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Intoxication and Sexual Accountability

Luff Strenfel LLP April 26, 2018

This blog is intended to start a conversation about personal accountability. More specifically, the lack thereof. Before you read onwards, please be advised that this topic is meant to push the boundaries and explore some ideas that may not be comfortable for everyone to discuss. But I believe it is very important for people to talk and think about the concept of accountability so that, maybe, in the long run we can prevent problems instead of correcting them.

(Please, if you intend to comment on this topic on whatever platform it appears I ask that you remain respectful of others. With that being said lets jump in.)

I believe that when a person allows themselves to get so intoxicated that they can no longer explain what happened to them, they need to accept responsibility for allowing themselves to be put in a compromising position. I have represented a number of people, mainly young men, whose lives I believe will never be the same because of “drunken sex”. In most cases that I have encountered, there are young men and women who are college aged 18-25, who all decided to party and get drunk. After the drinking was done, the man and woman decide to have drunken sex, and the next morning there are accusations of sexual assault.

I am well aware that a person who is too drunk cannot consent to have sex, and usually that person is thought to be a woman. However, the truth is that a man who is too intoxicated also cannot consent to have sex. But why is it that only the woman in this scenario is protected and does not have to accept any accountability for getting herself so drunk that she cannot explain what happened to her the night before? Just to be clear, we are not talking about a situation where one side is sober and one side is clearly intoxicated, nor are we talking about any situation where one person gets another so intoxicated that they can no longer consent. We are only discussing when each party decides to get drunk of their own volition. Why is it that we do not hold adult women responsible for getting drunk like we do for everything else?

If a person gets drunk and gives away his wallet and personal belongings, we do not charge the person who took his belongings with robbery or theft. If a person gets drunk and drives and hits someone we understand that being drunk is not a defense for your actions. So why is it that when it comes to being drunk and having sex men are held to a standard that women are not?