Rape and Inebriation



Murali did his undergraduate degree in molecular biology with a minor in biophysics from the National University of Singapore (NUS). He then changed direction and did his Masters in Philosophy also at NUS. Now, he is currently pursuing a PhD in Philosophy at the University of Warwick.

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127 Responses

  1. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Legally it counts as rape in most jurisdictions in the United States. Most states hold that intoxicated people are incapable of giving consent. If two drunks have sex and one of them decides they really didn’t want to after the fact, its rape. This doesn’t stop drunks from having sex with each other, it happens all the time, but it is legally rape.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to LeeEsq says:

      How is “intoxicated” typically defined for the purposes of these statutes?Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

      What Lee says may be technically true, though from a practical standpoint I doubt that it would ever really come to trial unless you’re talking about two leagues of drunk. I mean, if a guy carries a practically unconscious woman to her car, drives her to his house, and has sex with her, he doesn’t get a pass because his BAC was .09. But if two people that are similarly blasted have sex, the specific illegality would almost certainly be ignored.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        Like I said, drunk people having sex happens all the time even though drunk people are legally incapable of giving consent. Getting smashed and hooking up seems to be a very popular way to get casual sex though. I imagine that most people are a bit too inhibited to do so sober.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

        Doesn’t it strike you as problematic one way or another? Either lots of people are having sex without their consent or something rather innocuous is technically illegal.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        Murali, it’s definitely problematic, in that it makes pretty much every adult I’ve ever known a rapist and a victim of rape.

        Here’s the dilemma, though: how do we capture, in the form of a law or set of laws, the cases we want to treat as sexual assault, but not the ones we don’t? I can’ think of anything that’s not going to rely a great deal on the discretion of the police and prosecutors. And while the laws, as they stand, may seem to cast an absurdly wide net that could easily be abused by charging people with rape who shouldn’t be, in practice, I think they tend to be abused in the other direction despite their width: both the police and prosecutors tend to not apply the law in cases in which they probably should rather than applying it in cases where they shouldn’t.Report

      • It should be said that I have a sneaking suspicion that the application of some of these laws – like AOC laws – are not race-neutral.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Will Truman says:

        And even less sex-neutral.

        It’s interesting how criminal law is in many ways far more sexist than racist, but it’s the latter that gets all the attention.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        Brandon, I wonder if you have any numbers on how many men claim to have been raped while intoxicated? How many times are such claims rejected by the authorities? Do you think more men would claim to have been raped if the law weren’t applied so lopsidedly?Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Will Truman says:

        Excitable Andy addressed this issue some while back.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        Murali, I don’t feel its problematic. If two drunk people have sex, one of them is still going to have to make a complaint to the police in order for rape charges to brought against the other party. Its not like police are going to arrest people every time they have sex while intoxicated.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

        Lee, sodomy laws work in pretty much the same way. The police don’t bang down doors to check whether you are having gay sex. They require you to be reported. Yet in Malaysia, which has similar laws regarding sodomy (as Singapore), opposition candidate Anwar Ibrahim was sent to jail on charges of sodomy (whether trumped up or otherwise)a t least once and was charged at least twice for it. In Singapore, gay people have been doubly charged when caught in public i.e. first on public indecency and secondly on charges of sodomy when caught having sex in a public toilet. So, I’m less sanguine than you about unjust laws that are on the books because they can very easily be abused by the powerfulReport

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        Murali, I think that creating a rape statute that could cover all possible situations in order to avoid an injustice is going to be a bit beyond the capabilities of any legislature. Its also going to be very fraught issue to determine when or when not consent is given. This is going to be something where we have to settle for good enough.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Chris & Brandon,
        yeah, I think it’s more cultural than “criminal justice” related.
        Also, Murali, yes having too much alcohol does decrease guys’ performance.
        If you would like a different example, you can substitute a sleeping guy (who fell asleep after a party).Report

  2. Avatar zic says:

    First of all, there is no universal standard in the US; there are standards for each state. Some places, the age of consent varies from as low as 13 to 19. Yes, you can be old enough to vote and go to war, but not have a drink or sex. And interpretation of laws seems to vary by judge and court and jury, particularly based on the perceptions of purity and innocence of the victim and perceived respectability of the rapist.

    Second, is the amount of alcohol it takes to get to the stage where you are no longer able to consent. While people vary, the general rule is that men can drink and process more than women. If we’re talking heterosexual rape, that’s certainly a factor, or so it seems.

    Third, I suspect there’s a lot of rape that happens to men, at the hands of other men and of women, that simply get’s brushed away and ignored.

    Having spent many many an evening in bars while my sweetie performed, I suspect there’s a whole realm of sex going on that simply would not happen without the grease provided by alcohol; and where it crosses the line from fun to crime is not always clear.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

      On the war and voting business that happens in Singapore too. 10 years ago I was liable for conscription and duly conscripted on the 10th of December 2003. I was still 2 and a half years shy of being old enough to vote.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to zic says:

      What jurisdiction sets the age of consent at 19? I’m not aware of any state with an age of consent over 18.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        You are correct, Lee. Eighteen is the highest. State laws have been converging on 16 or 17, for the most part. It’s possible that there were states where it was 19 but is now 16, 17, or 18.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to LeeEsq says:

        19 is a limit of consent in for a school employee to have sex with a student in Alabama:

        A person commits the crime of a school employee engaging in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student under the age of 19 years if:
        (a) He or she is a school employee and engages in a sex act or deviant sexual intercourse with a student, regardless of whether the student is male or female. Consent is not a defense to a charge under this section.

