Twitter Users Sad To Hear They May Be Rapists

Twitter Users Sad To Hear They May Be Rapists

Trigger warning for talk of rape! Obviously.

Well, I’m back from several weeks of travel in Australia and New Zealand, which followed months of weekly conference travel all over the US. Normally I’d take a break after something like that: relax, pet the cats, catch up on Walking Dead. But instead I decided to Tweet something super controversial to satisfy my feminazi need to make men cry:

mind blown

Minds were blown! Up is down! Left is right! Cats and dogs, sleeping together! These two Tweets only raised more questions, and clearly I was the only person on the Internet who could answer them. I was flooded with responses like:

“What if you are also drunk? Did they rape you as well?”

@rebeccawatson if someone drinks and drives are can they eschew responsibility for their actions in the same way. … http://tmi.me/D0Gu0″

@rebeccawatson Another question. In marriage. The husband didn’t drink because of driving on a saturday night. Wife did. Couldn’t make love?”

@rebeccawatson That’s a very binary statement for an undefined condition. At what BAC% is consent impossible? Should we breathalyse before?”

“@Zaminuszen @rebeccawatson Sad thing is you even offer the crazy lunatic a cup of coffee and she feels raped. #americangirlyban Enjoy.”

“According to @rebeccawatson every sexual encounter she has ever had has, in the morning been a rape.”

I’m a crazy lunatic who has been raped hundreds, or maybe BILLIONS of times depending upon whether you’re going with the “Rebecca is a sad virgin” or “Rebecca is a filthy slut” line of argument.

I just blocked most, if not all, of these people because as one follower noted, if you have to debate this fact with your followers, it’s time to get better followers. But I wanted to post about this because I think the psychology of this reaction is very interesting. I think for most of us (Skepchick writers/readers/commenters), this concept is not in any way astonishing. I’m guessing that like me, many of you have had sex. And like me, many of you have had sex while drinking and/or while your partners have been drinking, and it’s not a big deal because you value communication and enthusiastic consent and participation. There’s no stigma against questions like “Would you like it if we . . . ?” and “Is this what you want?” and “Was that okay?”, even (especially!) when those questions are asked in the cold, sober light of day.

And I’m also guessing that like me, if you meet a sexy stranger who is drunk (and I’m going by the common definition here, of someone whose faculties are impaired, e.g., slurred speech, stumbling, etc.), you will not have sex with them, even if they say they’d like to. This isn’t because it’s the law (even though it is, as @simonknowz aptly points out: “Whoever . . . knowingly . . . engages in a sexual act with another person if that other person is . . . (A) incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct . . .”), but because it is the right thing to do. Because you are not so hard up for sex that you need to have sex with someone who may feel regret or revulsion or worse in the morning. Because you don’t assume your partner (yes, even one you’re married to) is in a constant state of consent. Because you don’t get off on the power you can have over someone who doesn’t have full control of their own faculties (or if you do get off on that, you have long, sober conversations with your partner before exploring that as a fantasy).

But not all people are like us, and so, there are the Tweeters who flooded me with their concerns, none of which were for people who have been raped while they were drunk. No, their concerns are for themselves, that they might one day be accused of being rapists because they didn’t give someone a breathalyzer before having sex with them. Here’s a thought: if you’re about to have sex with someone and you feel like they might have drunk too much to consent but you don’t have a breathalyzer handy, then why not err on the side of not being a rapist and not have sex with them?

And they’re comparing drunk sex to drunk driving as though drunk driving is something that is done to the drunk driver. Here’s the non-fallacious analogy: insisting on getting in a car and driving while drunk and no one can stop you is equivalent to insisting on having sex while drunk with a person who is unable to stop you. And yes, in both of those cases you, drunky, are liable.

And elsewhere on the Internet, people like Ed Clint are crowing about how they’re rapists (update: it appears that Ed Clint has removed that post now, so here’s a screenshot of the entire thing just before it disappeared):

Ed Clint: Then you should call the cops on me, Jon, and end our acquaintance, as I am a rapist many many times over.

Jonathan Figdor: She’s also right about this one. If someone is too drunk to consent, you shouldn’t sleep with them. Sex without consent is the definition of rape.

Ed Clint: Then you should call the cops on me, Jon, and end our acquaintance, as I am a rapist many many times over.

And still elsewhere, people are slamming Franchesca Ramsey for being brave enough to speak out about the rape of drunk people and others who are blamed for their rape. In particular, she discusses how she was shamed when she was raped:

She had to close the comments on that because of the number of people harassing her, so apparently they moved to Twitter:

“you’re an awful person and rape apologist RT @personalmeals: @chescaleigh She is to blame bc she consumed underage and lied to her parents.”

Obviously, there were also plenty of amazing responses to Franchesca, and to me as well. But we have a long way to go in combating the psychological effects of living in a rape culture.

Featured image via here

Avatar of Rebecca Watson
Rebecca leads a team of skeptical female activists at Skepchick.org and appears on the weekly Skeptics' Guide to the Universe podcast. She travels around the world delivering entertaining talks on science, atheism, feminism, and skepticism. There is currently an asteroid orbiting the sun with her name on it. You can follow her every fascinating move on Twitter or on Google+.

187 Comments

  1. Avatar of pzmyers

    Wait…so Ed Clint freely admits to having sex with partners who were too drunk to consent?

    I call that really, really icky. Fortunately for him, he has friends who will instead call him a Brave Hero.

  2. Avatar of gregladen

    So, Ed Clint frequently has sex with people who are too drunk to consent? I wonder if they are going to find out by reading this post. People keep telling me I should read his blog. I think I might give it a pass.

    This entire conversation was had years ago and largely settled even to the extent that actual laws got passed. But as new generations are hatched and become hormonal, unfortunately, our system does not educate all of them on the basics.

    It’s a good thing that we have Twitter, because now they know. Thanks for cleaning that up, Rebecca! I’m sure we can all just move along now to whatever is next on our list of things to do.

    But seriously, it has been obvious all along that the same horde that produced these tweets, the Slyme Pit, and all of that is mainly concerned with the fact that they have behaved badly in the past, and would like it better if they could continue to do so in the future, and are trying to not wrestle with what amounts to a critique of their views of what is OK to do and what is not OK to do.

    • Avatar of Louis Doench

      This entire conversation was had years ago and largely settled even to the extent that actual laws got passed. But as new generations are hatched and become hormonal, unfortunately, our system does not educate all of them on the basics.

      We keep declaring victory too early. We to often act as if our progress is permanent. It’s the same with labor struggles and work against pseudoscience. We are always too eager to hang up the gloves whilst our opponents are still in there swinging.

  3. Avatar of gregladen

    PZ, don’t we win something for saying the same exact thing at the same exact time?

  4. Avatar of Elyse

    Yeah, I totes raped tons of chicks. But it’s not MY fault. It’s Rebecca Watson’s!

  5. Avatar of bug_girl

    I am just fucking sick of this shit. I have been having this damn conversation since 1987, when I came out as a survivor and gave a take back the night speech.
    When. Will. It. END?

    I kind of hate everyone online tonight. Going to go cry in my Bug Cave.

  6. Avatar of f0xhole

    Of COURSE they aren’t responsible for raping them. I mean, if it was LEGITIMATE rape, they wouldn’t have been able to! Or, is it that legitimate rapes require signs of a struggle…

    God, that ‘Fuck everything’ Onion article feels very relevant right now.

  7. Avatar of tigtog

    bug_girl, it’s the middle of the day here, but my cleaning all the things frenzy is channeling the fury in your Bug Cave.

  8. Avatar of Saganist

    I can see why this is controversial. You’re asking people to please act like civilized human beings? To communicate respectfully and act in others’ best interest? Even when it could possibly mean forgoing sex with drunk chicks? This is just too much for my brain to handle.

    • Avatar of Bjarte Foshaug

      You’re asking people to please act like civilized human beings? To communicate respectfully and act in others’ best interest? Even when it could possibly mean forgoing sex with drunk chicks?

      I think that’s exactly what this is all about. The common thread throughout this whole hideous saga – from the ridiculously overblown reactions to “Guys, don’t do that”, to the equally ridiculous attempts at portraying anti-harassment policies at conferences as “talibanesque”, and now this – seems to be that anything that might make it more difficult for sleazy male perverts to seek pleasure on women’s expense is an atrocity that must be fought at all costs. Ironically this is exactly the kind of predatory male behavior that justifies keeping “dear Muslima” veiled and locked up for her own protection.

  9. Avatar of Jack99

    “If you have sex w/ someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape.”

    Newsflash to all assholes – that is not even controversial, it’s the law!

    The boat has sailed, the gate has shut, the bird has flown!

    Maybe these rapists might want to think twice before admitting their guilt on the internet for all to see.

  10. Avatar of julian francisco

    I’m not going to say it’s impossible to have sex while intoxicated (though the prevalence of date rape and use of alcohol to facilitate rape should make everyone review their views on consent), how could anyone object to “If you “took advantage” of someone who is unable to consent, it is rape. End of story”?

    How absurd does your world view have to be for you to deny that someone who could not consent, who you admittedly took advantage of, was raped? Just what the hell is wrong with atheism where this is a respected position within the community?

  11. Avatar of killjoy

    “There are the Tweeters who flooded me with their concerns, none of which were for people who have been raped while they were drunk.”

    I will speak to that then. I’ve had some experiences in which I had sex with someone during a time I was too inebriated to give meaningful consent. But I’ve always been hesitant to call it rape for a few reasons:

    1. When drunk, I often times appear totally coherent (I know this because friends of mine have brought up conversations I had with them that I don’t remember having, yet according to them I did not seem drunk.)

    2. I’ve also been told I get very sexually aggressive at times that was very inebriated (i.e. meaning I initiated sex.)

    3. The person I was having sex with was also very drunk.

    Given these three factors: appearing coherent, initiating sex, and a partner who is also drunk, I think at least establishes some kind of grey area. Do you disagree? If so, why?

    For me, I put these experiences in the category of “sex I wish I didn’t have” rather than use the R-word. It has also brought up a couple of reoccurring questions in my mind:

    If one cannot give meaningful consent when drunk, doesn’t it also stand to reason that one cannot interpret meaningful consent while drunk?

    Why is it when two drunk people engage in the same act, one is a victim and the other is a rapist? Why is this always based on the gender?

    Can someone be a rapist if they honestly thought the person was giving consent?

    Please understand I’m not trying to minimize rape. No one should ever have sex with someone who is clearly drunk. Yes. Absolutely. But that assumes the person can tell that the other is clearly drunk, which is not always the case.

    I’d love to hear some responses to this because it’s something I’ve mulled over for a number of years now. I often feel conflicted in an era of outrage over such concepts as “legitimate rape,” yet at the same time I feel like putting my experiences within the “rape” category is a slap in the face to victims of real abuse.

    • Avatar of julian francisco

      “If one cannot give meaningful consent when drunk, doesn’t it also stand to reason that one cannot interpret meaningful consent while drunk? -Killjoy”

      Whether I can interpret signs isn’t relevant to me having done something.or example, if I am drunk and interpret someone’s fear as aggression and strike them hard enough to break bone, I have still broken someone’s bone.

      Similarly if I am in bed with someone and I don’t hear the no/misinterpret it, whatever my own intentions, I have still raped someone.

      Another issue, and I can’t cite this, it’s something I learned from talking to our battalion UVA, rapists will often consume alchohol alongside their victims (like at frat parties) for 1)deniability 2)to embolden themselves.

      “Why is it when two drunk people engage in the same act, one is a victim and the other is a rapist? Why is this always based on the gender? -killjoy”

      It isn’t based on the gender. It’s based on the type of sexual contact involved and the coherency required to carry it out. For example, a heavily intoxicated man barely conscious being ridden by a much less intoxicated woman (or man) until he ejaculates. You have the same issue among gay men. One is too drunk to consent, the other is drunk but still has enough control to penetrate the other and hold them down until they climax.

