City Journal Autumn 2014

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Autumn 2014
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Heather Mac Donald
In Defense of Serena « Back to Story

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Heather, it is heartening to hear the voice of common sense occasionally rise above the din and howl of the political-agenda crowd!
Not only should the 16 year old girl not have been drinking, she should have been on a curfew to be home by ,say, 10 pm, with one or both of her parents there to pick her up and take her home!
Blame the parents for giving their kids an adult's freedom of choice before they are ready to exercise it responsibly.
MacDonald writes fearlessly and clear-eyed as always. But I would even go further. It is not just that the victim put herself in a vulnerable position, but she has greatly blurred the line between impropriety and crime. We cannot claim that all sexual incidents are context free. Consider how low the bar of impropriety the boys jumped over. How probable would it have been that this girl, slightly less drunk, making out with the boys would have permitted to be digitally penetrated? Perhaps, and I know this is unbelievable, enjoyed it? Are the boys to determine if she is so drunk that she will not remember?
Are the boys to know if she will regret it the next day? Does the fact that the boys were drunk give them cover as it does the girl? The girl was passed out, but look how plausibly close the boys to physically doing the same thing yet it being of no particular rebuke. I do not know the mores of the girl. But to claim that this incident as presented, is the same as someone sexually assaulting a woman in all other contexts is absurd. Like the difference between someone splashing you unsolicited with water in a pool vs. on the street in your work clothes. They are both the same action, but the immediate context and the behaviors of both parties makes one many times more offensive and detestable. It sounds like the girl did something something even more permissive than walk down the street naked. She showed sexual interest to specific people. That doesn't mean the boys didn't commit a detestable act, certainly they don't a right to photograph someone naked and unconsious, or that they shouldn't be punished to some degree, but the girl's behavior means everything here.
This may be a first for me-agreeing wholehaeatedly with a Heather MacDonald piece. Even waaaay back when I was in college, I felt that many of the young women I saw hanging out at the frat parties or making their way down the street on weekend nights with a bottle of beer in each hand and not a care in the world were setting themselves up for a potentially bad night.
One of my "sayings" since I was a teenager, and one that my now-teenaged daughters have heard me say ad nauseum goes a little something like this: By rights, we women should be able to walk down the street stark naked without being accosted, but I would never try it. In other words, no one can see every danger around the corner, but for Heavens' sake, doing or not doing certain things can certainly increase your chances of being victimized.
While I wouldn't wish the fate of the victim in the Stubenville case on anyone (and yes, she was a victim), I can't help but think that not drinking would have helped her keep her wits about her and not put herself into the unfortunate situation which occurred. And that applies whether you're 16 or 36.
By the way, this isn't about absolving the perpertrators. This is about helping myself and other women to do all we can within our power to keep ourselves out of danger.
Best way for a women to avoid the "rape culture"--behave responsibly.