Rosie Perez: I do not understand the parents who do not tell their sons, ‘please don’t be a rapist.’ This is wrong. When you go to college, when you go anywhere, you be a gentleman, you be a man about it and don’t rape young women on campus.
Whoopi Goldberg: We’ve gotta teach both. We have to teach both because sometimes, you know, our young women get out there and drink themselves into a stupor. I’m not attacking, but I am saying there is some responsibility. When you go to a frat party, don’t get blind drunk. Don’t put anybody in a position of being able to take advantage of you. You don’t need to do that. That’s all I mean. That’s all I’m saying.
Dear Ms. Goldberg, drinking alcohol makes a woman easier to victimize but it does not at all make her responsible for her sexual assault much in the same way that leaving a laptop visible in your car does not make you responsible for the broken window and the theft of your laptop. Victims are not responsible for crimes, criminals are.
Discussing sexual assault is difficult because it is so very important to be careful and not let our societal tendency to victim blame insert creep into the conversation. Once words like responsibility and alcohol use are linked to the victim the suggestion is made that in some universe (Goldberg’s anyway, not mine) that it is ok to have sex with a woman who is so intoxicated that she is in a stupor.
I do believe discussions about alcohol use are important, but mostly because drinking yourself to the point of incapacitation is not healthy in many ways not related to sexual assault. I have seen young people with alcohol poisoning as a result of binge drinking (never mind the long-term effect on the liver and brain), some who have needed intubation in the emergency department because they couldn’t protect their own airway. Women AND men who are drinking to the point of being in a stupor need some education about their alcohol use. Period.
While drinking alcohol does make it easier for rapists to prey on and assault women, that does not mean that women who drink are responsible for their sexual assault any more than if they wore a mini skirt, took a short cut through a back alley, or were in a foreign country because a woman can never be responsible for her sexual assault.
So the discussion of alcohol and sexual assault must be handled very delicately. It is right to point of things that increase a woman’s chance of victimization just like pointing out the alleys where assaults have happened, but the word responsibility should never enter into the discussion because when it does, especially conversations with national audiences, it helps to maintain the false narrative that somehow of all victims only a rape victim is responsible for her own assault.
If a man thinks having sex with a woman who is stuporous or passed out is okay then he is on his
way to being a rapist. Once he has sex with a woman who can’t consent he is a rapist. Perhaps Whoopi has been spending too much time listening to the opinions of her pal Bill Cosby?
When you say a woman bears some responsibility for her sexual assault you are attacking. You are becoming part of the problem, especially if you have national platform. You are insinuating that somehow no means yes and that women are for the taking, consent or consciousness be damned.
As Whoopi must be one of the few people not to see this video I suggest she watch it so she can learn more about responsibility when a woman has had too much to drink. Maybe Rosie Perez can mention it because she was the one speaking the truth, that when it comes to sexual assault we need to teach men not to be rapists. End of discussion.