      “Can someone be a rapist if they honestly thought the person was giving consent?-killjoy”

      Of course, for the same reason a husband can rape his wife. If there was no consent, perception can’t make it appear.

      • Avatar of killjoy

        “It isn’t based on the gender. It’s based on the type of sexual contact involved and the coherency required to carry it out.”

        Is it not possible that both sides were totally incoherent yet still able to carry out the act? I think it is.

        “Of course, for the same reason a husband can rape his wife. If there was no consent, perception can’t make it appear.”

        But my point is from the perspective of the other person, as well as any impartial observer, there WAS consent. Not just consent; but sex being initiated by me while appearing coherent. The problem was I was too drunk to realize I was doing, so in reality it wasn’t meaningful consent. But it none the less appeared that way to the other person.

        Here’s another question: if rape is rape regardless of the persons’s intentions, shouldn’t some rapists not harbor such a stigma? To use your analogy, if I punch someone in the face because I interpret their fear as aggressions, have I really done something as bad as a person who punches someone in the face because they wanted to?

        • Avatar of julian francisco

          1. What do you mean by incoherent? Do you just mean heavily slurring speech or slow response time? When I hear the word I think barely able to move so I don’t anything other then maybe weird kissing happening between two people who are incoherent.

          2. It’s the same issue. If there was no consent there was no consent whatever third parties believe. Of course no one can tell you you were raped. I get very sexually active after heavy drinking. My wife enjoys it and I enjoy hearing about the things I did with her the night before so it works fine for the two of us.

          3. Ranking moral wrongs is tricky but I do think some rapes are worse than other rapes, much like some murders are worse than other murders.

          • Avatar of killjoy

            1. I mean blacked out drunk. Some people black out and its very apparent, other people black out and seem totally normal and capable of doing pretty much anything they could do sober.

            2. No one can tell me if I was raped…? Why not?

          • Avatar of julian francisco

            1. Personally I don’t consider that incoherent but you’d have better luck asking an ethicist about the the nuances in that situation. In any case, I really don’t think it worthhile to spend so much time on those nuances when the bigger picture, recognition of date rape as rape, is still something being fought over.

            2. Because no one can decide or tell you what type of sex you enjoy and what sexual activity you’re comfortable with. Whether it’s being woken up in the morning by oral or penetrative sex or getting really drunk before jumping on your partner for the night.

          • Avatar of killjoy

            1. Incoherent probably wasnt the right word, I agree. Blacked out is what I meant. I realize what the big picture is and I absolutely agree with it. The reason I am wanting to discuss the nuances is because its of personal relevance to me. I understand if they don’t matter to you, you don’t have to discuss it any further with me.

            2. But I don’t think rape is about “what kind of sex you enjoy,” its about consent, no? I feel like I outlined my experience pretty well in my OP, if rape is so black and white, I don’t understand why no one can tell me whether or not it was rape.

            3. (from your previous reply.) Is it really so tricky? I have a lot of sympathy for someone who punches someone in the face because they sincerely thought they were being threatened. I can identify with that and would no doubt do the same thing in their shoes. Someone who punches someone in the face because they want to? Not so much.

          • Avatar of julian francisco

            1. It’s that I don’t think they’re worthwhile questions, just that I’m not nearly educated enough to really be much help.

            2. Consent isn’t something I can say you gave. I also can’t tell you if you were too drunk to go out and have fun. I know what I’m willing to do drunk and who I’m comfortable doing those things with. The situation, I’m sure, is different for you.

            3. Then you’d be guilty of seriously injuring someone. Sympathy can’t change that.

          • Avatar of killjoy

            1. Fair enough.

            2. I’m not really sure what our differences in what we like to do for fun have to do with anything.

            3. I think it changes the degree to which one is guilty of a crime. Accusing someone of rape is serious. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to recognize that an honest misunderstanding can occur when someone is too drunk to give meaningful consent but appears perfectly coherent and initiates sex with someone who may be pretty damn drunk themselves. (Please don’t confuse that with me saying that intention/interpretation somehow minimizes the pain one might suffer from this kind of circumstance.)

        • Avatar of nimravid

          I guess I’ll emerge from my periodic lurking to reply to you, killjoy. I’ll expand on what julian francisco said; where people are intoxicated and can’t make decisions of consent it’s based on the type of sexual contact. If you want an answer about whether it was rape, a shorthand way of explaining it would be whether you’d describe it as one party acting upon the other. Basically, were you able to agree to someone doing sexual things to you, and did you in fact agree? It’s somewhat difficult to see exactly what happened from your comments, but you say “I’ve also been told I get very sexually aggressive at times that was very inebriated (i.e. meaning I initiated sex.)” and “The person I was having sex with was also very drunk.” If I’m understanding you correctly, you seem to be describing yourself as having raped someone in that instance.

          • Avatar of killjoy

            Huh… Well that’s an interesting interpretation. So I, the person who was blacked out and doesn’t remember anything, raped a person who was drunk, but did remember it? How about the fact that the person I had sex with didn’t mind one bit and would happily repeat the act sober? Julian also describes having sex with his wife while too drunk to remember/consent; but doesn’t consider it a rape because he liked it (I think that’s what he was getting at when he was saying “no one can tell you you’ve been raped.”) So is rape contingent upon how the person feels about it the next day? Or are their rapes that turn out to be okay because people like it…? (I can’t imagine that latter notion going over too well, I swear I’m not trying to be a smart ass)

          • Avatar of nimravid

            Killjoy, rape isn’t dependent on whether a person feels sufficiently bad about what happened to them or not and is weeping and gnashing their teeth, it’s just about whether they consented. And whether you raped someone doesn’t depend on whether you were drunk, or doing something on purpose, or whatever. It depends on: were you doing something to them that they didn’t consent to. You seem to be describing a case in which you did, but really they’re the one who knows whether they consented or not. If you never actually got clear consent, you can’t tell whether you raped them or not. All of the clear indicators would be before the fact, while they were not intoxicated. Other people are describing communication of consent before getting intoxicated and that it takes quite a bit of knowledge so that it’s very clear when someone consents (before the fact) to sex while impaired. And if they’re wrong about the consent, they still have raped someone. The only real indication you would have after the fact is a bad reaction or someone simply saying that you had raped them, and the lack of a bad reaction doesn’t come close to ruling it out.

            I’m saying, even if you were black out drunk, if the person did not consent to what you did, you raped them. All of these ifs ands and buts are completely irrelevant. Whether you did or not just hinges on their consent to what you did- not whether they’re sad about it, not whether you were drunk; that’s your answer.

        • Avatar of Yessenia

          Is it not possible that both sides were totally incoherent yet still able to carry out the act? I think it is.

          We must have very different understandings of the phrase “totally incoherent.” But even so. If you commit a crime while totally incoherent, your victim does not become complicit for also being totally incoherent. It does not cancel out. If you drive drunk and hit an equally drunk pedestrian, you’re the one at fault. If you drunkenly insert anything into any orifice of someone else who is equally drunk, you’re still the one at fault.

          This is a fantastic argument for NOT getting black out drunk! Then you don’t have to worry about incoherently raping someone in a drunken stupor.

    • Avatar of Will

      Can someone be a rapist if they honestly thought the person was giving consent?

      Yes. Because there are different kinds of rape. A 14-year-old can appear to give consent, but it’s still statutory rape if you’re an adult. This would also be considered statutory rape (i.e., rape as defined by statute) even if there was the appearance of consent.

      • Avatar of julian francisco

        Statutory rape is a good example. Despite these being the ages when people first begin to explore their sexuality, as adults we’re expected to keep in mind their mental state, their ignorance and the potential ramifications because we’re the ones in a position to evaluate them.

        That’s not to say there aren’t very mature 14 year olds out there who understand sex and themselves better than 18 year olds (or 20 whatevers) just that, as a rule, don’t fuck 14 year old kids.

        ((also, what’s the code for quoting here?))

      • Avatar of killjoy

        Of course. But I meant among adults.

        • Avatar of Will

          As I said, yes. If a state’s laws say that a drunk person is unable to consent, then it is statutory rape.

          The line of consent is drawn differently amongst different states. There is no federal statute defining consent (although the FBI does have one) because of the overturning of parts of the Violence Against Women Act.

          • Avatar of killjoy

            So is it possible for two people to rape each other?

          • Avatar of Will

            Maybe? Read the statutes for your state if you’re so concerned.

            Even if two people being shitfaced drunk makes it hard or impossible to determine consent issues, that doesn’t matter unless someone presses charges. Let the courts sort it out.

            Bottom line: if someone is drunk, don’t fuck them. I don’t get why this is such a hard concept. Use your judgment. If you’re too stupid to do that, then just stop fucking people all together.

          • Avatar of killjoy

            “Even if two people being shitfaced drunk makes it hard or impossible to determine consent issues, that doesn’t matter unless someone presses charges. Let the courts sort it out.”

            Well, it does matter because it’s something that’s confused me for a long while. I’m not trying to argue the “bottom line” here, I’m just trying to make sense of my personal experience.

          • Avatar of Will

            You’re not trying to figure out your personal shit, your JAQing off. And besides, how the fuck do you expect anyone here to help you make sense of your personal experiences? We don’t know you and haven’t experienced your life. Talk to your friends or a licensed therapist or something if you want to make sense of your life.

            What it appears as on here is you trying to poke holes in the argument that people cannot LEGALLY give their consent when they are drunk in many parts of the world. It’s like you’re trying to say “two people who are drunk cancel out each others’ consent!”

          • Avatar of killjoy

            “You’re not trying to figure out your personal shit, your JAQing off.”

            I’m really not.

            “And besides, how the fuck do you expect anyone here to help you make sense of your personal experiences?”

            By reading my OP and replying if they care to.

            “We don’t know you and haven’t experienced your life. Talk to your friends or a licensed therapist or something if you want to make sense of your life.”

            My life is just fine. It was these specific experiences that have bothered me and they seemed rather relevant to bring up here.

            “What it appears as on here is you trying to poke holes in the argument that people cannot LEGALLY give their consent when they are drunk in many parts of the world. It’s like you’re trying to say “two people who are drunk cancel out each others’ consent!” ”

            If that’s how it appears, then I apologize, I’m not trying to say that at all. I’m not really trying to “say” anything, I’m trying to understand.

    • Avatar of gregladen

      Yes you may have created a gray area into which you may have drawn people unknowingly, which is actually bad behavior on your part.

      People who drink then do things they later don’t remember or can’t account for other than laying there quietly drooling have a problem they need to address. Sounds like you have a problem.

      If you really do get drunk in this manner I would recommend you stop drinking! Seriously!

      • Avatar of killjoy

        If this was a reoccurring habit, I’d certainly agree with you. But they were isolated incidents from a few years back.

  12. Avatar of kevinv

    It maybe the law but many, many cops don’t enforce it this way. Heard way too many stories (even in recent years) of cops pushing victims to not report if the cop thinks they were drunk or if they were dressed “slutty”

  13. Avatar of Rebecca Watson

    Amusingly, there are trolls attempting to get through who are accusing me of lying about Ed Clint’s words, despite the fact that there’s a screenshot right there (click to see the full thing):

    • Avatar of Will

      lol it’s like when a kid puts their fingers in their ears and screams LALALALALALALA!!

  14. Avatar of Ophelia Benson

    According to some anonymous commenter at my place, this is you admitting you’re a rapist, Rebecca. Uh huh.

  15. Avatar of julian francisco

    And I’m also guessing that like me, if you meet a sexy stranger who is drunk (and I’m going by the common definition here, of someone whose faculties are impaired, e.g., slurred speech, stumbling, etc.), you will not have sex with them, even if they say they’d like to. This isn’t because it’s the law but because it is the right thing to do.

    I do think it’s the right thing to do but there are a number of women I know who do enjoy heavy drinking followed by hook ups. (I know a gay man who reports that he and several other gay men also enjoy it.) So it is perfectly possible to consume alcohol or drugs and enjoy sex.

