Conservative Think Tank Says Women Shouldn't Worry So Much About Date Rape Drugs — Seriously?

I'm not at all sure who thought this was a good idea, but here we go: a conservative think tank is telling women date rape drugs aren't all that big of a risk, and instead we should just not get drunk. What? I mean, if the people behind this video are the same people responsible for fixing the GOP's War on Women problem, I think I'm beginning to understand why it hasn't been working so far.

The really wild thing is that the video, produced by the American Enterprise Institute, didn't have to be horrible. In fact, there are some aspects that are more or less fine. After all, looking into just how common date rape drugs are is a worthy goal. It's a well established fact that our society's understanding of what rape entails is very different from the reality of how it most often plays out. And the more informed women are about the real risks they are facing, the better.

Unfortunately, the good stuff pretty much stops there. What could have been a useful video talking about the myths versus the realities of rape — pointing out that date rape drugs might not be as big of a threat as we think and emphasizing that most assault victims are not attacked by predatory strangers but by people they already know — instead becomes a five minute lecture aimed at teaching women not to worry about date rape drugs, because what they really should do is just not drink. As AEI senior researcher Caroline Kitchens puts it, “Most commonly, victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault are severely intoxicated, often from their own volition.” Which is saying if these women had just been responsible enough not to drink, they wouldn't have been raped. Seriously? Seriously?

American Enterprise Institute on YouTube

The video is full of so many moments that just seem to lack any self-awareness, like lecturing women about not drinking while showing an enacted scene of a man literally tipping a woman's drink up to make her drink more. I mean, if you're going to act like sexual assault is a woman's fault for exercising her right to drink, and not a man's fault for choosing to prey on drunk women, shouldn't you at least try not to make the men look like predators? No?

Maybe the worst part of the video is the fact that we are now apparently mocking women for the precautions they take to keep safe in this world. And it's not just the covert, un-self-aware ones like teasing girls for all going to the bathroom together at clubs or parties, as though it's our fault we've been programmed since birth to never go anywhere alone. No, the contemptuous way Kitchens talks about women being "afraid to leave [a drink] alone, even for a moment," is clearly meant to ridicule people who do have this fear. She is literally making fun of women for taking precautions specifically and clearly meant to guard against rape.

And then there's the fact that fraternities mentioned in the video can throw giant parties and supply massive amounts of alcohol and keep things like pot and Adderall on hand (which Kitchens so helpfully explains aren't date rape drugs), but women are the ones shamed for drinking. No one is telling these fraternities to reign it in. The video isn't even telling people not to rape, as though rape is something that just happens to women, mysteriously and without rhyme or reason, not something that one person does to another person.

Because apparently rape culture wasn't sufficiently bad already. I guess it wasn't enough that we live in a country where one in four women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime, and that this is somehow not the top news story every night. I guess it wasn't enough that we've stigmatized sexual assault and made women who go through it feel ashamed and unable to come forward. I guess it wasn't enough that we often blame the victims who do come forward for their own assaults, saying they were asking for it based on how they dress, or asking why they didn't take better precautions if they didn't want to be raped.

I don't know who thought this video was a good idea, but whoever they are, the GOP needs to stop listening to them and their ridiculous think tank if they ever want to get anywhere with women.

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