Concerned Kansas school teacher Laura Herrick would like to remind women who've been raped while intoxicated that it wasn't their fault — but also, that it sort of was? Prepare for mental gymnastics...
In an editorial published in the Kansas City Star on Friday, Herrick laid out a set of contradictory views on women, rape and boozing. It didn't stay up for long, but long enough for one concerned citizen to take a screenshot of the entire thing and send it off to Jezebel, where interested parties can read Herrick's convoluted theories in greater detail. Here is one:
I saw a quote on Facebook that said, "When a woman drinks too much she expects to wake up the next day hung over, not raped." I agree. But as women, shouldn't we take responsibility for our bodies by not becoming so intoxicated that we don't know what is happening? ... No, she's not asking to be raped by being drunk. But isn't it her responsibility to reduce the risk by not getting to that point?
The other side of that coin is, of course, the expectation that men take responsibility for their bodies and keep them out of and off of the bodies of individuals who are obviously too intoxicated to consent. But Herrick has thoughts on the menfolk, too:
When men drink, their decision-making abilities are also limited. If a woman was too drunk to know what she was doing and should be excused for what happened, then why are men not allowed to be too drunk to make good decisions?
And if a woman is so intoxicated that she can't remember giving consent for sex, then how can she know that she didn't give consent?
According to Jezebel, Herrick invoked the "extreme" case of ex-Stanford student Brock Turner, who was found guilty of sexually assaulting an intoxicated woman behind a dumpster; we'll invoke the victim's own words to Turner on the subject of drinking as an excuse for rape: "We were both drunk, the difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately and run away. That's the difference."
Herrick reportedly wrote that women need to stop calling rape what would be better labeled their own indiscretion. Leaving aside date rape drugs and their prevalence for a second, it's hard to reconcile the suggestion that women take control of their bodies with the argument that women lack even the bodily autonomy to be out in the world, legally drinking.
In short, this:
On Saturday evening, the Star's publisher, Tony Berg, issued an apology for Herrick's article. "In hindsight," he said, "it should never have been published."
We made the decision to remove it from our website based on the following indisputable facts: 1. Rape is a violent act in which the victim loses control. 2. If a person is incapacitated and someone takes advantage of them sexually, the law considers that rape or sexual assault and the victim is blameless.
Berg added that, "When a person is sexually assaulted, it's not their fault. Period."
July 11, 2016, 9:49 a.m. ET: This article has been updated.