    Of course if you’re ever in a situation where you don’t know (I’ve heard of situations where someone accidently mixed alcohol with the medication they were taking and just suddenly came to during) it’s best to not continue. You lose nothing except maybe a few orgasms.

    Also, even if you don’t see what you’re doing as rape or, for whatever reason, didn’t see the harm you ere doing, that doesn’t mean there was no rape and no victim. If I spin around and hit someone’s lip, even if I meant no harm, there is still someone with a broken lip.

  16. Avatar of Corey Lee Wrenn

    Thank you for your persistence on this issue…it’s difficult to relive painful memories but it is so important to keep challenging oppression and dangerous ideologies.

  17. Avatar of Corey Lee Wrenn

    I must say that the worst part about becoming aware is that suddenly all the suspect incidences in my past that never sat well with me are put in an entirely different light. I now see them for the crimes they truly were…and I feel disgusted that I was the victim 1. in experiencing these crimes in the first place 2. being brainwashed into blaming myself or accepting it as “normal.” There can be no retribution now that so much time has passed and I had been “willing” or at least compliant in so many instances. How to accept and move on? Is it worth confronting people in my past? What about the people I will never see again?

  18. Avatar of Improbable Joe

    I don’t know about anyone else… but I just don’t find “sloppy drunk” to be particularly sexy, and the most I’m willing to engage with a woman in that state is to try to corral them into bed so they can sleep it off, not so I can have sex with them. And for the sake of propriety, I tend to want to either hand them off to another woman or at least have one present to help me and deal with any potentially intimate stuff(helping them pee, get undressed). It is a little CYA, but it also lets the other person wake up knowing nothing happened rather than wondering if something did or not.

    Then again, I’m not a predator. So when I see someone too drunk to make good decisions, my instinct is to help rather than take advantage.

    • Avatar of Corey Lee Wrenn

      I was witness to a rape years ago where one of my friends was so drunk (at a party at her own house surrounded by friends) she couldn’t stand up and this man that she didn’t know who was friends with her roommate showed up and was pressuring her to have sex. She was saying no over and over and I alerted my male friend…who thought he put a stop to it…but only a few minutes later we found out he’d taken her into a bathroom locked the door and was raping her. My friend pounded on the door and he came out disgusted at us for interrupting him…scowled…made flippant remarks, and we kicked him out. My friend never even remembered the incident–that’s how drunk she was. Her roommates defended the man and blamed her for being a drunk and a slut and even suggested an intervention. Though my male friend and I went to the police station with her to file a report, she eventually just let the case drop…and who could blame her given her rapist’s sense of entitlement, her roommates supporting him, and her roommates blaming her? That same girl was raped by another man only a month later who lured her back to his house when she was black out drunk again. It is the sad fact that most men do not recognize alcohol as a date rape drug…they go out to the bars looking for “easy” women (ie *impaired* women) with the intention of scoring. The entire bar culture, I think, is inherently problematic.

      • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

        I’d say this happens most every night at bars. Sad.

        I party a lot, and a female friend of mine pointed out how extremely prolific it is, and now I see this almost everytime I go out….

      • Avatar of Improbable Joe

        Back when I used to host parties, we used to go out of our way to prevent any “cornering” of drunk people in private spots. Doors had to stay open, and we kept an eye on people and let them know we were keeping an eye on them.

        And I think men absolutely recognize what they’re doing, and just don’t really fucking care. Because I’ve been drunk and an asshole and inappropriate and some part of me always knew it… and the guys who take advantage are usually pretending to be more drunk than they are, as an “out”. You pour two drinks, half a shot for you and a shot and a half for her.

      • Avatar of Grand Lunar

        “Her roommates defended the man and blamed her for being a drunk and a slut and even suggested an intervention”

        I find that the scariest and most sickening part of the incident.

        Seems incidents like this reveal who one’s true allies are.

  19. Avatar of Corey Lee Wrenn

    While I’m on the subject, just wanted to let you know Rebecca that I stumbled upon your work a month ago…I ended up sucked into your lectures all night and was just amazed that there was someone willing to take on the tough task of challenging sexism in rational circles (and everyone else for that matter). Please keep up the good work.

  20. Avatar of dr. dr. professor

    Well you see this a lot at bars. Dudes TRYING to get women drunk so that they’ll “loosen up” and go home with them. Every night. And those who are targeting drunk women on purpose.

    —However, I want you to judge me here:—
    I can’t say I’ve never had sex with a woman who’s been drinking. But it’s always been with someone I know, have had prior sexual chemistry with, and it’s always just been kind of situational where we were both at a drinking event (party, barcrawl, etc.). I’ve never used it for coercion, never have slept with someone who had been drinking if I was sober, and never have slept with a girl who’s drunk past her wits even if I was drinking and she wanted to have sex (because yeah, that’s NOT consent), and have never been the one to actually ask for it.

    A lot of these continued into long-term or short-term relationships.

    I’m married now so no more dating, but eh, how would you judge that in the past? I’m just being honest on my life history, and I want to know your honest opinion on it.

    • Avatar of Corey Lee Wrenn

      And then there’s the unfortunate reality that most teens and young adults are never really made aware of what consent really means. Kids are simply told “no means no”…but rarely is alcohol or any other impairing substance/situation explained. When I teach the subject in my university classes, my students are oftentimes hearing it for the first time.

    • Avatar of Will

      “been drinking” =/= “drunk”

      Rebecca never said that having sex with someone who’s been drinking is rape. She said that having sex with someone who is drunk is rape.

      Of course it’s a fine line, and different people cross that line with different amounts of alcohol.

  21. Avatar of knitty

    The Edmonton Police Service started a campaign a couple of years ago targeting the perpetrators instead of the victims in their Don’t Be That Guy campaign.

    http://www.edmontonpolice.ca/CommunityPolicing/PersonalPropertyCrimes/SexualAssault/Dontbethatguy.aspx

  22. Avatar of jose

    Hello, I think you misunderstood one of my tweets. Drunk sex and drunk driving. I wrote it to show your reasoning (your tweet) was too simple. Being drunk and having sex (by the way, as well explained as you did in this post) does not mean a rape always. I’m not sure who is right or wrong, you, me or twitter because of its simpleness & briefness. What really dissapointed me was that you blocked me because I disagreed with you. I didn’t insult you. I just made two questions and a friendly adieu. Simply.

    An skeptical person should -from my point of view- be more open-minded. If a tweeter insults you, block them. But if someone questions your thoughts in a polite way, why not answering same way? Or just reading? I understand you must have been insulted so many times, but girl, you should separate gist and dead wood.

    Well, your tweets about rapes/being drunk and this post are opposed, a little contradictory. However, if you really still think “I may be a rapist” because of my tweet, you’re definitely wrong.

    • Avatar of Will

      Being drunk and having sex (by the way, as well explained as you did in this post) does not mean a rape always.

      Well now silly pedant, that depends on the statute covering the jurisdiction that the sex happens in. Some statutes say that being drunk means you cannot consent, and having sex with someone with the inability to consent is always rape.

      What really dissapointed me was that you blocked me because I disagreed with you.

      =((

  23. Avatar of Mike Haubrich

    Franchesca. It wasn’t your fault and you are not to blame.

  24. Avatar of punchdrunk

    This is from a reality television show. It’s self-explanatory. This is the what we’re up against. They don’t even make it to the fictional set-up before the real world makes the point for them.

  25. Avatar of Benny

    I think the most important thing you said here is “don’t ask me if your specific situation is rape. Ask the one you’re fucking.” The fact that this needed to be said is really depressing, but it’s an apt quote.

    The root of consent is communication. We have a responsibility to communicate with the people that we do sexual activities with. These responsibilities include (but are not limited to) determining if the person we’re communicating with is capable of consent at that time – such as knowing if they are drunk, underage, asleep, etc. When in doubt, DON’T FUCK THEM. If you’re that hard up for getting laid, perhaps it’s because you’re not responsibly communicating with potential sexual partners!

    Yes, there are nuances and details to this conversation, but those nuances are not what Rebecca was talking about. The main thing is that the comfort and safety of my sexual partners is a lot more important than my orgasm. Don’t ask Rebecca, or me, or assholes like Ed Clint if you’re raping someone. Communicate with the person you are fucking.

    • Avatar of SkeptimusPrime

      This should be obvious. To people out there who have had sex with people who they are, in retrospect, not sure if they consented. That isn’t our problem, it’s theirs.

    • Avatar of Bjarte Foshaug

      COTW

  26. Avatar of Grand Lunar

    The responses to the subject matter that you’ve recieved are what really blow my mind.

    Just what the fuck is the matter with those people?

    What the fuck brings about such mentality? What shit did they get exposed to in life to make them think the way that they do?

    Makes me sick.

  27. Avatar of Ginger

    Has Ed Clint ever acted insulted by the idea of being thought of as a *potential* rapist? I guess he won’t be having that problem any more.

  28. Avatar of scottscunningham

    I live in Northern Ontario, where heavy drinking is almost universal and a seeming total inability to communicate because feelings are hard and most people are stuffy English Ontarian is even more universal.

    You’re saying almost all sex that happened anywhere near the previous university I attended was rape.

    Sounds about right. The city had extremely common self-harm and cutting problems too. Also some stranger raped and attempted to kill me while I lived there, so I’m not feeling any overwhelming desire to circle the wagons and defend the poor poor menfolk.

  29. Avatar of Stephen Foster

    I would ask: “If you, [random guy], are drunk to the point of inability to consent, and I ask you for $100, but you do not give nor deny consent, I’m OK to take it from your wallet, right?”

  30. Avatar of simonsays

    This stuff is NOT rocket science to research if one actually cares. Here’s an example from the University of New Hampshire’s SHARPP. They’re considered by many to be the model such program in the country:

    Can someone consent to having sex if they are intoxicated?
    No. Once a person is intoxicated by alcohol and/or other drugs, she/he cannot legally give consent, even if she/he appears to give consent or verbally says “yes.”

    If someone you are with is having difficulty walking or talking, is throwing up, passed out, or just generally unaware of what’s going on, that person cannot legally give consent.

    Source: http://www.unh.edu/sharpp/consent

  31. Avatar of Edward Clint

    I would like to say that I agree entirely with the substance of what I think Rebecca Watson is conveying. Intoxicated people can’t consent, and this is not remotely controversial. When any ambiguity is present at all, one should always err on the side of caution.

    I believe the screengrab mischaracterizes me, however (and no post has been deleted, it was made private so that my friends could discuss the topic frankly without being featured on a blog, a reasonable request, I think). My reply to Jon was sarcastic, not serious. My objection was that the tweet was unduly ambiguous regarding specific contexts. My remarks about my past refer to instances of sex where alcohol was consumed, but only, and I mean only, within the confines of a trusting long-term relationship based on mutual respect and understanding in which occasional drunken sex was well-established as normal, expected, and mutually desired. I’ve also never (and would never) engage in relations with anyone so drunk as to be incapacitated/vomiting and the like. My SO has and will confirm positively at no time was her consent ever violated in any way. I hope this helps clarify my position.

    Also, I hope this discussion of consent brings much needed attention a serious problem in which the wishes of others are far too-often not respected, with deplorable results. As a society, we can do much better. These are discussions we need to be having.

    • Avatar of Will

      LOL!

      Of course you totes agree with her now!!! You were only calling out the ambiguity of her statement!! You weren’t passing judgment about her character at all!!!

      Except that in the screenshot of your facebook conversation, you said:

      Is this any sane person’s idea of feminism?

      and

      This kind of thought only comes from one sort of camp, and that camp self-describes as feminist. So I think my question is reasonly asked, how many more years will we listen to this bullshit masquerading as progressive feminist thought?

      and

      Do you mean to tell me when a self-described feministic [sic] activist is talking about sexual assault, I’m *not* supposed to think it reflect [sic] her feminist ideals?

      Yes, of course you agree with her and you’re only criticizing the ambiguity of her statement.

      BTW, how the fuck can a screengrab of *an entire conversation* mischaracterize you? It’s your words, in context.

