Ponnada: Don't blame the alcohol

BY SRI PONNADA | APRIL 09, 2014 5:00 AM

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One of my friends just told me about a very unsettling encounter she had with a guy at the Sports Column last month. She said he asked for her number, and as she was writing a fake number down (because why the hell would you give just any dude your number?), the guy yelled, “This better not be a fake number ’cause if it is, I’m gonna beat the s*** out of you.”

I was pretty upset that my friend had such an experience, but I wasn’t the least bit surprised.

There are, of course, lots of guys who go around groping and rubbing up against women, incessantly hitting on women, and overall just being scumbags. Usually, these creeps are given a free pass because it’s assumed that they’re only being aggressive because they’re drunk.

But science is saying that the drunken jackass you might’ve run into on a night out is just as much of a jackass when he’s sober.

According to a new study published this week in the journal Alcoholism: Clinical and Experimental Research, there is no relation between a man’s level of intoxication and aggressive behavior.

The study involved observation of young people’s behavior in bars and (not surprisingly) found that almost all of the aggression was physical, as well as deliberate. And as if that wasn’t bad enough — the study showed that men are also preying on intoxicated women. Researchers think that men may see intoxicated women as being more compliant with sexual advances or as easy targets because they aren’t conscious enough to reject them.

However, when a drunk girl gets raped, I hear relatively little of this: “An evil bastard must have taken advantage of her.” And far too much of this: “That’s what happens when you’re drunk.”

Our society has the warped idea that women who are sexually assaulted while they are under the influence of alcohol are “asking for it.” The blame is always shifted toward the victim when the finger should be pointed at no one but the perpetrator — who in the olden days was thought to be a strange, sexually repressed man or maybe a serial rapist.

Now, with the results of this new study, we know for sure that there are genuine creeps everywhere, in all shapes and sizes, and they have been getting away with their crap for way too long by hiding behind drunkenness.

Think about it. How many times have you heard this story: A woman goes on a date with a decent guy, he has few drinks, starts to get aggressive, pressures or even forces her to drink, and then he assaults her. Then, the woman either a) thinks she’s at fault or b) excuses him because she thinks/he claims that he only did it because he was drunk. But the truth is c) anyone, intoxicated or not, who sexually assaults someone, intoxicated or not, shouldn’t be excused.

It’s one thing to say and do incredibly dumb things when you’re drunk, but it’s something else to sexually assault someone. Instead of berating victims of sexual assault, our society needs to shift toward condemning rapists who it’s been pardoning for committing crimes under the influence.

Being drunk doesn’t make it OK for a woman to get raped, and it doesn’t magically transform men into rapists either. These are definitely times when you can’t just blame it on the alcohol.

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