Monday, June 23, 2014

I want it a lot

Recently I have seen a few different articles surrounding sexual assault and alcohol.  It is an important topic and sorting out what guidelines to give people is a very useful thing to do.  Sadly even videos that are otherwise really good end up failing on advice surrounding alcohol and consent.  The problem is that the advice of "if someone is too drunk to drive they are too drunk to consent" is presented as a useful measure.  This is a preposterous standard, as using that standard would either imply that the legal limit for driving should be increased several times or that most adults are guilty of rape.

This past weekend I went to a BBQ, had a few drinks, and had sex afterward.  I was slightly clumsier than usual, a bit loud, certainly unfit to drive, and I most certainly did not get raped.  The idea that we should think of what happened to me in that fashion goes beyond incorrect into laughable.  I was perfectly capable of making coherent arguments, making reasonable decisions, and communicating my desires.  Which in this case meant that I said that I wanted to have sex now, thank you very much.  The trouble with giving advice such as this is that you toss credibility completely out the window, especially since there is some challenge in finding a breathalyzer in the midst of a hot makeout session..

Saying "Just don't have sex when anyone has been drinking" is even worse, as it combines the track record of abstinence education and the efficacy of prohibition to create a hybrid of asscovering uselessness.  Young people know that they aren't supposed to drive after two beers and they also know that people constantly have perfectly legal, moral, consensual sex after that same amount of alcohol.  When we say these sorts of things all we accomplish is to ensure that we get thoroughly and quite reasonably ignored.  Using unsafe to drive as a benchmark isn't any better than total denial at all.

The trick is that we have to convince people that communication and explicit desire is normal and good.  The standard for consent needs to be that the person in question can and does clearly and willingly express desire.  A major roadblock in the way of that is the idea that romance and love 'just happen' and that when people click no talking need occur lest it imply that this isn't meant to be.  That isn't how real relationships work, whether they be lifelong or just for tonight.  The absolute minimum is that you hear "I want that, and I want you, right now."  I dearly hope we continue our societal shift towards those words being good things rather than an admission of guilt.

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