      You’re a piece of work.

      • Avatar of Edward Clint

        The discussion continued, and though I think the ambiguity is an issue, that we don’t disagree on the substance (which is why I used that word). I did write more harshly than necessary, point taken Will. Also, the post after the tweet has lead me to believe Watson is more on my wavelength re: consent than I had initially thought, which I’m glad to see.

        You failed to comment on my remark about implicit consent, where I describe “The reason it was great is that I had a relationship based on trust and respect. It had a mature depth and richness that precluded either of us acting like fucking infants or lawyers with each other. She knew my boundaries and respected them, she knew she didn’t have to ask in that particular situation. It was a wonderful thing.”

        You aren’t privy to the rest, but a few replies down I also said, ” For the record, I have never had sex with anyone without their consent. I merely reject a definition of “consent” which makes no room for context or implicit consent.”

        I thank some of the other commenters there for their insights, and suggesting, I think correctly, that we’re more in agreement than not as my above quotes illustrate.

        If we’re not in agreement on the substance of the topic of consent, please let me know how. I see no profit in personal bickering, though, so please confine replies to the subject matter.

        • Avatar of Will

          Okay, so now you agree with the substance of Rebecca’s tweet. You have “evolved” on this topic and come to decide that, contrary to your previous posts on FB, that having sex with people who are unable to consent (however that is defined by the law, including “intoxicated” in many jurisdictions) is rape. Good.

          Now go to Twitter and FB, post an apology to Rebecca for being “too harsh” as you put it, announce that you essentially agree with the substance of her tweet.

          I find it quite hypocritical of you to come on here and demand that I withhold “personal bickering” after that’s exactly what you did to Rebecca. What you posted was not about the substance, it was driven by your dislike for her, otherwise you would not have said the things you said.

          And I don’t really care what you posted after you made the thread private. Either make it public or stop talking about it because I have no reason to believe you given what you said before the thread was made private.

          Looking forward to your public apology on Twitter! I won’t hold my breath.

        • Avatar of Yessenia

          For the record, I have never had sex with anyone without their consent. I merely reject a definition of “consent” which makes no room for context or implicit consent.”

          That isn’t actually up to you. But you know, whatever helps you sleep at night.

        • Avatar of Laurel Halbany

          I see no profit in personal bickering, though, so please confine replies to the subject matter.

          Shorter Ed: I want to control this conversation and avoid anything that might embarrass me further.

    • Avatar of mythbri

      Ed, you made a disgusting comment that has led you to making a statement about how you have never raped anybody.

      Do you see how messed up that is?

      Get some fucking perspective. Regardless of how you feel toward Rebecca, have some empathy for the many people who *have* been raped while intoxicated, and how they might feel about the fact that you saw fit to joke about it.

      Many rapists are never reported and never see jail time. What you originally said, “I am a rapist many times over”, would be an accurate statement coming from an actual rapist, who DOES prey on people who are unable to give consent.

  32. Avatar of belmont4

    In “Philadelphia Story,” James Stewart’s character explains to a hung over Katharine Hepburn, who had been seriously flirting with him the night before: “You were a little worse the wear for alcohol, and there are rules about these things.” The film came out 72 years ago.

    • Avatar of Will

      +1!

    • Avatar of Benny

      +2

    • Avatar of sadunlap

      I see your “Philadelphia Story” and raise you “Roman Holiday.”

      Both great movies and both make clear that something is rotten in the state of, well, everywhere, because we have to keep having this conversation. Yikes!

  33. Avatar of Jack99

    You know, I’m right with Improbable Joe up there, and personally I would go further.

    I can’t remember a time EVER where sex was satisfactory with heavy drinking by either party. Honestly. I do not see the point. It just does not work well.

  34. Avatar of knitty

    Sigh. It’s sad that we have to argue the particulars. The reason I posted the campaign in my above comment is that it finally puts the onus on the perpetrator and not the victim. And no consent = sexual assault. No ifs and or buts. It is never the victim’s fault.

    If one feels that they were or weren’t raped that’s also up to them. I understand the wanting to normalize what happens in a sexual situation that you may have not consented to. I have questioned one situation and realized in that case, yes I was assaulted. I’m not angry about it. I just think the more young women and young men know the less sexual assault will happen. And by sharing stories of what happen can help prevent it from happening to others.

  35. Avatar of Brian Walsh

    I’ve had this discussion several times with my boyfriend who, I will state for the sake of establishing his credibility, has a background in applied ethics and is finishing his masters in philosophy while attending law school. It does seem that this topic become quite muddled. Here’s what we have come up with so far.

    Obviously, if one partner is sober and the other is not, without respect to the gender of either party (necessary because all genders can be raped by all other genders and expressions of such, etc.) and if prior consent has not been given (for example, my boyfriend has standing permission do do whatever he wishes to me regardless of my level of consciousness. Of course, I _trust_ him…) then rape has most certainly occurred. The difficulty here is that the potential rapist may not be aware of the incapacated state of the other (I, for example, frequently appear remarkably coherent while utterly oblivious). This can lead to the absurd situation where one can be raped by a person who is not a rapist. Also obviously, this is quite rare, though possible. This also raises the question of degrees of rape which I shall address later.

    I’d like to pause before I continue to establish my own credibility, in a way, for those still reading this. I am a bisexual male. I have several times engaged in the receiving end of gay sex while I was drunk. I have never felt as though I have been raped, and I do not regret the experiences I had, however these are _my_ experiences and cannot inform me of those of anyone else. It is not my intention to minimize _in any way_ the feelings of others here while I continue this response. If I do offend someone, please tell me why, I would rather grow than argue. So, to continue….

    When both parties are drunk, this becomes a very hard question. Technically, I suppose, both people have been raped. Once again, this is regardless of the gender or genders of those involved. Both people are equally culpable. But how is blame assigned, or should it be? We still both struggle for an answer to this. Our only solution, tenuous though it is, is to treat rape with degrees as we do with murder. This has the strong potential to harm the living victim, which the contrast to murder does not, but may allow justice to be done more correctly. In addition to the experienced earlier, I have had sex while drunk, with other drunk people. I will stress I have _never_ engaged in any sexual activity while I was sober and my partner was not. Where does that leave me, as a rapist, a rape victim, both, or neither?

    As a simple example of a degree of rape, suppose a man is having consensual sex with a narcoleptic. The narcoleptic passes out, but the man notices and continues anyway. It was consensual to begin with, but in an instant, consent was removed by his partner passing out. Does this truly qualify as a rape with intent or would this qualify as a lesser degree of rape under the hypothetical law? What if the man did not notice until he climaxed? And how would an outside observer be able to differientiate the two after the fact? I chose a rather extreme situation to expedite the making of my point, but more mundane examples could be found.

    Another question along the same lines we have discussed is the case where a man and a woman are having consensual sex but during the act, the female changes her mind. For whatever reason she is unable or unwilling to say stop, but does try to imply this through bodily cues. If the man is oblivious to these cues, has the woman been raped by a man who did not rape her? And what if he did notice, but continued, assuming the prior consent still applied lacking an explicit statement to the contrary. Is this a lesser degree of rape?

    I hope I’ve expressed myself as I intended to here. Please let me know what you think.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk

      This post and the comments following might be helpful:
      http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/07/19/prudie-on-consent/

      The thing is, you can’t let a tiny number of ‘grey’ cases lead to apologism, or worse, allow actual rapists a way to rationalize away their predation.
      I’ve had sex when neither me nor my partner were anything approaching sober. Neither of us was raped. But, if either of us had felt violated the next day, those feelings would be completely valid, and should be taken seriously.

      • Avatar of Benny

        A quote from that first link: “couples in loving and trusting relationships have sex while drunk or high or otherwise mentally-altered, including in situations where one or both partners wake up the next morning and realize they were too blasted to fully remember what happened the night before.”

        In fact, for me this could be a reasonable definition of a healthy and functional relationship (emphasis: for me. my life. Not necessarily someone else). The ability to trust my partner enough to have that kind of experience and both laugh happily about it when the hangovers wear off it valuable to me. But having that requires a lot of things to come first: An enormous amount of trust. A lot of conversations about our own specific definition of consent. Pre-existing rules about when it is/is not okay to initiate sex, and what kinds of responses revoke consent. Intimate knowledge of each other’s moods and responses in varying states of intoxication. Lots more.

        My intensity about this, however, comes from a place of being a sexual assault survivor. Having that much trust with a partner, and being able to enjoy the fun that can follow that kind of trust, is amazing to me. It’s a real thrill.

        • Avatar of Brian Walsh

          I just finished that first link, I’m getting to the others. I am like you in that my partner and I have implicit implied consent for nearly every situation. The reason we can do this is that we trust one another. The couple in that scenario sounds more like a caricature of a marriage than a real one. I couldn’t imagine a relationship where I couldn’t wake my boyfriend up to some [sordid, but really cute details ommited].

          However, I’m not going to judge that couple based upon the very small data set.

        • Avatar of Yessenia

          I have had experiences where a partner assumed they knew my boundaries and had “implicit consent” or “contextual consent” when really what they had was NO consent. The time I’m thinking of at the moment, I was so drunk that the next day, I couldn’t remember how I’d even gotten home. It was with a long-term partner who was generally extremely empathetic about my other experiences with sexual violence, and 99 times out of 100, would err on the side of caution.

          But that night he didn’t. And I have to live with that experience now.

          (To his credit, when I told him how I’d experienced it – how I had been passive because I didn’t feel confident enough that my ‘no’ could be enforced – he didn’t whine about how he was drunk too. He didn’t say he had ‘implicit consent’ because we were in a relationship. He felt fucking horrible and apologized many, many times.)

      • Avatar of Brian Walsh

        “But, if either of us had felt violated the next day, those feelings would be completely valid, and should be taken seriously.”

        Absolutely, but what is the correct way to deal with those feelings? This is a serious question, I don’t have the answer. One thing that does concern me is that a mistake could ruin two lives. I know those who have been victims, and I know quite a few, may take this next bit the wrong way. Please allow me some slack here, I’m not sure how to phrase this, I hope it comes out correctly.

        Being accused of a sex crime leaves the accused shunned for life. One does not hear “sex crime” and think of anything other than a child molester. In the vast majority of cases, this is fine with me, sexual predators of any kind will get no quarter from me. But in any crime the punishment must not be simple revenge and it must be just. It worries me that a drunken hook up, one which really was intended to be innocent and consensual could ruin the life of the accused unfairly.

        Which I know sounds like a lead up to blaming the victim or rationalizing away the crime, which isn’t my intent. It’s nearly 2:00 AM as I write this, so I’m going to read the next two links you posted and try to get a grasp on exactly what I want to say tomorrow. Something so emotionally charged and genuinely horrific as rape requires some very careful thought and wording.

        • Avatar of punchdrunk

          False rape allegations don’t happen any more often than any other serious accusation. I don’t understand why it would be put in a unique category when weighing that.

        • Avatar of nimravid

          The correct way to deal with it is however the person who’s been raped feels they need to deal with it. There are a lot of sexual predators who drink when they rape people for deniability of being in their right mind when they rape someone. There are also a lot of people who think that having sex with a drunk person is OK as long as you didn’t “mean” to rape them. They’re still rapists. It’s unlikely that the rapist who says he has a drunken hookup will be shunned for life. Most likely he will have people falling all over themselves to tell him how he wasn’t to blame, how his drinking made it OK, how his victim’s drinking made it OK, how what the victim was wearing/how they were dancing/how they were flirting/that they weren’t a virgin/etc. etc. ad nauseum. But it would be a very good thing if the rapist was shunned for life, because then that would have meant that people stopped buying into the tired bullshit excuses that make it unthinkable to punish a drunk person.

