For what are they responsible?

When women are intoxicated, for what are they responsible? More specifically, are they responsible for their actions when they have a drunken sexual encounter? Many girls and women alike have reported cases of rape after a night of “blacking out.” Perhaps Urban Dictionary can define the phenomena best, in a way that it is known to the population: “when one consumes so much of a substance (typically alcohol) that one cannot remember one’s actions at a later time, be it later in the night or the morning after.” While blacked out, these women have been sexually assaulted or raped, and have little to no recollection of the experience but have proof of sexual assault, whether physical signs or, in some cases, documented proof. The accused male claims that the female gave consent at the time, but she has no memory of that situation. Is drunken consent actually consent? I believe that if a girl can remember her actions, she is responsible for them. If she is foolishly intoxicated to the point where she cannot function properly (i.e. remember her actions), it is easy to believe that someone could advantage of her. Some state laws agree, such as California’s, which says if “intoxication by alcohol or drugs impaired the victim’s ability to consent,” ( the sexual encounter is considered rape. Other states see it differently, saying that a lack of consent only occurs in certain situations, one of which is “mentally incapacitated.” This could only occur if the victim was intoxicated under a substance “administered to [them] without [their] consent, or to any other act committed upon [them] without [their] consent.” So, if a girl in New York got drunk upon her own decision and was raped, she would be less likely to win the case. In this way, the lines of consent are blurred and consent becomes a more disputed topic, with many states variating their definitions of sexual consent under the influence of alcohol. The fact that the qualifications for rape is debated is proof enough that our society is not a society that has the same morals; rather, the society that we live in is one that “condones and celebrates rape.” (hooks, 109).


hooks, b. “Seduced by Violence No More.” Outlaw Culture. New York: Routledge, 1994. Print.;
Username: -___________-. “4. Blacking out.” Urban Dictionary. Urban Dictionary, 10 Jan. 2008. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <;.;
“California Rape Laws.” Findlaw. Thomson Reuters, n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <;.;
“New York Laws.” Article 130., n.d. Web. 28 Oct. 2013. <;.



2 thoughts on “For what are they responsible?

  1. laurenarchambeault

    I agree with you in the respect that alcohol currently complicates sexual assault and rape cases, but I think that complication stems from the way our society views rape. I do think that people are responsible for their actions while intoxicated; for instance, if a person drank so much so as to reach a level of black out drunkenness, they would still be responsible for breaking and entering into a home, vandalizing a car, or physically attacking someone.

    The issue here is that rape is the action of the rapist. If a person is raped while being intoxicated, they are indeed responsible for their actions, but rape is simply not one of their actions. Again, it is the rapist’s action. If we as a society can recognize that rape is rape- no matter how sexually consenting a person is up until the moment it becomes rape, no matter how sober or drunk that person is, no matter what that person is wearing or how that person is acting- then and only then can we begin to look at rape cases with a mindset free of victim blaming and begin a shift away from rape culture.

  2. amamce

    I don’t really think rape should be limited to the idea that it happens during intoxication. Rape can happen at any time, to anyone. It shouldn’t make any difference if a person is slightly buzzed, decently intoxicated, or black out drunk- if a person is sexually assaulted, it is still sexual assault. I also don’t agree with your concept of “foolish intoxication”. I believe that only an individual can determine whether the level of intoxication that they are at is ridiculous or “foolish”, because that is a personal perception. But no matter how foolish it is perceived as, it does not give anybody permission to commit any action against that person.
    You also state, “I believe that if a girl can remember her actions, she is responsible for them.” This is problematic for several reasons. A person has to ingest a significant amount of alcohol to reach the point where memory is blocked and blackouts happen. There are many levels to intoxication, and no matter the level: no means no. And alcohol is a judgement inhibitor in the first place, which is why there are laws that protect women who make the active choice to drink (because they can and that’s ok!). Even if a person remembers saying yes but later realizes they don’t want to consent, that does not mean that they are giving consent, and it is up to the other person in the situation to realize that there is no capacity of true consent. By saying that alcohol causes a person to be raped, it is turning the rapist into a beverage instead of the person that they are. The real problem with rape isn’t alcohol or blackouts or brownouts or even being buzzed- it is the fact that the rapist commits the action in the first place.
    And it is true that most state laws do not fully protect the victim and tend to blame the victim and forgive the assailant. And you are right, this is completely wrong. And no matter how much alcohol either party has in their system, the action is still wrong.


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