In which I partially agree with Amy Gutman

Amy Gutman writes about the Emily Yoffe tempest in a teapot for WBUR’s Congoscenti. Emily Yoffe correctly pointed out that young women put themselves at risk for sexual assault when they get black-out drunk or do foolish things like try to match a man drink-for-drink.  (I wrote about this here.)  Gutman agrees with some of what Yoffe said, but then adds this:

This isn’t to say that I’m on board with everything Yoffe says. Indeed, I was struck by one significant way that the women-in-short skirts analogy does hold up — and that is in Yoffe’s deference to male perceptions. There is a world of difference between saying: “Don’t get drunk because men will look at you and see a vulnerable woman,” as Yoffe repeatedly suggests, and “Don’t drink because it strips you of agency — the power to think and act on your own behalf.” The former positions us as objects, to adopt the language of proto-feminist Simone de Beauvoir; the latter positions us as subjects. The latter is, at heart, a feminist stance. And it is where I stand.

Sorry, Amy Gutman, but there is not a world of difference between your position and Yoffe’s: the reason that men see drunk women as vulnerable is because – drumroll – drunk women have lost their agency, i.e. “the power to think and act on [their] own behalf.”


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