Emily Yoffe is an advice columnist for Slate’s Dear Prudence, and also just so happens to be preparing to send her teenage daughter off to college next year. She recently utilized her platform, and her freedom of speech, to offer a “tip” to college-aged women if they want to successfully stay immune to sexual assault….Stop getting drunk.
And yes…she was for real.
Referencing a study that concluded 80% of rape cases on college campuses involve alcohol, Yoffe asserted:
A common denominator in these cases is alcohol, often copious amounts, enough to render the young woman incapacitated,’ writes Ms Yoffe. ‘We are failing to let women know that when they render themselves defenseless, terrible things can be done to them.
It’s interesting to me how she omitted the fact that the majority of rape cases go unreported – 54% according to rainn.org – the circumstances of which we’ll never know.
Regardless, Yoffe does make a point. Binge drinking on college campuses is a problem, but let’s not make it the scapegoat for the real problem here. The rapists themselves.
For this obvious reason, Yoffe‘s hackneyed, archaic tip hinting the “she asked for it” mentality, received a flood of backlash from fellow writers of both genders.
The Atlantic Wire’s Alexander Abad-Santos stated that ‘Yoffe’s point doesn’t come from a bad place — she wants to see less women raped. That’s a good intention, which the overwhelming majority of Americans share. [But] it’s like telling people not to drive late at night because they might die at the hands of a drunk driver — these people aren’t breaking the law, yet they’re the ones being targeted and asked to compromise their lives. What about teaching men not to rape?’
The biggest problem with her “solution” to sexual assault is the fact that she’s misplacing the accountability for rape incidences onto the actions – or inactions – of the victims, rather than the actions and intentions of the criminals at fault. In a sense, she’s indirectly allowing for rape cases in which liquor is involved to be excusable.
Lori Adelman of Feministing, who’s one of the writers who spoke out against Yoffe’s bit of advice, noted that she frequently uses her platform on Dear Prudence to scold women who are sexually assaulted after drinking. I’d like to think that this is just an easy and effective way for her to get a good grip on her daughter’s mind, and she’s really JK about the whole abstaining from liquor thing. But something tells me that’s not the case.
Oh, and piggy-backing to my earlier point about unreported incidences of rape, the infographic below is some interesting food for thought.