          If someone is drunk driving and they veer onto the sidewalk and mow down a kid, should they be punished? What’s the right way for the parents to deal with that situation? If they accuse the driver of killing their child, then aren’t they ruining two lives? If not, what is the difference between deciding that a drunk rapist shouldn’t be punished but a drunk driver should? The level of intent and the severity of the crime are already part of deciding the punishment. The only way that I can think of that you’d actually be able to cause more harm in the case of a drunk rapist is if you told him and the rest of society that it was OK to continue raping, and that he shouldn’t be punished. That causes actual damage to society.

          • Avatar of Brian Walsh

            @nimravid, right, one must never minimize an actual predator. For example one who, even if also drunk, has intentionally inebriated the other person for the purpose of sex. This is never right. Most drunken hookups are innocent enough and shouldn’t be life ruining for anyone, the difficulty comes in establishing intent.

            Also, I thought of a great example of the possibility of accidental rape. Um, a spoiler alert is in order, for anyone who has not seen Arrested Development stop reading *right now* and go watch the whole thing. This would be my advice even if I weren’t about to cite it.

            Right, now that everyone is caught up, consider season four. Michael fell in love with a British woman whose quirks he found adorable. What he didn’t know, and found out only at the last moment, was that she was quite mentally handicapped. Due to her accent, attitude, general foreignness, and his own distractions, he never noticed. If they had had sex she would most certainly have been raped, she simply couldn’t have provided consent. But also clearly, Michael wouldn’t have raped her. Had he known, he would deserve a very harsh sentence, but he didn’t. If he hadn’t found out in time, if the clues hadn’t all added up at the right time, would he have deserved any punishment at all? I’m not trying to imply an answer here, I’m curious what others think.

        • Avatar of GeekGirlsRule

          “Being accused of a sex crime leaves the accused shunned for life.”

          I’m gonna have to call Bullshit here. I don’t see Ben Roethlisberger kicked out of the NFL. If, BIG IF, someone IS convicted of a sex crime, they MAY be labeled a sex offender and put on offender registry lists.

          MAY.

          Some plea deals will actually include the offender’s removal from those lists after such and such a time, including have records expunged.

          I was thinking you were arguing in good faith, until this. No one who says that is arguing in good faith about rape. Ever.

  36. Avatar of Bjornar

    I agree completely that it is rape to take advantage of someone who is unable to consent. But I disagree with almost everything else in this post. Let me take it point by point in no particular order:

    1. Discussing serious topics on twitter is stupid. There’s no room for nuance and the format basically invites speaking before thinking and then having your statement preserved for eternity.

    2. Picking out statements from twitter and “exposing” the ill conceived replies of people on a blog like this, without the context, is bad form. Doesn’t matter if the posts were made without considering the context, doesn’t even matter if the replies are bad even within the context.

    3. Even worse is when you twist the context and present the reasonable side of this “like me, many of you have had sex while drinking and/or while your partners have been drinking, and it’s not a big deal because you value communication and enthusiastic consent and participation” as something that should have been obvious to these people and wasn’t and that what these tweets represent is the hopeless stance of someone “so hard up for sex that you need to have sex with someone who may feel regret or revulsion or worse in the morning”

    Now even if this really started with and only concerned you tweeting “If you have sex w/ someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape”. That still doesn’t mean you can just throw the dictionary at people and say “‘drunk means impared’ says so right here!” “Most people”* use “drunk” for a range of states, and reacting to your capital letter Right/Wrong statement based on what, for “most people”, is not a Right/Wrong issue is unsurprising, and in my opinion not a symptom of rape apology or Rebecca-fobia, even if both those are rampant online and probably account for most of your replies.

    And if I had followed the saga that far, I would have reacted too, because, due to context, your tweet _doesn’t_ exclude sex that’s “not a big deal” because “you value communication and enthusiastic consent and participation”. The saga starts by you tweeting a reddit statement including the statement “We have the episode where the stone-cold sober Leonard has sex with the falling-down drunk Penny who’s previously indicated she’s not interested in him. She is then presented as ‘in the wrong’ for her sexual assault because she sent her ex-boyfriend ‘misleading messages’.”, then expanding your statement to “So the lead female character was raped and then blamed for it, but it’s bullshit to call that out as problematic?” and then, once you’d actually seen just the clip in question, but none of the surrounding context “Terrible acting & writing makes this one a coinflip to me”.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DATlxa7PwWE

    If that situation, as presented, is a coinflip rather than simply rape, then your Right/Wrong dichotomy is false, and representing anyone pointing out the grey area as rape-apologist rebecca-phobes, even if they are, is unfair.

    *based only on me wanting “most people” on my side.

    PS! Yesterday I would have said that the Penny-Leonard situation was clearly not-rape. Today I’m inclined to agree that it’s not unreasonable (but still not obvious) to interpret it as badly-acted/scripted severe intoxication, which would make it rape.

    • Avatar of Will

      Oh my word. Where to begin? I know, a numbered list! (In no particular order, of course.)

      1. I’m so glad the arbiter of what is appropriate for Twitter conversations has arrived. I feared we would never be able to figure out what is supposed to be posted on twitter and what is not. Thank you for clearing that up for us.

      2. How much more fucking context do you need than a 45-mile-long screenshot of a FB conversation that is not confined to 140 characters per post? You’re giving those people way too much credit. “Ill conceived”?? Please. They’re just assholes.

      3. Even worse is when you twist the context of the context of this post while claiming that Rebecca is twisting context. See how easy and fun that is!

      4. The problem is, no one responded with “hmm, that’s a little ambiguous!” they responded with “I GUESS I’VE RAPED TRILLIONS OF WOMEN THEN!!!! I’M A RAPIST!!!!! GUESS WE NEED BREATHALYZERS AT EVERY BEDSIDE!!!!”

      Do you seriously not see how Ed Clint’s discussion on FB and following backtracking on these comments is evidence of “Rebecca-fobia” as you put it? He was talking about “feminism” not about the ambiguity of the definition of “drunk.”

      5. The Big Bang Theory is stupid. There. I said it.

      • Avatar of Bjornar

        1. My opinion of course.

        2. I didn’t read the 45-mile-long screenshot as I found the statement included in the post to be damning enough and because I was attempting to comment on the (possible) context of the quoted tweets and how ill suited twitter is for discussing sensitive topics.

        Having read it I find the rest of the Clint’s post in that discussion in poor taste, and clumsy to the point of obscuring his point that he doesn’t accept the definition of “drunk = inebriated to the point of being unable to give consent”. Based on those alone I would have been inclined to diagnose him with Rebecca-fobia yes, but as Clint didn’t post any of the four quoted tweets that’s not really a point.

        3. Again, this is my opinion. In the context of the preceding tweets on TBBT I found Rebecca’s statement unrealistically black and white and was unsure how she defined “drunk”. I didn’t join in or continue reading the twitter “discussion” for a number of reasons, but the questions I had were not dissimilar to those posted, and I would have considered them out of context in this post where those two late tweets from Rebecca are given as background and where she somewhat answers those questions.

        And I don’t find this remotely amusing.

        4. No, they responded with knee-jerk hyperbole, much like how you now paraphrase what you consider the gist of the comments and put them in all caps and with multiple exclamation points.

        And yes, I can see how Clint’s discussion on FB could be seen as Rebecca-fobia, but not how his participation in this thread can be interpreted that way. He’s politely said that this post made him understand their points wasn’t so far apart and unequivocally supported what I see as the main message in this post.

        5. You are entitled to your opinion of course, but I can’t see how this is relevant to the discussion at hand.

  37. Avatar of James Fox

    The sad reality is that the men who rape intoxicated women who are unable to consent are often serial predatory rapists. Here’s some good discussion below along with links to some research supporting the position that men who engage in this type of rape behavior are often repeat offenders who are supported by the prevailing culture and the acceptance of some absurd and irrational myths.
    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2010/03/25/predator-theory/
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/dec/18/nice-guys-commit-rape-conversation-unhelpful?commentpage=1
    http://www.feministe.us/blog/archives/2012/12/18/why-the-good-men-project-debacle-matters/

  38. Avatar of marilove

    I still don’t have internet at home and am on my phone so I can’t do much besides read and make a brief comment or two.

    But, man, Ed? The fact that you had to assure us that you have never raped and then had to repeat that “assurance” at least once is fucking creepy and I somehow, I just can’t believe you. Yuck.

  39. Avatar of knitty

    Thank you Jacob V for posting those links.

    I have read research quite a while ago that generally says that anything we do when we are drunk is something we would do or think about doing when we are sober. So if you dance when you’re drunk. Its because you actually would do it when you’re sober. If you beat your wife while you are drunk it means you think about it when you are sober and if you rape a woman while you’re drunk it means you think about it when you’re sober and don’t see anything wrong with it.

    Basically the alcohol becomes the excuse for the action that you actually have no problem with.

    I am feeling too lazy to find links.

  40. Avatar of Amanda Marcotte

    For what it’s worth, research indicates that “confusion over consent” is pretty much never the cause of rape, even while the participants have been drinking:

    http://yesmeansyesblog.wordpress.com/2009/11/12/meet-the-predators/

    Alcohol plays a major part in rape for a couple of reasons. One, rapists drink for the same reason most people do, to overcome inhibitions, specifically the one that tells them “rape is wrong”, when what they really want to do is rape. Another reason is that it’s easier to overcome a drunk woman’s defenses when her reflexes are slowed by alcohol.

    But mostly it’s an issue of plausible deniability. The rapist selects victims who have been drinking, because they want to be able to accuse the victim of getting drunk, making a mistake, and “crying rape”. They know people believe this lie. They know the victim knows that people will say this about her, and so will be disinclined to report her rape.

    The issues I’m seeing being raised in this comment thread are by and large irrelevancies. Rebecca is right to attack people who have sex with women that are too intoxicated to consent—they are rapists! But they aren’t confused about the lack of consent. So we can just shove that aside right now. Men who deliberately target women that are too drunk to stand up for forced sexual intercourse know exactly what they’re doing.

  41. Avatar of bcmystery

    When my son was much younger, I would say something to him like, “Don’t hit your sister.”

    He was always quick to respond with some outlandish hypothetical: “But what if her head is on fire and the only way to put it out is to hit her a lot?”

    What I knew is he wanted to hit his sister. A lot. And he wanted to create an out for himself. “Well, I THOUGHT her head was on fire.”

    Plausible deniability indeed.

    As he’s matured, he’s become a lot less likely to use this approach in response to Things He Shouldn’t Do. Good for him, though he still has a long way to go.

    Some people never mature, they just develop more complicated rationalizations.

  42. Avatar of Wayne Burkett

    “And like me, many of you have had sex while drinking and/or while your partners have been drinking, and it’s not a big deal because you value communication and enthusiastic consent and participation.”

    You seem to be saying that it is impossible to give consent when drunk, but that the sex you’ve had when drinking was OK because you established consent. I’m trying to read that in a way that isn’t contradictory, but failing. Maybe you can explain further. Additionally, are you implying that in each of those situations the precise level of your partner’s impairment was entirely discernible? Do you believe intoxication is always discernible? And, if not, does that not then imply that it is possible to be raping someone every time you have sex, whether or not that person verbally consented? Will you acknowledge any of these areas as containing a hint of grey?

    I suspect — and your clarifications above suggest — that you recognize the complexities elided in your original tweet, which makes your indignation at the responses it generated feel a little bit like it was pre-loaded.

    Now you’ve got morally normal commenters trying figure out how to get upset at the idea of a drunk married couple having fantastic sex that they both enjoyed and neither regret. And feeling like the worst kind of criminal if they just can’t seem to for some reason.

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

      Durrrr, if you read above, she’s not saying that everytime someone drinks they’re unable to consent and that all sex under any influence of alcohol is rape.

      She’s saying that if someone is too drunk to consent properly or if there’s even the slightest indication that someone might not be consenting, then it’s rape.

      She’s trying to blow open the fact that nightly, there are lots of dudes taking advantage of drunkenness to bypass consent of women or other men. And that’s NOT okay. It’s rape.

      Sure there are gray areas, but Jese man, respect, a determination to protect women & to not-rape, and common-fucking-sense will prevent raping-while-drunk.

