Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Who's to Blame?

Everyone at my university received the following email alert today:

A female [university] student reported that she was possibly sexually assaulted by someone she knew at [a particular] fraternity house in the early morning hours of Saturday, December 1, 2007. The female student reported that the alleged assault took place following a party at the house, and that she was incapacitated at the time of the incident.
This case is under investigation by the [university] Police Department.

Why was this female student "incapacitated"? Is it possible, just by an off chance, that she had passed out from drinking herself into oblivion? I hear from students all the time about their drinking binges in which the next day they remember little to nothing of the previous night's events. How does this student know that in a drunken stupor, she didn't consent to sex?

And does she plan to tell her parents about this "possible" sexual assault? If she does, will they be objective enough to realize her level of irresponsibility in putting herself into that kind of situation? Or will they want to place all the blame on the male student, or even blame the university?

I certainly do not condone the behavior of the person who possibly assaulted her, but this young woman certainly should bear some responsibility. Surely she has learned a lesson from this.


Kat Coble said...

I think she could have been falling down drunk or as high as a kite. I think she could have had an entire bottle of vodka followed by 9 beers.

If this were a discussion about why she died of alcohol poisoning that all may be relevant.

It's not. It's a discussion of her having had someone put his penis or another foreign object into her vagina without her permission.

A rape is not an auto accident where you can decide that both drivers were partially at fault.

A rape is a crime. Committed by a rapist. Who's to blame for the rape? Well, that's easy. The rapist is to blame for committing the act of a rape.

Justin said...

I disagree with Kat.

I mean, if someone is passed out drunk, and someone violates her without getting any consent from her, then that is one situation.

But as many situations that occur in frat houses and parties across the country, sometimes people get drunk and make bad decisions.

Whether or not someone is legally able to give consent is ridiculous.

How is anyone, much less another intoxicated person, to know that when someone says "yes" to sex, that they really mean "no".

I think its completely unfair to equate all drunk sex that's regretted in the morning with rape.

Exador said...

There's not enough information from that email.
She doesn't remember. For all we, or she, knows, she did give consent. Whomever the attacker is, he's no expert on either alcohol biochemistry or the law. He may have asked her if she wanted to go up to his room and have sex, and she said "yes, she does". At what point of intoxication is one no longer capable if giving legal consent? One drink? Two? Ten?
Without any further evidence, we have to go with "innocent until proven guilty".
The investigation is ongoing. If any evidence is found, fry him. Otherwise, she's got nothing.

Tony Arnold said...

Kat I agree with you but I think you missed JMG's point which I also agree with.

That point if I understood it correctly is that by being irresponsible we put our lives in serious jeopardy. We open ourselves up to the irresponsibility and vileness of another.

Such irresponsibility on our part does not justify or remove accountability from the perpetrator, nor does it cause the victim to have any culpability in the crime. Unfortunatley holding the perpertrator wholly accountable also does not undo the act. Nothing does once the suffering has occurred.

What can I as an individual can control? This is about reducing risk to the lowest level possible. I cannot control or influence those that are irresponsible or vile. But I can control my own actions and whereabouts.

I will try to teach my 7 yr old daughter that her preventive measures of self-control will have the greatest affect on minimizing her own risk. I will try to teach her not to depend on the self-control of others to keep her safe. I will try to teach her to believe in the goodness of others, but not to bank her safety on the assumption that others will do right.

Now, if she is putting herself at risk for the Kingdom of God, I will have to put my trust in Him. EX: going into risky situations to minister to the suffering and hurting.

But if the decision is to indulge in risky behavior for her own pleasure, then I hope she will take the prudent route and chose not.

My counsel to her: be chaste in dress and demeanor; don't get drunk or high; don't isolate yourself; have an exit plan; avoid situations where others are practicing risky behavior; etc.

Tony Arnold said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Tony Arnold said...


It is impossible to reduce all risk. I am not advocating extreme avoidance behavior.

There is enough risk in the world out of my control, so I should reduce the risk that I can control.

If life is hard enough, why do things that make it harder?

JMG said...

Wow, I'm gone for a day to grade papers, and I return to find that,
apparently, most of Middle Tennessee now thinks that I'm an evil, knuckle-dragging moron for believing that young college women are engaging in irresponsible behavior when they decide to drink themselves into oblivion.

I certainly agree that no one has the right to take advantage of someone who is drunk; however, getting drunk is never, ever a wise action. Plenty of college students routinely drink to the point of blacking out and not being able to remember what actions they took during their drinking binge, only to learn of their bizarre actions from their friends the next day. Young college women who normally would never dream of walking across campus alone at night abandon their sense of self-preservation once the alcohol begins to flow. The fun of drinking outweighs the danger inherently involved, and those who are normally careful under sober circumstances expose themselves to unnecessary risk when they drink to the point of intoxication.

I will say again, if someone assaulted her, that person was wrong, wrong, wrong. I don't deny that there are predators out there who are just waiting to take advantage of vulnerable young women. However, these young women can reduce their risk by not deliberately placing themselves into risky situations.

JMG said...

Tony, you said it much more compassionately than I did. I love my college students, but sometimes I just want to reach out and shake them.

Tony Arnold said...

Sometimes the greatest act of love is to shake them and question their behavior. May be the most loving thing you do for them.

I can live with offending or imposing those that I love if it helps save their life.