Thursday, October 24, 2013

And Then I Saw The Light

I started college during (or near) the peak of both crime hysteria and AIDS hysteria. It's not that either of these things were fake. It was the peak of the violent crime era, and it was the peak of the era of this horrible plague that no one had yet (but soon) found anything close to adequate treatment for. But the reaction to these things was often stupid, especially when combined with the rise of the Christian Right and a general backlash against sex.

So my college orientation (which I later participated in as a counselor)involved a lot of warning to women of the dangers of drinking, how they shouldn't be out alone, how they should go to parties in pairs. It wasn't that any of this was horrible advice, though some of it was, if taken too literally, essentially about telling women to avoid being alone with men entirely. Thought it was supposedly advice about how to not get raped, it was also advice to not have sex at all anytime.

And it was, at best, idiot advice, as in advice given to people you think are idiots. Who at the age of 18 doesn't know that serious binge drinking is probably a bad idea? Who at the age of 14 doesn't know this, even if they don't even experience to know what binge drinking means?

I don't remember when I first came across someone pointing out that "advice to women on how not to get raped" was just victim blaming in bare disguise, but it was a revelation. It shouldn't have been, but, hey, we're not all brilliant all of the time. I grew up hearing lots of stupid shit. It takes awhile to jettison those messages.