The following article was published in The Catalyst almost a year ago. I decided to resubmit it as I think its content is as applicable today as it was back then. The article was written in response to remarks made by a student who was found guilty of violating CC’s Sexual Misconduct Policy. I have edited his name out so that it doesn’t distract the readers from the main message I have tried to convey. The original title for this piece was “‘I was blackout’ is no excuse.”

Illustration by Teddy Benson

Society went to shit when we decided that anything and everything was excusable after a few too many drinks. “It was one night when I was blackout drunk and it came to bite me in the ass,” said a student in an interview with The Catalyst, after being found guilty of violating CC’s Sexual Misconduct Policy last year. Being blackout drunk, or any type of drunk, is not a valid justification for sexual misconduct. Behaving stupidly and irresponsibly is only your fault. However, when you harm other people in the process, you are committing an indefensible act. The saddest part of it all is that it seems people at CC often condone this type of behavior.

Call it hook-up culture, casual relationships, sexual exploration, or simply “being a college student.” It has led us to believe that it is perfectly admissible to see people as potential targets in our drunken hunt for pleasure. It is almost as if there could actually be an acceptable disconnect between who we are when we are sober and who we are when we are drunk. Is it that everything magically becomes valid because “we don’t really know what we are doing” once we start indulging in those sweet Friday drinks? That student was not the first, and certainly won’t be the last to use this pathetic excuse. Yet while talking with one of the women who was interviewed for an article about his expulsion, I realized that the way our community perceives alcohol and sexuality plays an immense role in the persistence of this disgraceful problem. She made me realize that it isn’t just alcohol – it is culture as well. Many of her ideas inspired this article.

I believe most people would readily declare that sexual misconduct is wrong. We perceive ourselves as beings that are above that type of shameful behavior. And most people probably are, at least when sober. I don’t intend to argue that our community has a messed-up moral compass in which abuse, unwanted sexual contact, or rape is something acceptable, but rather that alcohol is too often used as an excuse for these actions.

The problem is that some moral lines seem to blur when alcohol is involved. Of course, I don’t think alcohol is the only cause of this infuriating problem. I am by no means against alcohol. I am against alcohol being an accepted alibi for our inability to control our sexual desires.

It is a sad fact about our society: we are pleasure driven. Of course, this wouldn’t be entirely bad, if only the potential of harming ourselves and others didn’t exist. Think for a second about how many times you have gone out to party with one thing in mind: getting some. At that point, pleasure becomes the goal, people become the means, and alcohol a tool. We stop looking for the most interesting or best-looking person, and focus on finding who’s most willing to give us pleasure. They become an object, they stop counting as people. We stop caring about their feelings and opinions, so long as they satisfy us.

Even if this Friday or Saturday night’s interaction seems perfectly consensual, it isn’t. Our judgment is bound to be impaired if we are drunk. And that is if we are conscious enough to make a judgment in the first place. Abnormal or extreme behavior is born through the desensitization that comes with perceiving drunken hook-ups and alcohol-driven encounters as the norm. It isn’t wrong to have fun and give and receive pleasure. What’s wrong is to use alcohol as a tool to disrespect and disregard the emotions of others for the sake of getting some. We are not talking about inanimate objects. We are talking about real people, with real feelings.

We wouldn’t normally break the boundaries of personal space and choice. We also wouldn’t normally be so bold about our sexual intentions with random people. That is why alcohol becomes our best friend in this pursuit of pleasure. It becomes our “confidence booster,” our “encouraging friend,” our reason to leave inhibitions behind. It also becomes our pitiful excuse when we fuck up and are not ready to grow up and take responsibility for our actions.

What if it was an accident? What if both people were equally drunk, but the other person regrets it in the morning? They are indeed challenging questions. They are difficult dilemmas that make sexual misconduct such a tricky subject. Yet, what are we doing as a community to minimize the chances of those questions arising? Potential offenders won’t be discouraged if we continue to see “accidental sex” or “unclearly consensual sex” as a side risk of partying and socializing.

I have an issue with people being so accepting of drunken debauchery. I have an issue with people accepting abuses of trust and respect when alcohol is involved. There are certain behaviors that are simply never tolerable. Sexual misconduct, in any form and to any degree, is one of them.

Let’s wake up and realize that alcohol should never be an excuse. After all, many of the things we do when we are drunk have crossed our minds when we are sober.  Let’s wake up and realize that this alcohol-driven sex scene only fosters the type of behavior we are bound to regret. There is more to life and pleasure than inebriated excess.

Jorge Rivera

Guest Writer

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