        Source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ages_of_consent_in_North_America#United_StatesReport

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to LeeEsq says:

        Ahh, yeah, there are some specific cases like that. I recall the story of a teacher from Texas was sent to jail for having sex with a student who was (or students who were) over 18.

        BTW, Zic, I loved your initial comment. It struck just the right chord.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to zic says:

      What state has an AOC of 13?

      That might have been true from the Colonial Era to WWII-era but I think all states have it at 16-18. A 19 year old AOC strikes me as unconstitutional because 18 year olds are legally adults.Report

      • Avatar Will Truman in reply to NewDealer says:

        A few states have an AOC of 14. Iowa, unless there is a huge age gap. It’s 12 if you’re married.

        In Arkansas it’s a misdemeanor for 14 and 15, though still illegal.

        16-18 is the norm, though. Zic is right that 18 can still get you in trouble under certain circumstances (if they’re still in school).Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to NewDealer says:

        The point is that it’s a hodgepodge of laws, with varying extenuating circumstances and exceptions.

        And application of rape laws though the legal system, hodgepodgey as they are, is even hodgepodgeyier.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

        Sometimes laws are badly in need of updating but actually proposing an update is to awkward for any politician since it provides attack ad fuel. We need to find away for politicians to update outdated laws without risking attack or embarrassment.Report

      • Avatar J@m3z Aitch in reply to NewDealer says:

        Lee, why do you hate democracy? 😉Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to NewDealer says:

        @leeesq, I couldn’t agree more on updating.

        I’d like to see most laws have a built in method for ongoing review; including a funding method for paying for that review. The problem with this is that it the review process itself is subject to regulatory capture and political shenanigans.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to NewDealer says:

        James, I don’t hate democracy. I hate my inability to spell even with spell checker helping me.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to NewDealer says:


        You misspelled “especially”.Report

  3. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    At least if Hollywood is to be believed a guy can get so drunk as to land in bed with a girl and not remember anything when he wakes up.

    The term for this is “blackout drunk.” This is sometimes assumed to be a synonym for “passed out,” but it’s an entirely different phenomenon. Alcohol impairs the ability to form memories in some people, so a person may be able to walk and talk but have no recollection the next morning of the prior night’s events.

    There are no obvious external signs of being in this state, which creates the potential for problems of this nature.Report

  4. Avatar Vikram Bath says:

    I’d like to tack on a question to Murali’s:
    Can you be sober enough to sign a mortgage but not to consent to sex? How about vice versa? (I’m interested in both legal as well as moral answers.)Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to Vikram Bath says:

      On the moral front, I’m not sure why there should be a difference. An agent who gets you to sign a mortgage while drunk has done something quite unethical. I don’t know how to balance the risk assessment. What are the bad things that could happen if you make a bad decision vis a vis mortgages? Bankruptcy? Its not the end of your life, you can always work you way out of that. But its still serious and if common enough could outweigh the small chance of getting an incurable STD like AIDS.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Murali says:

        There’s an important difference here, which is that a mortgage can simply be declared null and void. Also, doesn’t getting a mortgage take long enough that it’s pretty much impossible to stay drunk through the whole process?Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Murali says:

        Also, doesn’t getting a mortgage take long enough that it’s pretty much impossible to stay drunk through the whole process?

        N.B. This is not a challenge.Report

  5. Avatar BlaiseP says:

    The law doesn’t go into the Whys of a crime. Perhaps at sentencing, mitigating factors might come into play. There are degrees of intoxication: at one level, a putative victim might just be making a bad decision, granting consent while in an intoxicated frame of mind. At another level, the victim might not be conscious enough to make a decision to consent at all. This business of inebriation and consent is all a matter of degree, as driving while intoxicated is a matter of an arbitrary blood alcohol limit.

    What about mentally retarded people? Can they give consent to sex? Again, it’s a matter of degree.

    Consent is tricky. What if sex has commenced and one partner withdraws consent?

    If A, who knows he has HIV, has unprotected sex with B and does not warn his partner, is A liable for transmitting HIV to B? Had B known of A’s condition, would consent have been granted?

    The ground rules for consent are clear enough, B says no and A must stop.Report

  6. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    I think a lot of people in this thread are discussing things that are not actually relevant.

    Up until surprisingly recently, in the US, Canada and most European countries in order for a rape to have legally occurred, it was required that the alleged victim actively communicate a refusal of consent. Having a woman or man be unconscious and unaware that liberties were taken with them was therefore a valid defense against prosecution.

    The laws being discussed here are an attempt to fix that particular problem. They are not an attempt to make having sex when you are tipsy “rape.”Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      That’s all true. The question is, though, what do the laws attempting to fix the problem actually say. As well as how they are enforced, and how they should be enforced.

      I don’t think anyone here (yet) has suggested that the laws should be done away with.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      The quote from Cascadian suggests that he, at least, supports a bar much closer to “tipsy” than to “unconscious and unaware.”

      It seems to me that conversations on this topic almost always involve people talking past each other, with nobody bothering to define what “too drunk to consent” actually means. I’ve seen these things go on for pages and been able to determine only that everyone agrees that having sex with an unconscious woman should be considered rape.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @brandon-berg I would not support “closer to tipsy”. I would say that it’s extremely thin ice and those that fail to navigate it with extreme caution deserve no pity.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        at the point where a person is unable to verbalize dissent (though the person certainly wishes to), it’s definitely rape. This can occur with or without alcohol being involved.

