No, Liberals Have Not Been Brainwashed - Yes, You Can Have Drunk Sex

One of the difficult things about trying to battle rape is the sheer number of myths there are about sexual violence - how often it happens, what actually constitutes sexual assault, and how much responsibility the victim has (hint: it's none). Lucky for me, though, a writer at the conservative free-for-all National Review Online has taken it upon herself to perpetuate almost every myth there is about rape in one handy, horrible article. Hurrah!


AJ Delgado's "Crying Rape" reveals just how tenuous her argument is right at the outset, in her sub-headline: "Is there really a rape epidemic? Probably not." Probably. *Shrug*?

Delgado writes that, "decades ago", rape victims were shamed and not believed, but today – in that glorious utopia where rape victims are constantly supported, always believed and never, ever shamed - the work of misguided feminists has led to "loosened standard for arrests in rape accusations". Amazingly, these supposed loosened standards have resulted in a whopping 10% of reported rapes leading to an arrest (60% of sexual assaults are not reported), and a tremendous, gargantuan 3% of rapists ever spending a day in prison. Tell me about standards again?

The definition of rape is also too broad, Delgado says, despite the very specific definition that the FBI recently created to debunk any misconceptions.

But here's what Delgado is most concerned about: that "prominent scholars and activists" define rape as any sex had after drinking alcohol. Who is making this extreme argument? We don't know. Despite their "prominence", Delgado fails to point out one scholar or activist actually saying such a thing. (Now, I'm sure you could find some radical individual who would argue that anything but sober sex is rape - but don't point me to a Tumblr and tell me it's policy.)

"Admittedly, I am no scientist," Delgado says - don't worry, we could tell - "but I am fairly certain that a statistically significant amount of sex – including very enjoyable sex – happens under the influence of alcohol. But by the liberal definition of my generation, I have been raped. Multiple times."

This lie – that anti-sexual assault advocates and feminists somehow believe any sex that involves drinking is rape – is an oft-repeated one, so let me set the record straight: yes, you can be drunk and have sex. What feminists tend to advocate for is enthusiastic consent - the belief that consent is the presence of a "yes", not just the absence of a "no". Throwing a few back doesn't mean you can't enthusiastically say yes to sex.

We're all adults here, and it's not difficult to tell when someone is too drunk to make a decision. A half muttered and barely coherent "yes" by a half-passed out person? No. A buzzy, happy, "rip my clothes off"! Yes. Let's not pretend we don't know the difference. Because rapists sure do.

The myth that drunk men "accidentally" go over the line with women has been thoroughly debunked by multiple studies.

Research from Dr David Lisak shows that predators consciously and with ill-intent use alcohol as a weapon to incapacitate their victims. That our society is less likely to believe a rape victim who was drinking – well, that's just icing on the cake for a rapist: it makes him a lot less likely to get blamed, let alone arrested or brought to trial.

Another recent study showed that men who attack drunk women know exactly what they're doing – there is no "he said, she said" sort of misunderstanding. As Kate Graham, lead researcher and a scientist at the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health and the University of Toronto, told NPR:

If you walk through a bar and grab a woman's breasts and then disappear into the crowd, that's probably not a misunderstanding ... you don't actually think that she wants you to do that. ... The lines really aren't that blurred.

Yet despite the preponderance of evidence to the contrary, Delgado writes that American women are being "brainwashed" into believing that they've been raped. (I would like to invite Ms Delgado to repeat this in person to a room full of rape survivors.)

Delgado also believes that the rising number of reported rapes on college campuses are evidence of this brainwashing, snarkily remarking that "there has not been this number of criminals running amok since England colonized Australia." Had Delgado done her homework, she would know:only 4-8% of the US college male population consists of rapists, but they just happen to rape a lot - an average of six victims over the course of their college career. And thanks to armchair rape "experts" like Delgado, they enjoy a tremendous amount of freedom and support - from a media that blames victims, a court system that humiliates those who come forward, and a society that overwhelmingly believes perpetrators.

When men make the kind of argument Delgado does - bending over backwards with no evidence or research - to say that rape really isn't that big a problem and that what women call assaults aren't assaults at all, I generally advise women not ever leave themselves alone with them. Someone who has such a stake in arguing that rape doesn't happen makes me nervous.

When women say these things, though, I think about how selfish they are. Because the only reason I have ever been able to come up with – for why women would ignore facts, science and the experience of so many rape survivors – is that they believe victim-blaming will keep them safe. If only "bad" women get raped, then they don't need to worry about getting attacked themselves.

No matter the motivation, however, it's all just wrong. Wrong on facts, wrong on policy, wrong on feminism. It's too bad, because there are lot of us trying to make it right.

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