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Sex, Drugs and Muddy Waters (micheleincalifornia.blogspot.com)
44 points by Mz 10 months ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 8 comments

Most date rape or college campus rapes involve alcohol. But if you try to suggest that sobriety is a good preventive measure, people get pretty wrapped around the axle. People act like advocating sobriety is some sort of evil impingement on a college girl's right to have fun.

Alcohol is the elephant in the room. Read "Getting Wasted: Why College Students Drink Too Much and Party So Hard". This is a detailed study of college drinking, with many interviews. "Drunkworld" didn't happen by accident. It took heavy promotion by the alcohol industry and cooperation by college administrations. The sex issues are mostly a spillover from the booze problems.

Now we're seeing that spill over into the business world. There are combination bars and workspaces now. Ten years ago that would have been a laughable concept.

> There are combination bars and workspaces now. Ten years ago that would have been a laughable concept.

And 50 years ago, this would have been considered standard equipment for an executive office, as "Mad Men" demonstrated.

I don't think the problem of young people having difficulty moderating their consumption of spirits is primarily advertising. People have been drinking more than they ought ever since we figured out how to make alcohol in quantities sufficient. Of course, much like obesity, the abundance of food (and alcohol is almost always made from food) has made this a much bigger problem, just because at this point in time almost all of us can afford enough alcohol every night to cause ourselves real problems; something that hasn't been true for much of history. the "Coffey still" in the 19th century really accelerated this, making even strong distilled spirits way cheaper than they historically have been.

Regardless of advertising, you are going to have this problem on college campuses going forward, simply because alcohol is a widely available and fun drug where the difference between fun dose and a dose that causes yourself problems even if you are drinking somewhere safe isn't huge; It's not as tight a band, say, as nicotine, but alcohol diminishes your judgement in ways that make moderating your intake a lot more difficult. I think most people have a hard time moderating their intake the first time they consume a significantly psychoactive dosage of alcohol, and developing that skill takes time. College-age people who drink are pretty likely to drink too much for that reason alone. I think we should promote a "If you are too drunk to calculate your approximate BAC without scratch paper, you have had more than enough" slogan in colleges, along with a "anyone who pressures you to drink isn't really your friend" campaign. (I personally have experience of that learning curve, and the difficulty of moderating one's intake; I have seen peer pressure, but haven't experienced it from people I'd really call peers. This is largely because I didn't start drinking until my '20s, after I had figured out how to choose my peers. It's different when someone you call "other" is pressuring you to drink. )

I don't think drinking at work is new, either. I do think that who gets to drink has changed, and that has changed where they drink. It used to be only sales and management got the 'three martini lunch' - and they mostly went off-site for it. With the rise of the prestige of the Engineers and Technicians, we now get alcohol at work, an I think that our culture is more comfortable in our own spaces; We are not as comfortable going out as the sales teams are, so you see more affordances for drinking in the office itself. Really, there's a lot to recommend that; You know there are cameras everywhere, the code of conduct is explicit and dramatically more clear than you will get almost anywhere else, and most businesses even have a whole department dedicated to dealing with violations of that code. I mean, you are making more work for them, but compared to drinking off-site, I think you will see fewer problems.

(Note to employers; if you are hiring food technicians, and I strongly encourage you to do so, I strongly prefer them to prepare me food than to prepare me alcohol. The difference between food prepared on site by someone who knows what they are doing and food that is mostly pre-assembled is huge, while the difference between a beer pulled by an expert and one I grab from the fridge is small, and no employer I've yet seen has hired bartenders skilled enough to craft cocktails worth drinking. Just my opinion.)

When I was in college there was a flier circulated by the university concerning getting drunk at parties which could lead to situations ranging from regrettable but consentual sexual encounters to rape.

One interesting thing that surprised me was that the state had pretty tough DUI laws (Driving Under the Influence). Which had some legal wording to the effect that being drunk cannot be used as an excuse for having bad judgement and deciding to drive and then getting any liniency because of it. The dark side of that was that in case when a someone gets drunk at a party and then consents to a sexual encounter, it is harder for the defense to make the case for rape. So they basically advised people not to drink because if something happened they might​ have a tough time in court proving it was rape.

On the same note, I always wondered why the governmental Surgeon General warning on alcohol containers includes birth defects, driving and operating heavy machinery but doesn't include consenting to sexual encounters which next day might be regrettable. At least compared to "heavy machinery" it would be just as high or higher risk for the average citizen.

A very humane and insightful blog-post. If the internet had structures to amplify this level-headed opinions, instead of cresting into a wall of death between misogyny and moral-justice-warriors, it would be the better place - the better world adjoint deserves.

One night I had to have a "birds and the bees talk" with one of my taxi passengers. Previously she did not appreciate the power that women have to choose who they want to have relationships with.


I've given this diary as a speech several times (brother's mother-in-law, Toastmasters's, etc). People usually chuckle - the tension between the genders makes a lot more sense with these considerations in mind.

Interesting to me that someone whose tagline is "bon vivant" on their blog is so bold about making sure business always remains strictly business, even when it's consuming the outer ends of your hours. The mere possibility of a man and woman having personal issues is enough to say that we can never allow intimacy with co-workers, that alcohol is too dangerous for work environments. Maybe that is "good" but if you are going to be spending so much life at such a big task it doesn't sound like a good life, imo.

I want to be good at what I do & enjoy the world with fellows and fellas also into being good. Neither work not the world are enough unto themselves.

I like the end about signalling. Merely being in some situations corresponds heavily to a willingness and interest to go further. Sure ok. Trying to contra-indicate though- I feel like that's what's not great. Trying to get through to an intoxicated person isn't always as direct as it should be, and we're all often so hampered by our want to be nice, to not displease anyone. Making more ambient contra-indicators available- how sexually interested we are in the world at large perhaps- could perhaps provide adequately de-personalized broadcasting. While it's reciprocal how much we are interested could also help those single folk wondering whether it's ok to approach.

Flirting is always an exercise in plausible deniability. You do something legitimately (or plausibly) platonic, while working out what the other person wants. If you forbid anything that might look flirty, by definition you forbid a bunch of legit platonic behaviour. This is not a reasonable demand. This is why people push back so hard against such demands, using terms like "victim-blaming".

The problem with both of these points is the same:

> Most date rape or college campus rapes involve alcohol. But ... People act like advocating sobriety is some sort of evil impingement on a college girl's right to have fun.

If your college's social life is based heavily around alcohol, then yes, this drastically impacts your life. You are asking people (let's be clear: women) to self-ostracise if they want to be safe. (Is this a healthy culture? No. You should be able to socialise without drinking. But if you come from a healthier culture, it's easy to miss how much you're asking. "Just say sober" might be low-cost advice for you; not so much for the typical college kid who wants to fit in.)


> Regardless of your gender, if you want to keep it clear that this is a business relationship, drinks alone in a private setting with a member of the opposite sex is a bad policy.

Again, you're asking someone to voluntarily abandon a form of networking, in an industry that is critically dependent on networks.

(Is this a healthy culture? Ehh...maybe? I'd be very sad if you told me I couldn't have a drink with my workmates/friends-from-work - but that's part of how we build our networks.)


And all of this ignores that this victim didn't even do the things you're advising against! This incident happened after a party where several others were present. The "private setting" happened to her.

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