Is Drunk Sex Rape?

Ozy Frantz attempts to clear up the confusion, although I still think the issue revolves around how you define “drunk”.

At a certain point of intoxication, people become too intoxicated to meaningfully consent to sexual interaction, and then having sex with them is rape. (Of course, you can give meaningful consent ahead of time, just like you can with someone having sex with you while you’re unconscious.) This is literally what every feminist I have ever talked to believes about rape by intoxication.

This strikes me as muddy. What is that “certain point of intoxication”? It probably differs from person to person, and trying to make a judgment call while intoxicated about whether another person is sufficiently aware to give consent to sex sounds like a nightmare. This, I think, encourages people to be binary in their thinking on the issue (either any sex while under the influence of any amount of alcohol is rape, or people need to lighten up and just do it, as long as both people are conscious and saying “yes”).

To be clear, this does not seem to be the feminist position, at least according to Frantz:

I’m not saying that there aren’t people who believe that having some booze to loosen up before sex is rape, you can find people who believe any stupid thing, but they are clearly not the mainstream of feminism. Seriously, the closest I’ve come to meeting the “if you have a beer and have sex you’re a rapist!” feminist is a woman who thought that we should legally define all drunk sex to be rape because people who weren’t raped wouldn’t prosecute and rapists wouldn’t get off on a technicality by fiddling around with blood alcohol levels.

Being new to the scene, I’ve never been clear about this, so this is good to know. But I am already motivated to think through these things and get them right. Other people are not so motivated, and they will take any excuse to dismiss the issue as too complicated or nitpicky. Black-and-white is easier to parse than grey.

I don’t know that there’s a clear answer to this problem. We need good messaging on this issue to effect change; people need to start being very deliberate in their thinking about consent. And maybe that itself is the message: not trying to identify a specific quantity of drinks or put a marker on a certain blood alcohol content number, but encouraging everyone to be cautious and proactive about ensuring that they have real consent before engaging.