Dear Drunk Girl.

Via Ann Nichols
on Oct 5, 2013
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For more: Rape, Sexual Assault Resources.


Because, dear drunk girl, I love you even when you don’t.

Dear Drunk Girl,

I see you everywhere.

I live in this college town, in the only owner-occupied house on a street of student rentals. I see you during Welcome Week, Saturday mornings when there’s a home football game, on St. Patrick’s Day and every Thursday, Friday and Saturday night.

You are at parties next door and across the street, stumbling up our hill in high heels at 3:27 a.m., and sitting on the curb crying and yelling into your cell. Often, I see you getting dropped off in the morning in last night’s party dress, heels in your hand and your hair a crazy mutation of the previous night’s carefully arranged “do.”

I have watched you play Strip Beer Pong on the porch, wearing nothing but a bra and jean shorts. I have heard you talking as you passed my house late at night, your words barely understandable (although very, very loud) and mostly about being “so fucking drunk.”

Don’t roll your eyes at me because I’m old enough to be your mother.

I drink, and I’m not a prude. I am familiar with the relaxing power of a Guinness or a gin and tonic, and I admit that I feel a little prettier, a little more entertaining at a party after a drink or two. I’ve also been really drunk, although not recently. I’ve felt my bed spinning, thrown up in a bar bathroom and woken up believing and wishing that I would die because everything hurt and the world was simultaneously too bright and impossibly fuzzy and muffled.

I’m not judging you. I’m worried about you.

I have a 16-year-old son, and while I worry about what could happen to him, from driving drunk to alcohol poisoning, he will never be vulnerable in the way that you are. It’s wrong, maybe, that we live in a society with that kind of inequality, but we do.

In a college town like this, there are people who show up on big drinking days looking for young women who are so drunk that they’re easy targets for assault. I didn’t make that up; a police officer described to me the number of calls he’s been on where a woman was left behind by her friends, and someone hurt her.

The officer, the father of two daughters, had tears in his eyes. He said it happens here every weekend.

The officer also made a remark about the way the victims tended to be dressed, which immediately made me furious. I called him on it, asking if he really believed that any woman was inviting assault by wearing revealing clothing. He said that he wasn’t being “political” with me (whatever that means) but that realistically, a man who is going to take advantage of a woman’s incapacity was not going to sit around thinking about whether her party outfit was an invitation to him, or to someone else.

I hate that this is true, I think you should be able to dress any way you like. Because you are young, and beautiful, and you should not have to cover up because some men are predatory or Neanderthal. You should be free, as free as any man on earth.


Here’s the part of all of this that I really, really want you to remember: if you drink so much that your judgment is impaired, that you lose control of yourself, that you black out, you put yourself at risk. That is your choice, and nobody else’s. You live in this world, for better or worse, and with freedom comes responsibility.

Please don’t drink so much that when you break a heel, or stop to puke in the alley, your friends keep moving and leave you alone. When you are shitfaced drunk and isolated at 3:00 a.m. in an alley, you are not safe.

Please don’t drink so much that you hook up with guys you don’t really know, and might not even like very much when you’re sober. If you’re that drunk, it won’t be a great sexual experience anyway. Plus there’s all that disease and pregnancy stuff that could totally mess up your plans and stop your big, beautiful life in its tracks.

Please don’t drink so much that you call that guy you went out with twice, and ask him why he isn’t at the party, and if he’s with another girl, and then yell “you fucking asshole, I know you’re with her!” into your phone. And don’t take your top off in public. And don’t pass out in strange houses.

Because I also see you sober.

I see you everywhere. I see you walking to class in the morning, carrying your design portfolio or your chemistry notes. I see you marching in the band at the Homecoming parade, and coming home from soccer practice with your messy braid and your duffel full of cleats and shin guards. I talk to you about your plans to be teachers, to plan LEED certified buildings, and to move to D.C. and get your start in politics. I see you organizing “Take Back the Night” vigils, and carpooling to the Capitol to protest against injustice.

I know that you can be anything and everything, and I want to keep you safe so you can get where you’re going.

I’m somebody’s mom, and I’m part of the “village” that’s still raising you, even after you move away from home and off campus.

Because, dear drunk girl, I love you even when you don’t.


That Lady on the Porch Across the Street



Relephant to this:

In Response to “Dear Drunk Girl.” ~ Hannah Harris

Best anti-Drunk Driving PSA ever? Legend.

Alcohol vs. Pot. {NSFW video}


For when you decide to drink, drink mindfully:


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Ed: Cat Beekmans


About Ann Nichols

Ann Nichols has been everything from a cellist to a lawyer, and is currently a Buddhist who gets paid to cook at a Protestant church. She lives in a 100-year old house in Michigan with her husband, her son and an improbable number of animals. You can hang out with her by joining the Facebook group “Metta-Morphosis.”


75 Responses to “Dear Drunk Girl.”

  1. @haskins2 says:

    The lady on the porch is wise.

    • imagineannie says:

      She has her moments. 🙂

    • Rick says:

      Sorry have to disagree. The lady on the porch is a busybody who either forgot about her youthful missteps or is fibbing about the fact that they ever happened. In fact I think the girls on her block are pretty fortunate to be able to explore the party life without having to drive, being able to walk home safely in the middle of the night, and play beer pong in their underwear on the porch without being molested. Sounds like the good life. Lighten up. It's all life.

