Yet another case of invisible rapists. Rape is something that just “happens” to women who “leave themselves vulnerable”. Male violence is to be considered a ubiquitous, inevitable force; the only way the world can combat it is to put the responsibility on women to not be victims. The flipside of women being responsible for rape prevention is that women are responsible for rape; it’s the usual expressway to victim-blaming.
The Beeb says: “Rape warning over binge drinking”, sub-headlined “Binge drinking woman are leaving themselves vulnerable to rape”
Women in Northern Ireland are leaving themselves vulnerable to rape or serious sexual assault because of their binge drinking, according to a report.
The University of Ulster research examined attacks between 1999 to 2005. It failed to find any trace of specific date rape drugs – GHB, Rohypnol or ketamine – in any case examined.
But researcher Janet Hall said their findings showed alcohol levels of the alleged victims were on average almost three times the drink-driving limit.
Three times over the drink-driving limit? How dare they! What irresponsible women, being drunk and in the presence of men! OK, it isn’t quite a crime yet, but the blokes are taking care of the negative reinforcement side of things, so it doesn’t really need to be in the criminal code.
“This research confirms the findings of other studies in the UK, US and Australia – that alcohol is a major contributor to vulnerability to sexual assault in social situations and acquaintance rape,” Dr Hall said.
“Given the very high levels of alcohol consumption by some alleged victims, the findings also raise the question of what constitutes valid consent to sexual activity. “The capacity to give informed consent at these levels of alcohol consumption is very questionable.”
And yet, somehow the perpetrators remain completely absent from the article. This isn’t simply a matter of lazy journalism and crappy “science”; these last two paragraphs smack of dogged contortions in order to invisiblise the rapists and keep the women in the centre of the frame.
And, as a non-core critique: What was the case definition? All reported rapes? Women who presented for drug testing, thinking that they may have been the victims of drink spiking as well as rape? All rapes which were reported immediately and in which the investigating officer believed the victim to be intoxicated? We don’t know. A more detailed writeup of the same research here at the University of Ulster Student Union site seems to make it quite clear that samples weren’t taken in all cases of reported rape:
The study found that the number of cases where toxicology samples were taken rose from 30 in 1999 to 51 in 2005 and the percentage of samples which contained alcohol, drugs or both increased from 66% to 78% over the same period.
What’s the denominator? Who decided to take tox samples and what were their criteria for doings o? Quite aside from the responsibility issue – these numbers, as presented, are meaningless. Just noise being leveraged for moralistic victim-blaming, with an undercurrent of slut-shaming. The UUSU page sternly lectures us:
This research once again has highlighted the need for a clear message to be given to all regarding the importance of responsible drinking.
How’s about we start getting the message out about the importance of not raping people? How about focusing on drinking while in charge of a penis, instead of blaming women for the reckless ingestion of alcohol while in the possession of a vagina?
And – would it be snide of me to note that the photo of the researcher on the UUSU page shows that she has not one, not two, not three, but four whole strings of pearls to clutch?
Edited 13 Oct 2007:
baroquestar says in comments:
What’s the bet that if They did do an awareness campaign aimed at men about alcohol and consent, it would be something like “binge drinking can leave you vulnerable to accusations of sexual assault”, i.e., couched in terms that retained female responsibility for rape.
Or am I just getting cynical in my old age?
I’m pretty sure I’ve seen something like this very recently, possibly out of the USA. Does this ring a bell to anyone?