Hey Teenage Boys! Worried About Steubenville? Don’t Be.
So, two high school football players are going to spend some time in a juvenile detention facility for messing around with a drunk girl. Maybe you’ve seen the stories and think, “Holy shit! Could that be me?”
The answer is, it is completely easy for that to never be you. You can make sure you never end up in Trent Mays’ position in three easy steps. But first, there are some things you should know.
High school is still a place where, if folks know not everyone is straight, the social world revolves around the assumption that folks are straight (when I’m writing for a different audience I use the term “heteronormative.”) It’s also, like almost everywhere, cisnormative: folks assume that everybody is and wants to stay the gender they were assigned at birth and that everyone’s okay with binary gender. Some folks are not. In most high schools there are a few folks who are openly or sort of openly gay or lesbian or bi or pan or queer, and there may even be people who are openly gender nonconforming. But for the most part, the social world revolves around guys and girls whose gender is what they were assigned at birth and who mostly hook up with members of the opposite sex- or try to and fail, because almost nobody gets as much sex as they’d like. Anyway, because addressing how high school life is for folks who are not trying to have sex with members of the opposite sex is a pretty different conversation, I’m just going to write within the heteronormative framework for now.
So, how to not be Trent Mays and get locked up:
First, Trent Mays isn’t a good guy who gave in to temptation to get off. What they did, over the course of a few hours, was a long series of doing stuff to that girl and then documenting it in pictures and video, not really for their own sexual satisfaction, but because they thought that humiliating her in sexual ways when she was too out of it to do anything about it was funny. You can read more here.
Second, most rapes are not rapes committed by strangers. Maybe 80% or 85% of rapes are by someone the victim knows. Most of them don’t involve any actual force; they involve alcohol, and the victim is either passed out or too drunk to know what’s happening. Sometimes other drugs are involved and sometimes the victim gets slipped a drug they didn’t mean to take, but mostly, the real “date rape drunk” is plain old alcohol. Why? Well, mostly because guys who rape girls who are drunk usually get away with it. Her memory is usually impaired, prosecutors and juries look down on her for being drunk, and she may be too embarrassed to even tell anyone. So guys who want to rape know what to look for. And there are guys who like to rape. In fact, most rapes are not about confusion or miscommunication, they are planned by a small percentage of guys who are complete dicks, and like to take advantage of drunk girls, by which I mean, to rape them. You can read more here, here and here.
Okay, so are you ready for the foolproof plan not to get charged with rape?
(1) You’re probably not that guy. The guy who gets girls drunk on purpose or looks for the really drunk girl at the party, planning on them being basically too messed up to stop you or even to say “no.” If you are that guy, STOP IT. STOP IT, they are human beings and you are doing a terrible thing, and someday you may get caught and sent to prison, or someone might beat you into a bloody pulp, and if you believe in hell this is the kind of stuff that sends people there.
You probably know that guy. If you care about the women he may rape, you can and should cockblock his rapey ass. I should do a post on that, but this one’s pretty close.
(2) If you’re not that guy, you may be worried that you miss or misinterpret signals. What if you’re with someone and she seems into you, and then you’re fooling around then she sort of seems like she’s not into it anymore? Well, there’s a huge difference between “she didn’t say no” and “she said yes.” And what you want is the yes. Some folks call that “enthusiastic participation” and some call it “affirmative consent” which sort of sounds more technical, but when you’re getting busy with someone, it sounds like “Yes!” “Take your cock out” “I want to touch it”, “I want to suck it.” Which is way hotter than just laying there, right? So how do you get that? Ask.
Adults who should know better talk about asking for and talking about consent like it’s a mood-killer, and that’s ridiculous. Checking in and making sure your partner is into it just goes right along with good hot dirty-talk. If you want to know if your partner wants to do something, suggest it. If they say yes or they do it, there’s no misunderstanding! They’re into it! If they don’t want to, saying one thing invites them to suggest something else. And if what the really want is to put their pants on and go home, well then that’s what has to happen. It’s natural to be disappointed when someone you want to get naked with decides halfway through that it’s just not working for them, but there’s no such thing as too late to stop, and you don’t want to have sex with anyone who isn’t into it, right? Only that guy wants to do that.
(3) so you’ve got a partner who is into you, and there’s no mistake about that. But she’s been drinking all night and is pretty hammered. Look, take a raincheck on that. Alcohol is a disinhibitor, with means it makes people throw out good judgment, but it doesn’t create sexual desire where none exists. The person who wants to fuck you when drunk will still want to fuck you sober. The person who doesn’t want to fuck you, but would if they got drunk enough because they’re making bad decisions … that’s the person you need to not fuck, because the best that can happen is really crappy sex followed by a lot of awkward, and it goes downhill from there. The law varies from state to state, and it’s hard to say exactly how drunk is too drunk, but the moral standard is pretty simple: if you say, “I’m totally down, but can we do this later when we’re both sober” will your partner bail, or will you get a raincheck? If they’ll bail, then that’s what needs to happen.
Finally, you may have friends who tell you that certain things just don’t happen without alcohol, whether it’s anal or threesomes or whatever, that sober girls just don’t make those decisions. Well, I’m from your future and I’ve come back to tell you that’s bullshit. I had scenes in college so wild that I had to borrow an extra mattress from the room down the hall, and everybody was stone cold sober. I know the women you want to fuck at age 30 and age 40, and she totally wanted to do all the wild stuff you wish she would when she was your age. The stakes are higher for her, because of bullshit slut-shaming culture and pregnancy and infections, so she has to think harder about it and she has to trust who she’s with, and that’s why the girls your age who are doing the most interesting stuff are not the ones there are rumors about, are not the ones wearing the least clothes or drinking and getting high the most. Remember, I’ve had decades to talk to them about what they really did in high school, and the ones who did the most interesting stuff usually had a steady partner who knew how to shut the hell up.
The more sexual you are, and the more you want people to be able to be sexual how they like with who they like and with no negative consequences, the more it’s in your interest to change the culture. Right now, teens get all sorts of sex negative messages, and most of them sort of start with the worldview that in sex, a guy “gets some” and a girl loses something she can’t get back. That’s not the only way to look at it. In fact, it’s a messed up and wrong way to look at it. For a powerful alternative, I recommend this video.