After seven or eight drinks too many my friend is on the table. She isn't sober enough to dance, but she crawls across toward me. She's half-flashing most of the bar, but it is a quiet night, and maybe that's intentional. Especially since she is crawling across the table to plant a wet, sticky kiss on my mouth to the hoots and hollers of the men in the room. We make a show of the kiss, but to be honest, it isn't all for show. Everyone is having a good time as she moves to kiss more willing participants around the table, there are hoots and hollers.
It was a blackout drunk, wild party kind of night. Yet, despite her, and my, and frankly most everyone's slutty, promiscuous behavior that night, neither she, nor I were assaulted in any way that night.
In fact, of all the kegger, blowout parties I've been to, the times when I've had to put up boundaries, or felt in danger, could all be counted on one hand. Any boy dumb enough to cross those boundaries would find themselves uninvited to any future events. By the time my friend group had mostly solidified, I was comfortable enough with those friends that I knew that even if I stripped down naked in a party (not entirely out of the question at the time), none of my friends would touch me in a way I didn't want. In fact, most of them would probably try to get me to put back on my clothes.
This isn't because none of them are attracted to me. It isn't because they are all in committed relationships. It isn't even because they get enough sex that they don't need to find it in dumb places; some of them were in long dry spells at the time.
My confidence stemmed from the simple fact that none of them were assholes. Even completely black-out wasted, these men were capable of realizing that other people had different needs or wants than themselves. These men knew they had the opportunity for a quick grope or a consequence-free blackout fondle, and they still chose not to do so.
Let's be honest. Claiming that assault and rape are a natural and unavoidable part of the party life implies not only that the price for women drinking is women being assaulted, but that rape is fundamentally part of male psyche.
It isn't. By implying that, we encourage predators to feel empowered to assault. By implying that, we let young men know that rape and assault is expected of them as men. By implying that we let women know that risk of assault is simply the toll they must pay to live fully.
Ideas have impact. And the idea that partying invalidates a woman's autonomy has implications that extend far beyond party culture. No woman deserves to ever feel like her lack of safety is her own fault. And no man deserves to be assumed a rapist at heart. And THAT is the assumption that is made when you blame assault on alcohol.
This doesn't have to be true. Call it the feminist in me - but I believe that men are better than the rapist assholes that certain defenders would have us believe. I won't tolerate the "party life means people get groped" defense. Because it isn't true. And I know this, because I've had the privilege of knowing men who see women as people, instead of as objects.
May the future world be populated only by such men. But in order to get there, we have to change the way WE talk about rape.