A recent article posted on Slate.com by Emily Yoffe has caused a bit of a stir in the online world by claiming that the way to prevent sexual assault on college campus’ is for women to stop drinking. Citing a study from 2009 that highlights the correlation between alcohol and sexual assaults (80 percent of sexual assaults involve alcohol), Yoffe concludes that if women stopped drinking in excess then sexual assaults would go down.
While we are all advocating safe drinking practices (seriously, eat something before you go drinking — drunkorexia is not a good idea), and even though studies prove a strong correlation between college sexual assaults and high alcohol consumption, abstaining from alcohol is not a solution, it’s a bandage.
To tell women that it is their responsibility to refrain from drinking because being drunk will be a prerequisite to being assaulted is irresponsible and trivializes the experiences of survivors. There are other factors in play when an assault is perpetrated.
To say that because you were drunk and therefore you were assaulted, is continuing a long-standing societal practice of blaming the victim. While Yoffe quotes studies that say that both parties in an assault are drunk, putting the responsibility solely on women to watch their alcohol intake is misguided.
If we really want to start making a strong, positive step forward with this issue, then maybe we should encourage everyone who goes out to drink to be aware enough to step in and prevent possible assaults when they happen.
We’ll all be better for it.