Stanford's student affairs page on "female bodies and alcohol" is a victim-blaming mess

Stanford's student affairs page on "female bodies and alcohol" is a victim-blaming mess
Source: AP
Source: AP

Stanford University, the former alma mater of convicted sex offender Brock Turner (often referred to as the "Stanford rapist") is offering female students some debatable and victim-blaming advice in order to help them avoid "negative consequences" i.e. sexual assault. 

The Stanford student affairs website includes an entire section about "female bodies and alcohol" which suggests that, to avoid unnamed "negative consequences," students should follow a set of helpful tips, like not playing drinking games or drinking mixed drinks. But the page used to be way, way worse.

Students walking through Stanford's campus.
Source: 
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

A cached version of the same page on the Stanford website from back in June shows that there used to be a section with the header "alcohol affects both sexual intent and aggression," that appears to have been removed. 

Included in that section was a list of questionable "facts," like "the down side is that, by some accounts, alcohol is involved in as many as 75% of sexual assaults on a college campus." You know what's involved in 100% of sexual assaults on campus? People who do the assaulting.

Some of the since-deleted passages on the Stanford website.
Source: 
Stanford

This now-absent section goes on to be even more victim-blamey to women who drink alcohol, saying that "research tells us that women who are seen drinking alcohol are perceived to be more sexually available than they may actually be" and that "for women, the odds of experiencing sexual aggression were nine times higher on days of heavy drinking compared to days when the women did not drink. Individuals who are even a little intoxicated are more likely to be victimized than those who are not drinking."

Wow ladies, with all that scientific evidence, you should probably stop drinking altogether if you don't want to be assaulted.

And, for as much as the page blamed women for putting themselves in a situation where they were (nine times!) more likely to be sexually assaulted, it used "science" to excuse men who assault people while drunk.

Other research studies have shown that men who think they have been drinking alcohol — even when they have only consumed a placebo — feel sexually aroused and are more responsive to erotic stimuli, including rape scenarios. For some, being drunk serves as a justification for behavior that is demeaning or insulting, including the use of others as sexual objects. 

"Anthropologists call it the 'think-drink' effect," sociologist David Hanson, Ph. D. told Men's Health. "If you convince people to falsely believe that they're intoxicated, for example, they tend to become more aggressive and to report more sexual arousal." Despite this factoid, research has shown that after four to five drinks, men actually become less sexually aroused

The entire "sexual intent and aggression" section is now absent from Stanford's page on "female bodies and alcohol," but the page itself remains. According to the Stanford website, "all information," ostensibly including the removed section, was provided by Cornell University's "Garnett Health Services." The Stanford site includes a broken link, but most likely the site meant to refer readers to Cornell's Gannett Health Services, which can be found online here.

Students pause under an archway at Stanford.
Source: 
Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP

Even though Stanford's updated page on alcohol and women makes only one, brief mention of sex — "make a decision about sex that night before you go out; bring protection" — and says nothing about sexual assault, the page's entire existence implies that drinking is more dangerous for women, putting the onus on women to protect themselves from those unnamed dangers.

Warnings like these only serve to prop up the idea that alcohol is to blame for sexual assault — in his own statement, Brock Turner blamed his actions on "binge drinking." Maybe instead of just deleting the most victim-blaming passages about alcohol and sexual assault, colleges should start handing out "How to Not Rape" pamphlets to all incoming freshmen.

Stanford University has not yet responded to a request for comment.

How much do you trust the information in this article?

Anna Swartz

Anna is a staff writer for Mic covering breaking news. She can be reached at aswartz@mic.com.

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