We will do anything but teach alcohol education, consent education, legal definitions of rape.
And let’s stop pretending alcohol isn’t a problem, a key component in many sexual assaults period, but especially those that happen on campus where you have teenagers, barely 20 somethings away from home for the first time and booze seriously impairing their judgement on both sides, no matter which gender you are, your gender identity, sexual orientation. Also addressing changing public attitudes on key social issues like criminal responsibility while under the influence of substances, ‘I was high’ uttered by defendants or victims in court meant to explain why the gas station clerk was heinously shot during the commission of a robbery you admit to participating in, doesn’t cut it anymore. ‘I was high’ is no longer an excuse to why you can’t account for your whereabouts on the night in question for a crime to which you have pled not guilty, no longer explains away the vicious beating of your girlfriend. Bad trips, laymen’s terms for bad illegal drug reactions, have ceased to be an acceptable reason eliciting leniency from judges, jurors for extreme vandalism or otherwise seen as random attacks of persons on the streets, stopped being a blanket understood concept of ‘how can you expect me to be responsible for what I did,’ years ago. ‘I was drunk,’ long abandoned as a believable defense when causing death or injury to people with your car, motorcycle or boat, any kind of motor vehicle. And following historical lines in the modern era is fast becoming less of an excuse why it is ok to be judgmentally impaired enough to think raping someone is ok, then actually doing it. But equally for victims, it is unacceptable they can’t remember significant events surrounding the incident due to, not the drugs in their system, not the thing someone slipped into their drink, rather their alcohol consumption, again not liquor they were plied with by a predator, even coerced into drinking via peer pressure, ever popular drinking games everywhere you turn in college, instead willing alcohol ingestion, type of liquor (usually hard liquor) they indulged in. Nor is it wrong, seeing what’s clearly going on, to put out pamphlets talking about alcohol, even one titled ‘Female Bodies and Alcohol’ bullet pointing facts that weighing less, having less muscle mass than men and a different hormonal makeup, more hormonal fluctuations than men you metabolize alcohol differently may, and probably will, feel it’s effects sooner and more acutely, therefore need to drink accordingly. Neither is it overly condescending to begin a guide “We like to think men and women are equal in all things, right,” because they’ve been brought up all their lives to believe this, which socially is true and a message very much needed; however, that doesn’t apply to science, physiology, the basis for their information. Men and women are not equal when their bodies process alcohol; hopefully guide including information on the effects of food and drinking alcohol, what you consume on an empty stomach versus not, types of liquor beer, wine as opposed to vodka and stronger effects the latter has on a person with less volume consumed. Especially since these are facts students don’t seem to have known, evidenced by what we repeatedly see in the headlines, aren’t likely to have gotten from their k-12 education that focuses on not drinking because you are under age, avoiding drinking and driving lest you die, kill someone else and go to jail, didn’t get from their parents because they don’t know it either and don’t know how to talk to their kids about alcohol, drugs or sex effectively. And the phrase Salon’s author parlays into placing more responsibility on women for their sexual assaults, statistics about alcohol’s roll in sex assaults, “statements like ‘Alcohol poisoning can be fatal, so it’s vital for women to look out for one another while drinking’ that reinforced the notion that women have to circle the wagons and protect each other when they drink, with no suggestion that men bear any role,” as readers can see was stated about alcohol poisoning. Further the ‘expectation’ outlined in the guide is based on social behavior, that when women go out together they tend to stick together, so while you are sticking together watch out for each other; it’s no different than PSA, public awareness ads that show a group of guys and them taking the keys away from their buddy who’s had too much, calling 9-1-1 when someone at a party shows signs of alcohol poisoning. Along those same lines it isn’t just the light sentences doled out for rape that should be getting our attention, also the jaw drooping things, situations these students are placing themselves in going against every tenet of personal safety, party safety, self-defense we’ve ever tried to teach people, regardless their gender, regardless age; hints the guide toned and framed the way it was. Where Stanford went abjectly wrong, utterly failed is only focusing on women and only focusing on alcohol consumption, in a select sense only focusing on sexual assault. Gaging then campus response, appropriateness of that response is to likewise remember, even post Todd ‘legitimate rape’ Akin, how many high profile sex assault allegations, on campus rapes have been proven false, utterly made up. Going all the way back to the Duke lacrosse case to present day stories like Jackie’s, subject of the since retracted Rolling Stone article; certainly something happened to this poor girl, but it didn’t happen the way she initially said it did. Unconfirmed are rudimentary things like did it take place on UVA’s campus, was any student from there, any university responsible, forget who the actual perpetrators were. Our nation quickly made up its mind in the Steubenville case, calling the 2 young men arrested and charged actions part of a lager ‘rape culture’ dominating American high school and college young men; justifiably angrily pointing to efforts by periphery people teachers, coaches, administrators protecting their local, and to a greater extent our national football culture rather than the victim. Even once it made national news and basic defense strategy was laid out, it was seen as incredulously turning them into victims ignoring the girl they raped; when in actuality they were discussing tactics used by any defense in this type of case and exploring the idea these boys could be innocent, it could be just 3 teens and a sexual encounter. Public apoplectic the case was kept in juvenile court and their guilty verdict only meant a year and 2 years in juvenile detention; a year added for Trent Mays because he took and sent out a nude photo of the girl. Lesser cases making news for all the wrong reasons a Brown student convicted of sex assault under campus disciplinary court and suspended for 2 years; of course he said nothing happened but a judge ruled they must give him a new hearing based, not the least of which on a different definition of consent used at trial versus what was in place on campus at the time. The Wesley College story of a student accused, then convicted of live streaming a female student during consensual sex; except he didn’t know, was never informed of the charges against him, where accusations originated from, what recourse he had available to him to prove he wasn’t responsible. Apparently yanked into an administrators office, told he violated the conduct code, told to come to a meeting where more details would be given; thus he goes in completely blindsided, unprepared, school proceeds against him despite the victim asserting she did not believe he was one of the ones involved, expelling him anyway. It is to remember how many cases, how on the frontlines, mired in the morass they are of intoxicated, naïve students navigating everything from morning after sexual regret, panic they violated school honor codes, fearing expulsion, to what if my parents find out, to actual, genuine sexual, harassment, assault and full blown rape. And when