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Is Alcohol the New Short Skirt?

Attitudes about women’s alcohol consumption haven’t changed much. Women who drink are still perceived as being “promiscuous,” “easy,” or more sexually available.

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Female soldiers wear drab buttoned-up uniforms and combat boots like their male counterparts.    

Alcohol is the new “short skirt.” A poll done in 2005 by Amnesty International/ICM found that 30% of respondents believed that the victim was “partially” or “totally” responsible if she was drunk. 

Society puts the onus on women to keep themselves safe and avoid dangerous situations. So if a woman is drunk, she isn’t taking her personal security seriously and is responsible for what happens to her. The hypervigilance and suspicion that is expected of women who drink in the company of men is not only ludicrous but is impossible.  The majority of sexual assaults are planned, and the perpetrator takes advantage of women who have been drinking because they are more vulnerable. Let that sink in: sexual assaults are planned. Plus, t he majority of rapes are committed by someone known to the victim: friends, family members, boyfriends, husbands, classmates, fellow soldiers and supervisors. Putting the burden on women to prevent rape won’t stop rape. The responsibility to stop rape should be placed entirely on men because they are the ones who do it. And drinking isn’t a crime, rape is.

Nonetheless, in rape trials, one of the first questions asked is if the victim had been drinking or using other drugs. Any lawyer will confess that it’s much harder to get a rape conviction because the woman’s credibility, reputation and memory will be attacked and put on trial if she was drunk. At the probable cause hearing in the Steubenville rape case, the lawyers asked dozens of questions about the woman’s use of alcohol.

The lawyer also asked a witness if the 16-year-old ever said, “no” or “stop” (a ridiculous question if you’ve seen the widely circulated cell phone video showing a clearly unconscious woman). In one clip, a man says, “She’s deader than a doornail.” Another witness testified: “Trent and Malik had picked her up by her hands and feet to take a – like a funny picture I would call it because she was drunk and we were all being stupid.”

The woman is being accused of making up events to damage the reputation of the football team. This young woman has already been chucked in the alcohol-rape closet. 

Is it any wonder that rape is underreported? It’s estimated that 60 percent of rapes/sexual assaults are not reported to the police.  Women are afraid to report rape because they know they’ll be blamed or not believed. The police, medical, legal and criminal justice system routinely revictimize women who’ve been raped or sexually assaulted and especially if she was drinking.  

It might be 2013, but attitudes about women’s alcohol consumption haven’t changed much. Women who drink are still perceived as being “promiscuous,” “easy,” or more sexually available.  

Research with sexually assaultive men shows that they often describe women who drink as "loose," immoral, and suitable targets for sexual aggression.

Alcohol is the most widely used date-rape drug, although drugs like Rohypnol and GHB have garnered more media attention. 

In the U.S., alcohol plays a major role in socializing and meeting potential sex partners, especially on college campuses, in fraternities and dormitories, and in singles and sports bars. The effects of alcohol on the brain and behavior are well-known. The first few drinks make people more social, talkative and feel less awkward and shy; booze is commonly called “liquid courage.” At higher levels of consumption alcohol causes slurred speech, staggering and sedation. Alcohol decreases sexual inhibitions and increases sexual arousal. Binge drinking increases the likelihood of physical aggression in men and less frequently in women.   

 
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