        I’m certain the law feels otherwise. But the law is wrong.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @cascadian Apologies for the misconstruction, then. We must have a different understanding of the word “inebriated,” because I understand it to mean a state closer to tipsy than to passed out, and “anywhere near inebriated” considerably more so.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @brandon-berg Yup miscommunication. Inebriated means clearly drunk for me, slurring words etc. However, as the thread has played out, do you see that this is going to be a subjective call? I know women who get quite “tipsy” with one glass of wine.

        One takes a certain risk in this area. There’s obviously less risk the longer you know an individual. For a one night or first night thing it’s up there with “don’t put your dick in crazy”. You’re rolling the dice. You can’t claim that life is unfair if they turn up snake eyes.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @cascadian As advice to a man who doesn’t want to get railroaded, sure, that’s reasonable enough. As a legal guideline, though, I think it’s better to err on the side of holding people responsible for their own decisions, even when they’re drunk, as I’ve just described in my 12:33 comment.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        @brandon-berg Do yo mean that we should have a different legal program for this than we do now or do you think that the current legal regime is different from this? If it’s hypothetical then offer an alternative. If your making a claim about how this works legally now, I’d say, “be prepared to tell it to the judge”.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

        I’m saying that’s how it should be. How it actually is varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. And from judge to judge and jury to jury, too, I’d imagine.Report

  7. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    “2. Thus, were they both raped? Or was it just that an unfortunate thing happened and neither are responsible?”

    No, this is actually meant to combat a separate defense that was often used successfully: that because the alleged rapist was drunk, he or she was not in control of their actions and therefore did nothing criminal.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to Tod Kelly says:

      … Which brings back the question of “Who do you charge? If either?”

      This is where I would guess that the disparity comes in. If he has a BAC of .09 and she is unconscious or virtually so, then you charge him. If you have two people that are both stumbling and slurring, neither get charged. If you have a .09 and someone slurring, then maybe you charge?

      This is how I expect that the law works. But I haven’t a clue as to how it’s written down to account for this.

      The only hardish standard that makes sense to me is if someone is basically too drunk to initiate an encounter. Like if they and someone else of similar inebriation were attracted to one another and left in a room together, neither of them would be able to get things moving.

      Is that the standard? If not, it’s not necessarily wrong that it’s not (there’s an argument to be made that if he’s sober, or nearly so, and she’s slurring and stumbling a bit but pretty far from being passed out or inert, that it should be a crime), but it does indeed start to get complicated.

      So what standards are being applied? And what standards should we apply?Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

        Well, I guess, but…

        In all of the cries for change I’ve read (and there are a lot of them out there), all I see is people talking about what may happen somewhere at some time. I have yet to see someone point to a single case in the US, Canada or Europe where people were being prosecuted for having sex after one too many. (I have seen a few cases pointed too where the alleged victim later admitted they had not been raped, but had made the accusation out of anger at an unrelated incident, but that can clearly happen regardless of what your stance on alcohol is.) So it’s hard for me to get on board the concern train for laws that fixed and actual travesty of justice on the basis that other travesties might occur when there is as of yet no proof that they do.

        In fact, the arguments you’re making here can be used against pretty much any rape prosecution post circa 1930.*

        Also, you’re very wrong about everyone being on the same page about whether or not it should be a crime to have sex with a woman who is passed out. Some of the biggest PUA writers are advocates of it, and they have plenty of followers who not only concur, but actually cheer them on. The biggest PUA these days, Roosh V, actually wrote a book that among other things talks about the advantages of traveling to Iceland to have sex in this manner, because it’s not against the law there.

        * Back in the day, in most places the law read that there needed to be a third party witness in order to prosecute because the fear of false allegation was given more weight than the fear of assaults going unpunished.Report

      • Assuming that you’re referring to my previous comment, note that I said “no one here.”

        You’re arguing with people who are not here. They are strawmen because they’re out there, and have communities, but they’re not here.

        What argument, precisely, am I making? That it’s complicated? Well, you’re right that all rape laws are complicated to some extent. I’d argue that this is more complicated than the use of physical force.

        That’s not an argument that the laws should be repealed, or even modified. Just that it can be complicated. The difference between hold-her-down rape laws, and too-drunk-to-consent rape laws, is that I can describe I think with reasonable accuracy what the laws of the former are. I know where the lines are.

        On the too-drunk-for-sex, I frankly don’t beyond the extremes (it’s legal to have sex with someone who has had a sip of wine, it’s illegal to have sex with them if they’re unconscious). Which makes this a topic of discussion that is not the same as the PUA crowd or MRA crowd arguing that the law is out to get men and should be repealed or ignored.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:

        Fair enough.

        And agreed.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        Will, I think it pretty much works that if a drunk man and drunk woman have sex and then after she sobers up decides that she didn’t really want to have sex, the man gets charged with rape. It doesn’t matter who was more drunk or if both were equally drunk.

        I think the key is that no matter how horny you might be, you really should not have sex with a drunk or drugged person.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        Tod, I might be missing something but why would anybody want to have sex with a partner thats passed out? Its creepy, disgusting, and doesn’t seem like it would be any fun at all.Report

      • Lee, I don’t typically hear of guys getting prosecuted on that basis “We were both drunk, but she regrets it” which is why I don’t think it works that way, operationally.

