First, a brief illustration for why I hate this whole anti-"don't get drunk" argument with the heat of thousands of fiery suns:
I’m Daisy Coleman, the teenager at the center of the Maryville rape media storm, and this is what really happened:
Matt emerged from one of the bedrooms with a bottle of clear alcohol he wanted me to drink. This is when one of Matt's friends suggested I drink from a tall shot glass, which they labeled the "bitch cup." About five shots tall, I drank it. I guess I didn't know how badly it would mess me up. But the boys who gave it to me did. Then it was like I fell into a dark abyss. No light anywhere. Just dark, dense silence -- and cold. That's all I could ever remember from that night. Apparently, I was there for not even an entire hour before they discarded me in the snow.The key item in the "Drunk Girls" blog post that's different from the other anti-anti-drinking-to-reduce-rapes pieces that sprung up back when Emily Yoffe wrote a couple pieces on the same topic for Slate is its usage of a parallel in the civil rights movement. In particular, there's a reference to this really interesting piece on Martin Luther King: Most of you have no idea what Martin Luther King actually did
I understand that piece's main points as:
- "Dr. King ended the terror of living in the south...living in the south (and in parts of the midwest and in many ghettos of the north) was living under terrorism."
- "This constant low level dread of atavistic violence is what kept the system running. It made life miserable, stressful and terrifying for black people...White people also occasionally tried black people, especially black men, for crimes for which they could not conceivably be guilty."
- "before the civil rights movement, my father taught me many, many humiliating practices in order to prevent the random, terroristic, berserk behavior of white people."
- "If we do it all together, we'll be okay. They made black people experience the worst of the worst, collectively, that white people could dish out, and discover that it wasn't that bad... It was taking a severe beating, surviving and realizing that our fears were mostly illusory and that we were free."
- It's inconceivable that we would also tell men not to get drunk.
- Not being assaulted while you're drunk is a right (that we don't infringe upon for men but we do try to curb for women).
- Telling women not to get drunk in order to prevent themselves from being assaulted is inextricably tied to victim blaming if they are assaulted while they're drunk.
- Getting drunk is an act of protest that is:
- analogous to Rosa Parks giving up her seat in an act of protest against racism.
- an equivalent stand against sexism like asking for a raise.
- a strike against perpetuating a culture of fear that keeps women oppressed.
- going to change rapists' minds that women are "less, inferior, subhuman."
- Individuals increasing their own personal risk of assault:
- decreases the risk of assault to all women at large.
- gets us closer to an egalitarian, rape-free world.
- Individuals trying to protect themselves (or their daughters) by giving advice to avoid getting drunk:
- will increase the risk to other women.
- is a message that women are inferior to men.
Talk to them about politics, financial security, how to ask for a raise; send them on an advanced driving course so they don’t feel like they “drive like a girl”. Tell them to ask What do you mean?, to talk back, to speak up, and to be defiant.But I believe that bundling this in with being against telling women not to get drunk is extremely harmful for both the individuals that don't get the "don't get drunk" message and to the other goals in fighting sexism. If the example used instead were basically anything other than drinking, I probably would have the completely opposite attitude to it. So it is the drinking example that I am fixated on and want to address, largely due to disagreeing on point 4.2 that drunkeness is an equivalent stand-in for any other actions that challenge the patriarchy.
Release your daughter from the old-world version of a woman. Be careful when you say, “My daughter is such a girl,” and “My son is such a boy,”
Now, to address the above points:
1. It's inconceivable that we would also tell men not to get drunk.
Maybe it's true that men (the "blue people" in the blog post) would "would react indignantly, with anger and defiance" if they were told not to get drunk. They should be told this anyway. Everyone should be aware of the risk they are taking on when they drink to the point where they cannot control their actions or defend themselves against others' actions.
2. Not being assaulted while you're drunk is a right (that we don't infringe upon for men but we do try to curb for women).
I absolutely, 100% agree that you have a right not to be assaulted no matter what gender you are and what state you're in: sober, sleeping, comatose, drunk, etc. etc. However, we can only prosecute violations of this right after you've been assaulted. If we fail to prosecute this more for women than men, that is a great injustice. But it is not an argument for increasing the chances that this prosecution needs to happen.
