Sunday, January 10, 2010

It's Time to Educate the Guys

I was out walking the dog on this pretty winter morning, listening to This American Life who dedicated the whole show to America's Number One Party School. One of the producers starts talking to a couple at a frat party. The guy says "I'm just trying to get her drunk so I can take advantage of her." Ha ha ha. Boyswillbeboyscakes.

The phrase "take advantage of" needs to be excised entirely from our vocabulary when we're talking about sexual contact.

Which reminds me of a certain Ask Amy column.

Dear Amy: I recently attended a frat party, got drunk and made some bad decisions.

I let a guy take me to "his" room because he promised that he wouldn't do anything I wasn't comfortable with.

Many times, I clearly said I didn't want to have sex, and he promised to my face that he wouldn't.

Then he quickly proceeded to go against what he "promised." I was shocked, and maybe being intoxicated made my reaction time a bit slow in realizing what was happening.

We were soon kicked out of the room by the guy who lived there, who was pretty angry.

I guess my question is, if I wasn't kicking and fighting him off, is it still rape?

Response from Amy Dickenson:

Were you a victim? Yes.

First, you were a victim of your own awful judgment. Getting drunk at a frat house is a hazardous choice for anyone to make because of the risk (some might say a likelihood) that you will engage in unwise or unwanted sexual contact.

Notice how blithely Amy conflates "unwise" with "unwanted" sexual contact. Let me run down three situations:

Situation One: You got drunk and went home with an ex-boyfriend who's probably going to think that this means you want to get back together and that'll be a whole big thing you have to sort out. That's unwise.

Situation Two: You got drunk and said no and the guy put his penis inside you despite your objections. That's rape.

Situation Three: You got so drunk you were incapacitated and some guy put his penis inside you. That's rape.

Since girls first started going to parties and boozing it up with the boys, we've been told to avoid putting ourselves in a bad situation. We educate our girls on how to avoid these "bad situations." Don't drink too much. Don't wear slutty clothes. Make sure you have a buddy to keep an eye on you. Make sure you don't get raped because if you do, sorry, honey, that's just what happens when you put yourself in a bad situation.

And what happens when we don't focus the same (or any) energy on educating our boys? We end up with college guys who operate under the dangerous notion that it's possible to "take advantage" of a girl without raping her. So let's educate our boys on this one simple fact: you're either having sex with a willing partner or you're raping her. There's no gray area. A drunk girl can say 'yes.' She can be a willing participant in her own unwise sex.

I can't help but think that if our boys were educated to the same degree about this issue as our girls, the problem would be alleviated. It's hard to fathom that a guy wouldn't alter his behavior if he understood that he wasn't being "ungentlemanly", he's being a rapist.