        Regarding your question to Tod… it’s because some guys (not just guys, but mostly guys) are really f’ed up.Report

      • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Will Truman says:

        Tod, I might be missing something but why would anybody want to have sex with a partner thats passed out? Its creepy, disgusting, and doesn’t seem like it would be any fun at all.

        There’s a whole lot of kinks out there. Passed out/sleeping/drugged/etc. is definitely one of them. There’s a whole scene based around it (in consensual ways, of course). Given the general inability of the USAian culture to deal with any sexual “deviance” (or anything non-vanilla really) constructively, it’s not unreasonable that some folks might turn to illegal means to scratch that itch. I don’t think that’s where most of that sort of thing comes from, though.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Will Truman says:

        I was more than a bit skeptical of your claim about Roosh V, if only because I find it hard to believe that that’s actually the law there. Sure enough, I did some Googling and came up with this:

        “While walking to my place, I realized how drunk she was. In America, having sex with her would have been rape, since she legally couldn’t give her consent. It didn’t help matters that I was relatively sober, but I can’t say I cared or even hesitated. I won’t rationalize my actions, but having sex is what I do.”

        I can’t find any more context on the web and don’t want to shell out the $10 for the book, but this doesn’t really match your description.

        Going off the rule of thumb that people will present the information that most strongly supports their case, I think it’s very unlikely that reading this in full context would reveal that he was in fact talking about having sex with a passed-out woman.

        I know you wouldn’t make up something like this, so I assume you got it second- or third-hand and took it at face value. As a rule of thumb, you be skeptical of any claims one person makes about something another person has said. Between bad reading comprehension, bad memory, uncharitable reading, and plain old lying, there are a half dozen or more ways a message can get garbled. I used to roll my eyes every time my mother started a sentence with “Brandon said…” or “Brandon thinks…” because she would get it wrong every fishing time, despite the best of intentions.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Will Truman says:

        My point isn’t that Roosh V is a standup guy—he’s pretty sleazy. But I can find no evidence that he actually advocated having sex with passed-out women, at least not in Bang Iceland. I’d actually be interested in any direct quotes from prominent PUAs advocating this, if you know any.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Will Truman says:

        NoPublic, addressing every contingency or deviance from the norm is an impossibility. Sometimes you have to accept a close proximity.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        I’m not posting any quotes from people who deliberately create situations where someone is unable to revoke consent. Particularly when what they’re selling is training manuals on how to do so.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Will Truman says:

        The idea that people who teach and publish game manuals are advocating rape has about as much credibility as the idea that people who make and listen to heavy metal music are advocating human sacrifices.

        I’d be happy to be proven wrong with actual citations.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        I was talking about specific people who have written specific books connected to the Pick Up Artist culture.

        This has little or nothing to do with gaming, afaik.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Will Truman says:


        Game is another word for pickup. I know a fair amount about that world. I know that some game writers talk about using alcohol as a social lubricant, which can sound a little off-putting at first until you think about the fact that lots of people go out every night with the express purpose of getting socially lubricated. I am not aware, however, of any pickup writer who advocates getting women past the point of being “able to revoke consent.”

        As I said, though, I am happy to be proven wrong.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        You ought to read a bit more carefully.
        I wasn’t referencing alcohol when I said
        that certain writers describe methods
        designed to get a woman beyond the
        ability to withhold/revoke consent.Report

      • Kim, what are you referring to, specifically? Can you provide examples?Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Will Truman says:


        Perhaps, but you ought to just say what you mean to say without being cryptic about it.

        To what are you referring if not alcohol? Hypnotism?Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

        If I’m not wrong, from what Kim has written on other threads in the past, Kim is referring to the idea that a woman can be sufficiently aroused that she is incapable of speech, thus incapable of withdrawing consent. I cannot tell whether this actually happens to any significant number of women or it is something that only happens inside Kim’s imagination. It at least seems far fetched. Perhaps others with more experience (which is probably everybody) can confirm or deny whether this is even possible.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        I am not going to call people rapists on this thread.
        That’s bad manners without pictorial proof, anyhow.
        So I’m unlikely to give references to the folks who
        are actually advocating this sort of bullshit.

        [I will also note that some people here do not
        consider the use of torture (sleep deprivation)
        as indicative of rape. I strongly disagree with this.
        If you are kept up until you can no longer give
        informed consent, then, yes, it’s rape.
        This is particularly flagrant when the girl was kept
        up with the purpose of “getting the girl to give in”]Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:


        I cannot tell whether this actually happens to any significant number of women or it is something that only happens inside Kim’s imagination. It at least seems far fetched.

        Does it seem far fetched that a man can be so aroused he no longer has control? That’s certainly the myth about men; that their urges overwhelm.

        Why would anyone presume that women are any different?

        I’m not saying this is far fetched or that it isn’t; I’m saying that what holds true for men likely holds true for women; and that thinking about this through the purity filters imposed on women is a mistake.Report

      • Zic, would you consider that rape? Or, more specifically, how would you define rape along these lines? I can imagine, for instance, that putting an aphrodisiac in her drink putting her in that state would constitute such. Is that what Kimmi is referring to (other than the sleep deprivation thing)?Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Will Truman says:

        Honestly zic, I haven’t had sex. I have never been close to having sex. I don’t know if it is true of males as well. I’ve never been in a position where I was sufficiently aroused that I needed release. Or at least not that I was aware of. Maybe one day when I get married and do have sex I will know, but now I don’t.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        yeah, using “aphrodesiacs” or ambien definitely counts as rape.
        But, really, so does anything that puts someone in a state where
        they cannot give informed consent (including the mere use of words).

