Summit Daily letters: Intoxicated people cannot consent
April 7, 2017
Intoxicated people cannot consent
Several entities in our community work hard to prevent sexual assault, and among the key messages we all hope to deliver to community members are:
• The absence of a Yes is a No
• Intoxicated people cannot consent
None of us should be expected to participate in any sexual activity without our fully volitional, clearly expressed desire to do so; all of us bear the responsibility of seeking and confirming consent from the other. The burden cannot be placed on an unwilling participant to ensure that the other person understands their lack of consent.
Yet we do it all the time. A common reaction to danger is that our brains render our bodies immobile, while shutting down rational thought. We do not grill the mugging victim to assure ourselves that they did everything humanly possible to prevent the mugging, but we expect rape victims to explain why they did not achieve superhuman mastery over evolutionarily determined responses in order to make it absolutely clear that they had no interest in being raped.
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Similarly, intoxication is often twisted into a convenient path for excusing a rapist's actions, when it should simply refer us back to the concept of consent. It doesn't matter if a person chose to become intoxicated. Rape is not a logical or justifiable consequence of drunkenness.
For many whom we have conversations in our outreach and prevention work, including high school seniors, these concepts make perfect sense. Unfortunately, others in our community fail in this regard, and that fact should disturb us deeply.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. If you are a survivor of sexual assault, family member, friend, or other supporter, keep a look out for information on our first annual Clothesline Project, in support of survivors.
Advocates for Victims of Assault