Women Shouldn't 'Stop Getting Drunk' to Avoid Rape

If web magazines had psychopathologies, I think we might consider Slate sociopathic. Today, regular Slate columnist Emily Yoffe tells young women to "stop getting drunk" if they want to avoid sexual assault — all in the midst of growing publicity for another terrible teen rape case in Maryville.

If female college students start moderating their drinking as a way of looking out for their own self-interest — and looking out for your own self-interest should be a primary feminist principle — I hope their restraint trickles down to the men.

Ladies, your lack of restraint is driving men to assault you! Always remember: Preventing male violence is your job, not theirs. This is quintessential victim-blaming. It's so simple and oft-repeated that it almost seems silly to say but one more time, folks: To stop rape we need to teach boys and men not to rape, not tell girls and women to be smarter, dress differently or drink less.

Yoffe defenders will say: But it's true! Drinking does tend to put women, especially young women, in more risky situations. Okay. But you know what else puts women in risky situations? Literally anything they do in a world where men aren't taught that sexual assault is wrong (and their own responsibility to avoid). Yoffe worries that

... a misplaced fear of blaming the victim has made it somehow unacceptable to warn inexperienced young women that when they get wasted, they are putting themselves in potential peril.

But that's simply not true. Being a teen or college-age girl is to constantly be told that drinking — or walking alone, going to certain kinds of places, dressing a certain way, not realizing someone's intentions, not being clear enough with yours — is likely to get you in trouble. More warnings would not be terribly useful. Girls want (and should be able) to have fun without it being considered grounds for rape. Conversely, we could all be sober as nuns in parkas and there will still be rape as long as rapists are shown that it's okay and they can get away with it.