it comes to athletes, high school, college and beyond they are natural targets due to their social status, wealth; Duke’s accused played lacrosse, Brock Turner was what, a swimming star, Steubenville assailants later convicted played what, football, the Massachusetts case receiving similar sentencing and attention involved a high school basketball star mirroring Derrick Rose, following in the dubious footsteps of Kobe Bryant off the court and found not liable in is on sex scandal case plays what, basketball. Now this could just as much be about athletes who think, because they are brilliant with a ball, gifted in a sport they are god and have narrowed their perception to seeing women as objects, or it could be some women are looking to be with an athlete, mad about rejection, seeking money. The truth is probably somewhere in the middle differentiated on a case by case basis. Prime example, convoluted story of Brian Banks, charged, tired and convicted as a promising 16 year old up and coming football star, sounds an awful lot like Steubenville doesn’t it; eventually cleared after 10 years, 5 in prison, 5 on parole, contact with the Innocence Project and an accuser recant, finally getting his dream football chance. Welcome to what victims, authorities and the, trying to discern it all, public are up against.
There are a thousand and one things wrong with how universities in general, Stanford specifically, handle sexual assault, handle under age, binge drinking, any issues cropping up involving mass student safety, learning and enrichment; this guide wasn’t one of them. Discouraging fellow members of the swim team, counterpart members of the women’s swim team from writing their own victim impact statements to the judge describing their own strange, creepy, uncomfortable encounters with Brock Turner, possibly speaking to sexually predatory behavior, evidence society may need to watch him long after this incident, proof he perhaps belongs on the sex offender registry rockets to the top of the list. Surpassing key facts on how each gender’s body processes alcohol at a metabolic and physiological level, practical realities like alcohol makes women seem more sexually available than they may actually be, may indeed be sexist; yet, it is also true whether alcohol has skewed a male’s perception or lowered her inhibitions. Next sentence then should be a statement about being sure to have consent, an enthusiastic yes before proceeding with sex, even aggressive flirting, versus merely a no if they want you to stop, one of the consequences of no means no campaigns of years past critics assert, and if it doesn’t, time to change the guide not eliminate it entirely. UVA’s ‘don’t go to frat parities’ mandate stands out as the most condescending and offensive to women. Or officials blaming the campus newspaper for their decreased reporting in sexual assaults post their publishing stories of an associate professor’s sexual harassment and assault of students; University of Kentucky staff at The Kernel (the publications name) put forth it’s the exact opposite, more people are coming to Kernel staff because they distrust the university, awareness and reassurance it’s not their fault, they can speak up and receive support, justice helps too. Worth highlighting roughly 5 years ago select major college’s alcohol policy to inform parents, get them involved if their child was found drunk, drunk and disorderly, drunk while vandalizing school property, trashing a frat house both belies their clamor they want adult students and are not running a daycare and serves as the ultimate cop out to calling police, throwing out intoxicated problem students from dorms, fraternity and sorority homes or off campus housing affiliated with the school, being the last training ground before finally entering unfettered adulthood. You could easily point to slow responses by campus police, how much campus police administrators almost instinctively protect accused students and their own reputations leading to Brock Turner’s doctored mugshot, enhancing the believability of Jackie’s story sans evidence, how easily it could have happened just as she said it did, the 7 months it took for UNC to respond to a victim’s rape complaint; all while asking demeaning and accusatory questions about what she was wearing, drinking, how much, what she ate, did she lead him on, had she hooked up with him before, was she in the habit of one night stands, did she even say no, what was her sexual history, how many men had she slept with, exactly the kinds of questions that make women reluctant to come forward about rape, decline to press charges . By contrast they approached her alleged rapist from a point of comradery, assuring him when he became upset, laughing with him about phone numbers he’d accumulated that very night, told him ‘not to sweat it,’ to keep lining his life and playing football, not as a tactic to put him at ease, get him to talk about what he had done or trip him up using prior words, catch him in a lie; instead because they inherently believed in his innocence, no evidence to back it up, concurrently disbelieving her despite visible bruising on her neck seen via news footage from pictures taken likely as part of a rape kit, evidentiary materials. Baylor’s sex assault problems are numerous, administrators who discouraged women from reporting sexual violations to retaliating against one person who reported sexual assault; after the demotion, later resignation of Ken Starr findings say it goes deeper and farther than originally suspected showing cases that never made it beyond campus police that should have, 19 up from 13 in the original reporting. Brigham Young University’s honor code kept some victims quiet fearing expulsion for violating Mormon tenets on modest dress on, no caffeine, no premarital, sex and no drinking, no porn, lead to one victim’s compromising photo being used as black to arrange a meeting where she was raped and he continued using alleged other compromising photos taken during the assault to terrorize her into seeing him repeatedly, as if they were in a twisted relationship. Using it, their honor code as a weapon putting targets on BYU student’s backs going out into their larger world, surrounding town if potential assailants know women, girls, young men won’t report sexual violence. Another was told by police they would not inform BYU, who got a copy of her rape report anyway (leaked by a sheriff’s deputy) which led to being interrogated by their title XI investigator, though she didn’t break the honor code to her knowledge; still officers seemed more interested in those violations than her rape, made little attempt to help her stay in school because they ‘couldn’t prove’ she had been raped. The other featured victim dropped out and when she decided to reenroll was only offered academic support once given documentation her rapist was found guilty. Nearly identical to what happened at Baptist Baylor where students coming forward to report rape where slapped with honor code violations, immediately asked about what they were wearing, had they been drinking. BYU currently following student petition and victim requests to offer amnesty against honor code violations when reporting sexual assault; ignored by either school, radical notions of doing away with honor codes altogether seeing how they are being used, what the ultimate fall out ends up being. You could talk at length about informal hearings replacing true legal justice run by untrained panelists that don’t take key notes, don’t understand ‘how anal rape can happen,’ victims barred from making their own statements, that left to investigators; their very existence exposing universities across the board habit of informal hearings, victims encourage to use the campus system rather than going to police, some believing it will be less traumatic, to keep rape cases away from the press and pad university rape, crime period, statistics. Absolutely should be talked about, a Missoula student who had to go