        I’m not saying this is provable in a court of law.

        But if a woman is saying “I wanted to say no, but I couldn’t get the words out”…
        yup, that’s rape.Report

      • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Will Truman says:


        I’m not sure I agree with everything you’re saying here, but let me start with where I actually do agree:

        I think for most of the celebrity PUAs (celebrity amongst PUAs, not a celebrity to society at large), advocating sex with someone too drunk to give consent is surely discouraged. Moral issues aside, there appears to be a desire to show that you have enough “game” to get the hottest looking fashion model on the bar to willingly go home with you because she just can’t resist you’re sweet moves. Admitting to having sex with someone too drunk to give consent would be tantamount to admitting failure in your game, I would think.

        That being said, you’re wrong about the consent of many PUAs toward “banging” women who’ve had so much to drink they can’t give legal consent. In the statement above I used the phrase “passed out,” and, in the name of accuracy ,with Roosh I should have gone with “too drunk to give consent.” (Although I would argue that the moral space in between having sex with a woman that is so drunk she is unable to either consent to or reject your physical advances and having sex with a woman who is actually unconscious is pretty non-existent.)

        I actually have read Bang Iceland (if you want to do so yourself, it’s only two bucks and downloads in about 30 seconds and is quite short – you can read it yourself in about half an hour). And it is true that reason I bought it was because I had seen the quote I used above, but having read it I stand by my judgment of Roosh’s intention. As Roosh also says about his experience banging chicks in Iceland, “Icelandic girls only like having sex while on the verge of being blackout drunk.”

        There’s also a lot of PUA writing where it’s pretty hard to argue that the morality of having sex with a woman too far gone to give consent isn’t strongly implied to be, at the very least, a “gray area.” I know I’ve quoted this particular line for you before, but I’ll do it again since it’s pretty apropos. From Ross Jefferies, the third biggest PUA Hall-of-Famer after Strauss and Roosh:

        “In some states, rape is defined as “intercourse of a woman, by a man, by force, threat of force, or OTHERWISE WITHOUT CONSENT.” In some states, if you get a date drunk, and fuck her when she’s passed out, you could find your self facing a rape rap.
        Likewise for hypnosis. I am not an attorney, and am not going to give you legal advice, but I warn you here and now of the possible consequences and am not about to be held responsible if you get slapped with charges. YOU USE THESE METHODS AT YOUR OWN RISK.”

        Like I say, it’s not an actual call to go out and rape women by getting them past the stage of consent (by either alcohol or, ahem, hypnosis), but the whole “check with state laws where you live before trying this at home” thing is close enough to tacit approval from where I sit.

        If you want, feel free to go to the various reddits where these things are discussed by those “honing their craft.” As I said above, you will absolutely find that most of the PUAs look down on notching your bedpost in this manner, but it’s not at all universal.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        @zic –

        That’s certainly the myth about men; that their urges overwhelm.

        That “myth” may not be myth, and it may in fact affect men disproportionately (if we know that men have more testosterone on average, and testosterone tends to mean more aggressive/less rational behavior….)


        caveats: it’s only one study, no idea how well-designed it is, it’s focused on infidelity not rape, etc.Report

      • Dangit, Glyph, you need to warn me before linking to the Pacific Standard. Now I’m going to spend all afternoon reading their fascinating array of articles. Again.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

        @glyph, this may be an apples and oranges comparison. You’re talking about hormonal-driven aggression, and perhaps it is the root of much male behavior. But aggression, as a drive to seek out a sexual encounter, would be a bit earlier then what I’m suggesting, which is the gender differences in ability to maintain control once extremely aroused.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Glyph and zic,
        I think it’s important to have a little bit of perspective here.
        Whether or not two sober adults can control themselves,
        it’s pretty damn easy to fuck this up on your first time.

        Most guys have a moderate level of self-control, probably
        enough that they can pull out without consequences a decent
        amount of the time.

        … most 12-14 year olds do not.

        Predators (both male and female) prey on the young because
        they are not used to their hormones and sexuality yet.Report

      • Avatar Glyph in reply to Will Truman says:

        @zic – the study doesn’t reference hormones, I threw that causal speculation in myself.

        It simply indicates men and women have similar self-control ability, but men may experience stronger sex urges, causing their self-control to fail. Which would seem relevant (but not exculpatory).Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        god, that study is all sorts of fucked up (self-report among other things).
        I’d go so far as to say that women tend to have stronger desire
        towards “attractive men”, if only because they’re MUCH rarer.
        Also, women determine attractiveness with less emphasis on
        physicality (and more on charisma).

        Besides, cheating is all about “putting some romance/magic back in your life.”Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        also, line me up — again — on the whole hating evopsych folks.
        Way back when, there was a lotta inbreeding.
        Cheating (with the vagabond of the year) made sense for men
        and women, because you’d get fitter children.Report

      • Avatar j r in reply to Will Truman says:

        This is one of those areas where you really have to be specific to say anything meaningful. For instance, what do you mean when you say aphrodisiac? The most common “aphrodisiac” that people use to get themselves and others in the mood is alcohol. The term can range in meaning anywhere from a chocolate truffle to a rohypnol pill. And the legality and morality of each substance is different.

