I have been reading and watching news reports surrounding the University of Virginia article in Rolling Stone and the recent trial of several Vanderbilt University football players charged with rape. I guess it has weighed heavily on my mind as I have had three sons in a fraternity at a large state school, as well as taking care of more than several young women (patients) who have said they were sexually abused while away at college.
To begin with, and I have said this before, my husband and I began talking to our sons, at rather young ages, about how you “treat” girls. This began with explaining to them that there is a “difference between boys and girls”, and I say this as a woman, wife , mother, physician, and now grandmother to a little girl.
So...we taught our sons that when a girl says “NO” it always means “NO”, no matter the circumstance. This conversation became even more direct as they got older and started dating. Now that they are adults, I can only hope and assume that they listened!
I believe in gender equality, but i do think there is a difference between boys/girls, young men/young women and that difference comes when both genders begin drinking alcohol and getting drunk. My patients will tell you that I discuss this with each of them as they leave for college. While boys get drunk and do some very scary, inappropriate and dangerous things...they do no get raped by a drunk girl.
In all of the girls I have taken care of, and also in the case of so many other college women in the news, there was excessive alcohol when a sexual assault took place. Binge drinking on college campuses is one the the biggest problems being tackled by many universities across the country. But sexual assault and abuse is another university problem that continues to exist.
Back to differences....a girl/young woman who is drunk cannot protect herself, often cannot recall “he said/she said” and sometimes awakens from a drunken stupor without her clothes on. It distresses me to write this. Whether it was consensual, or rape...it is often unclear when the girl was drunk.
Talk to your sons and daughters about this epidemic. I tell my female patients, and I will tell my grand daughter one day "it is your body and the only way to protect yourself is to be of clear mind...if you drink you need to be able to take care of yourself and always be aware of what is happening". It cannot be a “blurry” memory.