back to her attacker and worm a confession out of him to see him put in prison for years, mirroring what Brian Banks did to clear his name after his accuser friended him on Facebook. Addressing things that re-traumatize victims, make them regret reporting, you’ve got the 3 trials it took to put away 4 Vanderbilt students who orchestrated or participated in the rape of an unconscious women they dragged back to their dorm room and took video fingering her; first round resulting in a mistrial because a juror failed to disclose his own sexual assault constituting bias. Retrial convicting a second main perpetrator while 2 others revised plea deals for testimony and the 3rd was sentenced to 15 to 25 years earlier this year; laws much tougher in Tennessee than California explaining discrepancies between him and Brock Turner. Profoundly jaw dropping has to be Oklahoma where was uncovered a legal loophole disallowing the criminal charge of rape in court if the victim is passed out, unconscious when her assault occurs; where in “forcible oral sodomy cannot occur where a victim is so intoxicated as to be completely unconscious as the time of the sexual act of oral copulation…. There are still gaps in the ways laws are written that allow some cases to fall through the crack. This case – because it did not involve vaginal rape but an oral violation – seems to be one of them.” It’s the same damaging mindset as the myth men can’t get raped, it doesn’t count if you are gay/lesbian, bisexual, transgender, gender queer, it only counts if it’s penis to vagina, puritanical thinking in 2016. Since—public outcry pledges have been given to fix the law, close the loophole; unfortunately not changing the no sentence, no jail time for the 17 year old young man who shoved his anatomy into an unconscious girl’s mouth. Stanford equally has as many glaring issues as all the named schools above Brock Turner and his lenient sentence aside; firstly their strictures on alcohol do not ban hard liquor completely, only limit it for of age students and ban mixed drinks, hard liquor at registered parties; harder choices remain available for graduate students and gatherings, unclear what defines a registered an unregistered party. Secondly student comment on persons well before the ban chugging beer, vodka before an RA (resident advisor) can get to it speaks to at minimum 2 problems, an RA will be tasked with enforcing bans in dorm rooms, common areas; RA’s with little authority, RA’s functioning like cliques in high school likely to let liquor violations slide for liked students not for dislike students in the dorm, on the floor, people who can help them pass their English final or write their business paper. RA’s easily subject to bribes, dissatisfied, overwhelmed with their job, who you don’t need to bribe because they could care less, disagree with the new parameters, find it utterly unenforceable in practicality therefore resort to whatever works in practice. Next not only does chugging banded liquor to avoid RA detection lead to and perpetuate the binge drinking you were trying to avoid, elevating chances of life alcohol poisoning, it virtually ensures students will simply get better at hiding it, not call 9-1-1 when someone is medically in trouble; already a problem because they fear legal repercussions of underage drinking, expulsion or other fallout from the school meaning students die. Moreover, policy doesn’t preclude students going off campus to a place not designated a frat, a sorority, off campus housing getting drunk, binge drinking unto risky behavior, returning to campus to, in their compromised state, still vandalize property, disturb the peace, get into fights, commit sexual assault, rape. Lastly it doesn’t teach students about differences in alcohol beer, wine versus hard liquor, it doesn’t teach differences in body physiology, why their webpage guide tried to, it doesn’t demonstrate responsible drinking or even counter what they see routinely saying that’s the opposite of responsible drinking, what you probably feel like when it’s time to stop, before passing out, being unable to walk, remember things the following day. It doesn’t teach a more comprehensive definition of rape, sexual assault based on legalities not social innuendo, it doesn’t teach anything about consent: it’s definition, it’s limitations, under what circumstances you can’t achieve consent no matter what the person says; it just partially bans alcohol and that’s the problem not the 21st century version of a pamphlet and what it said.
But backing up a step, where are the fundamentals of personal safety, party safety, bar safety, concert safety we’ve tried to drill into our citizenry, focused on this age group, people who regularly frequent above venues? Let’s too dismiss the notion general party, personal safety rules, regardless of the guide’s wording, what it covered, is sexist; watching your drink, monitoring it being poured, not leaving it alone, applies to anyone looking at the increasing numbers of homosexual, bisexual, transgender, non-traditional encounters, situations showing that as the increasing norm. Beyond preventing rape, preventing allergy reactions, drinking something you’re not prepared for, someone ill coordinated, tipsy spilling hard liquor in your drink while you’re in the bathroom. Jackson Galaxy known cat whisper who travels the country helping cat owners with difficult animals says of scared cats, if they look like prey they will be attacked by other cats in the home until they gain confidence and stop acting like prey. On the human side, worth asking is why so many people period, young people in larger numbers insist on making themselves easy targets; we will do X things to prevent identify theft, Y things to prevent home break-ins and Z things to prevent our car from being stolen, another set of things to keep our social media pages as private as we want them, protect our phones. Balking when women, party goers independent gender are asked to employ the same with their bodies calling it“…misguided focus on what women need to do to protect themselves from having things happen to them…reinforced the notion that women have to circle the wagons and protect each other when they drink…‘Many sexual assaults could be prevented. Stick together and don’t let your friend leave with a stranger or go off on their own.” Utterly unaware sure, we would love not to have to tell women to do this, but that’s utopia and we have to live in reality while making the world we want it to be. To that end what were you doing, in the case of Brock Turner’s victim, unconscious behind a dumpster; not because you had been hit over the head, physically assaulted, robbed, not because you had something dropped into your drink, suddenly had a medical episode, heart attack, seizure, asthma attack, succumbed to meningitis you thought was the flu, are homeless and want a place un-harassed by the mean public to sleep, but because you had had too much to drink, have/had no awareness of alcohol’s effect on your unique body? The Massachusetts high school basketball player convicted of raping 2 girls and receiving only probation depicted 2 girls having gone to a bedroom to lie down, reading in between the lines, to sleep it off, and being penetrated with his finger as they slept. He denied touching one girl at all, apologized to the other as well as telling the court when she didn’t protest, he thought it was ok; victim precipitating his light sentence via her impact statement saying he didn’t want to ruin his life, didn’t think jail time was necessary, hints the light sentence everyone is blaming everything from bad judges, to ‘rape culture’ to ‘white privilege’ for. Except, rewind what were you doing sleeping in some strange house, post a house party, crawling off to a room surrounded by people you barely know, don’t know at all, drunk people you barely know, don’t know at all, likely without telling a soul where you were going to sleep thinking you would be safe? Not merely from rape but