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...Without being horrible?

I think it's an important question. Every time someone is raped and there's alcohol in question, particularly when they're underage, someone says "But alcohol is a factor here, women who are drunk are easier targets, why aren't we addressing the underage drinking?" The answer here is obvious: rape is not a reasonable result of drinking. Alcohol doesn't cause rape. Rapists cause rape. And because of a whole host of issues created by rape culture, patriarchy, and victim-blaming, we really can't talk about alcohol and sexual safety. Because as soon as we start to say "Yes, women who are drunk are easier targets" we open up a window for every victim-blaming asshole to say "See! They know they could get raped and they do it anyway! They want it! It's their fault!"


Before I write the rest of this, let's all say it together: Correlation does not equal causation. Correlation does not equal causation. Correlation does not equal causation. Okay, there, we should be good.

Guys, we have to start educating kids better about alcohol. Of course it has to come alongside better sex education, better education about active consent. But we have to acknowledge alcohol as part of the lives of teens and young adults. Ignoring it the way we do sex education has the same effects as ignoring sex education - perpetuating a shaming environment in which as soon as you participate, your credibility is shot in terms of dealing with any connected events.


So here are my ideas, and feel free to add yours in the comments, since I don't have kids and certainly not teens, but I was a teen just a few years ago.

1. Talk to boys and girls about personal safety and alcohol. "Alcohol is dangerous for young women" is half-true, in that it's part of a greater truth that "Alcohol is dangerous for young people." Of course it's that half-truth that gets spouted, making it untrue through its implications. BUT. Alcohol does have an effect on your decision making, your ability to interpret a situation correctly, your ability to read social cues. For girls this means that when you're drunk, it's harder to recognize a predator. For boys this means when you're drunk, it's harder to recognize "back off" vibes. Since we live in a society that is so ill-informed about consent, that's scary.
Disclaimer here: OF COURSE drunk boys are still responsible for the actions they take. Again, correlation does not equal causation. We're responsible for the things we do, not the things that happen to us.


2. Don't just frame it in terms of sexual violence. When you're under the influence, you make poorer decisions, period. You may, for example, put bagel bites in to cook, forget they were in there because you're drunk, cause the smoke alarm to go off, the fire department to come, and get the entire party busted. Not that this happened to anyone I know.
Again: No one decides to get raped. Getting raped is not a "poor decision."

3. Zero tolerance policies are bullshit. They make it an "all or nothing" situation that creates and contributes to more dangerous situations. The story a few days back about the girl being suspended for being a DD, showing up after the party, made me sick. Daisy Coleman was suspended from her cheerleading team for the drinking that occurred on the night she was raped. These policies encourage and indulge victim blaming mentality.


4. Give the same talk to boys and girls. Make the language gender neutral in who is a potential victim and who is a potential aggressor. Boys can be raped, boys can be taken advantage of. Plus, taking away the gendered language helps to move the focus away from "girls this is a talk for you to be safe, because it's your responsibility not to get hurt" and towards "here's how we all can stay safe and help others stay safe."

It's hard. Even writing this was so hard to stay away from victim-blaming. But I think that in conjunction with better sex ed, it's so worth it.

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