Drinking Irresponsibly Doesn’t Make It Your Fault

Someone posted this on a Facebook group I follow. I definitely thought the following comment made a good point:

I agree : everyone needs to understand that rape is never truly preventable by the victim – rapists rape, and that’s why it happens. On the other side, the poster raises a valid point – girls and women can, to a limited degree, help prevent violence by not letting down their defences too much when they are out drinking. How should society raise awareness of that, without placing blame where it doesn’t belong?

The ad is out of line. The photo they used is unacceptable, and the slogan is blatant victim blaming. Just because a woman is inebriated does not mean anyone should take sexual advantage of her (same goes for if a man has been drinking, obviously). The ad slogan makes it sound as though if a woman’s decision-making ability is impaired it is, at least partially, her fault that someone took advantage of her. Yet it isn’t. It is entirely the fault of the perpetrator.

If you were walking down the street holding a purse, and someone came up and stole it from you it wouldn’t be your fault that the thief took the purse. Of course in that case it’s pretty clear you don’t want your purse stolen because, let’s face it, who does? But since it isn’t always perfectly obvious what other people want in terms of sex, we need to establish societal rules (and legal rules) by which to live. And none of those rules would ever say, “It is okay to sleep with someone who is drunk when there is a chance they do not want to do so.”

Back to the advertising campaign – the commenter I quoted raises a very good point. We live in reality, not the ideal world where no one would take advantage of an intoxicated person (or someone holding their purse unsecurely). Therefore, we should be sharing information that applies to reality. That means that the PA Liquor Control board was attempting to do the right thing by warning individuals to drink responsibly and carefully. I do not think I can say it better than the person quoted above, “how should society raise awareness of that, without placing blame where it doesn’t belong?” How do we tell people that, because there are individuals who will take advantage of you, you should be cautious when consuming alcohol? And how do we do this without it sounding like we’re saying they somehow deserve what they get for making imperfect decisions?

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