pranks of obscene things drawn on your face, the shaving/cream pie prank where they put it on your hand, startle you awake and you end up smearing it all over your face; such behavior opens you up to theft of your wallet, jewelry, expensive sneakers. ‘Perpetrators’ of listed lesser crimes and cruel, mean pranks feeling the recipient deserved it for being so drunk and so stupid to boot. If The Young Turks have the scenario better pinned down and they stayed behind to clean up, believed they were alone apart from the party’s host(s), went to lay down, decided to sleep over, you didn’t notice the guy follow you into the room, you’re that unaware of your surroundings? Stemming comments about what a woman shouldn’t have to do to protect herself, here is also how people injure themselves texting and walking, crossing intersections, hit by cars with i-pod and earbuds in, how people, both genders, are mugged on jogging trails, late at night, early morning, in secluded area any time of day. Bringing us to St. Paul’s prep school and Owen Labrie, less about alcohol and more about non-existent safety instincts; assuming there was this ‘senior salute’ where seniors try to get into lower classman, girl’s pants, as many as they can or set up plans to lure, entice a girl, are you telling news watchers, trial watchers, people hearing about this case upper classman girls didn’t know, their wasn’t gossip among high school girls, someone didn’t warn you it could be a plot to get you to have sex, even without the salute, without the score keeping, competition? Mommy and daughter never had a conversation about boys at this age, older boys at this time in their life only want one thing, be careful, and you sent her off to boarding school? You met a boy you were chatting online with, who went to your school true, on the roof of your school; online to real life meet up’s 101 meet in a public place, then later go on a date alone once you are around person X, sense if he is a threat or not, if he is who he says he is unlike the BYU student who met with and was then raped by a guy who lied about everything—age, marital status. Agreeing with the Salon link below, it has to be about women trusting their gut, young women developing that gut, those sets of protective instincts. Jury not believing either story entirely according to Labrie sex didn’t happen at all, according to the victim she was raped despite telling a school nurse sex was consensual, sending flirty, conversational texts afterward (because she didn’t know what else to say); in the end convicting him on all lesser misdemeanor charges and a lone felony related to using a computer to lure a minor, divulging the path to his lighter sentence. Vanderbilt’s headline making rape case, unquestioning these young men were despicable, especially confronted by accusations an ex-boyfriend orchestrated the whole thing, the 2 photo takers didn’t step up and ask what are you doing, hey stop this, sentence more fitting for the last one to be convicted, seeing the singular reason we know about this is surveillance footage. Yet we come around again to the redundant question of what were you doing so drunk you passed out to the point they could carry you around, drag you back to his room and not once did you wake up; remembering there are accusations the former boyfriend orchestrated and manipulated things, part of that manipulation however wasn’t drugging her drink. Rising above go to shock levels in the Steubenville case about lack of empathy and social media, the video of Michael Nodianos ranting and commenting vulgarly on something he hadn’t even seen, mean tweets after the fact and who didn’t help instead took pictures, pictures denoting a party, something embarrassing, pictures no one knew until told by authorities documented a rape, considering compiled details accompanied by should be common sense commentary is what is missed. From 16:30 onwards our girl, who would be known as a rape victim in court later, has willingly had beers and shots, blown off concerned friends telling her not to get into the car with the football players, destination next party, still determined to go with Trent (Trent bring Trent Mays), bystander teen hedging with police she now knows it was wrong not to insist she come with them instead. Stop there, what were concerned female friends supposed to do hog tie her, throw her into their car and take her home, that’s assuming concerned friend came in her own car, there is room for the intoxicated young woman in the car she came in including the people she arrived with, as opposed to how many teens get around, as many as can fit into vehicle, then you’re charged with kidnapping for taking her somewhere she didn’t want to go. Complicating the adult, special prosecutors’ narrative this girl is alone, isolated among Steubenville students while she’s from West Virginia, is she’s done this before according to best friends there that night and knows Trent, asked either to come to the party to see him or for him to come to the party. Leaving house 2 girls plead for her not to go with them, no one calls a parent or for any help, but why would you when they want to go, adding in a fear of parent’s reactions, hers or theirs, misunderstanding you’re not drunk but she is, we called you to help her, tried to do right and we’re getting screamed at, grounded, here’s how teens’ minds work and why don’t you know that? Female prosecutor’s indigent clam they didn’t offer her water once she’s sitting on the curb, vomited on herself and removed her vomit covered blouse is odd since they were ordered by the home’s occupant to leave, him not noting anyone stand out intoxicated, and probably had no water to give her. Continuing, Ma’lik Richmond says he gave her his jacket, stop there again, does that sound like a rapist to you; further, why would the parent come outside ‘to see what all the commotion was about’ knowing they’d just told everyone to leave, why would neighbors come outside hearing noise if they recognized rowdy teens post a football game, saw them exiting in a large group the house next door, down the street? Simultaneously no one offered to take her home because she didn’t want to go home; winding us toward a critical detail not revealed publicly until after the verdict, on the way to party 3 Trent and the girl are in the back seat, for all her intoxication and unconsciousness she’s kissing on his neck, when he starts to fondle her she just proceeds kissing his neck. And persecutors wonder indignantly about public dispute, not having studied law the way she/they have, on did a rape happen? Hardly a word spent on this16 year old drinking herself into a stupor voluntarily; hardly a word spent on how unsafe she deliberately chose to be up against bystanders, some level of drunk themselves. Confronting prosecutor comments they used her like a toy that night post waking up in the basement of party 3 next morning earrings, phone and underwear missing, no, she used herself like a toy, allowed others to use her like a toy, a whole other conversation from what these boys did, what bystanders did or didn’t do. Staggeringly outrageous case though it was in Oklahoma, it also involved a victim who “A blood test would put her at four times the legal limit for intoxication and “indicative of severe alcohol poisoning.” And the guy she was with is supposed to know that, how did she get in that state, was she pressured into drinking so much alcohol, not according to accounts given, facts uncovered. Now if she seriously had to be carried to the car, drifted in and out of consciousness and woke up mid her own sex assault exam, there was blatantly no consent and from a purely mechanics standpoint the guy wasted his time looking for pleasure if she was too incoherent to participate in oral sex; finally it’s infuriating he would escape justice on a technicality surrounding type of sex. That being said, common denominator alcohol, way past too much of it combined beside terrible instincts; underscoring the crystal clear, none of these excuse rape, should never excuse rape, but going back to dissecting the base article, certainly explains why there is such a guide, why Stanford is trying to limit alcohol and focusing on alcohol at all. It bolsters it was written exactly as it should have been, sexist, condescending or not, judging by behavior exhibited here.
