than ‘he forced to get pregnant’.

Yes, I fully acknowledge that people can, in some situations, be ‘forced’ to do something. But, too often, the supposed victim put herself in harm’s way.

We’ve all heard about the unproved incident of the freshman supposedly being raped by a group of frat boys at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. That is an all-too-typical case of a girl who should have known better – surely she’d heard about how that frat, in particular, views women as sexual targets – and not been where she was, doing what she was: Drinking, when she was not even old enough to be legally doing so.

Fortunately, the world has move on to a place where we less often excuse certain behaviors with the ‘boys will be boys’ saw; But we’ve replaced that with ‘kids will be kids’, and seriously begun overlooking – to a large degree – the unwritten rule called ‘common sense’.

“I didn’t know” not to do… whatever … doesn’t fly for people who are so connected to their supposedly ‘smart’ phones that they engage constantly with them, and their friends, some of whom, no doubt, stop texting long enough to have one or many more drinks, and – whoops! – have unanticipated sex.

The good news is, most who end up have to deal with, say, an unexpected baby, will survive, and go on to thrive.

I am familiar with the case of a young woman who gave birth – a long way from home, because ‘that sort of behavior’ was totally unacceptable in the 1960’s – to a baby who now is, in his fifties, a very accepted part of her family and a highly successful careerist working in China.

She didn’t blame anyone; she simply got on with her life – and has done very well in the process.

There’s way too much blaming going on, when girls – young women – get themselves, themselves being the operative word, in trouble.

Ann Landers used to say “quit your bellyaching.” I say, forget ‘blaming’; start moving on.


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