      It should not be a contentious point to not rape and to protect women from getting raped.

      • Avatar of Wayne Burkett

        I agree with everything you said. But I think there’s willful misreading of a lot of the Twitter responders, most of which, I think, also agree with what you said. Longer explanation of why in my response to your other comment below.

  43. Avatar of Wayne Burkett

    By the way, Amanda Marcotte’s post is spot-on. Is anybody even suggesting otherwise? Of course your tweet is — or should be — uncontroversial if meant to apply to any of the types of cases she describes.

    What makes the tweet seem like a troll — what makes it worth debating at all — is that it was — intentionally? — unequivocal. Are you surprised that people focused on the margins? On the cases in which the type of normal, consensual sex that couples have all the time after a few drinks was implied to be forceable rape?

    • Avatar of dr. dr. professor

      //sex that couples have all the time after a few drinks was implied to be forceable rape?//

      Yeah that’s not what she’s talking about at all.

      • Avatar of Wayne Burkett

        I get that we’re constrained by 140 characters these days and nuance is my responsibility and sarcasm rules and all that. But that’s exactly what she said. Drunk people cannot consent. Full stop. I used the least objectionable example of why that’s morally simplistic in my comment above. And, really, that’s all that the majority of the Twitter responders were attempting to do, too — provide reductio ad absurdum proofs of the statement’s simplicity.

        If we all agree that it was simplistic, then one thing Rebecca could do is say, “Look, I was talking about cases of force and/or coercion, or where it’s clear that the other party isn’t capable of consent, but you do it anyway.” (Which, admittedly, she sort of did in the sentence I quoted in my previous comment. Credit where due.)

        However, if what was meant is that the statement should be read literally, then one thing you might do is write a response on your blog with a headline like, “TWITTER USERS SAD TO HEAR THEY MAY BE RAPISTS.”

        What bothers me about the tone of this entire thing, is that the original tweet appears designed to get morally normal guys, who have never raped anyone, defensive about the times they’ve had consensual sex under the influence of alcohol and then to ridicule — no, way worse than ridicule; damn and condemn and use to shame and humiliate them with — their predictable responses.

        • Avatar of Will

          Drunk people cannot consent. Full stop. I used the least objectionable example of why that’s morally simplistic in my comment above.

          In many jurisdictions, that’s the law. People who are intoxicated are legally not able to give consent. So legally, if people live in those jurisdictions and they have knowingly engaged in sexual intercourse with a person who is legally intoxicated, they have committed statutory rape.

          That is a separate issue from the ethics of these ambiguous/hypothetical situations people are bringing up. And there’s plenty of criticism of those laws from feminists.

          If we all agree that it was simplistic, then one thing Rebecca could do is say, “Look, I was talking about cases of force and/or coercion, or where it’s clear that the other party isn’t capable of consent, but you do it anyway.” (Which, admittedly, she sort of did in the sentence I quoted in my previous comment. Credit where due.)

          Okay so you admit that she does this (and she posted the follow-up tweet where she does this, which gained no attention from the responders), but then you go on to talk about BUT IF SHE HAD NOT DONE THAT…

          So, what the fuck? Damned if you do, damned if you don’t!

          What bothers me about the tone of this entire thing, is that the original tweet appears designed to get morally normal guys

          Tone trolling AND a conspiracy theory!

          Yes, Rebecca is totally “out to get morally normal guys.” On Twitter. Wow, she’s so powerful! All those “morally normal guys” are like totally going to jail for life because of her tweet!!

          • Avatar of Wayne Burkett

            You’re correct. I admit that she qualified her original statement in the context of a post titled, “TWITTER USERS SAD TO HEAR THEY MAY BE RAPISTS.”

            Speaking of tone, do you really think this adds value to the conversation:

            *”Wow, she’s so powerful! All those “morally normal guys” are like totally going to jail for life because of her tweet!!”*

            I’m trying to respond sincerely over here.

          • Avatar of marilove

            Speaking of tone, do you really think this adds value to the conversation:

            First, why do people always forget the question mark when asking questions? I hate that. /pet peeve

            Now, back to the actual point: So, Will points out your tone-trolling, and you CONTINUE to tone-troll? Really?

            To answer your stupid question-without-a-question-mark-with-more-questions:: Why does it fucking matter? And why should we be ~nice~ to rapists? I mean come on. SOMETIMES IT IS OKAY TO SNARK. REALLY. TRULY. THE WORLD IS NOT GOING TO END. I PROMISE.

        • Avatar of Héctor Muñoz Huerta

          “What bothers me about the tone of this entire thing, is that the original tweet appears designed to get morally normal guys, who have never raped anyone, defensive about the times they’ve had consensual sex under the influence of alcohol and then to ridicule — no, way worse than ridicule; damn and condemn and use to shame and humiliate them with — their predictable responses.”

          Yeah, she rising irk to save herself from commenting on her Evolutionary Psychology presentation.

  44. Avatar of knitty

    I really appreciate that there are many men that understand the importance of concent and are ‘that guy’. Unfortunately many women don’t.

    I got into an arguement as to whether Julian Assange was guilty of rape against the woman he had sex with earlier in the night who was asleep when he had sex with her the second time. I said yes. The two women I was arguing with said no… In their mid forties (I’m about 10 years younger) one said. “Oh isn’t rather fun to e woken up that way. And if she was still there it was like she was saying yes”. And also things like well if she didn’t want to have sex with him again she should of left. I have to say I was horrified and said as much. I pointed out the first time they had sex they used a condom. The non consensual time he wasn’t wearing one.

    Oh but don’t you find it kind of exciting being woken up that way by your husband?? I said yes, by my HUSBAND who I have an open line of communication with about whether or not that’s ok. And we had talked about it when he woke me up early on in our relationship about whether I’d be ok with it.

    And it went on from there. Both these women said basically the woman should of found it exciting and don’t see how it could be rape. And I had to keep pointing out it was a one night stand and just because she had sex with him once does not mean she was automatically giving consent and being asleep she couldn’t consent and there was no way on a one night stand situation a man should feel he has a right to do that.

  45. Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

    I remember having this conversation with a friend. I insisted it wasn’t really rape if one party wasn’t actively protesting. She was right; I wish I had listened to her. Rape is like drowning. On TV it involves a lot of screaming and fighting back but the reality is so different that people usually don’t recognize it when they see it in the real world.

    He was such a nice guy. I didn’t want to ruin his reputation. It’s absurd that I thought that was how it works. The first girl he raped didn’t ruin his reputation. I’m betting it did a number on her reputation though. I certainly didn’t ruin his reputation.

    I didn’t press charges. He raped two people after that. He was only convicted of one of them.

    I find discussing or hearing about this issue unpleasant, but it’s long overdue.

  46. Avatar of punchdrunk

    @Brian Walsh:
    Well, what if your brother released his wife’s seal into the wild after it ate a cat while he was using it in his magic show and therefore developed a taste for blood, then the loose seal bit off your hand when you went swimming in the ocean, resulting in a hook hand and a fear of the water?
    Would your brother be morally culpable?

    Come on!

    • Avatar of Brian Walsh

      Obviously, a scenario in an absurdist sitcom is a poor example, but such things do happen. I used to work in a group home for developmentally disabled clients. One client, a female, had unsupervised time allotted to her. We discovered she had entered into a sexual relationship with a young man in the neighborhood. This man was unaware of her status and didn’t realize she was a client until he came to pick her up for a date. When he realized her house was a group home he was stupefied and ashamed. No charges were pressed and the man did not return for further dates.

      • Avatar of punchdrunk

        I thought you were just clueless, now I’m sorry I gave you the benefit of the doubt.
        You’re just reaching for any scenario in which rape is okay and harmless and the rapist is blameless.
        Why are you so invested in giving rapists the benefit of the doubt and providing any and all rationalizations to make rape morally neutral?
        And why did you start out with a wacky sitcom scenario and then conveniently remember a real world example later?
        You’re full of shit and a full on apologist. I’m really sorry I didn’t see it earlier. Could have saved myself some time and energy.

        • Avatar of Brian Walsh

          @punchdrunk, I give scenarios that could protect the accused because that is the point of our legal system. The examples I gave, one from fiction, one (regardless of what you choose to believe) from fact were ones I chose specifically because they deal with people in varying degrees of function, just as the initial post does. To call me an apologist is a weak example of ad homenim, and incorrect. Furthermore, since you have devolved to insults and coarse language, the strength of your argument has been demonstrated to my satisfaction. I will neither be responding to, not reading any further replies from you barring those you have already posted at the time of this writing. To anyone else reading this, creating hypothetical arguments is how one sparks an interesting debate, it does not provide any insight into my own thought process. Non insulting debate is welcome, as are any questions regarding how I really feel (which is not a topic I’ve actually addressed in any great detail yet) the sputters of those who think they already know me (or anyone else on this board for that matter) based upon this minuscule sample size of comments will be cheerfully ignored.

      • Avatar of nimravid

        Man, you must realize the chances are vanishingly slim that that guy just “didn’t know” she was developmentally disabled, rather than being a predator who searched for a vulnerable person. This snowstorm of bullshit about how confusing consent is every time the issue comes up helps add to an environment where someone can go, “Gosh! Gosh!!! I can’t believe I didn’t realize this person was developmentally disabled to the point she needed living assistance and I’ve been having sex with her this whole time! Boy is my face red!” and have people pretend that seems kinda reasonable.

        There’s no part of someone saying “don’t have sex with someone who didn’t consent” that needs to have people leap all over the thread with “but what if…” “but isn’t it mean to expect people to recognize consent” “but we have to hash out the exact punishment for every possible situation now, and don’t you think that a lot of times he shouldn’t be punished? Cause it’s so confusing.

        If someone said “don’t drink and drive” and universally the response was “what if someone’s dying and you have to get them to the hospital?” “you can drink a certain amount and still be fine, how are you supposed to know the difference between a .07 BAC and a .08?” you’d begin to suspect they had some objections to the idea of not drinking and driving. Same with getting consent before having sex with someone.

        • Avatar of Brian Walsh

          @nimravid, I was merely a caretaker, correctly defined as a direct care provider, at that time. I was not involved in any decisions behind the scenes which resulted in the exoneration of that young man. That decision was from both legal and psychological experts involved. I defer to their decision.

          As for your other points, I like debate. It should be spirited and fun, and ask difficult questions. For as long as it remains fun, it is stimulating and important to hash out difficult questions. This debate specifically is becoming more mean and tedious than fun, though. I think I’ll be bowing out soon.

          • Avatar of nimravid

            Maybe you’ve bowed out already? But can you describe the exact parts that were fun and the ones that made you bow out? I want to cut to the chase next time without hearing a rape apologist dribble all over the thread first.

  47. Avatar of Héctor Muñoz Huerta

    My honest opinion about this post?

    It’s just diversion. You have only brought up this tired and irking contention as a way to distract and totally ignore and cover for the recent controversy you rised with your Evolutionary Psychology presentation.

    It really grabs my attention that after all the controversy and effervescence you created there is no answer or explanation to all the blogs that abundantly wrote about it.

    Instead you devote your first post in weeks to exhibit predictably provoked twitter rants.

    Come on, there is a huge elephant in the room!

    • Avatar of Jack99

      (In B4)
      There’s a huge troll in the room, that’s for sure.

      It is my opinion that your opinion, like evolutionary psychology, is bunkum.

      But nice attempt to derail.

      • Avatar of Héctor Muñoz Huerta

        Me?

        “I decided to Tweet something super controversial to satisfy my feminazi need to make men cry…These two Tweets only raised more questions, and clearly I was the only person on the Internet who could answer them… I just blocked most, if not all, of these people because as one follower noted, if you have to debate this fact with your followers, it’s time to get better followers.”

        Narcissism and Pathological Attention Seeking alert!

        “If you have sex w/ someone who is drunk, they are unable to consent & that is rape.”

        “And like me, many of you have had sex while drinking and/or while your partners have been drinking, and it’s not a big deal because you value communication and enthusiastic consent and participation.”

