The Sexist

The University of Virginia Excels in Rape Euphemism

Last week, University of Virginia student Madeleine Conger pointed me to some bizarre language the university has been employing to tip-toe around the word "rape"in its student safety e-mails. "Our Chief Student Affairs Officer, Pat Lampkin, sends us these handy safety reminders before major binge drinking holidays—Halloween, Spring break, fraternity bid night," Conger writes. "This time it's Foxfield—an annual horse race in the area that students use as a day to get devastatingly drunk in an open field.  It's also the site of some of the infamous Tucker Max's sexual exploits."

Let's see how Lampkin warns UVA students of the danger of a drunken a horse race:

If you are intoxicated, your impaired judgment places you at a much greater risk for the following: injuries; sexual activity that is later regretted or deemed to have lacked consent; or a police citation. Plan not to drink or set a drink limit for yourself and stick to it.

Tell us what you really mean, UVA. Observe the entirely passive nature of this "sexual activity that is later regretted or deemed to have lacked consent." Sexual activity can be "regretted" by someone, but only "later." Similarly, non-consensual sexual activity isn't something that actually occurs when the "sex" happens—but it can be later "deemed" that way. Here, responsibility is administered evenly to both sexual partners—the one who "regrets" it, and the one who is accused of rape because of it.

At best, it seems that Lampkin is warning students against having bad sex and inspiring false rape accusations—an odd set of priorities for a campus security expert to focus on, no? I have an e-mail out to Lampkin, asking if what she really meant to warn students of was "rape." I'll update you when I hear back.

Photo via Tambako the Jaguar, Creative Commons Attribution License 2.0

  • Eo

    Sarah everyone knows aquaintence rape happenes.

    Sex negaitive feminists like Koss like to depict a rape epidemic, bad men waiting to victimise good women at every turn but79% pf the people in her 1 in 4 figure didnt think that they had been raped.

    Koss got that artificially inflated figure by including people who didnt feel that they had been raped and continued to date their partners as rape victims.

    Claims that drunk always means rape are circulated by poor quality agenda driven researchs like Koss. Alothough rape happens, campus rape hysteria is largly a political construct.

  • kza

    I feel like Sarah and leftside are trying to stir up shut that doesn't exist. Can you not accept that there are male feminists? Do you have to argue bullshit points? wtf

  • kza

    This blog is well written, relevant, and at the same time humorous. The only problem is the male hating commentaters. I can't speak for the writer but I feel like the point of this blog is gender equality. All of the entries are written from a non-objective point of view. The comments are a different story. The people who comment here seem determined to hate on males. For example from Sady Doyles twitter;

    In that time, there has already been a comment about how mean I am for not publishing personal attacks on my own website.

    I didnt say anything about personal attacks. I said she should allow more open to dissenting on her blog. Yet somehow it gets turned on me saying that she should let people attack her, on this blog my comments get twisted into saying girls shouldn't be allowed to go out and enjoy the night life...

    Stop being so militant jeeez

  • Eo

    Some of them are just heavily invested in prejudice and will go to lengths to protect their mindset.. also when people have a bogyman to blame everthing thats wrong on they dont have to take responsibility for their own lives.

    The concept that sex a woman later regrets is the same thing rape is just shifting responsibility on to someone else. Ive woken up beside someone and though "what was I thinking"? but I take responsibility for my own decision making. I think that some of these feminists are a long way off understanding the meaning of egalitarianism, blaming the nearest man or holding deep prejudices is not strength or independence, its quite the opposite.

  • Melissa

    If you're going to come to a feminist website and participate in a discussion about a feminist issue with feminists, then maybe you should consider engaging with our ACTUAL argument, rather than the strawfeminist bullshit you've either heard or cooked up in your head. Guess what? You're talking to real live feminists here. If you want to know what the feminist agenda is, all you have to do is pay attention to what we're actually saying.

    "Can you not accept that there are male feminis" Of course we can. And if you've spent more than five seconds on this blog, you'd know that.