      • Katherine says:

        Rick…you don’t get it. Whether we like it or not, whether it’s politically correct or not, the fact remains that it’s different for women. There will always be someone who thinks girls like those described in this article are “asking for it.” And there are those for whom finding the drunk, semi-dressed girl alone in the alley is like getting the prize in the box of Cracker Jacks. You think that just happens in movies, or in the lurid minds of middle-aged spinsters? I work in a federal prison that has a special program for sex offenders. I hear their stories over and over. Trust me when I say that “she was asking for it” is almost always the first words out of their mouths. And then they go on to describe a scenario jjust like in this article. They might be college boys, thugs, someone’s father. It happens.

  2. Siri says:

    As the lady who babysits drunk girls (and boys) sobering up in a pair of very cold concrete jail cells in a police station on a university campus, and as the lady who explains to cold, pukey-smelling, sorry-drowned-rat-looking hung-over girls (and boys) that they were brought in for their own protection because they were walking targets – my hat goes off to you and my heart goes out to you, Lady On The Porch.

    • imagineannie says:

      Siri – maybe you are right here in Big Ten partying country. I tip my hat back at you, because you, and the police, and various ER employees are doing all the dirty work necessary to protect these kids from themselves.

  3. threenorns3 says:

    yep – in a perfect world, women can walk around stark naked without fear.

    unfortunately, it's not a perfect world and until we do a better job of raising our sons not to be assholes, i tell my daughter not to advertise something that's not for sale.

  4. Deb says:

    Great article. I have been that girl and wish somebody had have said those sorts of things to me. I am older and wiser now and have just celebrated my sons 18th and can see what you are talking about happening with this generation.

    • imagineannie says:

      Deb, I'm glad you survived!! I wasn't a big partier ever, but I had LOTS of friends who had pumped stomachs, lost licenses, and/or stints in rehab starting in high school. I don't think anybody told them anything, either…………

  5. jaimefranchi says:

    Wow Ann. This is so poignant, so true, so totally spot on. I've been that girl and I'm a mom now, scared to death. Your village is lucky to have you.

  6. imagineannie says:

    Well hi, Jaime! I'm lucky to have the village, too. And thanks for reading. I hope maybe some of the actual addressees see this. Because I really love a lot of these kids, and I can't just stand on the porch and yell "cut it out!!!!"

  7. Yet another article about how the responsibility for preventing rape needs to remain on the women (and some men) who are being raped. This is well-meaning. It is also (still) misguided. Rape is the fault of rapists, not young women and men making bad choices. Impose on them your standards of behavior, and when they fail to meet them (and they will), it's exactly your moralizing that will render then blameworthy for breaking your rules. And by the way, following every one of your 'rules' may well create a false sense of security for the girl (or guy) who follows every rule and yet still gets raped- after church, during a study group, or on a relatively innocent movie-night. Good try, Ms. Nichols. But still- please- blame rapists for rape. Not young people acting foolishly.

    • Brian Stanford says:

      Roger, I read this as a warning, not an attempt to blame. You are correct about where the blame belongs.

    • Val says:

      Roger, thank you. I responded the same way and then read your comment. I so appreciate your support in this difficult shift in thinking. No matter how well meaning, victim blaming HAS to stop. It should never be suggested that, even if you are so drunk and you fall and your friends leave you, it is ever a victim's fault. You can choose to be drunk without choosing to be raped.

    • Angela says:

      I so Agree, with a capital A, with you Roger. Ann, Stop talking to 'drunk girls' and start talking to boys. Victim blaming is happening here in this article. You mean well, but you are being ignorant. Women should not have to walk on eggshells throughout life to avoid rape. I'm tired of this notion. It only perpetuates. Can you not see that? Try taking a good hard look.

      • Angela – it's not about what in a perfect world women 'should' or 'shouldn't have to do. We don't live in that world. As long as people are out there to rob, beat, rape, kidnap and murder, every single one of us has personal responsibility for taking world-wise steps to keep ourselves safe. ONE of the ways we can do that is not to get so wasted and messed up that we have no senses at all. We lose the ability to judge and make good decisions. We can't react quickly to what is going on around us. That is NOT walking on eggshells. That is just COMMON sense – common to everyone. Why do you assume this writer has/is not been 'talking to boys', as well as girls? This just happens to be thoughts about some of the girls she has seen and her heart has gone out to them over the situation they put themselves in when they have laid aside their minds in favor of getting wasted. We all have responsibilities for our own safety – sober or not. It seems we are on the same wavelength here. We can't just abdicate responsibility for safety and hope everything turns out okay. Nor can we blame ourselves if someone hurts us. But we can do what we can to limit the opportunity of a predator to snag us, beat us, or rape us. This goes for children and boys too. Perhaps now you too will "take a good hard look". This is a no-brainer.

      • Bryan says:

        Until we can get everyone to stop raping, murdering, stealing, bullying, we will have to protect ourselves.

        This has nothing to do with victim-blaming and it has everything to do with being clear about the dangers of alcoholism and other impaired judgment. Let's not send the message that women can abdicate their responsibility for self-protection and shuffle it off to some drunken stranger. It's a very bad, very unhelpful message.

