In the wake of the national furor over the alleged rapes of two underage, intoxicated girls in Maryville, Missouri, Slate's Emily Yoffe seized the opportunity to give us what she thinks was the best prevention against rape in a column titled, "College Women Stop Getting So Wasted."
Yoffe made the observation that alcohol is a common factor in rape. "As soon as the school year begins, so do reports of female students sexually assaulted by their male classmates. A common denominator in these cases is alcohol, often copious amounts, enough to render the young woman incapacitated," Yoffe writes, explaining that not enough is done to tell women to stop drinking. If women stop getting drunk, Yoffee proposes, and the less likely they're going to be raped.
Yoffe failed to realize that there's one thing that's more common than alcohol when it comes to rapes. That would be rapists. While alcohol plays a part in a number of rapes, I can assure you that in every case (both male and female) of rape, there is at least one rapist. And, well, Yoffe's column isn't titled "Rapists, stop raping women."
Yoffe's point doesn't come from a bad place — she wants to see less women raped. That's a good intention, which the overwhelming majority of Americans share. And Yoffe is right, there is no lack of brutal stories of women who are date-raped or incapacitated during rape. But women who are raped while they are drunk, always involve a rapist who is taking advantage of an intoxicated woman. So, is telling women to stop being so drunk really the best advice you can give people to prevent rape? It's like telling people not to drive late at night because they might die at the hands of a drunk driver — these people aren't breaking the law, yet they're the ones being targeted and asked to compromise their lives. What about teaching men not to rape?
Yoffe's insistence that women need to be taught how to behave so they won't get raped has irked a lot of people who believe she is victim-blaming. "First graph in Yoffe's article tells the story of a girl who 'ends up being raped' — as if she tripped," tweeted Jessica Valenti. "This is bullshit. If rapists would stop raping people, campus alcohol culture wouldn't lead to sexual violence," another person added. "This piece is disgusting. It perpetrates rape culture & victim blaming. That it was written by a woman, is scary" one more person noted.
Yoffe explains that she continually tells her college-bound daughter about the dangers of drinking and how she should protect herself from this violent crime. Her advice to a hypothetical son, comes off a bit more nonchalant. "If I had a son, I would tell him that it's in his self-interest not to be the drunken frat boy who finds himself accused of raping a drunken classmate," she writes.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.