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If She Was Drunk, Did She Rape Herself?

It’s almost universal that gang rape victims are intoxicated, and for some reason when alcohol gets involved, a drunk woman did it to herself.

That’s what Mary Koss, a professor specializing in sexual violence at the University of Arizona’s College of Public Health, declared in a May 26, 2007 Mercury News interview.

Koss was explaining why so few women report rape, amidst discussion of the 2007 rape of a teen by members of the De Anza College baseball team.

When this case went to trial last month, the defense implied that the victim had brought the rape on herself, asking, “People told you you were flirtatious when you drink alcohol? People told you that you were touchy-feely when you drink alcohol? You knew the risks of drinking?”

Interestingly, no one asked the accused men why they invited a teen who was known to flirt outrageously when she drank. Perhaps so they could blame her for the rape? It’s jarring to hear innuendo go the other direction.

More typically, alcohol doesn’t bring on flirtatious behavior so much as weaken judgment and ability to respond. And for this, the victim is blamed. “She should have known better than to drink,” it’s so often said.

At the same time, drinking gets men off the hook: “Well he was drunk, so he didn’t know what he was doing. That’s not a crime,” the storyline goes. No one blames men for not realizing that alcohol can lead to a loss in their judgment.

And it’s not uncommon to purposely get women drunk with the intent of facilitating rape. Yet young men can balk at the accusation when they get young women intoxicated to get sex.

A few months ago the Dallas Police Chief was criticized for focusing on what potential victims could do to prevent rape – keep watch on each other when the drinking begins – and not on what potential perpetrators could do to keep from raping.

Why do we so often focus on women’s drinking instead of rapists’ raping? Blaming the victim instead of blaming the perpetrator. And so it goes on…

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