"I’m a bit too late to the party here, but there’s actually something interested to be said about this.
I’m involved with some rape crisis activism, and one of the metaphors that activists use when talking about date rape is that of drunk driving.
Thirty years ago, the ‘responsible’ attitude toward drunk driving was “On New Year’s Eve, stay off the streets, because there are a lot of drunk drivers out there who might kill you.” And then, starting in the 1980s, there was a concerted public health effort to shift the paradigm toward the phrase we all have drummed into our heads: “Friends don’t let friends drive drunk.” As in, it’s not your responsibility to hide from drunk drivers; it’s your job to recognize that drunk driving is irresponsible and unacceptable, and to prevent your friends from doing it - in other words, to make drunk driving taboo. And it worked! Lots of us in our late 20s think of drunk driving as a secular mortal sin…something we would never, ever do, and that we would be disgusted and angry to have discovered our friends had done.
Right now, we think of it as girls’ responsibility to protect themselves from rape: don’t get tanked! don’t leave your drink unattended! don’t let your friends leave you at the bar! etc. This is the “stay off the streets, drunk drivers might be out there!” safety model. But someday, a generation or so from now, it might be something different. It might be: “Friends don’t let friends have sex with drunk people.” Or, to put it slightly differently: our kids might take it for granted that you need active, sober consent from someone before you bone them. Shocking!
Does that sound horribly harsh? Are you about to rush to your keyboard and say, “That’s so unfair! Lots of times when drunk people say they want to have sex, they really mean it!” Sure. And the truth is, most of the time when you get behind the wheel when you’re drunk, you get home safely. But sometimes, when you drive drunk, people get hurt. And that girl who is stumbling along next to you might be in a blackout, or the survivor of some really fucked up abuse, or you might be too drunk yourself, and in too much of a rush to realize that the scared 18 year old you’re about to get with is whispering “no” and doesn’t mean it as a joke.
Here’s a message from the future: don’t have sex with drunk people. If you meet a drunk girl at the bar, flirt with her, make out with her on the street corner, and program your number into the phone. If she invites you home, hey, sure, go back with her and make out til dawn. Then fall asleep, make some breakfast, and distract yourself from your hangover by doing it to your hearts’ content once you’re sober.
After all, what have you got to lose? If you truly don’t believe she’ll still sleep with you once her head clears…how much was that consent worth to you, really?"