        If you won't leave your purse unattended in a bar, why would you drink so heavily that you'd leave your vagina unattended? Because it's wrong to steal, and wrong to rape, you really trust everyone so much that you'd take that risk?

  8. Clair de Lune says:

    Dear Lady On The Porch,

    If drunk girl is an alcoholic, she has a disease that does not allow her a choice in how much she drinks. And no matter how nicely you ask, she will always get too drunk, unless/until she finds recovery from her disease.


    Recovering Drunk Girl

    • Bryan says:

      So glad that someone else sees this as an alcoholism issue and not a case of victim-blaming.

    • Veee says:

      Dear Recovering Drunk Girl,
      You were not born an alcoholic and you did not get the "disease" from having your first couple of drinks. Becoming an alcoholic was a choice. This article is about taking responsibility. Please take responsibility for your "disease."

      • Beth says:

        Vee, if "becoming an alcoholic" was truly a choice, why would anyone ever "choose" that?? Stick with judging what you actually know something about and/or have experience with.

      • Mary says:

        She called herself a Recovering Drunk Girl, so obviously she IS taking responsibility by taking steps to deal with her alcoholism, and that is not an easy thing to do. Addiction is a very complicated, difficult issue that stems from so many factors. Please don't reduce it to a simple two-sentence judgement.

      • cakentea says:

        Veee, do your basic research on alcoholism. It's not as black-and-white, and, yes, no one chooses that.

    • Darlene Steelman says:

      Agreed 100% Recovering Drunk Girl. The more drunk we've gotten, the more in danger we put ourselves. Sincerely, Another Recovering Drunk Girl.

  9. Valerie says:

    I don't like the victim blaming vibe from this article. As much as I understand where you are coming from and personal responsibility is important, victim blaming is never ok.

    • Judi says:

      There is no victim blaming in this article. Personal responsibility includes taking reasonable precautions to protect yourself. Would you call it victim blaming if this article were about tourists flashing wads of cash around Havana, about high-school students who talk about dropping out, about a friend who is binging and purging herself to death? The lady on the porch sees a potentially dangerous situation ahead and wants to warn people before it's upon them.

    • Bryan says:

      It bothers and saddens me that we can't talk about the dangers of alcoholism for women without getting it wrapped up in this victim/slut-blaming thing.

      If you want to advocate a woman's right to get so trashed that she leaves her personal and private property unattended, and mislabel it 'victim blaming' then I really very much don't think you're being nearly as helpful as you think you're being. In fact, your message is quite destructive.

  10. Kari says:

    Well said…VERY well said.

  11. aummama says:

    I want to save this and read it to my daughter when she is 18. I mean 14. Or 13. Better yet I want to read it to her at 13 and 14 and 15 and 16… and then I want to tell her how I was young and crazy, and started drinking too young, and how I thought I could handle myself and my drinks; and for the most part 95% of the time I did. And 4% of the time I was lucky to be with people i trusted. Until I was neither lucky nor drank too much, and I was date raped, sexually assaulted, by a man considerably older than me, because I made one stupid young and sober choice to be around people I didn’t know well, and drink two drinks.

    I want to save this, and show her that it isn’t because I’m preachy, but because I’ve been wreckless, That I Will Make All EFFORTS To Drive This home. Because when you are young, as I was, it all seems so exaggerated and over protective, but it’s just wisdom and love.

    So thank you.

  12. Renee says:

    Well intentioned as this article might be, it puts responsibility for rape in the hands of the victim. I don’t reply to shame the author or any other responses here but consider this: how many “drunk girls” will read this article and others like and feel even a twinge of shame because, according to you, they aided in their own worst nightmare? How many of those same girls will then not report being raped because , according to you, they hold the responsibility as well?

    Why do I think that’s a possibility? Because it happened to me. I had been drinking the first time I was raped (by someone I trusted) and it was years, because of this type of wide spread mentality, before I stopped feeling ashamed and responsible. No amount of sobriety and modest clothing will stop a monster. I should know.

    We don’t approach a person robbed at gun point and ask if they were sober or what they were wearing. Why? Because no matter the circumstance we hold the criminal responsible. As we should.

    Safety planning is one thing. This article is another.

    So please, next time write your article to “rapist hiding in the alley” or “trusted person with horrible intentions.” Do that. Because that’s the real problem.

    • Bryan says:

      It puts responsibility for good judgment, and self-protection solely in the hands of the individual. Exactly where it belongs.

      Just because we teach people it's wrong to commit armed robbery doesn't mean we should feel free to flaunt wealth in violent, poverty-stricken areas.

      Just because it's wrong to dig into other people's private lives and misuse that information to publicly destroy them doesn't mean that we should remove all passwords from our accounts and locks from our doors.

      Please – let's not pretend to live in some world where criminals care more about a letter from a blogger than they do about the very real criminal repercussions of their actions. It's not like reading Elephant Journal is going to be any more persuasive to a sociopath than facing years in jail.

    • Tim says:

      "rapist hiding in the alley" or "trusted person with horrible intentions" would never actually see the article. He really doesn't care what some random author thinks of him. If such an article like you suggested were written, we would only be preaching to the choir. Only those who would never commit a rape would bother reading it, and there are such articles out there – speaking directly to the one who's intending to hurt someone. The articles have a use in some way in that they raise awareness, but other than that – they don't do a whole lot. This article advises the "drunk girl" to be safe – to be self aware. A girl shouldn't have to dress conservatively or to learn how to use a taser just so she can feel safe, but that's the world we live in. We should try our best to change the world so it's much safer and we should strive for a world where there isn't a soul who will hurt you, but until we get there – lets use every tool possible in the name of self protection.

