The former president of George Washington University had some practical advice for college women dealing with aggressive men at campus parties, speaking Tuesday on the public radio program The Diane Rehm Show.
It boils down to “don’t get sh*t-faced.” And it’s getting him a lot of sh*t from feminists, according to The GW Hatchet.
Stephen Tractenberg’s Cro-Magnon remarks?
“Without making the victims responsible for what happens, one of the groups that have to be trained not to drink in excess are women. They need to be in a position to punch the guys in the nose if they misbehave,” Trachtenberg said on the show. “And so part of the problem is you have men who take advantage of women who drink too much and there are women who drink too much. And we need to educate our daughters and our children in that regard.”
Feminist blog Jezebel‘s Erin Gloria Ryan, who can apparently get sloshed without losing her judgment in any way, calls Tractenberg’s advice “jaw-droppingly stupid” and sarcastically calls it “a failproof solution” and “real fresh thinking.” The Hatchet has a sampling of similarly snarky tweets directed at Tractenberg.
Tractenberg, of course, is furiously backpedaling before he can be subpoenaed by the House Un-Feminist Activities Committee, telling The Hatchet:
“I don’t believe that because a woman drinks, that shifts responsibility from a predator to her. What I’m saying is you want to have somebody you care about like your daughter, granddaughter or girlfriend to understand her limits because she will be less likely to be unable to fight off somebody who is attacking her,” Trachtenberg said. [emphasis added]
That part about your girlfriend’s “limits” hits home for me.
My gal is missing a kidney and she’s of Asian descent, a double-whammy that translates into a low tolerance for alcohol (Japanese karaoke folklore notwithstanding). Whenever we order drinks I look for the lowest-alcohol beer on the menu for her, because out of necessity I’ll end up drinking most of anything strong that she orders.
A strong-willed 30-something woman of good judgment and (nearly) a PhD, my gal has injured herself at least twice after consuming what you’d consider “normal” amounts of alcohol and then passing out. She shattered a storefront window once and hit her forehead in a restaurant restroom another time, calling me on her phone to come get her. It’s worse when it’s hot outside. Now when she’s feeling woozy she’ll bring her phone to the restroom, just in case.
I can only imagine how a 19-year-old woman who’s being handed Red Solo cups of unknown composition – in a crowded, loud and sweltering frat house that may be (intentionally or negligently) low on food to slow alcohol absorption – is going to fare by the end of the night.
Self-satisfied hecklers of Tractenberg might want to read Paying for the Party, a five-year sociological study of one dorm floor of college women at a large Midwest public university.
The authors are feminists by anyone’s definition, but they don’t mince words about the effect of alcohol on certain women they observed – especially those whose families aren’t wealthy – who are frankly naive about the party scene. It includes some regretted sexual encounters – not necessarily assault – and reputations that dogged them the rest of their time at the school.
It’s hard to think of anything more helpful and less controversial to tell college freshmen – men or women, the so-called “young invincibles” – than they won’t notice how drunk they are until well into their drunkenness, so keep yourself under your assumed limit.
For men, perhaps they are more at risk of rolling off a frat house balcony onto the sidewalk 20 feet below. For women, it probably means that their normal judgment about whether to fool around with a guy is hampered.
Unless feminists want to perpetuate a cycle of women endangering themselves by preaching a gospel of ignorance around guys and alcohol, they might want to reconsider Tractenberg’s advice.
Greg Piper is an assistant editor of The College Fix. (@GregPiper)
IMAGES: Joe Loong/Flickr, Tracy Wong/Flickr