        What’s more, there is no mythical aphrodisiac that works the way that a man might want it to work. There’s no magic pill, no secret potion, no concoction of Amazonian roots that just magically gets a woman horny enough to sleep with you where before she wouldn’t give you the time of day. Likewise, there’s no secret routine that Ross Jeffries or Mystery can sell that has the same effects. People selling these sorts of things are charlatans and talking about the morality of these things is akin to talking about the morality or ruling England based on your ability to pull a magic sword out of a rock. It’s myth.

        There are PUA and game methods that do work, but they tend to be based around self-improvement and an understanding of social dynamics and attraction. They are somewhat based on manipulation in the same way that good sales and marketing techniques are based on manipulation. If you walk into a computer store to buy a $300 netbook, but walk out with a $1500 laptop, has the salesman robbed you?

        Seduction is not rape. Rape is rape. Words have meanings and that is important.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Will Truman says:

        Zic, would you consider that rape? Or, more specifically, how would you define rape along these lines?

        I’m not comfortable with conflating rape with arousal; but if rape does happen under these circumstances, I don’t think it would be a one-size fits all definition. Just as with alcohol, the particular circumstances of each particular incident matter; intent matters, respect matters.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Will Truman says:

        Let me be frank. It sounds like what you want to say is “I’m not a predator, I’m not a rapist.” Well and good. Some people out there are predators and rapists. They write books on how to be a predator, sometimes. Being a predator is something that is indeed difficult to teach. This does not make them mythical.

        I will say that if you take someone who does not want to sleep with you and “seduce” them, you are at risk of them pulling the rape card. This does indeed have legal consequences. If, in the midst of a decent conversation, you do get informed consent, this is a different matter, naturally.Report

      • Avatar Chris in reply to Will Truman says:

        god, that study is all sorts of fucked up (self-report among other things).

        You forgot to read Study 2.Report

  8. Avatar NoPublic says:

    For the purposes of a starting argument, I’d say if you can’t legally operate heavy machinery you can’t legally consent.
    Yes, this means that in the case of two people who are both at BAC 0.8 or above you have a sticky situation.
    One would be advised to avoid such situations.
    Yes, I realize this makes some large percentage of college age hook-ups inadvisable.
    I assert that this is a net positive.Report

    • Avatar Will Truman in reply to NoPublic says:

      My uptight self says that what you call inadvisable is in fact inadvisable. I am less sure about throwing people into prison for it, though. A BAC of .08* is not easy to detect. And while I am tempted to say “Sex and alcohol should never coincide” I have to recognize the social lubricant that alcohol is, and I’d be a hypocrite for saying that.

      Arguing, though, that if you don’t think they could operate heavy machinery – not that it would be illegal, but that they’d kill themselves and others if they tried – might not be a bad place to start.

      * – If you have a BAC of .8, you’re probably dead.Report

      • Avatar NoPublic in reply to Will Truman says:

        (Thanks for the 0.8->0.08 correction. I’d blame fat fingers but it’s mostly fat brain)

        I know that if I had a child, of either gender, I’d likely tell them to never have sex unless stone cold sober (and that probably would work about as well as most things you tell your children).

        I do agree that throwing people in prison is rough, but much like drink driving I have to think that there’s some action that can be taken (counseling, monitoring, I’m not sure but we’ve got smarter people than I in the world) that could at the very least reduce the risk of a given person repeating the mistake. Then if they do, you throw the book at them. Of course the US can’t do that with DUI so I don’t know why I’d think they could do it with anything else. Alcohol is too ingrained in the social fabric, I fear.Report

      • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Will Truman says:

        If you have a BAC of .8, you’re probably dead.

        He said you’d have a sticky situation, didn’t he?Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to Will Truman says:

        Of course you mean 0.08 percent, not 0.08

        As for the topic, if someone has sex drunk with someone they wouldn’t have had sex with sober, one should just chalk it up as a learning experience and move on. You’ll live. No need to ruin someone’s life.

        Since I’m reasonable, I will clarify that everyone involved should be conscious.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to Will Truman says:

        LOL I put pedant tags around my first sentence, but they were ignored by the system. I was winked when I typed that, since I knew what you meant.Report

    • Avatar Alan Scott in reply to NoPublic says:

      That’s a pretty ridiculous standard, though. The .08% cutoff is worried about impaired reflexes as well as impaired judgement. Impaired reflexes might make for a less entertaining time in the bedroom, but they don’t pose a danger the way they do when it comes to operating a vehicle.Report

  9. Avatar zic says:

    As the title suggests, I will be discussing rape and for many people who have been raped, this can trigger them.

    Murali, I want to push back a bit on this; perhaps it’s overly sensitive? I post that had details of someone’s rape deserves a trigger warning. But here, you’ve got truth-in-advertising in your headline; it’s obviously a discussion of rape. A generic discussion. There’s nothing in the way of detail to trigger, for all but the most sensitive, and they’d probably avoid the post just because of the title. Trigger alerts benefit from being real, not based on the assumption that the topic alone triggers.

    I’m sure others may well disagree, but I don’t think this post benefitted from the warning; rather, it waters warnings down and suggests that those of us who have been raped are such delicate flowers that we cannot discuss rape rationally without trembling and cowering in fear.

    I appreciate that you used it based on consideration for victims. But have faith that we can be strong, and not every discussion of rape will trigger flashbacks. It’s the hard details of someone’s experience that generally trigger.Report

    • Avatar Murali in reply to zic says:

      Last semester, during a feminism course that my friend took, apparently three girls got triggered during an academic discussion of rape. The lecturer herself is a feminist so I’m sure she was not unduly insensitive to other people’s considerations. When it comes to rape, I don’t want to take chances especially given that I’m a fairly privileged guy. My biggest worry, though, is that I’m mansplaining rape and I do not know how to ask the questions that I want to ask without come across as mansplaining something that has been a fairly traumatic experience for a lot of women.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

        Well, in a class, you’re part of a captive audience. On a blog, with it clearly in the title and not triggering details, you can walk away and keep yourself safe.

