Women’s Sober Living: The Debate About Binge Drinking & Rape

Women’s Sober Living: The Debate About Binge Drinking & Rape | Transcend Recovery Community

Research has found that there is a correlation between binge drinking in young women and rape on college campuses. When a columnist for Slate magazine suggested that women should control their drinking, find sober help, and avoid the bars in order to protect themselves, she was heavily criticized for shifting the responsibility for rape from the perpetrators to the victims.

Essentially, the Slate writer was suggesting that the reason for rape across college campuses was because women were binge drinking. A debate spurred across the country with some attesting that there was nothing wrong with the Slate columnist’s suggestion for women to protect themselves. Others debated that her message sent a dangerous, if deadly, message that women shouldn’t have to protect themselves from the dysfunction of America’s society and the misogyny that is rampant around the world.

Another comment suggested that regardless of whether one chooses to enter into a women’s sober living facility on campus or blind drinking every weekend, there’s a problem with men who drink and then sexually assault their classmates. Perhaps the message to stop drinking should have been directed at men and not women. In a 2009 study of campus sexual assault, results indicated that many college men would become rapists to a fellow classmate. Although every few of these incidents were never reported to authorities, the study found that between 6 to 14.9 percent of men who were never formally prosecuted admit committing acts that meet legal definitions for rape or attempted suicide. The research also found that more than 80% of campus sexual assaults involve alcohol.

Sadly, the drinking was a means for men to justify their behavior towards women, while for women, having been drunk became a source of guilt and shame. This finding supports the comment made by the same woman who felt that the initial Slate suggestion was a sign of a misogynistic society.  The University of Massachusetts Philosophy Professor wrote:

“The special risk that drunkenness poses to women – that’s due to a social climate that tolerates sexual predation. When we tell young women to stay sober in order to avoid getting raped, we send the message that we do not intend to change that social climate.”

See her full comment in the debate here.

Women are already faced with social difficulty, and when they are drinking heavily they may be more at risk for developing an addiction, which often adds for women a social stigma. If and when women need treatment for alcohol addiction, women’s sober living homes can support a woman in feeling safe, which is an essential component to staying sober. Certainly, a women’s sober living home will not only facilitate healing the physical addiction, but the women-only environment can also help the emotional and psychological healing of addiction, and perhaps give them coping tools to manage the social dysfunction that works against the mental, emotional, and spiritual health of women.


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