Imagine the following scenario: A girl goes to a frat party, drinks too much and has sex with a guy she just met. The next day she does not remember anything. When she finally realizes what occurred, she wants her partner charged with rape.
Though she was conscious, yet drunk, during the act, everybody agrees that what happened is not her fault. But is this really the right way to approach this problem?
When I first found out that something like this happened to one of my friends at another college, I immediately remembered the somewhat cliche play “Sex on a Saturday Night” from freshman week. Showing this play to freshmen might at first seem pointless, since it just reiterates for the nth time well-known “rules” for college students: Don’t have sex when drunk, don’t be ashamed of your sexual orientation, and other facts which we have heard too many times already.
Among the situations presented in the play, we witnessed something most people might consider a very clear case of rape: the shy guy who gets drunk and has sex with his unconscious, also drunk, girlfriend. To the public, he is, of course, the one solely to blame, since he took advantage of the girl’s unresponsive state.
Similarly, my friend blamed her partner and wanted him arrested. She was conscious during the act, but the alcohol concentration in her blood was so high that she could not have been responsible for her decisions.
Did she have the right to accuse the boy of rape? Before you say yes, think about this for a minute: Should the fact that she willingly got herself into an advanced state of inebriation prevent her from complaining about anything that happened to her while she was in that state?
She knew what would happen if she started drinking. We all know that the more people drink, the less likely they are to make wise decisions. It is common sense.
Therefore, the girl willingly got herself into a state in which she could not act rationally. This, in my opinion, is equivalent to agreeing to anything that might happen to her while in this state. In the case of our girl, this happened to be sex with a stranger.
This brings up another question: Why is the guy always to blame? Since the beginning of time, society has taught us that whenever a situation like this arises, the fault belongs almost entirely to the male participant.
Why? Maybe because males are traditionally the initiators of sex, or maybe because guys are usually to blame for anything that goes wrong in a relationship. No matter the reason, this perception has been around for a while, and it is unlikely that it will disappear anytime soon.
We live in times when sexual discrimination has, more or less, disappeared from our society. Yet it still prevails when talking about a ubiquitous thing like sex. If both people were drunk and if the girl has the right to make the accusation of rape, then why shouldn’t the boy enjoy the same privileges? If a culprit is required, then both of them should be guilty or there should be no culprit at all.
I understand that matters like this can be painful and even tragic for those involved. The consequences can be severe for both parties. For the girl, it might mean an unexpected pregnancy, while the guy could be charged with rape. Since so much is at stake, it seems that the last thing we want to do is to accuse people of things for which they are not entirely to blame. In circumstances like these, accusations should be made with the utmost consideration.
The bottom line is that ambiguous situations like these are always a subject of debate. As long as there is uncertainty in the details of the events, it is nearly impossible to decide who is guilty and who is not. One thing is incontestable, however: It would have been better if this situation had not come up in the first place.
Iulia Neagu is a freshman from Bucharest, Romania.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2010/02/22/25251/