The Weapons of Sexual Assault

by Carol Iannone

More of Senator Claire McCaskill’s hearings on campus sexual assault were aired on C-SPAN yesterday. When the subject of drinking came up, there was a chorus of repudiation from the attending activists that alcohol should be a consideration in fighting sexual assault. It was a troubling response. One panelist let out that alcohol is a “weapon” in the crime, not the crime itself.

Okay, but given that we know the majority of assaults occur when the woman has been drinking, wouldn’t it make sense, if you want to prevent trouble, that you would advise women to abstain or limit their intake? Wouldn’t that take the “weapon” out of the assaulter’s hands? One almost gets the impression that the desire is to increase the number of victims and “survivors,” so as to increase the urgency of sexual assault activism.

When prevention was mentioned in the discussion, it was in connection with preventing serial assaulters. Is this the typical profile of a young man who commits assault in the campus context, that he does so serially, a Hugh Hefner-type, preying on woman after woman, plying them with alcohol to pave the way? Or is it more often true that many of those accused of assault are, like the victims, freshmen and sophomores, unused to living with the opposite sex in the intimacy of coed dorms, perhaps also unaccustomed to the free flow of alcohol, and just stumbling toward the sexual fulfillment that they have been promised in their orientations and college literature? This wouldn’t excuse assault, of course, but it would point to the way that many policies, supported by feminism and other progressive movements, make it more possible.