    • Casey says:

      How many "rapists hiding in the alley" or "trusted persons with horrible intentions" do you think would read this? I bet young women are more likely to read it. Heck, I did. Ex-boyfriend who tried to rape me? Doubt he's reading much from prison. We don't do that with other rules either. We don't spend too much time educating thieves not to steal, but there's a mass market of home security companies. Yes, you punish the criminal, but homeowners generally think it's a good idea to take at least some basic steps at protecting what they value…so, you know, at least lock your door even if you know the windows might still get smashed in. Seems the same to me about rape. I'm a young woman, and I think it's completely appropriate to teach some tricks on how to avoid being harmed (because it's a reality of the world I live in). We should strive for a better world, but until then, it's akin to neglect to fail to teach people how to protect themselves, even if at only a modest degree, knowing that it won't protect everyone. This isn't a victim-blaming article. There ARE ways to teach people to protect themselves while STILL making sure that ONLY the perpetrator is shamed and punished. Education isn't shaming. It's empowering.

  13. karen katz says:

    I too, was the drunken girl, and I was sexually misused a few times because of it…..I was "fortunate" because it was 40 years ago, so no I-Phones existed to record my degradation for posterity, I didn't become pregnant or acquire an STD, and somehow, in the middle of all that, I still felt that in my center that I was a valid and worthwhile (if temporarily messed up) person. I starting drinking again too much in my late forties, in the middle of an unhappy marriage, and was blessed enough to finally stop drinking almost 2 years ago. Yoga and learning more about being awake in the world without the "assistance" of drugs or alcohol have helped me a lot. I still struggle with the urge to drink sometime, but have such a good life now, it is easier to not give into cravings-I just breathe and they pass.
    I worry about a society where the kind of drinking that so many people participate in (and I'm not talking about alcoholics) is so common.

  14. Erika says:

    This is not a victim blaming article this is a truthful article. We do not live in a carefree perfect society and being a young attractive women you have to watch yourself. It is your responsibility to care for yourself. That is something that is often forgotten in youth. We can all agree that no one should rape anyone and that it is never the victims fault. What the Author is saying is do not make your self easy prey to be victimized! Keep your wits about you. This is never bad advice and those of you attacking from the victims right stand point need to reread this article and think of what you would tell your daughters.

    • carey says:

      That is exactly it, and as you are a teen, you feel invulnerable and don't take normal precautions, since you already 'know everything' . I have been drunk girl, but luckily never had to go thru these bad experiences and I can only say I must have had an army of angels looking out for me.

  15. Jackie says:

    Don’t presume that young men aren’t vulnerable when as drunk as the drunken girls you see from your porch! I have 3 son 2 of whom are not in the least street wise and I worry about them when out. Violence is without doubt my number one fear when they are out.

    • Jackie, I don't see the writer as presuming this at all. I think she agrees with you based on her comments in this thread. Perhaps her writing and her thoughts went toward the girls she sees since she was a girl herself and identified with that. She's also said she has a teenaged son – and I have no doubt that son is more aware of the dangers of drinking to insensibility than most. He sits on the same porch! and you are absolutely right –> violence is the #1 concern parents have concerning their children, always. Drinking doesn't help our kids survive the odds.

  16. quickgracenotes says:

    The number of people focusing on "attractive" and what the victims are wearing is disgusting. Ugly, frumpy girls get raped just as often – usually more brutally and with the attitude that they should be grateful someone condescended to violently screw them. Old ladies in nursing homes get raped – oh, and guess what? The defense is still put forth that the nearly 90 year old was "being flirtatious."

    Rapists are responsible for rape. Full stop.

  17. Janet says:

    WOW this was great..

  18. Lisa says:

    When are people going to realize that the victim isn't the cause of the rape. The victim isn't responsible for being raped. Articles like this make me so angry. Hey let me say I don't like rape culture or slut shaming but let me perpetuate it in this article. Violence against women isn't a woman issue. It's a man issue. Maybe she should put this much energy on educating her 16 year old son and his friends not to take advantage of young women of whom are clearly intoxicated. Educate them that having sex with a drunk female is technically rape as she cannot consent. Maybe tell them to help that "Drunk Girl" instead of watching on the sidelines as she gets taken advantage of. Seems like once some women reach a certain age they forget that they were once that "Drunk Girl". There is so much wrong with this article I don't even know where to start.

    • karen katz says:

      dear lisa

      as I said in my earlier post I WAS the drunk girl 40 years ago, and glad I survived.
      I will, at the risk of being a little graphic tell you of just ONE instance in the early 1970's
      I went to a party in the Hollywood Hills (I was 16 or 17)
      the last thing I remember, before passing out was being led into a bedroom by two men, and them starting to kiss me, touch me, etc. I woke up hours later, cold, sore in my crotch and ass and with their fluids all over me.
      I was not a slut-I was a young girl who got too drunk and was raped.

      now, 40 years later, I wish everyone had evolved past the level of those 2 young men, who believe or not, I have compassion for now-they earned themselves some pretty negative kharma points, plus I wonder if they have daughters now, and think about what they did 40 years ago. …but a lot of men haven't, unfortunately.

