Tuesday, October 15, 2013

"Sorry, judge...I was too drunk to know that I shouldn't be driving drunk."

UPDATE, Wednesday, 10-16: Finally, a (comparatively) sane and fair-minded take on the role female drunkenness plays in rape, or alleged rape. I would've liked it if the author, Ms. Yoffe, went a step further, acknowledging that sometimes, in their drunken stupor, women voluntarily indulge in a sex act (often with an equally drunk male) that they later either (a) don't remember or (b) regret. But that may be too much to expect from a member of the sisterhood. We'll see.


As regular readers know, I am a grandfather to three sweet, beautiful granddaughters*, one of whom is nearly 15 and a high school freshman (freshwoman?), so obviously I don't want them assaulted or even "taken advantage of" in any way. That said, I am very queasy about cases like this one, and I'd argue that you should be, too. The societal pendulum has simply swung too far toward "protecting women," holding them altogether harmless from their own culpability in matters of drunken sex (which no doubt characterizes at least half the liaisons in the nation's colleges on any given weekend).

But without getting as far afield as I got in a previous post on the matter, let me state my objections to the case at hand. We are told that the girlwho, of course, is not identified; nowadays we identify/embarrass only the men involvedgot drunk and passed out at a party. When she came to she found herself on the bathroom floor with her pants and panties pulled down. She went to a hospital afterward, police did a rape kit, and DNA recovered from her was determined to match that of the 19-year-old suspect.

How does any of this represent probable cause to indicate that a crime occurred? Number one, to clear away any concerns over statutory rape, the age of consent in Pennsylvania is 16. So the girl was old enough to engage in legally consensual sex. (Whether 16-year-olds ought to be engaging in hook-up-type sex at parties is another matter.) She was not, however, old enough to be drinking. Nonetheless, she drank enough that night to get herself to the point where she "does not recall anything...other than lying on a bed and feeling very sick." So perhaps coming on to the suspect, then making out with him and forging ahead with sex is among the things she does not recall. (Are we saying that if the sex itself is insufficiently memorable, a rape occurred?) Let's assume the suspect, too, was pretty wasted (probably a safe bet). Why was he any more responsible than she was for suddenly collecting his wits and deciding that sex should not occur? Or are we seriously arguing that only drunken men want sex? I beg to differ. And most honest feminists would differ as well, inasmuch as they've been telling us ever since Erica Jong that they're every bit as libidinous as men are, and fully entitled to be that way.

Consider: If Ms. Woozy had walked out of that room, gotten behind the wheel of a car and run over some poor kids crossing the street, she would not have been able to use as an excuse that she was "too drunk" to (a) remember what happened or (b) be held responsible for the tragedy. Can we agree on that? If you drive drunk, the law does not cut you a pass on the grounds that you were too drunk to know what you were doing, duh. Sopardon my Frenchbut if you fuck drunk, you get to point the finger at someone else?

I'm not arguing that any woman who gets drunk at a party implicitly gives any men in the room license to do what they will with her. I'm saying that these issues are far more complex than the feminist-led crusade to protect women's sexual rights would have you believe. We examine these events through an extremely one-sided, illogical and prejudicial lens. That needs to stop.
* as well as a grandson.


RevRon's Rants said...

I'm of two minds about this, Steve. While I agree that there should be no double standard in how we treat cases like this, there are multiple factors influencing my opinion.

First of all, I was raised by a strong southern woman who instilled in me a commitment to be a "gentleman," and I am still inclined to protect a woman from any kind of abuse. I admit, however, that this inclination has on occasion been ill-advised, as I've been known to defend a woman when it turned out that she was, in fact, the abusive party in a situation.

Secondly, I fully agree that there should be *no* double standard where the handling of a case is concerned, particularly when an alleged rapist's name is made public immediately, while the alleged victim's name is withheld. IMO, neither should be publicly named until it is determined that an actual offense did take place. I've seen how damaging it can be for a male to be accused publicly, even in those cases where it was determined that the accusation was proven false. The falsely accused male remains stigmatized - even ruined - while the accuser faced no real repercussions.

I think that whether the female was coerced in any way - whether by implied or real physical threat or by a fear of peer response - into a situation beyond her control is the most pertinent factor. But at any rate, her initial protest of any behavior should stand as an irrevocable standard in determining whether an offense has taken place. Even a non-verbal indication that "I'd rather not" constitutes a "no" in my mind. Legal or not, a 16 year-old girl is not sufficiently mature to enter into any form of contract - not even an informal one regarding a physical encounter, particularly with a much older guy. The only exception I would make is in cases like we've seen all too often, where a teenage girl willingly engages even in foreplay with a boyfriend a couple of years her senior, yet the boy ends up being charged with a felony. If such an absurd legal response were to be universally sought, virtually every high school boy would end up being sent to prison and taught how to be a productive -if violent - criminal... myself included. In all these cases, I think that applying a bit more common sense and a little less moral posturing would serve us - and the kids - much better.

Steve Salerno said...

Ron, thank you as always for your comment.

I think your bar for coercion is set awfully low, however...a non-verbal "I'd rather not"? Would sex ever happen, even in marriage? Maybe especially in marriage, alas.

I certainly agree with you about the foreplay/felony scenario.

Overall, I guess enforcement seems way too arbitrary to me, as well as entirely eye-of-the-beholder. The same is true of hostile environment...a very dangerous (and first-amendment-infringing) concept indeed, IMO.

RevRon's Rants said...

LOL about the marriage part! Where you see a bar being set too low, I see a willingness to respect a partner's preferences, which I think should be mandatory. I mean, if your partner doesn't share your enthusiasm for the interlude, how good is that interlude likely to be, anyway? And if her lack of enthusiasm is a recurring theme, there are likely problems beyond the scope of mere consent.

Enforcement is, by its nature, pretty arbitrary, as it should be to some extent. We've seen all too often where the zero-tolerance mindset has gotten us. That said, I think there should be some basic lines that we agree not to cross. A young girl should be responsible for her own actions, whether she's been drinking or not. But that doesn't absolve the young man from being responsible for *his* actions, whether he (or the girl) have been drinking or not. Where you prefer that the girl accept responsibility for placing herself in the situation in the first place (and with which I fully agree), so too should her partner accept responsibility for having taken advantage of that situation. Similarly, I would admonish as being stupid an individual who shows up in a rough neighborhood wearing an Arrmani suit and a Rolex wristwatch, which ultimately resulted in his being mugged, I think that the mugger's responsibility for *his* actions, regardless of the opportunity presented to him. Just as I have the right to do or say something stupid without being legally expected to be the victim of a violent crime, the opportunist who takes advantage of my stupidity and commits the crime against me is legally bound to be prosecuted for committing a crime against me. It's not a first amendment issue at all, IMO.