    "The concept that sex a woman later regrets is the same thing rape is just shifting responsibility on to someone els" That is NOT rape. None of us ever, even once, remotely suggested that "regretted sex" is rape. Again, engage with our ACTUAL argument: that someone forcing him/herself on a nonconsenting person is rape. Do you have a problem with this definition?

    I can't really believe you thought it would go over well to come to a feminist website and try to tell feminists what we believe (which bears no resemblance to what we ACTUALLY believe) and then proceed to tell us how wrong we are.

  • http://toysoldier.wordpress.com Toysoldier

    @LSP: On many occassions I drank in order to tolerate having sex. The next day I regretted doing so. That does not mean those women or men raped me. I have never gotten so drunk that I could not recall what happened, but let us suppose I did. If I cannot recall at all what happened, how can I claim I was raped?

    Technically speaking, a drunk person can give consent, but their consent is impaired by intoxication. In other words, a person may make a decision they would not make while sober. However, a regretted decision does not constitute rape, nor does having sex with a drunk person. After all, plenty of men get drunk, have sex and later regret it or completely blacked out, yet those acts are not considered rape.

    Maybe you should take a break from expressing your seething resentment towards men and actually learn something about sexual respect, consent and decency. It would help you more as a feminist and make you a much better person.

    @Melissa: Actually, Hess suggested regretted sex was rape in her post. She stated "At best, it seems that Lampkin is warning students against having bad sex and inspiring false rape accusations—an odd set of priorities for a campus security expert to focus on, no? I have an e-mail out to Lampkin, asking if what she really meant to warn students of was 'rape.'"

  • cmb

    Toysoldier, you say "If I cannot recall what happened, how can I claim I was raped?"
    I was raped when I was 18. I don't remember a moment of it, but it haunts me everyday. I KNOW I was raped, despite the complete loss of memory of the entire night. I woke up on a bare cot in the hallway an emergency room. My clothes were ripped, there were bruises on my thighs, arms, and hips, it hurt to walk, and I was completely disoriented.
    Sure, maybe I had consensual sex that night and I just don't remember it. But I somehow doubt that as a lesbian and a virgin, I chose that night to have rough, drunken sex with a man.
    YES, I was drinking. NO, I don't remember the assault. But that does not mean what happened wasn't rape.
    When people like Pat Lampkin warn against "sex that is later deemed to have lacked consent," it makes me furious. It was not LATER deemed (by whom? some arbitrary third party?) to have lacked consent -- there was no consent in the first place. Because it was rape.

  • LeftSidePositive

    Toysoldier, if you drank to tolerate having sex, why on earth were you having sex? That sounds a hell of a lot like you didn't really want to! What the hell is up with that?

    So, are you actually saying that raping a passed-out person is okay because they won't remember? Wow, you really have NO ethics!

    You claim you care about victims but really you just care about yourself. What an insufferable hypocrite.

    Again (for the bizillionth time) you are responsible for what you DO while drunk, not what is done TO you. Why is this such a difficult concept?

    A person can DO something that they regret while drunk--a person who breaks a window while drunk is responsible, because that individual did something wrong. But, this is not the same as having something done to you. If a drunk person gets punched in the face in a bar, they are not responsible because it is not okay to punch anyone, drunk or sober.

    "A person may make a decision they would not make while sober" sounds a hell of a lot like taking advantage of someone's compromised state, and again, that is NOT acceptable in any way. If you are doing something to someone that they (in sound mind) would not be okay with, you are violating their right to consent.

    Moreover, in the vast majority of cases we're not talking about someone who freely "decides" while drunk that they want to have sex. We are talking about people who trust friends or acquaintances for rides home and then that person betrays their trust and has sex with them when they are unable to resist physically and/or verbally. The next morning rape-apologists will say "Oh, you just 'regret' having sex" when the sex was not consensual in any way AT THE TIME. We're talking about people who are too disoriented to say anything or know where they are, who are taken advantage of and used sexually when they are in no condition to participate or understand, and then have no idea what happened to them later. That's not "regretting" a decision--that's being totally unable to make one in the first place.