      Part of my way of expressing gratitude to the Universe for keeping me from getting pregnant, acquiring an STD, being photographed and degraded further, or turning on myself in rage and shame, is that I am going to be honest with young women….because I love them as much as I love that young woman I was 40 years ago, as much as I love myself.

      so…girls….don't let yourself be the Drunk Girl-be powerful, and yes, sexual, but on your own terms, not as a victim.

    • Hi Lisa, the nice thing about writing is that we can say what we feel. I get from your comment you believe the article is an attempt to shame girls for being themselves, for doing what they have a right to do, and then blaming them if they get raped while partying and having fun while drinking. I would say that it is entirely possible to hold two ideas together at the same time. That the author is not saying drinking/being falling down drunk CAUSES rape or that girls in a bad way after a night of partying are 'asking for it'. I believe what is being said to 'The Drunk Girl' is be careful when you choose to set aside your good senses and your judgment while you are intoxicated. The world is a dangerous place, drunk or sober. Rape is not the only crime perpetrated on people seen as 'easy pickings' b/c they are stoned or drunk. Anything can happen when we lose control of our environment and our minds. I spent years as an ER nurse. I saw a continuous stream of drunken people with injuries they didn't know how they gotten. They didn't know where they were. They couldn't tell me who they were. Many were rolled out of moving cars by 'friends' and dumped onto the pavement. No one in their right mind wants to BE that girl – or boy. And we do have some control over that to the extent that we can try to drink responsibly, stay alert for dangers (people, traffic, injury), keep our reaction times sharp, and do what we responsibly can to take care of ourselves. There's no shaming in that.

  19. Smitty says:

    Why is it that being responsible for one's actions is no longer considered important in life? It is NOT victim blaming to encourage people of all ages and genders to be responsible. To act responsibly, to drink responsibly, to think about consequences of behavior. If the crime was changed to robbery – where money or something of value was left in plain sight and subsequently stolen, would you be so vehemently opposed to suggesting to the victim of that crime that had they taken actions to protect the items/money, perhaps put it out of sight or locked the doors, they may not have had their property stolen? I would be willing to bet most of you would see that as quite reasonable. So why is it that we can suggest to someone to be responsible with their possessions, which are replaceable, but suggesting that people take responsible actions with their person becomes victim blaming?

  20. Natalie says:

    I'm going to have to respond to all the comments regarding the supposed, "victim blaming," within the article bc that is not at all what this article is about and those who have surmised as much have misunderstood. I understand this topic is a particularly sensitive one and I'm very pleased that so many people are eager to jump to the defense of the victims. In a world of Woody Allen's and Terry Richardson's amidst a largely silent public, we need that. Desperately. However, in this case that is not what this is about. The writer is in no way placing the blame, even partially, on the victim.
    But to place the blame on the shoulders of the perpetrators, where it belongs, is one thing. To deny uncomfortable facts that could actually help to prevent some of these tragedies bc of this (very well intentioned) solidarity with the victims would be foolish and counterproductive. Rape is the fault of rapists. Fact. The victim never asks for it, deserves it, or causes it, no matter how foolish, how drunk, how scantily clad, etc. But here is another fact, uncomfortable as it may be: Girls who drink often, and large amounts when they do, are statistically, significantly, more likely to be raped than girls who don't. That's just a fact. Does it mean those girls are to blame for it, or contributed to it in any way? No. Of course not. The monster who perpetrated the attack is to blame. Period. But does that mean we shouldn't, as women, pay attention to the environmental factors that can increase our vulnerability to such attacks? I don't think so. I think that addressing these difficult issues can inspire girls to a higher sense of awareness regarding our particular vulnerabilities as women, a higher level of precaution. That, in turn, can actually prevent some of these attacks. And if that's the case, then no matter how well intentioned our solidarity to the victim or how sincere our empathy, we are doing them a disservice, committing an injustice against them, by not opening a dialogue to prevent these tragic and life altering events when and where we can.

  21. dharmagoddess says:

    Perspective is everything. I did not get the impression the article was blaming victims or alcoholics in any way. However, I did get the impression that sometimes people don't understand how vulnerable they can be in certain situations, especially when their judgment and awareness is impaired. I know I didn't understand that when I was younger and fortunately, nothing horrible happened.

    For the record, slut-shaming and judgey behaviors of every kind are rotten. So are rapists and other predators. Victims do not ask for assault. I have taken the time as a mother of sons to educate them on the importance of understanding integrity and not taking advantage of people in any situation. And yes, I have also taught them to help people in tough situations so they don't hurt themselves or anyone else.

    As a prof I will fully admit that the risky behavior on college campuses is no small problem. It's everywhere. The problems, I'm afraid, are far broader than society can see. The problems are also more isolated because, as the Lady pointed out, many occurrences are on/just off campus which is like a microcosm unto itself.

    Perhaps instead of criticizing the author for her opinion/observations, joining The Village who gets involved with these young women at very vulnerable and important times, in their lives is in order. Sometimes it's a rough job and, many times, abandonment and criticism is easier for people. I get it. It just doesn't help.