3. Telling women not to get drunk in order to prevent themselves from being assaulted is inextricably tied to victim blaming if they are assaulted while they're drunk.
I can see the argument that in our culture as it currently stands, these are so close as to be impossible to be untangled, or that telling other women not to drink sounds too much like a judgment on women who did drink and were assaulted and harms raped-while-drunk survivors more than it helps reduce rapes amongst other women. I disagree with those, but those arguments would be logical and honest. But at its core, this association isn't necessary. For example, we always tell bicyclists to get good locks to protect against their bikes being stolen, and yet the act of stealing someone else's bike is still a crime.
4.1 Getting drunk is an act of protest that is analogous to Rosa Parks giving up her seat in an act of protest against racism.
Just...no. To me, getting drunk is a voluntary choice that's not at all similar to refusing to give up your seat to someone else just based on their skin color.
4.2 Getting drunk is an act of protest that is an equivalent stand against sexism like asking for a raise.
Absolutely no on this again. By all means, be brave and take a stand against patriarchy on matters that will improve your own life and the lives of other women to come after you. Ask for a raise, question people when they say sexist things, teach your daughters to be independent and not have to rely on others to take care of themselves. These are all things that are clearly positive. I see getting drunk as a completely voluntary personal choice whose only benefit is whatever you personally enjoy out of the experience--which is a totally fine choice for you to make! But let's not dress it up as something more noble.
4.3 Getting drunk is an act of protest that is a strike against perpetuating a culture of fear that keeps women oppressed.
Maybe this is true. I don't think women are only oppressed through a culture of fear, and I don't believe that's even close to being the majority reason in the modern U.S., for the most part.
4.4 Getting drunk is an act of protest that is going to change rapists' minds that women are "less, inferior, subhuman."
This is basically the claim that I find the most absurd of all of them. Misogynists' minds are not going to be changed by having more drunk women around. Maybe people in general will shed more of their biases against women when they see more examples of women standing up to the patriarchy. But that's a stretch, when the act of protest is...getting drunk.
5.1 Individuals increasing their own personal risk of assault decreases the risk of assault to all women at large.
I could see this being true, actually, even if you assume that having more women around who can't defend themselves doesn't cause the overall number of rapists to go up from having greater opportunities. This could be true just through spreading the risk that a drunk woman will be assaulted over more women. I find this an extremely unpersuasive argument though, that more women should help shoulder the risk to drunk women (because again, I see getting drunk as an unnecessary, voluntary personal choice without any long term benefits to individuals or society).
5.2 Individuals increasing their own personal risk of assault gets us closer to an egalitarian, rape-free world.
I don't think we get closer to a rape-free world by creating more opportunities for rapes to happen more easily. The civil rights movement could overturn racial terrorism. Feminists can band together to fight the patriarchy together, but I don't see how in this case, the whole can be greater than the sum of its parts.
6.1 Individuals trying to protect themselves (or their daughters) by giving advice to avoid getting drunk will increase the risk to other women.
This is maybe true, similarly to 5.1. If you're going to be perfectly frank about it, lots of advice on protecting yourself is mostly just about making yourself a harder target to hit so that predators go for easier pickings instead (I'm thinking of things like increasing your password complexity so that you're not one of the people who has a password of, "password"). I don't see how anyone could possible find this compelling enough to actually refrain from trying to help someone they care about, unless they were intimidated into doing so through being afraid to lose their right to call themselves a feminist or something.
6.2 Individuals trying to protect themselves (or their daughters) by giving advice to avoid getting drunk is a message that women are inferior to men.
I don't believe this at all. I only see this as a message that there are people in the world who will do harm to you, even when nothing you do could possibly make you deserve that harm. It does not make you inferior in any way that you would react to alcohol by being less able to defend yourself; that's what alcohol does, it's just the chemistry and biology of it. But as an individual, rather than be helpless about the situation and let danger happen to you, you can make choices that will help you not have to exercise your right not to be assaulted.
In conclusion, it is admirable when individuals sacrifice themselves for the greater good. But if you're going to encourage people to sacrifice themselves, it had better have an actual, and large, impact. Getting drunk to fight the patriarchy does not meet that bar.