Emily Yoffe discusses the relationship between consumption of large amounts of alcohol and sexual assault. Men and women process alcohol differently, so matching a man drink-for-drink results in a woman who is significantly more impaired than her male companion. Some men will stay relatively sober while getting drinks for women; they are then good “friends” who cart the intoxicated women off to their beds. Other times, two people are simply too inebriated to make good decisions or articulate what they want. Yet, we live in a society wherein telling women to not get black-out drunk is somehow “victim-blaming.” As Yoffe explains,
Let’s be totally clear: Perpetrators are the ones responsible for committing their crimes, and they should be brought to justice. But we are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them. Young women are getting a distorted message that their right to match men drink for drink is a feminist issue. The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims.
An examination of any other crime-prevention strategy shows this to be true. We tell kids and adults that it’s wrong to steal, but theft remains a very real problem. As a result, society encourages people to take affirmative steps to not be victims of theft, and we have multi-million-dollar industries devoted to this: people have door locks, car locks, car alarms, Lojack, ADT or other home alarm systems, safety deposit boxes, checking and savings accounts, traveller’s checks, fraud alerts on their credit cards [deep breath], anti-virus software on their computers, lock boxes, passwords on their personal accounts, PINs or signature requirements for their credit cards, homeowner’s and renter’s insurance on their personal property – you get the point.
Victim-blaming? Hell, I haven’t started on what corporations do to prevent theft.
In a world in which we go to such great lengths to prevent theft, knowing for a fact that there are bad people out there who would take advantage of us and steal from us – despite a constant barrage of social and religious pressure to not do so – what whackadoodle thinks that it’s “victim-blaming” to tell women to not be black-out drunk around men they don’t know? “Don’t get black-out drunk, because someone might steal your wallet” isn’t victim-blaming, and neither is “Don’t get black-out drunk; some guy might rape you.”
Because really, if women are adults and not children, we are capable of taking charge of our own well-being. That is actual empowerment.