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OPINION: ‘YES we need to tackle our drinking problem – but rape is RAPE’

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This week’s episode of Cutting Edge brought up one of the most controversial rape cases in the media, and the response around the country was not good.

Ciara Kelly, Al Porter and Niamh Horan were all guests on the panel, and discussed the horrific case.

Viewers were quick to hit out at journalist Niamh Horan, who said we should be focusing on the issue of women getting so drunk to the point of being unconscious in the first place.

After drinking at a party in Standford University, a young woman was then raped by Brock Turner behind a dumpster and left there naked with her underwear thrown nearby.

On the episode of Brendan O’Connor’s new series there was an emphasis put on women drinking “too much” and how that is a “factor” in rape cases.

Here in Goss HQ we are all young women aged 26 and younger, we have all dealt with unwanted attention, harassment and more, sadly most women have but we don’t blame how we drink or how we act… and no one should.

Is alcohol really a “factor” when it comes to rape? Here’s what we think.

Ali Ryan, Editor

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I agree that our drinking culture particularly in Ireland is very bad, both women AND men drink too much, so many people I know have “black outs” and the norm is to laugh about it and go on the next night out.

While I do think we need to get a handle on our drinking culture, it still doesn’t mean it is the cause of rape. The only thing that causes rape is RAPISTS.

So the argument on Cutting Edge was that you shouldn’t be getting to the point of being unconscious in the first place, because you are putting yourself in danger – but a normal man/woman who is NOT a rapist, would help bring someone like that home, get them in touch with their friends…. not pull off their clothes and rape them before leaving them beside a dumpster.

To even plant the idea that alcohol and the victim’s extreme drinking that night led to her rape, is extremely dangerous.

There are so many women around the world scared to come forward when they feel taken advantage of, scared to go to the police where they are probed and questioned, afraid to take a rape kit test because they have to open their legs and have a stranger find “proof” they really were raped in the first place.

Yes we have a drinking problem in Ireland, yes college students can drink far too much, but consent is consent, and if someone can’t stand, can’t speak, can’t ask for help… you are raping them.

Kendra Becker, Entertainment Reporter

Kieran Harnett

I personally think that no matter what the circumstance, a rapist is a rapist, end off.

As a young woman living in Ireland, I would never want myself, my friends, my family or my future children to ever think that they should “watch themselves” for fear they might “lure” an assaulter.

At the end of the day, any decent human being, whether a man or a woman, should help someone who is clearly unable to help themselves, whether they are under the influence of alcohol, drugs or struggling with their own mental health.

I personally think that any respectful lad should be putting a girl (who’s maybe had one too many) in a taxi and helping her home, rather than taking advantage at the first opportunity they get.

As a 21-year-old woman who lives in Dublin’s city centre, I’ll put my hands up and say I absolutely do not feel safe. Whether it’s ignoring cat callers (don’t ask me how many times I’ve been called a bitch for not thanking someone for their “compliment”), avoiding eye contact with men on the street, jingling my keys as I approach my door at night and spending outrageous amounts of money on taxis home when I could have just walked, I’ve seriously had enough.

For example, the other day I was standing in the queue in Tesco, a man came up behind me in the queue and placed his hand on my arm and said, “How are you doing sweetheart?”, I had just finished work, I wasn’t in the mood to talk to anyone so I just simply ignored him and stared straight ahead.
I suddenly found myself feeling really awkward that I didn’t respond to him and had to stand beside him in awkward silence for about 40 seconds. But why should I feel awkward? If I don’t want to talk to a stranger, then I shouldn’t have to?

I also find it incredibly frustrating that the term “I have a boyfriend” is the most used (and effective) excuse to get a guy to leave you alone, rather than just simply saying no. It just gives a perfect example of how some men respect other men more than females, and that’s not okay.

I’m certainly not blaming all men for this type of behaviour, because it’s definitely not all men who are at fault here, but it’s not fair that we STILL have to live in a society where women fear men.

It’s 2016 lads, get a grip.

 

Lisa McLoughlin, Deputy Editor

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Women are definitely more afraid now, and that’s nothing to do with how much they drink, it’s sadly the fear of what might happen when you’re alone.
Without causing too much scaremongering, I personally don’t feel safe walking home late at night any longer. I don’t know what exactly it is but the eerie silence that the city’s streets breathe after a certain hour somehow bring out the strangest in people.
Living in the city centre, off one of Dublin’s busiest streets, I sadly know all too well how it feels to be followed home or bizarrely flashed at my front door by people that aren’t under the influence but rather have one thing on their mind.
After a number of incidents between myself, friends and room mates, I can openly say I no longer feel comfortable walking alone at night and instead order a taxi to get home.
The interesting thing is, I know though that my fear is echoed by many and I’m not alone. It’s sad to think that in a place that I call home, I can still feel incredibly unsafe.
On Cutting Edge it was said that 1 in 3 of every rape case has alcohol as a “factor” but it also highlights that two thirds of those rapes are caused by other influences.
Regardless of peoples opinions and mine for that matter, there’s now a very real and much-needed conversation about sexual assault and victim-shaming in Ireland.

Emma Costello, Entertainment Reporter

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Rape culture is not fuelled by alcohol, it can happen in the middle of the day or in someone’s own home.

Women should not have to worry about drinking an extra glass of wine because some lad might take advantage of them, nor should a guy worry about having a night out with his friends.

There needs to be a bigger focus on the fact that men get assaulted too.

What happened in Stanford is disgusting, no matter how much alcohol she drank. A decent human would have seen she was in a fragile condition and at least put in her into a taxi.

Megan Kessie, Marketing Executive

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Cutting Edge brought up an interesting debate, but we can’t for a single second even suggest the victim is to blame, no matter what the circumstance.

We can’t be putting blame on the victim, it’s not their fault they were raped and they need to feel protected.

But at the same time I agreed with Al Porter when he said rape can sometimes be in a “grey area”.

Two people can’t just go get drunk and have sex and one wakes up the next day and regrets and says it’s rape – that’s not right either.

In the end though it doesn’t matter how much you drink or how much you party, sex is consensual end of.

Alcohol has nothing to play in it, just because I’ve had wine doesn’t mean you’re asking to be raped.

We should be allowed drink and go out and not be afraid of what we’re wearing or how much we’re drinking, no means no.