  22. Toni Cleasby says:

    This is a great article that does not blame the victim at all. Read the first line… Because dear drunk girl, I love you even when you don't. Ann truly cares about what happens to these girls. What I read here is someone trying to help these girls prevent such things as rape. No where in this article does it say… The rapist is not to blame. Of course the rapist is to blame no matter what! All I hear in this article is caring… asking these girls not to put themselves at risk by getting so wasted that they loose control of themselves. That is not blaming! That is good advice. Thank You Ann Graham Nichols for caring!

  23. Kristi says:

    Dear Lady on the Porch,

    I absolutely have been that girl, and not even that long ago. I wish someone had been there to let me know that the year i spent this way would be something that I still have nightmares about years later. That my reckless decisions cluttered my incredibly goal oriented brain and caused me to lose sight of everything that I was working so hard for and to accomplish. I wish someone had warned me that the boy that I thought liked me, and enjoyed spending time with me, both drunk and sober, would be the first person to take advantage even after I had said no. I wish I had been smarter, and more aware, even though i was stone sober. Girls need to be aware that even the people they trust can have bad intentions. And i wish that was something i didn't have to learn on my own.

    God bless you and your words. I hope those young women who need to hear it find your article.

  24. Tamara says:

    I'm just wondering how in the world this is victim blaming. This is common sense. When *anyone* drinks to the point of incoherence or loss of control, they DO put themselves at risk of any number of injuries. The fact that women are more vulnerable than men is a fact of physicality. Rape is never justifiable, nor did the author ever state such, and trying to make these words of caution and wisdom fit the blame-the-victim rationale is far fetched and logically erroneous. You can both exercise caution and personal responsibility AND believe rape to be inexcusable. They are not mutually exclusive positions. Indeed, encouraging women to love themselves through the use of wisdom, good judgement and boundaries is EMPOWERING. When the hell did wisdom become a pariah??

  25. kaffirlily says:

    Thank you for yet another insightful article. I have been the drunk girl in the past, and consider myself incredibly lucky to have survived.

  26. jade says:

    How is this article in any way slut shaming or victim blaming? She’s not even specifically talking about rape. I read it more as don’t get so drunk you make bad decisions that you will wake up regretting. Don’t get so drunk you lose control of yourself and walk out in front of a car or pick a fight with a friend or totally humiliate yourself by doing or saying things that would never come out while you were sober.

    However I think all of you on the anti slut shaming bandwagon should be a bit careful about the message you send to young women. Rape is ALWAYS the fault of the rapist. But it still happens and we know it happens. So telling girls that they have no responsibility for their own personal safety and they should just expect rapists to respect their right to walk around wasted and topless is pretty much setting them up as targets. If I walked around like that and got attacked I would still 100% blame the attacker and not myself. But I’d be pretty pissed with myself for making myself vulnerable and getting into a state where I couldnt fend off an attacker. We live in the world we live in, rape happens. It shouldn’t sure but telling girls to ignore it and expect they will be safe is stupid and dangerous.

  27. saray438 says:

    I was a drunk girl. I was never raped. I hung out with people who wouldn't do that, and who would protect me if they could, from that. If I had been raped none of them would have blamed the way I dressed. They would, most likely, have gone after the rapist. But my friends are funny that way.

  28. laurakutney says:

    This is brilliant. I will read to both of my sons and my daughter—soon and more than once.

    I see the critical comments, but don't let that stop you from creating something this touching and passionate and from your heart again. You can't make everyone happy. And I can tell that there was not even a hint of blame or shame in this beautifully written article.

    Wow. Please blow me away with something this amazingly well written again soon to inspire me again,



  29. Bryan says:

    So sad that we have now conflated the author's message of self-protection with victim-blame.

    What a terrible message to send to people. That abdicating your responsibility for protecting your personal and private life is somehow wise and empowered. What a cognitive disconnect.

    If you truly believe that this article is victim-blaming, go take the locks off your doors, remove your bank account password protection, walk out into traffic, drink yourself to unconciousness – do all of this because we have to blame the criminals, not the victims.

    Don't be so open-minded your brains fall out.

  30. hayley says:

    wow, what an awesome read. thank you so much for your kind words. every college girl should read this. I think often times college girls are unaware of the intention behind their drinking and this puts things into perspective so well.

    love and light to you,
    former drunk girl

  31. amberlisa says:

    Very, very touching Ann. Not victim blaming at all, but seriously tackling the issue head on in a very real way. It is awful that we live in a world where there are so many sexual predators of all types. It would be great if everyone were wise enough to protect themselves, but some people are just on a self-destructive path that they have to ride out. I am hoping that this article hits home with those who can turn it around before they encounter a devastating sexual tragedy. Too few young women realize how much power they really have. No really does mean no, when you are sober and kicking and biting and screaming…at least that was my experience. No one wants to work all that hard to be a rapist.

  32. Susan Carroll says:

    I am definitely going to share this with my 17 year old daughter. Thank you.

