Although all experts agree that alcohol abuse plays a major role in most date rapes, and that warning women about the unique dangers they face from excessive consumption – because of their body size, makeup, and metabolism – would almost certainly slash the number of assaults, the federal government’s policy, apparently based upon a bit of feminist political correctness, refuses to permit this, and leads to more easily preventable rapes.
This is part of what attendees at a large international conference of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health in Prague will hear from public interest law professor John Banzhaf, whose insights and suggestions for dealing with this problem have been featured in the New York Times, Chronicle of Higher Education, U.S. News, Washington Examiner, National Public Radio, and other media outlets – and are about to be tested in one state.
Here’s what he plans to tell the many delegates.
Taxpayers would be outraged to learn that the federal government spends tens of millions of their tax dollars telling people how to avoid automobile accidents, but never once warns against driving drunk – so as not to embarrass drivers who injure themselves in accidents after they drank to excess.
Well, the government doesn’t actually do something quite that stupid, but it does do something almost as foolish: spending tens of millions of taxpayer dollars on programs telling students how to reduce date rapes, but never mentioning alcohol, even though excessive drinking is a leading factor in such rapes.
More specifically, the official federal guide for obtaining government funds to reduce sexual violence on campus says that campus projects aimed at reducing rapes which focus primarily on alcohol abuse are considered “out of scope.”
And the Office of Violence Against Women [OVW] even goes so far as to censor those who want to speak out about the connection.
As one victim of this censorship reported, “This starts to censor how we can talk about the issue,” . . . “I don’t think you are doing young women any favors by saying, We’re not going to tell you that this happens – and be careful about it.” The reason given for the censorship, she says, were “focusing on how much students drink . . . leads to blaming victims.”
According to the Chronicle of Higher Education, the reason why colleges are so reluctant to warn women about drinking to excess, and about how it greatly magnifies their chances of being raped – what it called a “taboo” subject – is that women who become drunk and are raped may blame themselves.
“While statistics show that alcohol and sex can be a dangerous combination – at least half of students involved in alleged sexual assaults were drinking – campus officials are reluctant to put the two in the same sentence. The discussion of alcohol and sexual violence is the third rail of discourse,'” the Chronicle reports.
But the link between drinking and campus rape is even worse. A recent study by an insurance organization shows, in 92 percent of the claims with losses, the accuser was under the influence of alcohol, and “more than 60 percent of accusers were so intoxicated that they had no clear memory of the assault.”
In one strange case a woman claimed that she had been orally assaulted by a fraternity brother, but a DNA test of saliva on her genital later showed it came from a female.
It’s obvious that being drunk affects a woman’s judgment about whether to have sex, as well as about getting into situations in which being raped is far more probable. Furthermore, not being able to testify about what happened can make it difficult if not impossible to prosecute such cases.
This is a striking example of how women’s lives are being ruined, and millions of dollars of taxpayers’ money are being wasted, all because of feminist political correctness run amok. You can’t rationally decide how to best spend grant money based upon abstract discussions concerned solely with slogans and sound bites about “responsibility” and “blame.”
If a college is given a $50,000 educational grant to reduce rapes, it will be far more likely that it will actually reduce the number of women being raped on campus if it aimed at persuading women not to drink to excess than if it’s aimed at telling men it’s not nice to rape or urging bystanders to intervene, just as educational programs warning students to lock up their bicycles is much more effective than programs telling prospective bike thieves not to steal, or for bystanders to get involved.
Some activists objected to this simple and logical analogy, saying “a woman is not a bicycle.”
If by that they mean only that women shouldn’t be told to never go out drinking – the equivalent of being forced to keep a bicycle locked up at home – they may have a point.
But making practical suggestions that women take reasonable precautions (e.g., not to drink to excess, not to walk in strange dangerous neighborhoods at night, etc.) – the equivalent of not leaving a bicycle in a public area without any lock at all – is simply a suggestion that people should take reasonable and sensible precautions, nothing more.
By the way, many feminists agree. “The real feminist message should be that when you lose the ability to be responsible for yourself, you drastically increase the chances that you will attract the kinds of people who, shall we say, don’t have your best interest at heart. That’s not blaming the victim; that’s trying to prevent more victims,” wrote Emily Yoffe.
Similarly, Anne Coughlin, a professor at the University of Virginia School of Law, worries that by hiding from them the importance of drinking only in moderation, we are “infantilizing women.”
Rather than simply declaring anti-rape educational programs aimed at women and drinking to excess as “out of scope,” at the very least OVW should conduct a simple test.
It should be possible to compare anti-rape educational programs warning about drinking to excess with those stressing other themes: e.g., that men should not rape women, that bystanders should try to intervene, etc.
If rapes at colleges are really as prevalent as many activists claim, the numbers should be high enough to produce results which are statistically significant in a short period of time and show which program is the most effective.
With this kind of clear, unambiguous evidence, decisions regarding spending taxpayers’ money can be made on a rational basis, not on the basis of PC slogans about “blame,” and shear conjecture.
Obviously, the one thing everyone can and should agree on is that we want to do whatever is most effective in reducing rapes among college women.
If the government doesn’t use the most effective means available, it is not only wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer money – it is also the cause of traumatic rapes which could have been prevented with a little thought.
Banzhaf will speak in Prague on Monday morning beginning at 8:00 AM at the international conference of the International Academy of Law and Mental Health. The Conference is being held at the Charles University in downtown Prague.