Tag Archives: Steubenville

Binge drinking and rape – who’s responsible?

Serena Williams caused outrage a few weeks ago when she described the victim in the Steubenville rape case as ‘lucky,’ then went on to say ‘she shouldn’t have put herself in that position.’
Her comments have caused controversy because they imply that the victim was at fault for causing her rape.

Red wine

Red wine

I related to the Steubenville rape case, because I was that girl.
I drank to black out when I was 16. My drinking put me in dangerous situations; I was a vulnerable, drunk, girl-child.

The argument that usually comes up at this point, is that we have to take ‘responsibility’ for our actions. If we make the ‘choice’ to put ourselves in dangerous situations, then we have to take some responsibility for the outcome.

In the case of rape, this is where you would be wrong.

Because it perpetuates the belief that male sexuality is basically uncontrollable. That men are like wild beasts and if you add booze and a drunk girl who doesn’t know what she’s doing, then they cannot be held responsible for their actions. That it’s not really their fault, they just couldn’t help themselves.

If you think Serena was right, then this is what you are implying.

I’ll give you a minute to digest that one.

I also want to challenge the other ‘myth’ around ‘choices and responsibility’ when someone is drinking abusively.
When someone drinks recklessly, abusively or alcoholically they are not exercising a ‘choice’ to do so. What they are actually doing is using a substance to manage or anesthetize their feelings. They are using alcohol, because they simply cannot bear how they feel a moment longer and need something to take the pain away.
They are driven by need not choice.
It was need that drove them to drink the first drink, then the second, then the third, then the fourth… Emotional pain is no different to physical pain; it demands your attention and treatment.
Emotional pain is so consuming that all your mind will focus on is relief.

Therefore, how we behave, what we do, is always a reflection of how we really feel. Believe it or not every action you take is dictated by your feelings.
Look around at the people you know and you will see it is true. People may say they’re ‘ok,’ but how they act will reveal the truth.

Woman drinking red wine by James Barker from Freedigitalphotos.net

Woman drinking red wine by James Barker from Freedigitalphotos.net

I can only guess from looking at this girl-child’s behaviour, that her need to drink beyond the point of feeling anything, may have had something to do with how she felt. Like me, maybe she already felt uncomfortable in her own skin, maybe she didn’t like herself much. Maybe she felt like she didn’t ‘fit in,’ maybe drink made that feel better.
Maybe that was all that mattered.

Now, she not only has to deal with the rape, she has to deal with the absurd opinions of Serena Williams who is perpetuating the myth that her choices led to her rape.

Why are we not discussing the choices those boys made?

I mean seriously, what were those boys thinking?

Did they go to that party hoping to get laid, to ‘hook up?’
Or, did they go with the intention of finding a drunk girl, who was incapable of defending herself or saying no.
Or did they just notice her and think, ‘it would be kinda fun to stick something up her vagina, she’ll never know.’
Did they think, ‘it would be cool to get her breasts out and fondle them.’

How did they convince themselves that what they did was acceptable?
Was it because their culture views drunk girls differently?
With drunk girls, all bets are off, they don’t care, their feelings don’t matter?

These boys had a complete lack of empathy. They didn’t view her as a person, they viewed her as an object, a drunk object they could play with.
These boys were held up as heroes in their society, star football players on the path to a good college degree.
The kind of boys that you would want to date your daughter.
The injustice from this case is that those footballers and the town that supported them, still believe they are only partly responsible for the circumstances. They still believe the myth, that she had a part, in her own rape.

I’ll give you a minute to think about how ridiculous that is.

As long as we continue to buy into this rubbish, we will continue to foster an environment where drunk women are judged in this way.
That drunk women are choosing to drink destructively.
There are far too many girl-children out there right now, who never learnt how to manage their emotional lives, because no one ever told them their feelings matter. They are hurting and they are struggling and they are looking round for role-models, someone to look up to.

And Serena Williams just slapped them in the face.

Steubenville rape case

Me at 16

Me at 16

I was this girl.

When I was 16 I used to drink so much I couldn’t remember what I did. I looked older so I could get into bars and I drank what ever was put in front of me.
I ran with a much older crowd.
I was a girl-child in stilettos and a mini skirt, smoking cigarettes desperate for attention, to be noticed, to belong.

I remember literally waking up in the gutter outside of a pub with the landlord throwing a bucket of water over me.
There had been a lock in. I’d stayed, thrown up and was carried out into the street.
Fortunately, (oh god so fortunately) a friend stayed with me (I forget her name, angel that she was).
She was drunk too, but not as much as me.
She dragged me up to standing and we tottered home in our mini skirts and heels, blabbering on about what a crazy night it had been.
We got home and I passed out in my bed. Sick in my hair.
It was the days before mobile phones, before social media, when our private shames and humiliations could stay undocumented and unpublicized.
Thank God. Because my shame and degradation was so acute, I don’t think I would have survived the public scrutiny.
Back then we just gossiped, we whispered and giggled in each others ears, quickly re-framing what actually happened into something we could brag about. We laughed, oh how we laughed remembering how I was carried out of the pub. Surely this was a claim no one else could beat; surely this proved my…..my something, my party credentials?
I was a party girl, I was hard-core, I was fearless, and this proved it surely?
I was proud.
Proud of being a drunken teenage girl-child. Dressed in a way that gave off messages I couldn’t understand and couldn’t protect myself from. I felt like I had achieved something.
What would have happened if my friend had left without me, would I have been left there, in the gutter?

Drinking ended for me 12 years later in another black out.
I’d met a guy in the bar I happened to be in about an hour earlier.
He was sitting next to me. I suggested we go to a party. He agreed and we got into his car, which was parked conveniently outside.
And then I don’t remember anything.

I woke up the next day fully clothed in a strange bed. It was late afternoon. I’d been in black out for 16 hours.
My heart raced along with my mind. Where was I? What happened?
I checked myself. I was pretty certain I hadn’t had intercourse with anyone. I was pretty sure no one had undressed me. I had no bruises, I wasn’t sore anywhere.

I was terrified.

I had lost a whole night. Anything could have happened.

Shaking I opened the bedroom door which lead into a living room. He was sitting there watching TV. I wanted to sneak out, to not have him witness my shame, but I didn’t know which way the front door was.
I had to face him and I didn’t even know his name.
“Hi,” I said, “What happened?”
He smiled, he looked kind. He told me that had we got into his car and I was obviously really drunk. So he just wanted to take me home, but I couldn’t tell him where I lived. Without any other option he brought me back to his house, put me to bed and left me to sober up.
He looked at me with half bemusement and pity.
I burned with shame, muttered a strangled thank you and skulked home badly shaken.
It was very clear to me that I had just played Russian roulette with my life. If I had picked a different random guy…
But I hadn’t, I had picked a decent human being. The kind of man I hope my son grows into. Who would know what to do if he were ever in that situation with a vulnerable young women, who clearly couldn’t take care of herself. Who would do the right thing and protect her, make sure she was safe.
I wasn’t raped. But I so easily could have been because I was so drunk I didn’t know what I was doing. I was drunk a lot when I was 16, I had no self esteem and was desperate for male attention.
That is a very dangerous combination.

In the reports I’ve read of the Steubenville rape trial, two former friends of the girl who was raped, said that she was known to drink heavily and lie.
Implying that she can’t be trusted, that maybe she deserved what happened.
She’s 16 years old.
And I need to tell you, she isn’t drinking like that because it’s ‘fun.’
She’s drinking like that because of something inside of her that she doesn’t understand and can’t explain.
She is vulnerable girl-child and she needed protecting.