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.

But.

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.

Affectionately,

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

199,989 views

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.”

Comments

75 Responses to “Dear Drunk Girl.”

  1. 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.

  2. 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."

  3. Susan Carroll says:

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

  4. 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 (www.d2l.org)...

    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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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. 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.

  10. 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.

  11. 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."

  12. 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.

  13. 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.

  14. 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.

  15. 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.

  16. 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……

  17. 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.

  18. 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.

  19. 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

  20. cakentea says:

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

  21. 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.

  22. 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.

  23. 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.

  24. 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.

    Always.

    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.

  25. spacegeekchick says:

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