        I think what I’m getting at is that any discussion from a man that comes with a trigger warning seems to me like some form of mansplaining; though one with good intent. It’s really good to know when a discussion has difficult details. I greatly appreciate those warnings; it helps me to enter them when I’m feeling safe and anchored. This wasn’t one of those posts where that mental prep was required.

        It’s really good that you recognize the potential to trigger, and I hope you take my criticism lightly. I think the good headline warning was enough. A post with specific detail to launch it would require a more specific warning.

        (And part of my speaking to you is to address the topic in general, thank you for presenting the opportunity.)Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

        Murali, here’s a related story:

        A blog post on this, with detail from the story would merit a trigger warning. For me, not from the details of the alleged rape, but due to the details of the Article 32 hearing. Having been raped, hearing what the justice system (the military justice system, in this case) put her through is difficult; like being mentally raped after being physically raped.Report

      • Avatar zic in reply to Murali says:

        And I’m just catching up, so just read this stellar example of mansplaining.

        @will-truman is one of my heros.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Murali says:

        @murali If my daughter were older, it would be totally ok with me for you to date her. Very nice comment.Report

      • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to Murali says:

        @zic Truth hurts.Report

      • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali says:

        dude, you’re sick. Stop it. NowReport

      • Avatar ScarletNumber in reply to Murali says:

        @murali Or what, exactly?Report

      • Avatar RTod in reply to Murali says:

        A time to chill out, at least. Feel free to come back later in the week.

        Everyone: If one of the contributors or moderators asks you to curb a behavior, either listen or ask for clarification, or at the very least talk to one of the editors if you think the request is out of line. Don’t say, “or what?”Report

  10. Avatar mclaren says:

    As with age of consent, we’re dealing with gray areas here. In Europe the age of consent is 16 in most countries, but in some it’s 14. In America ad adult is committing rape if that adult has sex with a 16-year-old girl, whereas in Europe it’s perfectly legal. It gets even more complicated because in some states there’s an age range within which it’s legal for adults to have sex with a young person between age 16 and 18, and adults older than that or in a position of authority, are (by the definition of our legal system) committing rape if they have sex with that person.

    In Japan the age of consent is 13. The age of consent has changed over time. For example, back in the 1950s it was legal for an adult to marry a girl as young as 13, and once married, to have sex with her. The rock star Jerry Lee Lewis married a 13-year-old girl and took her on tour to Britain, where a firestorm of controversy erupted. What’s legal in one country or one state becomes rape in another country or another state. It’s bizarre.

    Judgment gets impaired if you drink any amount of alcohol. But medications can also impair judgment — cough syrup, diet pills, asthma medication, and a long list of prescription medications that includes CNS depressants, pain relievers and hormones of various kinds. There’s a lengthy list of medications that can cause driver impairment — meaning that people are advised not to drive under their influence, because their judgment gets compromised. The same medications will presumably impair a person’s judgment in a sexual encounter.

    Common sense suggests that no guy or girl should proposition another guy or girl who is visibly intoxicated, but people have different alcohol tolerances and can be dead drunk without appearing visibly intoxicated. So it’s just not a trivial issue aside from the self-evident “don’t suggest a sexual encounter with anyone who is obviously drunk, or who has been drinking a lot.”

    The whole situation gets a lot more complex when you consider that it’s actually the rate of alcohol absorption into the body that counts. To take a really simple example: women absorb alcohol into their bodies faster than men do. So even if a woman has the same number of alcoholic drinks per body mass as a guy she meets in a bar, the woman will get drunk much faster. Add to that the fact that it matters a lot whether you’re drinking on an empty stomach, or have eaten something. If you haven’t eaten anything, this further increases the rate of alcohol absorption into the bloodstream.

    A lot of men, particularly young men, don’t realize any of this. They think, “Oh, I had three drinks and she had two drinks, so if I’m not drunk, she can’t be either.” WRONG. If he weights 150% as much as she does, they’d had an equal amount of alcohol per body mass, and since her body absorbs alcohol faster than his does, the girl can be falling-down drunk while he’s still unimpaired.

    Since there’s a delay twixt consuming alcohol and its full absorption, a woman can be a little woozy after leaving a bar with her date and then unconscious and in the throes of alcohol poisoning by the time she gets to his apartment, while he’s still just slightly dizzy. This, incidentally, explains why hospital ERs in college towns now have to keep dialysis equipment on hand — guys and girls who engage in binge drinking at parties or bars can and do wind up with alcohol poisoning so severe they need blood dialysis stat to save their lives.

    It would be nice if our K-12 schools actually taught young people some of the details about how alcohol affects men and women differently, and how the rate of absorption and the amount of alcohol per unit body mass really matters a lot.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to mclaren says:

      And some drugs cause sexual activity while the person is unconscious. (Bad side effect, no?)Report

      • Avatar mclaren in reply to Kim says:

        As far as I know, no drug causes sexual activity. People cause sexual activity — specifically, in most situation, men, since in Western culture (most cultures really) they’re typically the ones who initiate or try to initiate a sexual encounter.

