Column: Defending the line

By Dan Mollison

In an article published in the Booze News last week entitled “How To: Nail Your Ex’s Roommate,” columnist Josh Nacey describes one of “multiple ways to go about” sleeping with your ex’s roommate. While the article may not have been written with a serious intent, it offers a serious contribution to misconceptions about sexual assault.

The process, Nacey explains, entails going out to the bars with your ex-girlfriend and feeding her drinks until she is “…super drunk. So drunk that she can’t even form a coherent sentence.” Then, when you’re ready to leave, Nacey advises you to “talk about how you’re getting super sleepy and just want to crash at her place. If the booze is working she’ll mutter something. Don’t listen, it might be a no, but everybody knows that no really means yes. Take that FYCARE.”

The experience is made complete when a friend of yours, who has taken your ex’s roommate out, comes home with the roommate and begins to have sex with her. This is when you pull what Nacey refers to as the “Weiner Switch,” and the rest is history.

Despite Nacey’s multiple references to discovering this method through “investigative journalism,” I don’t think this article was intended to be taken seriously. It’s much more likely that Nacey intended this piece to be a joke, something readers would laugh at and say, “Wow, wouldn’t it be crazy to do that?”

But one of the main issues regarding sexual assault today is that we receive so many messages from the media and our peers that blur the line between sex and rape, and this article calls certain behaviors sex when they are actually rape. It promotes the mentality that rape, an act of violence, is a game or an exploit. Nacey makes intentionally giving someone enough alcohol to the point where they can’t “form a coherent sentence” and then raping them seem like sex, but it isn’t. Nacey also makes raping someone after they’ve said “no” seem like sex, but it isn’t. Sex is not about one person overpowering another; it’s a mutually shared experience in which the wishes and desires of both people involved are honored. The circumstances in this article involve rape, not sex.

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The article’s misconceptions may not seem too serious at first glance, but consider this: every night of the week on this campus there are men who are faced with the same situations described in the article, and they have to ask themselves, “Should I go through with this, even though she’s so drunk she can hardly speak?” Because men in our society are exposed to so many messages in which rape is reframed as sex – think of the jokes that occur in groups of adolescent boys – it becomes a lot easier for someone in this situation to truly believe that sex is happening when it isn’t.

I am one of the FYCARE facilitators Nacey jabbed at in his article, so I know a lot about sexual assault. I’ve worked with people who have been raped and with people who have committed rape. Based on my experiences, I believe that oftentimes when rape happens, the perpetrator might not even know it’s rape; they believe that they’re having sex with the victim. One of the reasons why they might believe that it’s sex is because articles like Nacey’s glorify rape as if it were sex, when it’s actually an experience that can cause serious trauma to the victim.

Although Nacey and the Booze News probably didn’t mean any harm, this article helps blur the line that separates sex from rape. And in a community in which one in six women reports a sexual assault or an attempt, this hardly helps the situation.