  33. Sarie says:

    Obviously…OBVIOUSLY…the author wishes we lived in a different world where we were all safe, but we are not. This is the same idea as child sexual abuse. We have spent too long asking the children to report abuse, to run away, to scream, but often the perpetrator is someone the child trusts, and often the child is threatened into silence. So we start educating responsible adults to be MORE responsible and learn ways to help keep children out of those one child/one adult situations (

    HOWEVER, just because it is not my child's fault that there are pedophiles in the world, and just because it is up to ME as the parent to do my best to keep my children safe, DOESN'T MEAN that I won't warn and educate them about the dangers of sexual predators. I will still teach my children the proper names for their body parts, we will still talk about how an adult should never ask to touch or see anywhere their swimsuit covers. Just because it isn't their fault, doesn't mean they shouldn't be educated and warned about the dangers in the world. I think there is a fine line between victim blaming and education, but the truth is, we need to hold ourselves accountable, and we still need to educate those we love.

  34. tim says:

    Yes, the blame should be 100% on the rapist. The rapist should be hung from the highest tree. That being said, there are some sick, sick bastards in this world, and there always will be. There will always be those who take advantage of the vulnerable. Ladies, please take this article seriously and be careful. I agree 100% that any man who commits a rape should be thrown in prison and rot there for the rest of his life, but I don't want it to come to that. I want you to be safe. If you were to get assaulted, I would definitely want the man responsible to pay for what he's done. At this point, we are not blaming the victims – we still blame the rapists. I'm gonna use a metaphor: "Look out little red riding hood, there's a wolf in the woods!!!" Yes, I would kill that wolf if he abuses you in any way, but what good will that do afterwards??? He still took advantage of you and we can't make that horrid memory go away. The best thing we can do is to prevent it from ever happening. Or, at least lower the risks of it happening. Not every rape is the result of being drunk or how you looked or dressed, but you can decrease the odds of being assaulted by being self aware.

  35. Dawn Brackenridge says:

    Dear lady on the porch,
    You don't love drunk girl. You don't even know her name. If you did love her you would reach out to her. You don't know how drunk girl became drunk girl. Probably lack of self love and low self esteem. So if you truly love her, invite her round for a glass of wine..just joking, a cup of tea, Listen to her, value her and show her love, instead of hiding on your porch making judgements.

    • ann nichols says:

      Ah, Dawn, my husband and I know all of the young women who live on our street. We do invite them over pretty often, for anything from a chat on the front steps to dinner. We've chosen to live on a street of student rentals for 14 years preceisely because we care a great deal about students of both genders. We even like them quite a lot.

  36. Darlene Steelman says:

    If you really think this is 'victim-shaming' you need to re-read the article until you get the message. I was the 'drunk girl' for a long time, and now with over eight years of sobriety, my heart breaks for people in a situation like this. This article is speaking from an 'awareness point of view.' Nothing more.
    When someone is drunk they lack focus, good judgment and sometimes the ability to defend their self. Clearly being that drunk there is a deeper issue (I can personally attest to this). The more they drink, the more vulnerable they and dangerous their surroundings become.
    So let's stop playing the 'victim' card. Of course rape is solely on the shoulders of the perpetrator, but why would someone want to put themselves in a situation where they have no control that something like this could happen?
    To say, "Hey, I have the right to dress provocatively and get shit-faced but I don't want to deal with the consequences" is ludicrous. Because the minute you're too drunk to take care of yourself or defend yourself or get up and walk the frig out of a dangerous situation, you're basically wearing a neon sign that says "VULNERABLE."
    I have been damn lucky that something like this never happened to me, but I lost count of all the times it could have or almost did. Looking back on how I was then, I put myself in a harmful situation. I have no control over anyone's actions but MINE. I had to own that and suck it up and tell it like it is to the next sick and suffering alcoholic who comes across my path.
    Have a great day.

  37. Heather says:

    I don't get the victim-blaming feeling that a lot of people are getting. I get that this piece is telling young women to be alert, aware, and in control of themselves which is something that my dad tells me to this day when I'm going out or when I'm traveling even though I am 32 years old. He says, "Be aware. Keep your eyes opened."

  38. Miriam says:

    When I was a senior in college, I worked for the campus police – all clerical work. One of my jobs was to go through old police reports and shred them. The number of rapes/ assaults on women was astounding. Worse, though, was the number of cases dismissed because the parents came down and refused to press charges against the men involved. Regardless of what anyone wants to think, it is always our fault — men think so, and so do parents. The woman on the porch has it right. We are the only ones in charge of our safety. No one else is going to take care of us. Dress however you want, but if you mix that with alcohol/rufies/insert drug here, you are setting yourself up for a world of pain.

  39. Edie says:

    As I expected, there were plenty of angry comments on this article with people accusing the author of "victim-blaming". This is not at all what it is about, and I feel like people get way too knee-jerk defensive these days about this subject. Everyone agrees it is never the victim's fault, no one is "asking for it" regardless of your attire or behavior, and people should just be taught not to rape. In a perfect world, we could all run around completely wasted in our underwear and no one would disrespect our boundaries. But let's be honest and realistic here for a moment. We do NOT live in a perfect society, there ARE creeps out there, and it is our responsibility to protect ourselves and not become easy targets. Once you are an adult, NO ONE else is responsible for you and your safety except YOU.

    Consider a… "similar" scenario; If I let my 4 year old walk around outside by herself and she got kidnapped, would that be my fault? Absolutely it would! I mean, kidnappers should "know better" [as people say rapists should know not to rape people] but let's be real here. That's not going to happen. You can raise your perfectly behaved, law-abiding children, but there will still be people out there who lack that moral fiber and sense of what's right and wrong. As a parent, I have a responsibility to watch over my child when we're in public so she doesn't get kidnapped. As a young woman, I have a responsibility to myself not to find myself drunk and alone in an alley. That's just the reality of this world, and has nothing to do with victim-blaming. It's just common sense.

