A woman should be able to pass out drunk in a stranger’s room and—get this!—not get raped.
I barely remember some of my best stories from college. One good one I can jog most of the details from was during a trip to Germany for Oktoberfest. I. Got. Trashed. I don’t know why, but when I get drunk in a place I’ve never been—sometimes in a place where I don’t speak the language—I like to explore. So I went exploring. My conscious thoughts fading in and out, I decided it would be a good idea to buy one of those big Cat in the Hat-type souvenir hats and then ride a subway to somewhere. I don’t quite recall buying the train ticket or figuring out the German subway system, but I do remember almost falling asleep on some guy’s shoulder. He seemed nice.
Eventually it dawned on me that the hat I got was really stupid. Also, that I had to find my friends because they were my ride back to London, where I was studying abroad. I described this rowdy group of Americans (which really narrowed it down, I’m sure) to everyone in Munich who looked like they might speak some English. I don’t know how, but I found them, passed out on the bus ride home, and lived to tell the tale!
(I saw this T-shirt at Target. It seemed both incredibly appropriate and incredibly inappropriate.)
Yeah, that could have gone horribly wrong for me. It was really, really dumb. And it wasn’t the only time I drank and did something really, really dumb.
These stories, often told by someone else, are frequently embarrassing to me and alarming to the people who love me, but also amusing in a shake-your-head-wow-what-an-idiot kind of way. They can, for the most part, be chalked up to being young and stupid. I was in college. I was supposed to drink too much and do idiotic—really idiotic—things. I never felt like I was in any real danger. It’s not like I was going to get raped.
Now I’m a dad. I have a daughter. Before you collectively groan, let me say that I don’t think this has changed my perspective on feminist issues as much as focused it. My view on the subject boils down to: Equal rights are pretty damn obvious and, you know, women shouldn’t fucking get raped. If that makes me a feminist, that’s a pretty low threshold. Mostly I just try not to be a sexist, misogynistic douche bag.
Some fathers, who can be well-meaning, still view their daughters as less-than, unable to stand up for themselves, think for themselves, or control their own bodies. “Guns don’t kill people; dads with pretty daughters do.” Fuck you. I have a son, too. Are you going to shoot him for dating your little girl? I want to teach my daughter to be smart and capable, and to know that—although she will always be my baby—she belongs to no one. If my wife and I have done our jobs right, our daughter will know she can make her own fucking decisions about who she wants to fuck. (My wife might kill me for having phrased it like that, though.)
(Unfortunately this item is no longer available on Etsy. Just too many fathers with pretty daughters, I guess. Image via Etsy.)
When she’s older and the time is right, I want to have an open dialogue with my daughter about sex. And about drinking and drugs. And about how drinking and drugs affect sexual inhibitions and can lead to some bad, potentially life-damaging, choices.
And now I’m a hypocrite. Also, maybe victim-blaming.
But I’m not. I hope I’m not.
I don’t blame the woman who was unconscious while rapist Brock Turner raped her. As she said in her statement to the court, alcohol was a factor that night. “But alcohol was not the one who stripped me, fingered me, had my head dragging against the ground, with me almost fully naked.” That was sex offender Brock Turner. Fuck Brock Turner. Fuck all the Brock Turners who don’t get any jail time because sexual assault is the most under-reported crime and, when it is reported, the victim’s life becomes fair game, her reputation is smeared, her sexual history is put on trial, and her alcohol consumption is used as a mitigating factor.
My wife doesn’t drink and never did. But she has stories about friends partying too hard in college, passing out, and being left by other “friends” in frat house rooms with boys they didn’t know. She saw the situations these girls put or found themselves in and it made her resolute to stay drug- and alcohol-free. She didn’t want her inhibitions lost. She didn’t want to use alcohol as an excuse for behavior she would never take part in while sober. She didn’t want some frat boy pouring her another drink or pouring something in her drink. She knew that there were risks involved in drinking, especially in drinking too much, and her solution was simple: don’t.
So, what do I tell my daughter?
I know what I want for her. I want her to have stupid, innocent fun. I want her to make mistakes and have stories that embarrass her and are good for a laugh. I don’t want her to be as dumb as me or to put herself in situations that make her vulnerable to predators. I want her to be silly and goofy and to have good friends that will look out for her if she does have one too many. I don’t want her alcohol-induced errors in judgment to be irreparably scarring.
So, what do I tell her?
Should I tell her to be a teetotaler, like her mom? I can’t tell her that. Well, I can, but I don’t think it’ll do any good. She’ll probably drink. She’ll probably smoke some pot. And she should be able to. She should be able to have a really idiotic night or two that, as her dad, I won’t want to hear about (unless she wants to tell me, because I’m always here for you, honey).
No matter what she does, she shouldn’t be raped.
That goes without saying, so I’ll say it again. She shouldn’t be raped! She shouldn’t be sexually assaulted by an entitled asshole, like Brock Turner, who doesn’t understand or give a shit about consent. She shouldn’t do anything at all that she doesn’t want to do or feel comfortable with.
(Brock Turner’s mug shot. Because he is a fucking criminal.)
But if my daughter drinks and makes bad decisions or can’t make decisions because she’s blacked out or is unconscious, what then? Hopefully, she’ll be smarter than me and that won’t happen. If she does have a misstep and it does happen, hopefully I can count on men not taking advantage of her, taking advantage of the situation. Hopefully, I can count on them not to fucking rape her. A woman should be able to pass out drunk in a stranger’s room and—get this!—not get raped. If a college guy slept one off in someone else’s bed, the worst thing that would likely happen is he would get penises drawn all over his face. Maybe that is all that would happen. But for too many women, it’s not.
I wouldn’t be writing this if rape and sexual assault weren’t frighteningly common, much more common than I ever realized until recently. One in five women will be a victim of rape, sexual assault or sexual misconduct in their life, usually by men they know and trust. One such would-be date rapist Michael Hsu was only thwarted because three women saw him slip something into his date’s drink, a woman would considered Hsu “one of her best friends.” What the fucking fuck!!?? How do you guard against that?
(These women stopped a date rape. They get to pose like Charlie’s Angels for the rest of their lives. Image via Facebook.)
I don’t know what to tell my daughter. I don’t want to scare her. Too much. I just want her to be aware.
I’m also not exactly sure what I’m going to tell my son. But I know the conversation I have with him will be just as important as the one I have with her.
This article originally appeared on Amateur Idiot / Professional Dad. You can follow the hilarious adventures of this self-proclaimed idiot and biologically verified dad on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.