It’s blatantly obvious we will do anything but talk to our kids about culturally relevant developments regarding drinking, particularly binge drinking, dangers of alcohol poisoning, party culture, sex, consent, even what constitutes a healthy relationship then we want to come down with the fury of god’s own thunder on young people, young boys/men repeatedly for things they didn’t do or say proliferated by social media in addition to legal charges they face. First seeing widespread evidence of just that when the Steubenville saga began; Michael Nodianos’ sickening ranting video about an incident he wasn’t part of was attributed to both him as well as Ma’lik Richmond and Trent Mays, though they never said any such things. Likewise every mean tweet calling her a wh*re, death threats for daring to charge her attackers that came from others landed on their shoulders. Then when media dared chronicle facts, elaborate on possible defense strategies, comment on the tragic sadness, if allegations, charges are true they ruined their promising young lives, they were suddenly creating a sob story, not doing their jobs in reporting facts, wide angle lensing social, community implications, underscoring it’s time to have serious conversations with teens about sex, consent and party culture. Verdict setting people ablaze again, a year in juvie for rape, WTF; amplified when Ma’lik Richmond got out and his lawyer said patently offensive things upon his release from juvenile detention talking about how hard things had been for him, “The past sixteen months have been extremely challenging for Ma’Lik and his extended family. At sixteen years old, Ma’Lik and his family endured hardness beyond imagine for any adult yet alone child. He has persevered the hardness and made the most of yet another unfortunate set of circumstances in his life. As with each other obstacle, Ma’Lik has met it squarely, lifted his chin, and set his shoulders; he is braced for the balance of his life. While away, Ma’Lik has reflected, learned, matured, and grown in many ways. He is a better, stronger person and looks forward to school, life, and spending time with family. At this point, Ma’Lik wants most to be a high school teenager.” Forgotten, that’s his lawyer and part of his lawyer’s job in a high profile case like his is to present his client in the best light while he Ma’lik Richmond kept his head down and his mouth closed, no hint of criminal activity ever again years later. Identically Bock Turner’s father makes a comment about his son’s sentence, sex offender status, lifetime ban from swimming exc. being a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action and all the sudden we see the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, exactly where he got his views on women and sex, but he’s held accountable for his father’s words, he doesn’t control, the judge’s sentence he didn’t have anything to do with other than writing a statement, something every defendant in his position has the opportunity to do; no he’s not. He is solely responsible for what he did and the impact it had on his victim, society, more than enough to contend with. Similarly found texts of him and another teen talking about drugs doesn’t necessarily contradict his words to the judge about his small-town upbringing, lack of exposure to the party scene at a place like Stanford; it merely proves they discussed drugs like acid, LSD and other issues, not that he obtained or tried any. Wasn’t that the same argument used concerning Trayvon Martin he wasn’t a thug, wasn’t on sizzurp, lean (newest over the counter drug cocktails teens used to get high), he talked about drugs, guns, even saying no to getting one, he was a real teen talking about real issues only ever actually smoked a little weed; if the argument can be made for Martin, then it can be made for teens in related situations including despised Brock Tuner. Speaking of the judge, if victim impact statements are going to carry significant weight in sentencing it must be applied consistently and uniformly nationally, if it could go so far in David Becker’s defense, Owen Labrie’s victim breaking down on the stand describing recently panic attacks, hiding in her closet rocking, punching her knees trying to calm down heartbreakingly depicting a profoundly different experience than Becker’s, it should have been heard by the judge if not the jury, assuming it already wasn’t, Brock Turner’s victim’s statement powerfully illustrating and illuminating the lasting damage done to her thanks to him should have gone towards putting him behind bars much longer. Confusingly however, instead of authorities over judges reviewing his cases, this case in particular, him being removed, not simply from criminal cases, but from the bench entirely, for misconduct, incompetence, inability to do his job effectively, we now have new laws in California. Namely those convicted of rape will be Fed Xed to prison not county jail or probation, let’s hope they mean state prison, not federal, convictions on rape charges mean mandatory minimum sentences of 3 years. So cumulative result will be sending kids like Mr. Becker, whose victim says herself he doesn’t need jail time, who told the judge he thought her lack of protest meant it was ok, to a hardcore prison likely to be raped themselves, learn more criminal activities. For the truly predatory or leaning that way a-la Turner, who will come out more deranged with a side of angry wreaking more havoc on society; never mind statutory rape cases only constituting rape due to participants ages she’s 16 he’s 18 kind of thing. Guys like Zach Anderson who used an app to find a date, she said she was 17 he was 19, just graduated high school the year before, he picks her up, they go buy condoms, use a playground (at night) to have sex, he hugs her, drives her home. Months later police come knocking and questioning, turns out she’s 14 despite lying about her age, pleading with the judge he was given 90 days in jail, 5 years probation and forced to register as a sex offender for 25 years, forced out of his parents’ home by his restrictions, barred from his future career in computer science prevented from PC, tablet or smartphone use, exorbitant cost to his parents in legal fees, a fixer-up-er home he can live in, took 2 years to get him granted the youth status exactly for ‘offenders’ like him guilty of indiscretions, mistakes not sexual predation. Never mind mandatory minimums, precursor to zero tolerance policies never hit who they’re aimed at always coming down on the poor, minority, unique situation person, someone with a less capable lawyer, for the love of a judge who should have been removed, Turner re-sentenced, justice served. Meanwhile Colorado’s sexting bill, designed to adequately address teens sending nude pics to each other, an alternative to child pornography laws leveled against someone sending pics of themselves, sex offender registries, is facing pushback for a sane reason; asking why make it a crime at all, why make it easier to prosecute something that has become a part of our culture, and like all things viewed debauchery, you can take or leave at will? Because it’s not as if we’ve ever misconstrued a situation, more information through greater investigation trumped admittedly preliminary speculations on crime X committed by teen Y featured on the nightly news; wait that’s every modern case for 2 plus decades if it involves the latest heinous, depraved thing done by children/teens, drunk/high college students. The South Hadley 6 were the well-to-do hoodlums of their school who bullied the new girl from a foreign country no less unto suicide; discarded