  • Tasha

    Just a question---
    If I am drunk, even if I say yes, it's rape because my ABILITY to give informed consent is impaired by alcohol.
    ----So I'm with my partner, we are both drinking, we both know that the evening will include sex, we have no 'discussion' about it, it just sort of happens naturally, and Im into it, he's into it, everyone is blissed out and happy---except feminists (not here) have told me that in this scenario, I've just been raped.
    I have 2 things to ask here--
    How is it rape? I was a willing participant. Is it rape because a third party who was not even present and does not know us SAYS it is? I call bullshit.
    Also, how is it that I am the victim and not my male partner? He was just as drunk and according to the law as I understand it, his ability to give informed consent just as impaired.
    Does this then mean any time I drink with a date then have sex with him one of us is always a victim and the other a rapist?

    Im genuinely curious on what the stand on this is here, because I see a lot of conflicting information and opinion being posted.

  • http://toysoldier.wordpress.com Toysoldier

    @cmb: What you experienced demonstrates my point. You knew you were raped because of the state you were in when and where you were when you woke up, not because you lacked recollection of the event. The situation Lampkin describes does not sound like your rape. Granted, Lampkin's "lack of consent" comment can be interpreted two ways. I took it to mean the person deemed non-consensual due to a lack of recollection. Others took it to mean the authorities deemed non-consensual. Hess was right to email Lampkin for clarification. Likewise, I can understand how Lampkin's word choice could offend someone.

    @LeftSidePositive: I said nothing about responsibility, only whether a person can make a decision while intoxicated. Yes, having sex with a person in a compromised state is immoral. However, that does not mean the act is a crime, which is why casinos can offer free alcohol without any fear of facing charges when drunk customer squander their savings. Limiting the discussion to a specific scenario misrepresents the issue. The issue is about intoxicated college students choose to drink and continue to make choices while drinking and while drunk. Many of those decisions are bad decisions, but they are decisions.

  • LeftSidePositive

    Toysoldier, you are such a fucking idiot. Rape is not defined by scars or bruises, it is defined by CONSENT. If cmb woke up in her own bed with no bruises but naked with semen on her legs, would you just assume everything is fine and she has no right to control her body if she can't remember anything? Is raping the retarded or comatose okay with you?

    Having sex with a person in a compromised state IS a crime. What the fuck is wrong with you that you resist that point?

    US Code, Title 18, Part I, Chapter 109A; 2241:

    Whoever "(2) engages in a sexual act with another person if that other person is—
    (A) incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct; or
    (B) physically incapable of declining participation in, or communicating unwillingness to engage in, that sexual act;
    or attempts to do so, shall be fined under this title and imprisoned for any term of years or for life."
    (emphasis mine)

    A person who is too drunk to remember anything is very clearly incapable of appraising the nature of the conduct.

    Fucking stupid analogy, by the way. The person in the casino is SPENDING THEIR OWN MONEY, not getting robbed. Again, you are responsible for what you do while drunk, not what is done to you or what you let happen.

  • LeftSidePositive

    Tasha--chances are, in a long-term relationship that you describe, standards of conduct are pretty clear. The parties have generally (but not always) reached some level of understanding about implied consent.

    Also, there is no way you would state on a survey or when asked that you "had sex when you didn't want to because of alcohol or another substance," so you wouldn't show up in any rape statistics, nor would there be any problems or disagreements between you and your boyfriend.

    Also, how drunk are you talking about? Do you mean blacked-out? Disoriented to the point you don't know what you're doing or who you're fucking? I think even the most anti-alcohol feminist would say you had to be *really* wasted for a stated, enthusiastic "yes" not to count. By "into it" do you mean that you are an active participant in the sex? What if you were blindingly drunk and someone else isolated you from that bar, let you (thoroughly wasted at this point) believe that he was your boyfriend and had sex with you in the toilet stall? Would you think that your active participation meant consent in that situation?

    Are you so wasted that you have no idea the next morning what happened? If someone wakes up find his/herself thoroughly fucked by their significant other and has no idea how it happened or why, one party can't just say "but you were drunk, honey, and we're dating, so I figured it would be fine" and expect not to have any consequences if the other party feels violated.