    It's okay to be irresponsible from time to time, it happens, but just at least make sure someone trustworthy has your back.

  40. Lisa says:

    I get so angry when I read the comments on these articles I seriously don't know why I bother. Those of you who are claiming this article is blaming the victim or thinking people are judging someone because they are alcoholic, etc. makes me ill. Why is it that there is this entire generation it seems of people (let's use young women in this instance) who do not feel that personal responsibility and accountability holds any value? Instead we are supposed to feel bad, feel sorry and help you fix what your issue is – or better yet, just not judge and move on . I'm sorry but as someone alluded to the fact, you play with fire long enough, you are going to get burned. I am not a prude by any stretch of the imagination, I have done my share of stupid things and thankfully have lived through them and most importantly learned from them. Why oh why do we constantly have to explain to people that no, rape is not OK, being assaulted when your drunk is not OK, but if you continually put yourself in that situation, chances are at some point, someone is not going to honor your request to just let me be drunk and happy and half naked and walk around and believe that everyone good person in that place will help you out should you get into some sort of situation. How about this – don't let yourself get drunk or impaired enough to be taken advantage of – don't rely on your friends (although it saddens me that girls don't seem to stick together) and don't rely on society to help you – you alone are your protector. Use your head not your body and substances to make you feel good. As far as the alcoholic comment and it being a disease – I totally get that alot of people are predisposed to this, I being one of them – my head makes the smart decision to not go there – maybe people should think about that before making their "choice" to pick it up in the first place….ahhh, again, who am I to judge……

  41. Andrea Kennedy says:

    This article is not victim blaming… it's more … how not to become a victim…

    Is an ad for a house alarm victim blaming???

    We have to accept that there are lots of nasty people in the world. If u left your wallet poking out of your bag and it was stolen… people would say I told you so.

    Absolutely and please we have to bring up our sons to respect women, we also have to bring them up to respect themselves.

    Getting drunk and passing out or blacking out… while it happens… its never ever cool.. its dangerous.

  42. gayle says:

    Women and girls need to quit being told they can behave as horrible as they want and they have no responsibility for the results. Women and girls should know life isn't fair, there are people of both sexes that are not good and kind, it IS her personal responsibility to help keep herself safe. In a perfect world no one should take advantage of anyone else. NEWS FLASH this is not a perfect world. Everyone needs to take responsibility for their own safety and going out drinking yourself into a black out is not a good idea for ANYONE. Yes, I know that bad things can happen to any one even those that follow all the rules. Bad things can happen to new born babies that are killed by their moms and that just shows my point you can't trust others with your life. When everyone is too drunk to know better no one is safe. In no way do I mean for my remarks to dismiss the responsibility of a crime by the person committing it. I simply think we should be teaching young women life safety just like don't go in the boat without a life jacket. Don't let your preteen dress like she's 20, let her be a kid, teach her that her body is hers to travel the journey of life not a show piece to decorate and display as if it was on sale, she should pick her friends not be picked by others, show her love so she doesn't look for love in all the wrong places. IMO

  43. Ramsey says:

    Is it right that women have to be vigilant and ever alert to the threat of rape? Absolutely not. However it’s the world we currently live in. This piece wasn’t about victim shaming or blaming, it very rightly pointed out the injustice of our society. We live in a society where women are raped with horrifying frequency and then are further victimized by our legal system. We live in a society that blames the victim for being victimized, where news pundits (even liberal ones) dismiss rape and bends over backwards to justify the rapists themselves. Like it or not that is the reality of life in the US. Until we can fix America’s rape culture, women and girls will continue be endangered, simply because they are female. It’s a horrible reality, one that is unjust, unfair and it’s taking way too long to change, but until it does, women are going to continue to have to live this way. The fact that it’s unjust and unfair makes not one damn bit of difference to the man who is going to rape you and that is a bell that can’t be unwrung. Rape is a soul killing, life shattering ordeal. I wouldn’t wish the pain and suffering I’ve endured on anyone and if there is any way to minimize the risk it should be talked about. The men who raped me didn’t care about the unjustness of the situation, they didn’t care that I should never have had to bear any responsibility for their actions. So again, until this fight is won and women can live their lives without the ever-present risk of being raped, these are things we need to keep talking about.

  44. angieaker says:

    Oh goodie. Concern trolling… i.e. victim blaming in the form of pretending you just want to mother her.

    I'm a mother of teens and tweens and I think you straddled the line of your conscience and picked the wrong side here.

    The message should be, please watch out for your friends and please choose friends who will watch out for you and then live your life to fullest extent that you feel comfortable and judge as appropriate just like any man gets to and should some bullshit happen, IT ISN'T YOUR FAULT, IT IS ALWAYS THE AGGRESSOR'S FAULT.


    Concern-trolling. You just did it. And you're probably feeling really good about all the surface-thinkers telling you how wise and wonderful this is. You shouldn't.

  45. spacegeekchick says:

    Where were you when I was drunk girl? Excellent article. This should be posted on all campus walls.

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