because it didn’t fit that narrative, Phoebe Prince’s extensive mental health history cutting, depression, medication, clashes with students in her native Ireland all before coming to America and South Hadley High. Once at South Hadley patterns continued encompassing destructive friendships with boys already in a romantic relationship drawing the bullying for their girlfriends, a suicide attempt weeks before her death, the worst bullying, parents, school administrators either in denial or in the dark about her serious mental health issues, no offer/suggestion of an alternative school after the attempt, no thoughts of taking her back to Ireland, her father she missed desperately. Still there are people who think the South Hadley 6 got off easy thanks to a plea deal crafted by sane prosecutors weighing all the evidence and throwing out overzealous charges; however, Emily Bazelon, who gave us the in-depth, more complete story of Phoebe and what really happened to her is correct, yes it is a sad story, but just not the one we were originally told. And based on the more accurate telling, the charges fit. Teens lure classmate to home, savagely beat her and post it on YouTube, characterized at the time as the latest depraved thing found on the internet, done for 15 minutes of fame; dismissed from this case because it didn’t fit public perceptions, the CBS Early Show expert describing their behavior at the police station talking about cheerleading practice, no true understanding of where they were, experts opinion they are precisely why we have a juvenile justice system, they don’t understand the severity of what they did. Demeaned, their own explanation as to why they did it, to humiliate her the way they felt humiliated by something she had done; hints posting it on YouTube, not a random act of violence done out of boredom, not fame seeking. Most a teen got being 15 days in jail, varying years of probation, hours of community service; biggest problem being video shown doesn’t explain lasting injuries, indicate these teens could have predicted their severity. Incidentally sheriff Grady Judd is the same judge in ‘08 that went after teens in 2013, did the same thing to avenge Rebecca Sedwick who committed suicide after being taunted at school and on line; using his position something ironically called a bully pulpit to charge teens with felonies, bully parents with ominous words “if you don’t discipline your kids, don’t worry we’ll do it for you,” charge them with whatever parts of the book he can possibly throw at them, making it very clear the next bullying case he sees will go just like this one: arresting those responsible, charging them with whatever he can get away with pining on the perpetrators, no matter how young. All ringing hollow due to the fact he seems to believe the world is comprised in the attributes of Mayberry, a place that was first and foremost fictitious, part of a television era attempting to model morals to young people and showcase the ideal over the real; our county sheriff embodying every stereotype we have come to expect from this sector of law enforcement, sounding like a zealot using his microphone not to bring awareness to a bullying problem, not just to demonstrate what can happen from a legal standpoint when bullying has such tragic results, but doing so A- indignantly thinking he has to tell otherwise decent, upstanding parents to do their job and B- doing so doling out ill-informed, inaccurate advice mistaken it will make a difference all in their daughter’s name, their daughters memory. Ignored in the swallowing narrative of ‘sheriff America’ and his get tough on bullying stance the 14 year old perpetrator asserted from the beginning her page was hacked meaning she didn’t actually say those things about classmate Rebecca Sedwick; also found on that 14 year old’s page stepmother abusing another child while several watch, exposing abuse at home, he used as crowing evidence said parent didn’t monitor her daughters Facebook page. Charges ultimately dropped because they were the definition of excessive. We fell into the same trap with Dharun Ravi directly implicated in the death of Tyler Clementi by suicide; only after the verdict, pre-sentencing did we the public find out it wasn’t guy hates gay college roommate, outs him to school/world on webcam forcing him to jump to his tragic death. Rather it was roommate introduces shifty older guy as boyfriend, set up webcam to monitor belongings, accidently saw them kissing once, saw them engaged in sex a second time immediately shut it off, never put it on the internet though pretended I did online. Delving deeper into Tyler we are presented with a shy, sensitive young man who struggled with depression, being away from home an extended period for the first time, who talked online not about his roommate’s objection to his sexuality, harassment from anyone instead his loneliness, perceived partial rejection by his parents when he came out, trying to find that someone to share his life with, jurors, media never getting to see a note in his backpack, widely educatedly guessed to be a suicide note or not, might have shed some light on his state of mind. Once more sentence: 30 days in jail, 3 years probation, 300 hours community service, thousands of dollars in fines and a donation to be made to an organization that helps victims of bias related crimes, seen as too little for too great a crime. On the other side a court just found Rolling Stone liable for the defamation of UVA’s college dean in reference to their story later retracted story “A Rape on Campus” and what happened to Jackie.
We will do anything but teach whether that’s sex education that includes conversations about healthy relationships, consent, too many conservatives afraid what students will actually learn about their own bodies, which will in their minds lead to rampant premarital sex, discounting every study proving the exact opposite; we would rather stick with don’t have sex as a teen it’s bad, don’t get a girl pregnant, don’t come home pregnant, whether it’s ‘against god,’ ‘you’ll get a disease and die,’ than tell them how to have sex safely, prevent both disease and pregnancy when they are ready to become sexually active in college, at middle age or somewhere in between, how to prevent children they don’t want yet, can’t afford even in a married situation. In direct opposition to alcohol education and how what you drink, what type/kind of liquor you consume affects your impairment level, we would prefer to stick to don’t drink your underage, don’t drink and drive you’ll die, because it’s simpler for us, doesn’t cover nuance or conflicting messages; never thinking to teach responsible drinking in preparation for when they are legally able to drink. In light of legalization in an increasing number of states marijuana education a-la what Colorado is doing, broadening it to a comprehensive explanation of the differences between all illicit drugs, their addictiveness, their danger to your body, impact of prescription drug abuse, instead of treating all illicit drugs equally, as the same kind of off the charts horrible, when teens find out that’s not true discarding every other thing you said. Oh no, absolutely not, on the contrary one California mother and police officer didn’t want her state to legalize pot because it will be more prevalent and challenging for kids to say no, though the legal age for recreational use will be identical to alcohol 21, most states have decriminalized 1-2 joint amounts, “there will be more people driving DUI, losing their lives;” things mitigated by education. Parents often forget you can still instill your values into your child, invoke your religious beliefs, understand that if various forms of pot treat their anxiety, bipolar, pain symptoms better than the litany of sanctioned prescription drugs after 21 maybe they shouldn’t. We highlight the mistakes teens keep making behind the wheel from speeding, to distraction, to waiting until 18 to get a license