        So the rule of thumb seems simple. Ingestion of any alcohol or drug by either party should rule out a sexual encounter. Men should simply not try to hit on a girl if either she or he has anything to drink, or taken any kind of prescription medication in any dose.

        The problem with that common-sense rule of thumb is that America remains a fanatically puritanical culture, so both men and women in America typically feel compelled to lots of drinking before working their way up to having sex. That’s not just my opinion — see the research study “Correlates of alcohol-related regretted sex among college students,” Orchowski LM, Mastroleo NR, and Borsari B, Psychol Addict Behav. 2012 Dec;26(4):782-90.

        From the abstract: “Results indicated that alcohol-related regretted sex occurred at similar rates in mandated and volunteer students, with approximately 25% of the students reporting at least 1 occurrence in the past month. Women were more likely to report alcohol-related regretted sex compared with men. The belief that alcohol use would result in `liquid courage’ was associated with alcohol-related regretted sex among college students, even after accounting for greater alcohol use and problem alcohol use behaviors.”

        Judging by Kim’s comment, she seems to be implying that I’m trying to justify date rape. Not likely. A hard-and-fast rule that neither party should engage in sex if either of ’em has had anything to drink or has used any kind of prescription medication would be ideal. The problem is that we don’t live in an ideal world. People, especially younger people in their teens and twenties, typically drink a lot before engaging in sex, to the point where the sex is strongly correlated with drinking. So it’s not obvious how realistic that commonsense rule of thumb would be. That kind of rule (don’t have sex if you take even one sip of beer) really amounts in our culture to “just say no to sex,” since most people in their teens and twenties typically consume a lot of alochol in social situations where sex is likely to occur. And we all know how completely ineffective abstinence-only education has been for young people.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Kim says:

        There isn’t really anything that could be done about the puritanical elements of American culture. Diversity basically means that there is going to be a lot of disagreement and hypocricy about a whole lot of issues and in order to keep the peace, the government has to stay on the sidelines and not take sides.Report

  11. Avatar Kim says:

    comment in moderation. plz rescue.Report

  12. Avatar Brandon Berg says:

    Here’s a rule that’s both fair and consistent: When you drink alcohol, this may lead to impaired judgment. You are fully responsible for any actions you take in this condition. Hence it cannot be considered a mitigating factor if you are accused of rape, but neither does it render you legally incapable of consenting to sex.

    As long as you’re physically capable of giving or withholding consent to sex, you’re legally capable as well. The symmetry eliminates any sort of “who’s the rapist?” ambiguity, since a person in this condition would also be physically incapable of committing rape.

    The bottom line, really, is that it’s no one’s job but your own to decide when you’ve had enough or how much your judgment is impaired. “Unable to communicate” is a reasonably bright line that no decent person will cross. “Possibly prone to making decisions she may or may not regret later,” not so much.Report

    • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      To be clear, this is a proposed solution to the problems described above, not a description of the law as it actually is, either in theory or in practice.Report

    • Avatar Kim in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      Why are we using a standard for sex that we wouldn’t use for delivering the goddamn baby?
      Or, hell, removal of a wart??

      I’m not saying that your metric is bad, per se.
      I’m asking you to justify such a damn low bar.Report

    • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      @brandon-berg I’m not going to go with unable to communicate. I like to keep it to slightly tipsy for myself…. I’m a control freak. However, I have gotten quite drunk in my past and boy do I get loquacious.Report

    • Avatar Milo in reply to Brandon Berg says:

      I’m inclined to agree with Brandon that you are generally responsible for your actions even when you are drunk.
      Me and my friends used to box after coming back drunk from the bars. It was something we would never do sober, illegal without both parties consent, and often regretted the next morning, but I wouldn’t consider a drunken boxing match aggravated assault.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Milo says:

        @milo I’m just about done answering people that want to push the line. You’re lucky that you didn’t bust your friends jaw or put on a fatal K.O. You might find the defining limits of your friendship or his families sense of humour. Certainly, there are activities where the judge is going to say, “you were taking part in a dangerous activity where the potential for death was explicit.” However, I can’t see a judge outside of Pakistan saying that about a woman going out to a pub.

        Thinking about this from a comedy angle. What would have happened to Inspector Clouseau if he’d come back home too incapacitated to fend of Kato.Report

      • Avatar Milo in reply to Milo says:

        @Cascadian I don’t know where you got the idea that I think a woman going to a pub equates to “taking part in a dangerous activity where the potential for death was explicit.”

        My point was that I think a drunk person can make a decision to do something like box or have sex and it shouldn’t be considered assault or rape, respectively. Even when you’re drunk you are still responsible for your choices i.e. drunk driving.

        Note: I mean drunk as in unable to legally drive, but still functional.Report

      • Avatar Cascadian in reply to Milo says:

        @milo “My point was that I think a drunk person can make a decision to do something like box or have sex and it shouldn’t be considered assault or rape, respectively. ”

        Sure, just like your buddy. If you and your high school sweet heart like to order a pizza and split a twelver, most unlikely to be a problem. Decide to exchange fistycuffs for fun out side of the bar with a new mate or take a fresh one on under the covers with a tank full and you ride your own choice.Report

      • Avatar Kim in reply to Milo says:

        It’s the other person’s responsibility to assess consent. WAY better if you have consent (even implied) while the person is sober, and then continue to get assent throughout the process.

        May seem a trifle CYA, but, dude, rape charges.Report

  13. Avatar Cascadian says:

    Of course, the nice thing about Canada is we don’t have these problems.