  • Tash

    LSP---
    The first part of your post---
    "Tasha–chances are, in a long-term relationship that you describe, standards of conduct are pretty clear. The parties have generally (but not always) reached some level of understanding about implied consent."

    And the last---
    "Are you so wasted that you have no idea the next morning what happened? If someone wakes up find his/herself thoroughly fucked by their significant other and has no idea how it happened or why, one party can’t just say “but you were drunk, honey, and we’re dating, so I figured it would be fine” and expect not to have any consequences if the other party feels violated."

    Seem to contradict each other....on one hand you say a level of understanding has been reached; but then on the other you say if you cant remember then cry foul and your man cant use the LTR as an excuse. These are the thigns that are confusing...the double speak and the ten thousand different 'scenarios' that all have a different script. If I am shitfaced drunk with my partner, and I wake up next to him feelingly thoroughly fucked, Im going to assume we had a mutually pleasurable night and maybe ask him to describe it to me if he remembers it. Im not going to scream rapist at him.

    Also, there is no way you would state on a survey or when asked that you “had sex when you didn’t want to because of alcohol or another substance,” so you wouldn’t show up in any rape statistics, nor would there be any problems or disagreements between you and your boyfriend.

    "Also, how drunk are you talking about? Do you mean blacked-out? Disoriented to the point you don’t know what you’re doing or who you’re fucking? I think even the most anti-alcohol feminist would say you had to be *really* wasted for a stated, enthusiastic “yes” not to count."
    ---You've said this before, and I meant to mention it...isn't one of the mantra's that I can change my mind at ANY stage of the game? It seems like you're saying that because I agreed to fuck before, I am bound by that agreement. For me, if Im with my partner, I tend not to change my mind :), but what if I do?

    "By “into it” do you mean that you are an active participant in the sex? What if you were blindingly drunk and someone else isolated you from that bar, let you (thoroughly wasted at this point) believe that he was your boyfriend and had sex with you in the toilet stall? Would you think that your active participation meant consent in that situation?"

    Well no, because my implied consent was for fucking my boyfriend not just for fucking

    ****BTW....I've also posted as "Tash", just to clarify, this IP and that IP are different (work vs home comp) but we are the same people..sorry for the confusion

  • Tash

    **I meant "Tasha" lol

  • LeftSidePositive

    Tash, that's why the first sentence said "generally (but not always)" and then the next part you quoted was an explanation of that very important parenthetical.

    And YOU are going to be okay with having drunk sex with your partner. That's fine, that's your right (it's your right to decide you yourself can be fucked while drunk, he also has to decide if he's so inclined that it's okay for him to be fucked while drunk). But, not EVERYONE is okay with having drunk sex with their partner so it's important not to assume things about someone else's body and therefore it's important to have SOME level of clarity. This can be as simple as "Hey Babe, let's go get wasted and get it on!" if that's mutually agreeable. If it's okay for the two of you, you can communicate your consent to each other and be fruitful and multiply for all I care, but that level of consent does NOT apply to any wasted girl found in any bar.

    As for stages of agreement--yes, you do get to change your mind at any time. If, for whatever reason, you get off on being fucked while unconscious (a rather strange desire in my opinion, but who am I to judge?!) you can give your boyfriend permission (WHEN YOU'RE SOBER) to do you when your shitfaced, and you can place whatever limits on him you'd like. In this situation, you would be voluntarily giving up your ability (strictly speaking, just your ability, NOT your right, but the distinction is purely academic here) to say stop at any time, if for whatever reason that turns you on. The important thing is that YOU decided this about YOUR body, he's not making assumptions based on the ease of overcoming your resistance. Now, if something went wrong and you were hurt the next morning, there may be some issues as to whether or not he respected your limits, or he may have done a fully appropriate job of being a surrogate for your intent but the two of you just need to figure out how to indulge this hypothetical kink safely.

    This is a really important point that you said:

    "Well no, because my implied consent was for fucking my boyfriend not just for fucking"

    THIS IS WHY DRUNK "CONSENT" IS NOT VALID. Lots of these "regretted sex" propagandists would say that, "well, you consented while drunk, and now you just regret what you did but you weren't raped cause it was your own fault for being so drunk." In fact, this scenario IS RAPE because you were not able to understand what was going on or consent. The consent you gave your boyfriend (not the rapist impostor) was when you were of sound mind BEFORE the sex and before the drinking, not during the crazed sex, when he could have been Dick Cheney for all you knew.

