A couple months ago, Daisy and I talked about a photo that was making the twitter rounds of a woman who was allegedly sexually assaulted on the side of the street near Ohio University in Athens. Absolutely NOTHING about the photo looked like an assault, given that the woman in question was leaning against a short brick wall, with nothing and no one restraining her, while the alleged attacker was kneeled between her legs, touching her.
Let me just pause here a second and say that I in NO WAY condone people taking photographs of this and posting the photos to Twitter and Instragram or whatever. That’s just icky. But when the “victim” of this “assault” went to the police the next day, the police chief immediately condemned people for not “helping” the victim. And I’ll be honest. I shook my head at that one. Various accounts from folks who witnessed the sexcapade said that the woman was clearly enjoying herself, and didn’t need “help” at all, except perhaps for someone to tell her that she was a MORON for having a guy perform oral sex on her on the side of a busy street. In fact, while she was enjoying this guy’s mouth, she used her hand to pull his head towards her more, according to video accounts.
No one was charged in the end, because it became obvious relatively quickly that both parties were simply drunk, and that the woman in question felt like a moron the next morning and decided to cry “rape” as an attempt to scale back her humiliation. And so in that sense, it’s a good thing there WERE photographs and video, to prove that this was some pretty consensual activity. But the fact that she went to the cops in the first place?
Which brings me back to the awesome article I source linked above, also from Total Frat Move. In it, the author calls out chicks like the drunk Ohio University girl for making these sexual assault accusations simply because they’re embarrassed by their own behavior, and I found myself nodding along with every last word she said.
Girls could go and check their inhibitions at the door, responsibility at the coat check, and self-awareness at the bar. We could drink to our heart’s content, be stupid, be dumb, dance up on bars, kiss a stranger, go home with a different one, and then wake up and not have to take ownership for any of it. The flyers on our hallway bulletin boards piled up. Seminars commenced. PSAs were abound. “My rapist doesn’t know he’s a rapist,” they all told us. And we believed it.
So we went to the pre-games and we went to the bars and we went to the frat parties. We did drink to our heart’s content and we made bad decisions. We did go home with strangers. And then we woke up and we decided that we didn’t like what we had done. We regretted it. We didn’t like that we had willingly taken eleven shots of cheap vodka at the pre-game with “our girls.” …We didn’t like that we had drunkenly danced on the counter and we were embarrassed that a bar full of strangers had likely seen our panties. We didn’t like that we were blacked out, and we most certainly did not like that we had stumbled back to campus after last call to attend a party… We didn’t like that we had wandered into the bed of someone who was even more intoxicated than we were, and we didn’t like the fact that we woke up wearing nothing but a dirty rush t-shirt. And so we freaked out.
Faced with our poor decisions of the night before, we had no excuse but to take them all back. After all, that’s what all of the flyers and the seminars and the PSAs said. That’s what our professors told us, as did the nurses at Student Health. That’s what the protestors wearing the skimpy outfits and holding the glittery posters said. “It’s not your fault,” they all told us. Yes, you were drunk. And yes, you flirted with him. And yes, you initiated the first makeout…and the second one. Yes, you whispered, “Let’s get out of here.” But you felt guilty this morning. And so you take it all back. No matter that he was drunk, too, and you were a willing participant — you take it back. And in the game of your word against his, you will always win.
And this is, I recognize, where things get sketchy, because from a legal standpoint, as the author also points out, if you’re incapacitated you cannot consent to sex. But how do you actually DEFINE incapacitated? And what about the boys? What if they’re drunk, too? Why is it only men who end up being responsible for what they do when they’re drunk in these cases? A guy too drunk to consider whether or not a fuzzy definition of consent applies in a situation where a drunk woman is offering up her body to him can literally have his entire life destroyed with an accusation of rape from that woman. And the woman? Well, she’s a victim, you see.
Rape and sexual assault are horrible things. So are false accusations of rape and sexual assault. And saying that out loud doesn’t make me a “slut-shamer” and it doesn’t mean I’m “blaming the victim.” It means I’m using common sense.
We’ve created a culture where it is completely acceptable for girls to get drunk, make bad decisions, and then take it all back. There is no ownership, no responsibility, no acceptance of one’s own mistakes.
This culture that we now live in, this societal acceptance of regret and unaccountability — it’s wrong. We’re creating a mockery of the real victims of sexual assault, the ones who are violently attacked. The ones who didn’t willingly take the shot, drink the drink, and climb into bed. We’re discouraging them from stepping forward. We’re preventing police officers from taking them seriously and district attorneys from pressing charges. We’re creating a world where all females are victims and all men are attackers — and that is simply not the case. Perhaps there is a gray area. Maybe something does, in fact, exist between the spectrum of rape and a consensual one-night-stand. But that doesn’t mean that every drunken hookup is the result of a violent attack. That doesn’t mean that women can go into a situation knowing good and well what will happen, and then take it back when the sun comes up. It simply doesn’t work like that. Something has got to give.
Why are we going out and making stupid decisions and then acting like we are in no way responsible for ourselves? That’s not how it works. We don’t get to arbitrarily take things back. We don’t get to be stupid and then blameless. We don’t get to be held unaccountable for our actions. Doing so sets us back. Doing so makes us weak and it makes us powerless. It’s time that we stop playing the blame game. It’s time that we start taking responsibility for our own actions — no matter how bad they may be.
Standing ovation for that column. Seriously. That’s what real feminism looks like – a chick who demands other chicks own their own behavior, and not blame men for it simply because it’s the easier out.