An example: alcohol and sexual assault

image17There is an incredibly prevalent idea in our society that revolves around alcohol and sexual assault. This idea is that if you drink, you’re putting yourself at risk of sexual assault. Our culture’s obsession with alcohol and sexual assault is a perfect example of our rape-prone world.

Think of how many “tips” revolve around the subject of alcohol and sexual assault. Cover your drink, have your friends watch over your drink, or never accept drinks from strangers. In fact, some people might say you just shouldn’t get drunk at all because it makes you more vulnerable to sexual assault. If someone was assaulted while drunk or tipsy, a common belief is that they are at least partially responsible because they shouldn’t have been drunk in the first place.

Beliefs around alcohol and sexual violence reflect our rape-prone world. There is judgement against anyone who drinks in general, since drinking is seen as “risky behaviour” that can invite sexual violence. Because of the advice around having your friends watch out for you and your drink, there is reinforcement of the idea that only strangers commit sexual assault. There is acceptance that sexual assault is “to be expected” in situations where there is alcohol.

These beliefs are problematic for so many reasons: for taking accountability away from the perpetrator, for blaming the person who has experienced the sexual assault, for limiting the behaviour of everyone in society who chooses to drink, and for distorting the realities of sexual assault. Instead of telling people not to drink because it will put them at risk for sexual assault, we need to tell perpetrators not to commit sexual assault.

There is a great campaign through the Rape Crisis Centre Scotland that touches on this topic. One of their posters is pictured below, and more info can be found here: “This is not an invitation to rape me.”
Web SE38 Rape crisis 48-sheet-2