Note: I wrote this post last night, April 30, but for some reason it didn’t go through. Here’s take two.
It’s day twenty-seven of the Blogging “Yes” project, the final day. Thank you to everyone who dropped by to read the posts, and to everyone who picked up the book and read along with me. You can see all the project posts by using the Blogging “Yes” tag. So, today I read Jaclyn Friedman’s essay, “In Defense of Going Wild or: How I Stopped Worrying and Learned to Love Pleasure (and How You Can, Too).” Not everything in this essay sat well with me, but what I do want to focus on is the correlation between male drinking and rape, and how a particular male-focused culture is partly to blame for our stigmas about girls “going wild.”
I attended law school at the University of Iowa, a university that’s known for its football culture. Football culture, of course, means drinking culture. In my neighborhood, walking from my apartment to the law school to go do some research in the library, I had to put up with random men groping me at ten in the morning, calling me a bitch or a slut, and trying to splash beer on me. Saturday mornings in the fall in Iowa City are open season for drinking, partying, and harassing anyone who dares to be in public and female. That atmosphere continues on through the night, whether game night or otherwise. Young men travel in packs of twenty or more friends, yelling obscenities at women who walk alone, hopping from bar to bar, often collapsing with serious cases of alcohol poisoning.
I think it’s this culture that makes some of us raise our eyebrows when a woman like Friedman is brave enough to stand up and say hey, I party, I have casual sex, I play drinking games, and I like it. The fact is that this culture is a violent one and a male-dominated one. When men get drunk in large groups, they often get aggressive and get stupid. Lowered inhibitions can lead to violence, bullying, and yes, to rape. So we tend to question the judgement of women who hang out in these groups voluntarily. Getting drunk and having sex may not seem like such a questionable thing when it’s, say, a house party full of lesbians indulging in copious amounts of wine. But when we picture the frat boy drinking culture, there’s this weird connection between sports and gang rape.
The solution? Exactly what Friedman says. Boys, be aware of the fact that drinking lowers inhibitions. Think before you engage in sex under the influence. Don’t have sex if you can’t ask the questions you need to, if you can’t judge whether the person you’re with is answering with enthusiastic consent or not. Don’t think that being with your friends excuses you, that being an athlete excuses you, that having good grades or being white or being cute or the fact that the girl was drunk and taking her clothes off excuses you. It doesn’t.