A guy helping a girl to her car after a few too many drinks. This scene is not uncommon in college towns across the country. I see it at least every weekend, if not more often, where I attend school. So let’s add our own caption of what we think happens. A girl and guy meet at a bar or club. Both enjoy each other’s company over some drinks. A few empty glasses later, their loud laughter signals that it is time for them to head out. But after they stumble out the door and leave in a taxi, the rest of the night’s occurrences are unknown until the next day when the girl reports she was raped.
So many different scenarios could have taken place. The guy could have raped her. The girl could have changed her mind but was too intoxicated to get the message across. It becomes a game of “he said, she said.” Some may ask why a girl would volunteer herself to be victimized again through a drawn-out legal process if she was not raped. Others question if the guy’s intentions could have been harmless, and a lack of communication could label him as a sex offender for the rest of his life.
The consumption of alcohol impairs memory and judgment – two crucial factors that when lost, can make a fun night out turn into a life-changing nightmare. I wholeheartedly agree that “sex without consent is sexual assault.” By no means am I condoning the perverts who troll the nightlife scene waiting to grab the most intoxicated girl he can find. Every campus police briefing sounds like a broken record when warning students not to walk alone after dark and to utilize a buddy system during a night out on the town. Personal responsibility is critical among college students, and I believe it is a two-way street. But there is a fine line in political correctness between stressing personal responsibility and placing blame on the victim.
Law enforcement and rape victim advocates in Vancouver and Edmonton, Canada are pushing for more focus on the perpetrator instead of the victim. Safety guidelines have been emphasized for decades, but with girls still being raped, other tactics are being tried. In addition to educating bartenders and security personnel to be on the look-out for vulnerable patrons, posters have been going up all over the city stressing the need for men to step up and be gentlemen. Just like “Say No To Drugs” became so popular in the 90s, the new phrase is “Don’t Be That Guy.”
The statistics are unclear about whether the new movement is having an effect on the number of rapes; Vancouver reported a decreased number of reported rapes while Edmonton had an increase. Research is still needed to know the most effective ways to decrease sexual crimes, but educating the next generation to be personally responsible and for guys to be gentlemen is healthy for our whole society.
NeW has been praising real men for years with their Gentlemen’s Showcase. May we not forget to recognize the men in our lives who are respectful, caring, and responsible.