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Rape Culture and the Drunk Co Ed Fallacy

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I will be writing a series of articles that address one or more of the components of rape and abuse culture. In this article I will address the issue of alcohol. The alcohol fallacy is nicely expressed here in a Washington Post Op Ed

From http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Nature%27s_Loop.jpg: We have to seek answers everywhere.
We have to seek answers everywhere. by Wikipedia

We have to seek answers everywhere. by Wikipedia

       Rape culture is a term that is thrown around often enough that most of us think that we know what it is. What is rape culture? Does "Rape culture" promote rape or merely condone it? What is the source of rape culture? How do we learn not to promote rape? I will take several months to effectively and holistically address a global Meta CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) about rape and violence. We need to go here if our daughters and sons are to live more safely than we did.

We start learning not to promote rape with a broad but inclusive definition of rape culture. We offer examples of rape culture and then we make proposals for sustainable change. In other words, we have to think about what we think about rape. Then we have to challenge those thinking patterns on a macro level. Think of this as Meta CBT or Meta Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. Think, identify, challenge, and actively change. Then sustain that change with practice.

Let us distill this through the alcohol fallacy. If we can blame alcohol for rape then we do not have to blame rapists. If we continue to blame alcohol for rape then military commands, police divisions, businesses, churches, fraternities, parents, and college campuses do not have to address the problem of rape culture. This social problem should be called what it is, and that is, letting everyone off the hook but the victim.

Prima Facie, the alcohol fallacy is a seemingly plausible explanation but it falls short of being a comprehensive approach. I would ask whether rape statistics receded during prohibition, but rape data was not systemically collected and people drank during prohibition.  The global "We" have a long way to go and much learning ahead of us on this matter.

We call arguments like the alcohol fallacy half-truths in logic and debate. Alcohol is often present and a person that is drinking is less capable to defend himself or herself against the rapist. In all cases the absence of a rapist leads to the absence of a rape. The absence of alcohol and the presence of a rapist do not guarantee that a rape will be avoided. Nevertheless, many commentators on rape place an absurd emphasis on alcohol, which deflects blame form the attacker. See the June 13th 2013 Op Ed in the Washington Post by Lt. Colonel Elizabeth Robins. Thank you for your service Colonel Robins.

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Here is a chart

Alcohol + rapist =probable rape

No alcohol + rapist = possible rape

Alcohol + no rapist = No rape

- Jen McClendon 2013

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Alcohol is not the common denominator here.

There is an active tendency to allow more bad behavior from men than women. This is the boys will be boys fallacy. We have all heard that boys will be boys. Men are allowed to get drunk and go brawling. If a man commits an act of rape while he is drinking many people think of that man as a victim of his own drinking. Many people describe drunken rape in terms of "Accidental rape". Perhaps he would not have raped someone if he were not drunk. We would not let a drunk driver off this easily. 

If a woman is drunk while being relentlessly violated then she should have been more responsible and she should not have been drunk enough to "Get herself raped." We want women to be responsible and proper while men do as they wish. Just to recap, a man is not at fault if he is drunk and commits rape but if a woman is drunk then she failed to keep herself safe. A significant degree of cognitive dissonance is necessary to cling to this double standard.  

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Jennifer McClendon is a US Navy veteran, a teacher, an historian, and a social issues writer. She believes that if given the chance people will ultimately do the right thing.

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