  • Tash

    LSP___

    "This is a really important point that you said:

    “Well no, because my implied consent was for fucking my boyfriend not just for fucking”

    THIS IS WHY DRUNK “CONSENT” IS NOT VALID. Lots of these “regretted sex” propagandists would say that, “well, you consented while drunk, and now you just regret what you did but you weren’t raped cause it was your own fault for being so drunk.” In fact, this scenario IS RAPE because you were not able to understand what was going on or consent. The consent you gave your boyfriend (not the rapist impostor) was when you were of sound mind BEFORE the sex and before the drinking, not during the crazed sex, when he could have been Dick Cheney for all you knew."

    But what you're describing are two *totally* different scenarios. In the first, we are talking about implicit consent given to other half of an ltr (or at least established relationship). In the second, we are talking about a predatory rape.
    I think the confusion sets in and the lines get blurred when we have a woman who has been drinking at a party meets up with a man who has been drinking at a party (I don't mean blind drunk, just drunk, lowered inhibitions etc)...they talk, flirt, drink some more, flirt some more, and go back to her place and fuck. The next morning, she wakes up and thinks "Bloody hell, wtf have I done?" and sets about making excuses to blast his ass out of her bed.
    In this 3rd scenario, the regretted sex scenario, I don't see rape, I see an "oh shit" moment. But the too drunk to give consent people see rape...even if the woman in the scenario doesn't feel she was raped. This is the one that I think holds the most potential to be a huge mess. The way things are, if I wake up next to a man I'd probably not have slept with while sober, I can very possibly just say "Oh, well I wouldn't have done that ordinarily, and I was drinking, so he obviously took advantage of me, so I was raped" This I have a problem with. I have had that experience, I have also had the experience of being raped, the two, for me, do no tfeel even remotely the same.

  • Kit-Kat

    @Tash---I think the scenario you describe is only a problem if you define rape based on how the woman feels about the sex afterward. But that is not how rape is defined--it's not about whether you did something while drinking that you would not have done sober, it's about whether or not you were (a) capable of consenting to anything and (b) did consent at the time you had sex. If you were and you did, you weren't raped, and your feelings about it afterward don't change what happened. If you weren't or you didn't, then you were raped, whether or not you apply that label yourself. Rape is not defined by the feelings of the victim.

    A person can drink and still be able to consent to something--obviously, there are different levels of intoxication. You can drink enough to lower your inhibitions without losing your capacity to consent. But a person who is unable to speak or walk properly, or stand up on their own, or is closer to unconscious than conscious, or is vomiting, or is blackout drunk--that person is probably not able to consent. Is there a fine line when it might be hard to tell whether or not a person is capable of consenting? Possibly--in which case, the best bet is to not have sex with that person. If you can't tell if someone is sober enough to say yes, they probably aren't.

  • http://www.uvavictimsofrape.com Susan

    Just saw your posting. I have had the pleasure (truly a displeasure) to meet face to face with VP Lampkin to discuss my daughter's 2004 rape at UVA. Lampkin is an archaic fool that should be relieved of her duties. At the time she was comparing the Amy Adkins incident to my daughter's rape and told me that Amy would have to live with her trauma for the rest of her life (someone wrote the N word on her card with Honey) but my daughter could "get over" the rape and move on. So I asked her, "Do you think it was more traumatic to find your car with a slur on it than to be pinned down and forcibly raped?" (I was a little more graphic than that, but I'll spare the reader here) and she responded yes.

    Please don't interpret that what happened to Amy is not traumatic - it was. But it was not a crime I would equate to rape. And I was a parent in the office trying to talk to the VP about rape. And she blew me off.

    Lampkin thinks rape is synonymous with regrettable sex. Rape is not sex. Rape is about power. And until the University recognizes rape to be a crime, all women are targets for violence.

    For more information, see my website.

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