When I saw the article title “Opinion: Young men, get a ‘yes’ text before sex” on CNN.com, I was intrigued. When I opened the article and read the first line “‘Watch out for the stupid girls,’ I tell my son. ‘They are trouble.'”, I was expecting some good satire. When I finished reading the article and realized that the author Roxanne Jones was being serious, I was appalled. The article consisted of Jones urging young men, her son included, to make sure to receive a text of consent before having sex. That way, if the girl’s verbal consent ended up being a too-drunk-to-be-valid form of consent and the girl accused him of rape afterwards, he’d have textual proof.
There is a lot of undeserved victim blaming in Jones’ article. Sure, consent can get a bit hazy when everybody’s drunk. However, as Jones states, “the meaning of consent can be misconstrued on both sides”. Meaning there are times when men are too drunk to interpret consent correctly. And there are also times when men just refuse to interpret consent correctly. Blaming “stupid” and “party girls who thrive on attention” for getting raped is unjustified. Though there are some situations where men are wrongly accused of rape, generalizing and saying that all drunk girls are drunkenly giving sexual consent is not the way to address the problem.
Jone sums up her victim blaming in the last two paragraphs:
But we need to do more work to teach our daughters that women also have an equal personal responsibility to respect their bodies. And true equality means that we are also held accountable for our actions. Partying and drinking until you are no longer in control of your body or mind instantly sets you up to become a victim of rape or bodily harm — or even to die.
Nobody wants to be a stupid girl. It’s time for us girls to smarten up. And it’s time for guys to understand — when a girl is way drunk, it doesn’t make it open season on her. In fact, it’s just the opposite: If she’s falling down drunk, stay away, far away.
According to Jones, a stupid girl and drunk girl is one in the same and every young man should stay away, because she’ll stupidly give consent when she’s drunk and take it away when she’s sober. Not only is this portrayal of drunk women false, but it’s harmful by grouping all drunk women under one umbrella. If Jones’ portrayal becomes the norm, how will many sexual assault claims ever be taken seriously? How will victim blaming ever be addressed seriously?
Just like we can’t say that all drunk men are rapists, we can’t say that all drunk women are unknowingly asking for it. And we can’t distrust the words of assaulted women just because they were drunk when it happened. If we do, we’re wrongly invalidating too many sexual assault experiences where consent was just not given. Consequently, we’re enabling rape culture to continue.
One parting question- why is victim blaming so common when it comes to rape? Is it because it runs parallel to the slut-shaming trend? Is it because women are generally blamed more often? I’d love to hear everyone’s thoughts.