If you were on the Internet at all this year, you probably heard about Stanford student Brock Turner, who was convicted of raping an unconscious woman months into his freshman year. If you kept up with the story, you might have read that woman’s heartbreaking and incredibly brave speech that she gave in court in regards to the event. There was national outrage over the ridiculously light sentence (six months in jail, brought down to three with good behavior) that the judge handed down to Mr. Turner, and there was also a sort of hilarious anger coming from a different set of people who thought it was a shame that Mr. Turner’s potential swimming career would have to be ended so abruptly, since, you know, he’s a rapist. Bummer, dude.
In his court-presented defense, Turner also cited how he’s been “shattered by the party culture and risk taking behavior” that he experienced while at school for four months. I have a hard time believing that a few months at one of the top schools in the nation turned you into a rapist, Brock, but whatever.
As of yesterday, Stanford University itself decided to address “party culture” in its own way. According to Stanford’s college president John Hennessy and provost John Etchemendy, a new policy has been instated banning undergraduates from drinking any hard liquor on campus. While avoiding student intoxication on campus sounds like a reasonable goal to me, it totally fails to address the fact that liquor is not to blame for sexual assault — the assaulter is. In addition to that, a lovely new addendum has been added to Stanford’s website, titled “Female Bodies and Alcohol.” Up until recently, the page had this disturbing text:
“Research tells us that women who are seen drinking alcohol are perceived to be more sexually available than they may actually be. Individuals who are even a little intoxicated are more likely to be victimized than those who are not drinking. Other research studies have shown that men who think they have been drinking alcohol…feel sexually aroused and are more responsive to erotic stimuli, including rape scenarios.”
The section has since been deleted, but since we all know nothing on the internet can ever truly, really be deleted, an archived version containing the text can be found here.
The page states that science tells us “women who are seen drinking alcohol are perceived to be more sexually available than they might actually be.” I wonder how we could circumvent this little inconvenience. Maybe asking a woman if she’d like to have sex with you would be a good start, instead of assuming that because she’s holding a beer she’s open for business. The same section also lets us know that when men drink, they “feel sexually aroused and are more responsive to erotic stimuli, including rape scenarios.” Friends of potential rapists are also encouraged to step in if they see a “pal acting in inappropriate ways or about to take advantage.” Just give all rapists one of those attack dogs that will start biting their ankles when they start “taking advantage,” and we’ll all be good to go.
The tips in the “If you decide to drink” section are even better. Stanford advises that, if you do decide to imbibe, you “avoid shots,” “avoid drinking games,” and “drink for quality, not quantity.” Are you serious? What undergraduate party is going to be filled with kids drinking ginger ale after every beer and no flip cup, or drinking expensive wine in someone’s dorm room? None. Are these tips smart? Yeah, you know what, they probably are. They’re great tips for watching how drunk you get, and no undergrad is going to follow a single one of them.
I’m all about helping students learn to drink more safely. That’s never a bad idea. But the goal here should not be to teach women how to better handle their alcohol; the goal should be less women raped. The goal should be to focus on the fact that getting drunk and raping someone can’t be tolerated, not to warn women that they look slutty with a drink in their hand. The goal should be for a woman to drink too much and still be able to wake up somewhere safe with a bad hangover being the worst of her worries. Until then, do better, Stanford. Do a lot better..
[via Paper Mag]
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