Quick poll: Excluding abstinent folks and those in relationships dating back to the mid-90s, how many among us have never drunkenly hooked up? Anybody? Anybody at all? That’s what I thought. Parents hate it, kids roll their eyes, but it’s the great cross-generational misunderstanding we see rehashed in the news every month.
Which is why I loved this editorial from the Dartmouth Mirror, because it’s something I haven’t read 12 times already this week. Writer Kathleen Mayer astutely points out that the language around sexual assault (concepts like “informed consent,” “date rape,” etc) have been stripped of their meaning by the sexual culture in which we currently tread water.
She writes, “I’m throwing out the term ‘sexual assault’ — not because it isn’t accurate, but because all the nerve endings it used to hit are dead at this point.” First of all, can we just admire that turn of phrase? So freaking great. Second, and perhaps more to the point, Mayer is dead on.
Everyone has drunk sex. Lines that may have been blurry in decades past are damn near invisible through the drunk goggles of one or both partners. When alcohol is involved in an assault allegation, our generation shrugs it off as a “misunderstanding” or worse, blames the victim. The notion that intoxication negates content is, as Mayer puts it “so far beyond our own status quo it’s laughable.”
Mayer’s best moment, the one that gave me chills, is the story about a girl who receives an urgent text from an unknown guy, “He later showed up at her room and explained that he had sex with her while she was unconscious in his fraternity and he just wanted to ‘make sure she was on the pill.’ There are monsters here too, and they walk among us.”
Our lines are fuzzier than they used to be, buried as they often are beneath booze and a culture that celebrates the inebriated encounter, but the lines do exist and it’s worth the effort to remind ourselves where they are.
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