thereby subverting graduated licensing programs, note that things are getting worse encompassing parental ability to teach their children how to drive, be safe on the road. But never to the point of making sure every town, city, municipality has professional driving instruction, so parents aren’t the only choice in teaching their young driver, don’t have to pay exorbitantly out of pocket for a private instructor. Never addressing the biggest thing seen in video clip footage of a teen going too fast, not seeing the other car run a red light, it took me 3 times to see what mentioned video showed; indicating if the lighting was as bad as the video quality, that’s another part of the problem, horrible, insufficient lighting on streets at night. Coming on the heels of studies revealing headlights on popular cars and pickup trucks perform profoundly poorly according to rating agencies, but the take away was teens need to slow down, ditch the distractions and parents need to ensure that happens by bettering their instruction and imposing more restrictions as they give their teen the privilege to drive. And light pollution, city electric bills, money no member of government wants to allot to infrastructure is more important than fixing inherent road dangers a-la functional lighting so people can see where they’re going at night, lights that don’t disrupt wildlife, land or ocean/lake varieties, correcting defective guardrails too. Redundancy piling atop redundancy schools doing the same with privileges as the police officer’s stance on pot stemming from alcohol use, banning homecoming thanks to students who showed up drunk to a football game, in the past banning proms based on kids who showed up inebriated or what they might do after involving booze. Instead of A- punishing the unruly students, banning them from extracurricular activities, B- tracing the source of underage alcohol, is it parents’ liquor cabinets unmonitored, unaware, inattentive parents, is it a local liquor store, series of them selling to minors with fake ID’s, is it a college age person supplying booze for a fee, tackling the specific problem. Stanford bans alcohol in X quantity for select younger students, no one ever putting together k-12 education stops at 18, college students will turn 21 before graduating, maybe we ought to educate them on the differences in types of alcohol, gender differences and alcohol. Floating so much as the idea people getting sick, falling down, slurring their words is not responsible drinking; responsible drinking, not modeled in America either parents don’t drink at all, don’t drink in front of kids and teens, or are alcoholics, irresponsible drinkers themselves. Responsible drinking by contrast is saying no after 1, 2 drinks, never feeling tipsy, buzzed or more than slightly either, rather savoring a good wine with food, a beer or 2 with appetizers at a game. Salon author’s piece on her own sobriety point blank says no one roofied her, she roofed herself by what she drank and how much coupled with weight and body chemistry, but we don’t teach them that, or guys a girl can be in a blackout state and look functional, coherent yet won’t remember the next day. Never drawing the conclusion instead of liquor limitations all college orientations, Stanford’s should consist of not just where things are, rules about candles in dorm rooms, meal plans/cards but dorm etiquette, legalities on webcams, smartphones and the photos’ videos taken with them, conflict mediation and on campus legal, counseling exc. resources, things that would have deescalated situation dynamics between, Dharun Ravi and Tyler Clementi, alcohol education emphasis on drinking responsibly, how alcohol effects the body. Consent raising a mirroring set of conundrums, returning again to the base article critique the author talks angrily and incredulously about, “What is frustrating in these ongoing campaigns, however, is the tone is almost always focused on what women can do to not get raped instead of how men can conduct themselves to not rape people.” As if it’s the simplest thing in the world, as if no decent person should ever have to be told this and it’s a sad commentary on society we do, when it’s so much more nuanced than that; here being where feminists and women’s rights activists earn parts on their bad name. There is no question her cited example Brock Turner is guilty of rape, should have known he was doing wrong caught humping her unconscious body, grinding her forehead into gravel, shoving pine needles and mulch, leaf litter into her, the Vanderbilt boys who carried this unconscious woman to their dorm, sexually assaulted her, filming it while laughing, her ex-boyfriend orchestrating the whole thing, but all cases aren’t as clear cut. 99% of the time we aren’t dealing with future sexual predators, budding serial, habitual rapists as much as drastically uninformed, misinformed young people; even Brock Turner whose behavior points to that possibility, it’s hard to know if he would never have done those things with a father who said more than his measly sentence was a steep price to pay for 20 minutes of action. Ma’lik Richmond told the ABC interviewer what he thought rape was, jumping out of an alley and attacking a girl, forcing yourself on her in that context, saying he didn’t do that, elaborating later he didn’t rape anyone, see a rape going on and if he had seen one he would have stopped it. David Becker the Massachusetts high school student found guilty of rape sincerely told the judge he thought his victim’s lack of protest meant it was ok; if we want men, young men specifically to stop raping people, not to be rapists we have to give them an accurate definition, picture of what that is in all it’s facets, something we have yet to do, never mind effectively. When are we going to start listening to what teenagers are telling us and correcting their vast misconceptions, when are colleges, high schools even, where the majority of this starts/happens, going to step up and put together interactive, tutorial programs that inform, that use current situations, headline making scenarios as teaching tools to avoid this kind of trouble, stigma, to not be a rapist, and you don’t get a class schedule, a dorm assignment, an I.D., nothing until you complete those interactive tutorials? Chiefly bridging the gap between the law and long held social understandings of rape and consent, that Ma’lik Richmond’s concept of rape isn’t the only definition of rape including marital rape, date/acquaintance older adults are less familiar with there is the reality of legal consent. That if a girl, a woman is drunk, drugged incapacitated, only semi-conscious, it doesn’t matter if she is saying yes, what she’s doing, flirting with you, seeming to enjoy what you are doing to, with her she, by virtue of her altered state cannot consent and you can be charged with rape. Frank, honest discussions about how would you feel if someone did what these students did to you while you were sleeping, pass out, sleeping off what you drank, how would you feel if someone treated your mother, grandmother, sister, aunt, cousin like teen/college guys are prone to treating women, wondering where’s the empathy. Frank, honest discussions about where seduction and enticement, getting a girl in ‘the mood’ end and pressure and force begin, crossing the line to sex assault and rape. Brock Turner’s victim providing a good, practical litmus test for if you have consent or not, can the person you want to have sex with put together the most rudimentary complete sentence; if they can’t, they are too sleepy, incoherent, unconscious, drunk, drugged to give consent so don’t. And even that is no guarantee.
