Sober hookups do not equal intoxicated consent

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September 5, 2013

10:54 PM

The following story is one of a very close friend of mine. Even though she does not attend the College of William and Mary, I have kept her name confidential out of respect. Here is her story:

During her freshman year, a friend of mine hooked up with a senior guy who had been one of friendliest, most chill guys she’d ever met. After he graduated, she never thought she’d see him again. That is, until she received a Facebook message from him one night during the following year. That’s right, a Facebook booty-call message. He suggested they should “hang out” and “catch up.” She asked her friends for advice and they all agreed that a booty call through Facebook was a bit desperate. They weren’t even friends on Facebook, which meant he made the deliberate effort to search for her with the sole purpose of sending that message. Regardless, she decided to go for it. He was the first guy she’d ever gotten naked for freshman year and the farthest she’d gone with anyone before. He was so sweet and understanding. Whatever, she decided, “I’ll message him back.”

He soon became her own personal booty call. Whenever she was drunk, she would call him or text him and he would be down to hookup. He wasn’t using her; she was using him. She had complete control. She didn’t want anything serious — just someone to have fun with.

In the following weeks she began seeing him in between classes and during the day. They had a lot of fun together and she really enjoyed spending time with him. She gave him what he wanted and he gave her what she wanted in return. He taught her new things and she felt more confident with each new lesson she learned.

Suddenly, things became sour. He began pressuring her for sex. They were constantly getting into fights and sometimes went days without speaking. She was a virgin. She wanted her first time to be special and with someone she loved. He was really great and all but she just wasn’t ready. She was getting a strange vibe but decided to dismiss it.

There’s a lot about the night that she doesn’t remember. She had been out with her sorority sisters having drinks at a bar. One thing led to another and she was blackout drunk. Her friends tried taking her home but that’s not where she ended up.

He called, and she went.

She thought she was in the hands of a friend, someone she could trust. She knew they had been having problems lately but that didn’t matter now. She was just happy to see him. And he was happy to see her, too. In fact, he was excited by her state of being. He saw his opportunity.

That night, she lost her virginity. He took something from her that she can never get back. She was forced. She was tricked.

She was sexually assaulted.

Hearing my best friend, shocked and upset, on the phone the next morning  was one of the most difficult situations for me to handle. Her story is not easy to hear, but it’s definitely worth sharing. When my friend debated whether or not to report the incident, she feared the potential backlash that would ensue. Would the guy argue that their sober hookups were consent for something more?

If someone says “yes” when blackout drunk, is that still considered consent? Even though they had explicitly said “no” when asked sober? Was she leading him on? Was he the victim?

Here’s my answer: Sober hookups do not equal consent while intoxicated. My friend is a strong-willed, intelligent young woman who knew her limits. In a moment of vulnerability, she was taken advantage of and must forever bear the burden of what happened.

Mariana D is a Behind Closed Doors columnist.

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  • Mariana D

(3) Readers Comments

  1. Richard
    September 7, 2013 at 12:18 PM

    Very interesting piece. Here's my answer to one of the questions you posed. If someone says "yes" when blackout drunk, is that still considered consent? Absolutely. Someone who is blackout drunk is capable of making decisions and communicating with others. In this case, she regretted the decision later. That's truly unfortunate, but there is no question that she consented. My question for the author: what led you to the conclusion that your friend was forced, tricked, and sexually assaulted? I didn't see any indication of that in your article. Thanks. This is an important discussion to have.

    • FratStartAnonymous
      September 10, 2013 at 9:02 AM

      Suppose we know how you get it in, Richard. Don't be so misogynistic.

      • Richard
        September 10, 2013 at 9:34 AM

        I'll ignore the invective and pose a substantive question: what would you propose as the 'line' of intoxication past which one cannot give lawful consent? The problem with "blackout drunk" is that the person is usually ambulatory and conversational. The person may be impaired, and may not remember what occurred, but the person just appears drunk (not passed out). Drunk sex is not a crime. Some people think it should be. I don't. In fact, it seems like a normal and accepted part of life. Obviously, it has risks and I don't really recommend it. But I don't think it should be a crime. I'm interested to hear what others, including the author, think. Thank you for the good discussion.

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