Young women, drinking and rape

Emily Yoffe wrote an article in Slate that caused some outrage. Her message? Young women should drink less so they won’t be raped.

A 2009 study of campus sexual assault found that by the time they are seniors, almost 20 percent of college women will become victims, overwhelmingly of a fellow classmate. Very few will ever report it to authorities. The same study states that more than 80 percent of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol. Frequently both the man and the woman have been drinking. The men tend to use the drinking to justify their behavior, as this survey of research on alcohol-related campus sexual assault by Antonia Abbey, professor of psychology at Wayne State University, illustrates, while for many of the women, having been drunk becomes a source of guilt and shame. Sometimes the woman is the only one drunk and runs into a particular type of shrewd—and sober—sexual predator who lurks where women drink like a lion at a watering hole. For these kinds of men, the rise of female binge drinking has made campuses a prey-rich environment. I’ve spoken to three recent college graduates who were the victims of such assailants, and their stories are chilling.

Yoffe ends by saying she has talked to her college-bound daughter about limiting the amount of alcohol she drinks:

She’ll have a good chance of knowing what’s going on around her if she limits herself to no more than two drinks, sipped slowly—no shots!—and stays away from notorious punch bowls.

Yoffe’s column has gotten criticism. Ann Friedman in New York Magazine cleverly rewrote Yoffe’s column as a warning to young men. Katie McDonough called the column “offensive and damaging to victims.”

Emily Yoffe will join us this Thursday. What’s your take? What advice should we give to young women? To young men? What would you say to your daughter or sister?