We don’t have a rape culture in America we have a consent ambiguous culture whereby rape remains a crime on the books that is dutifully enforced, cases prosecuted and rapists put in jail every day; our problem is narrow social definitions of rape that haven’t caught up to real life scenarios, federal definitions and recent court cases. When the likes of president elect Trump, Rush Limbaugh and Roger Ailes can’t get this right how do we expect anyone younger to; put most middle age adults in a room and ask them to tell you what rape is and they’re apt to tell you something similar to what Ma’lik Richmond said, why we can’t rely on parents to teach kids what they need to know, they aren’t qualified educators, information, laws routinely change. Further, who of the lay, ordinary population wouldn’t think someone all over you, flirting with you, talking seductively to you wasn’t indicating a yes with their behavior, their body language, if not outright saying it, no matter how drunk they were? Richmond also told his ABC news interviewer in the back of the car that night where their victim was first raped as Trent massaged her breast, fondled her she just continued kissing on Trent’s neck, complied atop information she wanted to come to a party where Trent was, asked him to come to a party where she was going to be, got agitated with her friends trying to keep her from a bad decision and insisted on going with Trent, night ending with sexual contact in a car and do we not understand how people looking at case facts, not hype, innuendo would be confused by the rape charge never mind a teenager, 2 of them? Under questioning Owen Labrie’s lawyer got his victim to admit they got through the portion of foreplay where she’s lifting up her hips to make it easier to remove her pants; now we know a woman can say no at any time and that should be respected, if it’s not it’s rape. But did Owen Labrie know that, more importantly and we wonder at his confusion, proclamations of innocence. We operate on the ignorance is no excuse understanding to ensure ‘I didn’t know that’ doesn’t become a legal defense for any number of obviously illegal actions, stealing, killing, physical assault, rape where the person is fighting you, screaming, no, begging you to stop. But is it time to reexamine that in the shadow of Zach Anderson, what really happened in Steubenville, details surrounding David Becker producing that impact statement and persecutors went ahead with the rape, not a lesser degree charge, anyway, when adults are as unaware as their teens and teaching them wrongly, when education systems don’t, won’t teach these issues from a legal perspective believing it’s a family thing, the province and purview of parents to teach these values according to their moral compass, religion? Tangling things exponentially on the social front at lease, brought up in the comment section of the Oklahoma article was, “This is probably an unpopular opinion but having no memory of the event does not mean that there was no consent. It is quite probable that the boy took advantage of the situation but it is also possible that he was too drunk himself, to make sense of the situation. As a rule, kids, just stop binge drinking and absolutely no sex when anyone is slurring their words.” While the latter portion is crass, easily seen as ‘part of the problem’ and that still doesn’t get you over the legal hurdle of too drunk to consent, it succinctly illustrates a valid point; it is entirely possible not only the Oklahoma woman said yes but very much more likely the Steubenville girl did then panicked when she had no memory the next day due to her alcohol consumption, men college, high school boys thinking; she said yes what are we doing here, what do you mean rape? Adding yet another layer is this excerpt from author Angi Becker Stevens for Ms. Magazine “It matters a great deal that we recognize a more expansive definition of rape, and that we realize rape does not always include physical force or brutal violence. In both a legal and a social sense, we absolutely must be aware that rape includes any scenario in which a person does not, or is unable to, give consent–no matter how minimal the physical struggle, regardless of whether they acted flirtatiously or consented in the past, or any of the myriad other things that are used to excuse acts of sexual violence. But even with that expansive definition, there is a lot of problematic, often dehumanizing or traumatic sex that still does not meet the technical qualification of rape. Women consent because they feel like they have to, because they are pressured, because they are afraid or embarrassed to say “no.” And all too often we find ourselves in situations which we feel we cannot reasonably label as “rape” yet nonetheless leave us feeling as though something terribly wrong has happened…” Things we don’t tell men or women, teen girls, boys eager for their first time, that sex can be painful for you girls, women are much more emotionally invested in sex where for guys it’s about frequency of sexual activity over quality, if you aren’t gentle and attentive you can traumatize a girl, make her feel like she was raped. “Part of this conversation is about the behavior of individual men. A conscientious and respectful sexual partner should not view a reluctantly given “yes” as free license to behave however he wishes. If a woman says “OK” yet continues to be clearly uncomfortable and distressed, then perhaps we can’t officially go so far as to label her partner a rapist–but I am certainly willing to say that, from an ethical if not a legal perspective, he is doing something wrong. And our conversations with men about sex and consent should not only be about what can or cannot land you in jail. They should be conversations about respecting women as human beings….” But again we don’t tell men sex can be traumatic for women, we don’t tell young men, boys that either, most of the 3 would look at you like you had grown another head if you told them that; too, women don’t talk about this in forums to high school, middle school students, we don’t do such forums at colleges, so there is nowhere for them to learn that. There’s nowhere for them to learn that women who say no in the middle of foreplay, just as things are getting good aren’t being a tease, instead responding to their body that has frozen up in fear, apprehension, often the guy, who is much bigger physically is on top which can make a girl feel trapped, forced just by sheer positioning, necessitating even more gentleness, taking things slowly; women also need to be aware there is a point that men cannot stop without physically injuring themselves, usually after penetration has taken place though. We don’t impart lessons to girls about how not to key a guy up to that point, so high if you are unsure about your readiness to have sex, comfort level having sex with person X. “I’ve heard quite a few men claim that getting active consent for “every little thing” is unrealistic and completely ruins the mood. But it shouldn’t be absurd to expect that someone would check in every now and again if his or her partner seems at all uncomfortable, or if they’re about to try something new. The occasional “Is this OK?,” “Do you like this?,” or “Does this feel good?” can quite easily be a natural (and sexy!) part of intimacy–hardly the equivalent of pausing sex to fill out paperwork and sign waivers.” Again we don’t tell men particularly high school, college age young men that, that it can be that simple; on the contrary, thanks to cases like Steubenville, the ‘light’ sentences of David Becker if not Brock Turner has turned us into a sign a waiver or chance getting charged with rape kind of society. Predictably now there’s even an app for that well-intentioned but falling flat in practicality; beyond mood killer, who is going to stop ‘getting it on’ to actually read the app rather than just scribble their initials and signature where indicated and get back to removing each other’s clothes, tonsil hockey, fondling. App creators say it’s a legal contract of consent and intent, but without a test case no one really knows, more damning it has no room for changing your mind and potentially could exonerate a rapist if a woman, girl did change her mind. Surely we can and should do better by both women and men.