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Of course alcohol contributes to sexual assault. Let’s do something about it

We need to stop denying this obvious fact

The Fix recently reported on a survey out of Tulane University in New Orleans: On that campus, the vast majority of reported sexual assaults are accompanied by alcohol and drug use. There is, of course, reasonable debate to be had as to how high campus sexual assault numbers really are. But one thing is patently obvious: Whatever college students are calling sexual assault today, and however frequently it does occur, it usually occurs alongside substance abuse of some kind.

This is utterly unsurprising. A large part of campus culture today involves binge drinking, often to the point of blacking out; predatory scumbags will naturally take advantage of such circumstances. Indeed, rapists are very likely to use alcohol as a preemptive weapon, plying their potential victims with it into a state of helpless stupor. Sexual assault is much easier when your victim is incapacitated.

There are some easy solutions to this terrible phenomenon, namely: Don’t get rip-roaring drunk at parties; don’t accept drinks from strangers; don’t go back to your dorm or apartment with unfamiliar people. These are good rules for everyone to follow, men as well as women. But in practice this sensible advice is all-but-rejected by the campus feminist machine, which pretends to act aghast at the suggestion that young women might exercise caution and restraint and avoid putting themselves in dangerous situations. “Women shouldn’t have to worry about such things!” they huff. “We should just teach men not to rape!” 

Both of these things are entirely true. And yet it evinces such a strange and childlike naiveté to reject the practical solutions of the present for the structural solutions of the future; it’s a sort of daffy utopianism, but played out at frat houses instead of hippie communes. Yes, we should be ingraining into young men from a very young age onward that sexual assault is a brutal and indefensible crime and that they should not do it. But that’s not the world we live in now; right now there are many bad men in the world who are more than happy to take advantage of vulnerable women. For all the huffing and sputtering from the feminist cohort, there is likely not a man or woman alive today who would send his or her daughter off to college and say: “Now, honey, feel free you drink yourself blotto in the basement of Sigma Nu—you shouldn’t have to worry about sexual assault, after all.” Nonsense: Virtually all parents instruct their daughters in the dangers of alcohol and the necessity of staying safe. So why do we revile in public the very advice we give young women in private?

The long-term fix, of course, is to change the culture—namely to inculcate in all men a strong sexual morality and a deep and unwavering respect for women. We know it can be done: The rate of sexual assault used to be much lower in the mid-20th century than it is today, and it has actually been falling for the past few decades or so. But the danger will always be there, particularly on the alcohol-fueled, party-centric college circuit. We would do well not to cover our eyes, plug our ears and go “la la la la la” in the face of a problem with such a relatively easy present-day solution.

MORE: College tells freshmen to masturbate so they won’t rape, using Winnie the Pooh character

IMAGE: Peter Titmuss./ Shutterstock.com

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