Having Sex While Drunk Would Be Considered Assault Under New Law

drunk womanEver notice how many rape stories involve alcohol? One lawyer sure has, and she thinks it's no coincidence. In fact, she wants courts to assume that if a woman is drunk she can't consent to sex. Period. Drunk sex is rape.


Dame Elish Angiolini has been working on a comprehensive report on rape hoping to nudge investigators and courts into the 21st century. This is her boldest recommendation to lawmakers: "Assume women can't consent to sex when drunk." In fact, she wants the UK's Sexual Offenses Act to be amended to clarify that.

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Oh yeah -- we're talking about the UK. This isn't happening here -- for those of you already beginning to panic. It's an extreme idea, to be sure. But would it really be such a bad one? It certainly puts more of the responsibility for not raping on the rapists, which ... um ... kinda makes sense.

To be clear, I don't think every woman who has drunk sex is getting raped. I've had tipsy cocktail-plus-two-glasses-of-wine sex a time or two, and it was definitely consensual. But then, I never get DRUNK drunk. I've never blacked out and wondered what happened afterward. I think it's that kind of drunk Angiolini is talking about. 

The idea is, if you've been raped and you want to report it, you could get your blood alcohol tested. If it shows that you were drunk beyond the capacity to give consent (and I'm sure there would be a high standard for that) you could use that as evidence that whatever happened that night, it wasn't really consensual. 

Remember, the link between alcohol and rape is no big secret. Some call booze the "real" date rape drug.

Now imagine what kind of effect such a law would have on men. Getting a woman drunk so you can have sex with her would no longer be a thing. College guys would think twice about leading an inebriated girl back to their rooms at parties. Hell, guys might even start drinking less themselves, just so they can be absolutely clear about what happened the morning after.

And would that really be so terrible?

Many men seem confused about what rape really is. In a recent study, 32 percent of male college students admitted they would "force a woman to have sexual intercourse" but only 14 admitted they would ever "rape" a woman. I think this law would put pressure on guys to seek a little clarity on what consensual sex actually is before they go forth and screw, you know?

Like I said, I can't see this ever passing here in the U.S. But it'll be interesting to see if it works in the UK. Serial rapists are going to find ways to get their victims one way or another. But this law could give some added protection for victims of men who don't want to take responsibility for their aggressive behavior, but also don't identify as rapists. 

Do you think this proposed law makes sense, or is it too severe?


Image via Piotr Marcinski/Shutterstock




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