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Earlier this week, the hard-hitting news source that is Total Frat Move reported on a story concerning a young woman getting, ahem, “performed on” in the middle of the street at Ohio University. This has become an actual, honest-to-Zod national news story as the girl — who was video-phoned as a willing participant — has since filed rape charges. Cripes. Anyone with half a dongle wouldn’t touch an opinion on this story with a ten foot pole; this is the kind of thing some moron brings up at the coffee machine and you immediately say something like, “How about that debt ceiling?” and break the coffee pot over your face. After all, this is some untested water. The blurred line of date rape is one that’s been around (and largely buried), but couple that with the omnipresence of social media and the notion of witness responsibility and you’ve got a maelstrom of uncertainty. Luckily, I’ve survived worse and this is the proverbial elephant in the website. So, let’s rap about it, homies.
I think the knee-jerk reaction here, if I can sum up the millions of frat guys I just heard groaning all at once, is this: she’s “crying rape.” I mean, she posed for photos afterward. The anger, understandably, represents the legitimate fear of being accused of a crime you didn’t commit. The girl wasn’t hit on the head with a wooden club and dragged back to a cave. She was drunk and, impaired or not, this was her choice. EXCEPT, she doesn’t remember that choice and this is where things get complicated — and the larger question of the function of alcohol in college is raised. Across the country there are hundreds of thousands of college students in dorm rooms taking pulls right now from a plastic, Russian-themed vodka bottle in order to get supremely fucked up before the night even begins, threat of rape be damned. Why? I mean, that sounds like a stupid question, right? It’s become so common that the means exist without thought given to the ends. There’s a reason, duh, but can we come up with anything past “to get drunk”? That answer only begs more questions.
As a kid, I went to an all boys summer camp, and every now and again they’d bring in an all girls camp for a dance. Without fail, the first 30 minutes were girls on one side of the dance floor, boys on the other, crushing chips and soda, making jokes we all laughed at a little too hard, waiting for someone — anyone — to step into the breach once more and bring down the wall of hormonal angst. That initial uncertainty is our natural state of being, the caution that keeps us safe from the dangers of cliff-diving, or eating raw squid, or talking to the opposite sex. And so, the main function of alcohol in college is to kill that uncertainty and make sure those first 30 minutes are erased altogether. To extend this point to its logical end: alcohol is a means to sexuality — not sex, necessarily, but sexuality, definitely. So when a young woman gets eaten out on a public street and seems to welcome it, there is a level of frustration when she presses rape charges the following day. While a blacked out version of her may not be “her,” necessarily, I think we all understand that she made some conscious choices that led to that unconscious behavior.
Yet, the law will protect her, and, legally, the man in the video could be charged. Whether or not that makes you angry is irrelevant. The laws exist for good reason. While the extent to which the law reaches may be disrupting your crazy college times, that’s hardly an argument for sweeping reform. And, dudes, please, the recourse of calling these girls “sluts” isn’t helping the situation. Yes, there will be dishonest women (looking at you, Kara…girls don’t think Cosmos are manly), but there are also scumbag men, so what are you going to do? Girls have the vulnerability of getting raped and guys have the vulnerability of being called a rapist. C’est la fucked up vie.
Ultimately, I wrote this column to say this: right or wrong, if you take a girl back to your room and you’re both smashed, you might be raping her. It’s as simple as that. Now, I don’t believe that a learned young man such as yourself — who’s made it this far into a thousand words — is a rapist, but you have to understand that YOU, TFM reader, look like a rapist. Middle Eastern guys get looked at twice on an airplane and the guy who’s wearing his letters and boat shoes while chanting “USA” gets rape punchlines written about them on sites like Jezebel, Slate, and Huffpo. And perhaps we, as men, as the purveyors of good times and great dance moves, should consider this every time we bring that first cold, delicious Skinny Blackberry Margarita to our lips on a Thursday night. A quiet, reflective reminder could change the rest of your life. So, when that wasted, barely-standing chick grabs your dick and begs for it on the dance-floor, just get her number and take a cold shower. The sex will come, God willing, in the well-remembered light of semi-sobriety. And your future self will thank you.
Good luck out there, guys…and once more into the breach go we.