Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I recently wrote a rather intemperate post chastising Rosemary Feal for suggesting that campus rape was caused by alcohol.

She has graciously responded:
I read your remarks on my column, and you are right, of course: alcohol does not cause rape. I see how my transition from one issue to the other could leave the impression I was saying so. What I was trying to say is that virtually all the instances of sexual assault that I heard about on the campuses where I taught had alcohol involved. Women arriving on campus need to hear that one of the prime dangers for them is sexual assault; and they are more vulnerable when intoxicated. I am sorry that I wasn't clearer, especially since it is a matter about which I care a great deal--and I find it is a topic that most professors don't discuss at all, which is also why I raised it. I don't think you and I differ here about what's important. Your point, and I share it, is that victimization and assault is something to which people are vulnerable, because there are victimizers-- in the case of rape, the men who commit the violence. Certain circumstances increase that vulnerability. This is not to blame victims, but rather to help women reduce their risk for being violated. It's crucial that all of us in the academic community continue to reflect on these issues.

I answered:

I continue to believe that linking sexual assault to alcohol unnecessarily obfuscates the real cause of rape, thus perhaps unintentionally opening the door to victim-blaming (i.e. the widely held position that women ought to maintain incredible ninja reflexes at all times in order to prevent their own rapes). But I believe that I understand your viewpoint, which is a practical one aimed at reducing assaults, and in that respect admirable.


Inder-ific said...

Have you heard about this ruckus?:

Natalia said...

I hadn't seen that, Inder; thanks for the link.