Last week, my husband and I stumbled upon a segment on the radio that hit a nerve. The two hosts were discussing a woman who I’ll call Stacy, as they did not reveal her name. The hosts were contacted by Stacy’s friend, Candy, who was seeking advice about a possible legal issue. According to Candy, Stacy and her boyfriend went to a bar one night where the boyfriend was “feeding her Long Islands.” Stacy became incredibly intoxicated and the next thing she knows, she is waking up naked in her boyfriend’s apartment with absolutely no recollection of how she arrived there.
Candy went on to say that Stacy then asked her boyfriend what had happened. He was not only unconcerned, he raved about how wonderful and amazing the night had been. Stacy was horrified that she could not recall any details of this amazing sex she apparently had, which is why she confided in Candy. Let me also add that Candy did confirm that Stacy and her boyfriend had in fact been intimate before; they appeared to be living together and this was hardly the first time that the two had engaged in intercourse or any other type of sexual activity. Candy decided that Stacy needed to report this night to the police because it was clear that she was raped.
Now please tell me, am I clueless, insensitive, or simply stupid? Because I cannot look at this situation and see it as rape, not even a little bit. First of all, no one “feeds” you drink after drink; you choose to drink and choose to get drunk. You can’t sneak drinks into people. It would be different if Stacy was drugged in some fashion, but she wasn’t. She chose to get drunk with a man she seemed to trust. Second, a blurry night with your significant other is something that has happened to a lot of us. I get drunk with my husband. I’ve never lost an entire evening, but I have experienced tidbits of memory failure here and there where I won’t recall how we got from one point to the next. If you drink and drink heavily for an evening, it is bound to happen. If it happens frequently, you should not be drinking.
Stacy couldn’t remember stopping for snacks at Taco Bell, couldn’t recall how she got home, and couldn’t remember the great sex she had with her boyfriend. This does not equal a rape. Candy was convinced that Stacy was in fact blacked out and her boyfriend forced himself on her. If so, then I would agree that it was rape since she was unable to consent whatsoever and was obviously unaware of the activities. But if Stacy was simply blitzed and having a blast with her equally drunk boyfriend, then this was just two people who had an intimate relationship and decided to drink way too much and end the night with sex. That IS NOT RAPE.
Candy eventually admitted that she had been raped in the past, something she is obviously still traumatized from. Perhaps she looked at Stacy’s situation, saw her own experience in it, and now desires her friend to seek out the justice that she never received. Candy didn’t go to the police, but Stacy still can. But is it even justified? Maybe the boyfriend is a real dirtbag and maybe he did try to persuade Stacy to drink too much so she’d loosen up and be more fun in the bedroom. But maybe not. There is nothing here that suggests rape and it is an insult to women who do get raped to throw around the word like it’s nothing.
I’m not going to throw a personal rape story in here for you now because it’s simply none of your business. I will say that rape comes in many forms and sometimes, you have to leave it up to the victim when it comes to reporting the crime or staying silent. Imagine what the police would do with Stacy. There is no proof. No trauma. No bruising or cuts or evidence of violence. No drugs. Nothing illegal outside of driving while intoxicated. What can they do with her, other than hit her with a barrage of questions, prod away at her life, and possibly traumatize her for real with the circus that is reporting a sex crime? If she woke up with a black eye and torn clothing, it’d be one thing, but that was not the case here.
Don’t get me wrong, I fully believe that rapes should be reported as quickly as possible both so the victim can be cared for and so the perpetrator can be arrested. No one on this Earth should get away with violating another person in such a manner. But it’s a dangerous thing to do what Candy has done and automatically assume rape in situations where it does not exist. It’s dangerous to assume that every female who claims they can’t remember the night before has been raped. It’s unfair to automatically make men into evil sex-crazed monsters when they’re honestly not doing anything wrong.
Rape should be taken seriously, of course. Part of taking it seriously means not seeing rape where it doesn’t exist. You can’t claim rape because you regret a decision to sleep with another and want to feel guilt-free about it, and you can’t assume your friends have been raped simply because their situation vaguely reminds you of your own. Rape is a heavy word and the accusation hits hard. I cannot begin to imagine how terrible it would be if I was accused of such a crime when all I did was have sex with the person I loved (or lusted).
We also need to be responsible ourselves. When rape happens, it is not the fault of the victim; there is no “she was asking for it” BS that the assailant gets to claim. That said, we have a responsibility to ourselves to take steps to keep ourselves safe. Maybe that means not drinking to excess. Maybe it means having a wingman/woman around you to ensure you make it home safely and alone. Maybe it means avoiding certain areas or people. Just because rape isn’t the fault of the victim doesn’t mean that we have to act like victims. If Stacy had just quit drinking after two or three Long Islands, she would have remembered the trip to Taco Bell, the drive home, and the maybe not-so-hot sex in the bedroom. Or on the flipside, she would have remembered her boyfriend being far too pushy, holding her down, and ignoring her pleas. Either way, the question of Was It or Wasn’t It wouldn’t exist, and she wouldn’t currently be struggling to find the truth.