The Relationship Between Drinking and Sexual Assault: Where to Draw the Line?

One of the biggest adjustments coming into college for many people, including myself, is the increased independence and desire to let loose, which often results in heavy alcohol consumption. Beer pong and flip cup become the norm and daily conversations consist of the adventures from the weekend before. While going out with friends and having a good time is totally fine and can be fun, there is a line that needs to be drawn that often is not. In my last year and a half at college, I’ve been shocked by the number of people who brag about drinking “like alcoholics”, getting “blackout drunk”, or not remembering how they got home the night before.

This type of attitude has been engrained into our popular culture, as shown in songs like Katy Perry’s “Last Friday Night”. When she sings about a party she went to the night before, the main chorus includes the lyrics “it’s a blacked out blur/but I’m pretty sure it ruled”. While the song is catchy and means to be all in good fun, this #1 hit single idolizes drinking to the point of blacking out and makes it seem like a necessary component of partying.

With extreme binge drinking comes not only the problems of potential alcoholism and health concerns, but the unaddressed issue of sexual assault. According to a report by Wayne State University in Michigan, “of campus sexual assaults, 75% involved the consumption of alcohol by the victim and/or the perpetrator.” I personally know girls who have spoken out about being raped at parties, have given sexual favors to guys even when they didn’t want to, and have regretted their hookups the next day. In the time we’re at college, one in four women will report experiences that are legally defined as rape or attempted rape, and even then, less than 5% of attempted or completed rapes are reported to the police.

If somebody doesn’t remember how they got home the night before it’s not funny, it’s scary. College is a time of increased freedom, and with that comes increased responsibility as well. While drinking definitely doesn’t cause sexual assault, it does inhibit both parties’ abilities to make decisions as clearly as they normally would. Having fun and going out with friends is a great benefit of college, as long as people know their limits and don’t purposely go past them. As everybody goes out for New Years Eve tonight and brings in 2013 with friends and family I hope that they have fun, and that they also remember to be safe and recognize their limits.

Happy New Years everybody, I can’t wait to see what the new year brings!




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