The American Enterprise Institute thinks women are way too paranoid about roofies. On Monday, the conservative think tank released a video urging women to relax about the prospect of having a drink spiked with any of a number of so-called date-rape drugs, as the likelihood of a total stranger slipping an odorless, colorless, debilitating amnesiac into a beverage, then successfully carrying out a sexual assault, is rather slim. And on that point, AEI is actually right. But that's about it.
"Calling date rape drugs 'a myth' might not be quite right," Caroline Kitchens, a senior research associate at AEI, says in the video. "I mean, these drugs do exist and there are some cases in which women are drugged and sexually assaulted. ... But a reality check is in order. Our fear of being drugged and sexually assaulted by a predatory stranger in a bar is not grounded in reality."
Research has shown that women do overestimate their vulnerability to date-rape drugs, likely because it's an easy quasi-myth for a culture squeamish about female sexual agency to perpetuate. As researcher Sarah Moore, who co-authored a study on the prevalence of women's fears about drug-facilitated sexual assault, told Salon before, “the urban myth of spiking is also the result of parents feeling unable to discuss with their adult daughters how to manage drinking and sex and representing their anxieties about this through discussion of drink spiking risks.” It's easier to talk about outside threats than to condone women drinking as much as they want.
And that's where Kitchens' moment of clarity turns quickly into classic rape apologia. While she acknowledges that sexual assaults still occur even without the help of date-rape drugs, Kitchens essentially blames these assaults on the victims' intoxication -- not, you know, on the perpetrators. "Most commonly, victims of drug-facilitated sexual assault are severely intoxicated, often from their own volition," she says. "Paranoia over the date rape drug causes us to misplace our anxieties. And feminists should be concerned that women are modifying their behavior on their girls' nights out in order to protect themselves from some vague unprobable [sic] threat.
It is certainly true that most often the "drug" involved in drug-facilitated sexual assaults is alcohol, and that when anyone becomes inebriated, he or she becomes increasingly vulnerable to an array of dangers (anyone ever lost his or her keys at the bar?). But when it comes to sexual assault, there is another factor that contributes significantly more to the likelihood of someone being sexually assaulted: Specifically, a person committing sexual assault.
No matter how much a person has had to drink, no matter if she or he is drugged, sexual assaults occur only when someone commits them. That -- not the ways women are "modifying their behavior on their girls' nights out'" -- is what feminists should be worried about. It's what everyone should be worried about.
Watch AEI's video below:
(h/t Huffington Post)