    • Avatar of Jack99

      Hector, your previous commenting history shows you to be woefully uninformed on the topic in hand. You need to read the links provided above by Will, Punchdrunk, Jacob and Amanda Marcotte before commenting further.

      FYI Rebecca has been overseas for the past few weeks. You could benefit from listening to Rebecca’s Radio NZ interview linked in Mary’s Quickies of 10th December. The Evo Psych topic was covered there.

    • Avatar of Bjornar

      See? _This_ is how a Rebecca-phobe responds. Bringing up other grudges, accusations of only posting as a diversion.

    • Avatar of marilove

      Hector … you’re just not that bright. Yikkkkes.

    • Avatar of victoriadashtwenty

      The only appropriate response to Evo Psych is to make fart noises until the person either stops speaking or leaves.

      Evo Psych is kind of like astrology or alchemy. It could be a science, it just chooses not to.

  48. Avatar of oolon

    Err Hector I think you’ll find Rebecca thanked Clint (In an offhand manner maybe) on Stephanie Zvans blog for pointing out some errors in her talk… The main thrust of his criticism was she is a ‘science denialist’ as a result of a few errors. Given he used Hoofnagles post on how to spot science denialism this post must have already taken some of the wind out of that accusation.
    http://scienceblogs.com/denialism/2012/12/05/rebecca-watsons-skepticon-talk-is-not-an-example-of-science-denialism/

    Rebecca really doesn’t need to whip up any controversy against him. Most people already think he overstepped the mark with that daft accusation so the ‘Elephant in the room’ is somewhat less Elephantine.

  49. Avatar of marilove

    WHY are so many people obsessed with the question about whether or not women enjoy being woken up in the middle of the night to fuck? I don’t get it. Why is it SO important that dicks are allowed to fuck at any time of day or NIGHT? And why is there an implication that there is something *wrong* with a woman if she would prefer not to be woken up in the middle of the night by having a dick shoved in her face?

    DO NOT FUCKING WAKE ME UP IN THE MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT FOR ANY REASON UNLESS IT IS AN EMERGENCY, or you will find a very, very unhappy woman on your hands.

    Seriously.

    I do not like it.

    And I’m not a prude.

    Just let me fucking sleep and we can fuck in the morning — if I want to, and if I don’t, I’m still not a prude.

    JEEEZ.

    • Avatar of marilove

      (For the record, I really hate being bothered in the middle of the night. For any reason. Unless something is one fire. If someone tried to break in to my place in the middle of the night, waking me up, I’d probably be most pissed about being woken up and bothered at 3am, and I would be so pissed about it they’d probably run away *turns into a monster after midnight*)

    • Avatar of Héctor Muñoz Huerta

      Thanks for letting us know!

  50. Avatar of nimravid

    @Brian Walsh:
    No, under your framing you’re trying to excuse people who “accidentally” rape other people. I’m saying people who don’t take reasonable care to establish consent and subsequently rape someone should be punished whether they were purposely causing harm or not. You don’t look at a drunk driver who swerved to kill a pedestrian and one who simply ran over someone in the crosswalk the same way, but you don’t go, “oh, the second person didn’t *mean* to do it, so it’s all OK!” Not to mention,it’s ridiculous that rape apologists are so very invested in coming up with weird situations asking about incremental degrees of culpability because:
    -They vary, but
    -It’s supremely rarely no culpability. That’s not what almost anyone is talking about, but rape apologists try to find the hypothetical case that’s happened three times in history and pretend that means something about the vast majority of rapes.

    “But what if her head is on fire and the only way to put it out is to hit her a lot?” -indeed. Don’t rape people. We know rape apologists know what we mean, because if they didn’t they wouldn’t be able to come up with a stupid situational.

    • Avatar of Brian Walsh

      I am absolutely not trying to excuse rapists, rather to define degrees. In the drunk driver scenario you mentioned the driver, in most states, would be charged with manslaughter, not murder. He probably wouldn’t even serve time under several conditions. That would be a man who did something horrible, but without malicious intent. He must not be treated the same way as one who commits premeditated murder. In my opinion, the punishment must fit the crime and the intent. The legal system is not about revenge (certainly the victim shouldn’t be able to pick the punishment) but about rehabilitation, in theory anyway. Reducing this to a black and white dichotomy trivializes the debate. Even rape has degrees, punatitave action must be applied appropriately.

    • Avatar of Brian Walsh

      I should also point out that while (in my opinion) I have never been raped, I have been brutally mugged at the point of a weapon, in this case a syringe charged with that was said to be bleach. I understand feelings of violation and helplessness, though not in the same way a rape victim would.

      They were never caught, had they been my opinion on punishment would have been rightly ignored, my emotional state would have prevented me from making any kind of assessment as to the correct action.

      We live in a society where both the victim and perpetrator of a crime (any crime) both have rights that must be protected. The vast majority of rapes are predatory and committed with full intent and must be punished as such. But it is wrong to apply one standard rigidly to all cases without regard to the facts or details. I’ve only been presenting outlier cases for the purpose of inciting discussion.

      If you want my personal opinion, any man who rapes anyone else should be hanged by the testicles until dead. But that’s why emotion can’t be a part of the punitive phase of the trial.

      • Avatar of punchdrunk

        Well, unless he just didn’t know that she was so mentally impaired as to need institutional care. Then it’s just an amusing oopsie.

        • Avatar of punchdrunk

          And it’s really scary to think that you were in any position working with vulnerable people.

          • Avatar of Brian Walsh

            @punchdrunk, this comment was still within my self defined terms of corresponding with you as outlined above, I hadn’t yet seen this post from you.

            As it happens, I was an outstanding and well recognized care provider. The fact that you can assume to know me based upon a few hypothetical data points betrays a remarkable level of audacity, narcissism and affliction of the Kruger-Dunning effect on your part. I wonder if you would be so bold without a pseudonym?

          • Avatar of marilove

            The fact that you were caring for vulnerable people yet think that debates about RAPE are fun (and somehow tedious at the same time) IS FUCKING DISTURBING.

            You CLEARLY don’t take rape seriously and SHOULD NOT be working around vulnerable people.

  51. Avatar of noxiousnan

    “if someone drinks and drives are can they eschew responsibility for their actions…?”

    No, they cannot. If someone drinks and drives, they’ll be arrested. If someone rapes someone else who is too drunk to consent they’ll be arrested (hard not to insult this kind of ignorance).

    “That’s a very binary statement for an undefined condition. At what BAC% is consent impossible?”

    It varies from state to state (US specific), but it is defined, oh yes.

    “What if you are also drunk? Did they rape you as well?”

    Possibly, and if you think so you should consult with law enforcement. I think this is a badly worded, but legitimate fear: what if we both drink, enthusiastically have sex, but the next day the police show up? Many of us have drunk for the specific purpose of relaxing our inhibitions in order to have sex, so it’s easy to imagine an innocent encounter ending with an arrest (example – person consents drunkenly, but doesn’t remember consenting after sobering). For those who worry, the answer is just what Ms Watson says it is – you’re committing rape on someone not legally able to consent. They may be doing the same to you, but that does not remove your responsibility for your actions.

    • Avatar of Jack99

      ” I think this is a badly worded, but legitimate fear: what if we both drink, enthusiastically have sex, but the next day the police show up? ‘”

      I guess it is then up to you (ie “we” in the text above) to make sure that the police do NOT roll up.

      Of course this scenario will not happen in a long term trusting relationship. It may well happen in a first encounter or in a long term abusive relationship.

      In fact several examples of those have indeed hit the headlines here in Oz, and it is certain from the context of her post, if read in full, that this is what Rebecca was talking about, rather than the extreme hypotheticals that are being bandied about.

  52. Avatar of Wayne Burkett

    There’s a lot of feminist jargon I’m probably not hip to, so maybe this has special meaning that’s eluding me, but I keep seeing this term “rape apologist” thrown around as though anyone who pushes back in any discussion involving the “R” word must be trying to “find the hypothetical case that’s happened three times in history” so that they can justify horrible acts, you know, just in general.

    That is categorically, emphatically not what I am doing in this thread. And it’s a serious and obnoxious thing to claim.

    By analogy, it’s as though you told me that 20 million Jews died in the Holocaust and when I responded, “well, I don’t think it was quite that many” you started shouting about my hatred for Jews.

    I understand the temptation for hyperbole in discussions on topics as emotional as this one, but I generally find that I learn more when I don’t assume that every thing my interlocutor says is a lie designed to conceal more extreme beliefs.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk

      Well, maybe you should know a little bit about feminists and feminism and how that works before you barge in and start telling us how to do things.

      What are you pushing back against? Nothing.You’re just spewing pontifications and hypotheticals and willfully ignoring context.

      Fuck you. Don’t roll into our space like the goddamn Kool-Aid man of assplaining and then complain that we don’t talk the way you like. Simple solution. Go away.

      • Avatar of Wayne Burkett

        Message received. I don’t like to be where I’m not wanted, so I’ll show myself out. I regret that this wasn’t a more productive conversation.

      • Avatar of Jack99

        “the goddamn Kool-Aid man of assplaining”

        Punch, that’s gold!

    • Avatar of nimravid

      If you don’t know what rape apology means, and you say it’s “categorically, emphatically not what I am doing in this thread. And it’s a serious and obnoxious thing to claim.”

      …then why did you react as if it applied to you when I said “@Brian Walsh?” You’re the one who hung that label on yourself. Disingenuous.

      • Avatar of Brian Walsh

        @nimravid I’m confused, that quote wasn’t mine. Did I respond to a comment meant for someone else?

        • Avatar of nimravid

          Nah, the “head on fire” was from bcmystery and I think it’s a good analogy. I was saying what you were doing was rape apology. Wayne decided it applied to him, called himself a rape apologist, said I was being mean to him for calling him that, and ran out the door.

          • Avatar of Brian Walsh

            Ah, I see. I was afraid I’d offended someone by accident. I try only ever to offend on purpose (and not on this board).

  53. Avatar of jose

    Only Watson can repeat such an internationally accepted legal standard and get a barrage of indignation as if “taking advantage of someone who is unable to consent is rape” was some wild, unheard of claim. She could get indignant responses for reciting the phonebook.

    I can only imagine what it will be like when she actually makes up some crazy stuff of her own.

    • Avatar of Benny

      Yes, unfortunately that’s what happens when women in a deeply misogynistic community speak up against sexist behavior, breeches of consent, and other aspects of rape culture. Luckily she also gets smart supporters and educates a lot of people through all of the indignation.

      Also, “when” she makes up crazy stuff? I hope you meant “if” since it seems unlikely Rebecca is going to go off inventing a new kind of altmed any time soon.

  54. Avatar of Robert Parolin

    I think the problem is that the term “drunk” is used far more loosley in real life. people say they’re “drunk” when they’ve only had three drinks.

    • Avatar of Benny

      Some people ARE drunk after 3 drinks.

      • Avatar of Jack99

        Yeah but Benny, let’s not be too disingenuous about it.

        There’s a whole body of experience and law based on the drink driving situation, and we’ve all adapted to that, we all know how many drinks will put us over the limit.

        I suggest as a general rule of thumb “drunk” = “too drunk to drive” = 0.08% blood alcohol.

        Please shoot me down if I’m wrong, but not with weird exceptions to the rule.

        • Avatar of Edward Gemmer

          The .08 limit is not what I would call drunk. OVI laws are based on the “impaired” standards, which is typically where you begin to lose reaction time and are generally affected by alcohol. It could be compared to being a bit dizzy. Being a bit dizzy and being unable to consent to sex are two very different things.

          • Avatar of marilove

            Being a bit dizzy and being unable to consent to sex are two very different things.

            You seem to know a lot about how alcohol its affect on the body and consent. So. Are you a doctor or scientist? Do you have some citations to back your shit up?

            You keep saying a lot of stuff, but it just doesn’t mean much.

            Some people can become intoxicated with just one beer.

            If you are not sure if someone is too intoxicated to properly consent, don’t have sex with them.

            Easy!

      • Avatar of Jack99

        Damn. Rereading that it comes across as downright rude to you and that was not my intention, you made a good point. Sorry.

        I was thinking of the trolls here when I said “weird examples”.

        Perhaps the Law is purposely vague for the very reason you mentioned.

        But I am still curious – do people think “too drunk to drive” is about the same alcohol level as “too drunk to consent”?

    • Avatar of jose

      People who aren’t actively seeking to pick a fight will look at the next tweet if they have doubts about the first one: “If you “took advantage” of someone who is unable to consent, it is rape. End of story.”

      That’s the law in many countries, it’s not controversial at all.

      I disagree that this applies to the example they were talking about though. You can see in that scene that the drunk woman wasn’t drunk enough as to be unable to consent. In fact she proactively initiates it and it’s the man the one who consents to her forceful first step.

      I also think the guy is being an asshole because he knows she wouldn’t fuck with him if she were sober. Someone responsible wouldn’t say “well, ok” in that scenario, but this doesn’t matter from a legal standpoint, only from a moral one.

      Similar case in The IT Crowd.

      • Avatar of marilove

        This:

        You can see in that scene that the drunk woman wasn’t drunk enough as to be unable to consent. In fact she proactively initiates it and it’s the man the one who consents to her forceful first step.

        Does not really jive with:

        he knows she wouldn’t fuck with him if she were sober.

        A drunk person initiating something isn’t necessarily consenting — including in the eye of the law.

        That’s the point.

        If you aren’t clear on consent and the person is not sober, don’t have sex.

        • Avatar of jose

          Yes it does jive. She goes to court with that video as evidence, she loses.

  55. Avatar of Edward Gemmer

    A lot of this stuff is just people arguing past each other. Someone who is passed out drunk is not a legal target for sexual activity. OTOH buying someone a drink is not a prima facie case for rape. The issue for “unable to consent” is that it is a very difficult standard to make unless the rapee is passed out. A rapist either has to know or should know that someone is “unable to consent.” When is that point? Many people probably have many definitions, which is what causes so much contention.

  56. Avatar of marilove

    As for your other points, I like debate. It should be spirited and fun, and ask difficult questions. For as long as it remains fun, it is stimulating and important to hash out difficult questions. This debate specifically is becoming more mean and tedious than fun, though. I think I’ll be bowing out soon.

    WOW. You like debate and it should be FUN? And you’re just asking DIFFICULT QUESTIONS? Oh, I see! How long as it fun for you? Because as a person WHO HAS BEEN RAPED IT WAS NEVER FUCKING FUN FOR ME.

    This isn’t a fucking debate. THIS IS REAL FUCKING LIFE. For me and many other women and men.

    You are a fucking piece of shit troll who is just JAQ’ing off and asking “hard” questions for “FUN”.

    Fuck you. Don’t bother coming back, you piece of shit. Get some fucking empathy. THIS IS NOT A HYPOTHETICAL FUCKING SITUATION. THIS IS REAL LIFE.

    I have been raped.

    This is not “fun” for me. THIS IS MY LIFE.

    You are a piece of shit. Let me repeat that again: You are a piece of shit.

    And don’t you dare call me emotional.

    You know, if we had been having this discussion in meat space, would you be able to tell me, to my face, that you find a discussion about RAPE “FUN”? Because if you had, I would have decked you in the fucking face. Hard. And I would not have felt guilty.

    Picture me doing that right now.

    Idiot.

    • Avatar of Jack99

      Metaflogit could do with having the same reality check brought to him on the other thread.

  57. Avatar of marilove

    This debate specifically is becoming more mean and tedious than fun, though.

    AND OH NO! It’s getting TEDIOUS for you! Oh, I feel so sorry for you!

    ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME. A DISCUSSION ABOUT RAPE IS TEDIOUS FOR YOU?!?!??!?!?!?!?!??!?!

    What the fuck is WRONG with you?

    I am honestly flabbergasted at this troll’s complete and utter disregard toward the feelings of RAPE VICTIMS.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk

      He also things insults are beyond the pale unless he uses big enough words to call me a stupid coward.
      While he debates rape for fun and stimulation.
      I’m neither, but I’d rather be both than be the kind of person who finds entertainment in personal violation.
      I guess if the 10 year old looks 18, no harm no foul.

      Thanks, marilove. I wouldn’t want to violate his conversational parameters. That would be the real injustice.

  58. Avatar of Edward Gemmer

    @MariLove,

    As far as the driving, a lot that is driven by NHTSA, and an example of their reasoning can be found at this link.

    http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/research/alcoholhighway/3__alcohol_effects.htm#1BIOCHEMISTRY AND PHYSIOLOGICAL

    You are correct that one drink can cause intoxication, depending on various factors. I guess my point is that the .08 level is from tests on driving, and not tests on consenting to sexual activity, so I don’t think it makes much sense to equate one with the other. At least I hope not, because I’d like to think I could have a few drinks and have sex and not be raped.

    • Avatar of marilove

      This isn’t about YOU. YOU don’t get to decide if the intoxicated person you want to have sex with can consent. That’s not your place. It’s not all about you. Wow.

      • Avatar of Edward Gemmer

        It sure is about me, if having sex after having a BAC of .08 is rape, then I’ve been raped a few times in my day. That’s one reason, among many, where I think it is a poor standard.

        • Avatar of punchdrunk

          Have you read any of the conversations and links on this thread? Are you unable to comprehend context, or are you willfully ignorant?

        • Avatar of marilove

          Why do you even bother asking women their opinions? Clearly you feel we belong in this world only to be potential baby making machines.

  59. Avatar of Yessenia

    Being accused of a sex crime leaves the accused shunned for life.

    Bull. Shit.

    • Avatar of marilove

      I guess the victims don’t matter much.

    • Avatar of punchdrunk

      Yeah, it’s so easy to get a rape conviction. The system has a history of coddling the victim and overzealous prosecutions of rape are such a huge problem.
      Women are just accusing men willy nilly.
      Someone should stand up for the true victims here. You know, people who have a few drinks and have consensual sex. They are truly maligned. Incarcerated in droves, really. We should show some concern for their plight.

    • Avatar of Jack99

      “It’s a VERY SERIOUS ACCUSATION”/snark

  60. Avatar of faradn

    The idea that if a woman has sex while drunk it is rape, and when a man has sex while being drunk he is irresponsibly putting himself in a position where he might rape–this isn’t mind-blowing but it needs some clarification.

    Obviously if the woman is much drunker than the man it is rape. What about situations where both people are too drunk to give meaningful consent, but not so much that they aren’t both actively participating? I admit I am not sure if this happens very often–I rarely drink and have never had sex when alcohol was involved.

    It seems that if we’re talking about people who are about the same amount of drunk, we’re left with the idea that being penetrated against one’s consent is fundamentally different than penetrating against one’s consent.

    I can see the merit in this idea. Just for clarification, though, is that what is being argued?

    • Avatar of Rebecca Watson

      It is truly bizarre how you’ve applied male and female identifiers to places they didn’t exist in the OP.

  61. Avatar of faradn

    You’re right, I should have read it again.

    • Avatar of marilove

      WHY did you place male and female identifiers where they didn’t belong? Because of your personal biases and prejudices which then clearly caused you to make bizarre and incorrect assumptions.

      You should work on that before considering this topic any further. It would also probably help to do some research on consent and sexual assault since clearly you do not understand the topic?

      Why do so-called “Skeptics” lose all ability to think critically when the subject has to do with rape?

      Oh, ya. I remember: sexism.

  62. Avatar of mouthyb

    Since we do such an awful job of talking about consent, I really appreciate posting reminders like this places where they are likely to be seen by many people. I hope that a few people who were ignorant of the law become aware of it.

    And have a moment of introspection, of course.

  63. Avatar of dxman

    @Yessenia

    “If you drunkenly insert anything into any orifice of someone else who is equally drunk, you’re still the one at fault.”

    Just a note, I know consent is crucial, and these comments are overexploded anyway, but from my point of view this seems a pointlessly sexist wording. Yes, if one is the initiator, receives no consent and a passive response from the other, equally drunk party, this might be true, but it would be just as true if it were “insert another person’s body part into any of your orifices” and it is perfectly possible for both a woman and a man (in a hetero situation) or the inserter/insertee to be at the same level and ability to consent and cooperate in sex. The fact of being the inserter is only relevant if there is no consent or participation from the other party.

    Actually I’d just substitute it for something like “sexually stimulate oneself through intercourse or manipulation with the other person’s body”.

    Otherwise all things being equal (consent, inebriation, participation), there would either be no fault, or shared fault for both.

    Please also don’t construe this post as excusing predominantly male rapists.

  64. Avatar of Dee Grover

    I think what she said was a very fair statement and it has caused people to think more deeply about why they do what they do and with whom they do it. Nothing wrong with a bit of reflection. There are a lot of people who have taken advantage of other people through alcohol. Ask anyone who has been molested by a pedophile. Quite a victims will admit to being given alcohol and pervs will often times admit to using alcohol to subdue their victims. I saw alcohol used by both sexes in college to take advantage of each other routinely. Women have to look out for their drinks often just in case a Mikey is slipped in. I mean these concepts and examples only reinforce her statement. If you are with your wife or girlfriend of course the situation changes due to the nature of your relationship but if you are only a friend or acquaintance of the person you have slept with then you need question why you slept with them while they were drunk. It’s a very valid critique of one’s intent.

  65. Avatar of RememberDover

    Unfortunately I think our colloquial language regarding “drunk,” “intoxicated,” and “consent” has serious ambiguity, which confounds the topic at hand. There is far less ambiguity when it comes to operating a motor vehicle, for example. Individual jurisdictions enact at statute defining the BAC of a person who cannot legally operate a motor vehicle. Under that amount, you’re ok. Over that amount, you’re in trouble. It’s easy to define what is “too intoxicated to drive” and what is not.

    When it comes to human behavior, namely sex, there is no objective golden standard. I think there’s a good, if not fully complete, analogy with dram shop laws. As a waiter in my state working in an establishment that serves alcohol, both my establishment and I can be help legally responsible for actions taken by a person whom we served alcohol to in an irresponsible way. The goal is to prevent the temptation of restaurants and bars to make a quick buck by over-serving people, and not caring what the consequences of these actions are. But therein lies the ambiguity.

    Sometimes, it’s easy…. if someone comes in who already appears to be intoxicated, I won’t serve them. Other signs can tip me off, like speaking more loudly or ordering drinks more quickly than before or pressuring others to drink more. But in most situations, as the night goes on and the person continues to order drinks, I start to get a little anxious. Am I serving them to much? Should I cut them off early before it becomes to late? What if they’re actually pretty drunk but they hide the signs very well?

    When it comes to prosecuting dram shop laws, there are certain conditions that must be met in order to hold an establishment and/or an individual employee responsible. Just because I serve someone alcohol and they get into an accident thereafter, doesn’t mean I’m automatically going to be held responsible. Usually, negligence must be shown on my part.

    There are open-and-shut cases. A bar serves a patron 10 long islands in an hour and a half, they’re allowed to drive home and the person strikes a family, killing them. Likewise, there are individuals who purposely prowl a bar, get people intoxicated, a.k.a beyond the point of being capable of reasonable thought, and take advantage of the situation. But just like serving someone alcohol, there is a broad spectrum between what is ok and what is plain old negligence.

    For those who don’t understand that seducing people who are intoxicated past the ability to control their actions is considered rape by every rational legal jurisdiction, I advise the precautionary principle. Isn’t it better to be safe than sorry?

  66. Avatar of bthegele

    I think maybe people are confusing what’s being said. I don’t think Rebecca is saying that being drunk or tipsy necessarily means you can’t consent. It definitely depends on how drunk we’re talking, but someone who is so drunk that they’re unresponsive would be rape. If you are for example, a few beers in, you’re still able to make decisions.

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