Sunday, April 28, 2013

On Alcohol

This train of thought began with tweets from academic and novelist Sunny Singh

For most part religious leaders = loons. For one guru, 'yoga cures homosexuality', for another 'giving up meat+alcohol stops rapes'

Lets be clear most men who consume alcohol don't rape. Blaming rape on meat+alcohol is a smokescreen to not address the real point: misogyny

Rapists rape because they need to assert power+ because they see the victim as powerless and less than human. Misogyny abets those views.
I don't disagree.  However, I thought I knew that alcohol plays a huge role in rape in Western societies.  So, as ever, I checked with Google devata,  and found this is what Wiki says:
Alcohol remains the most commonly used date rape drug, being readily available as well as legal, and is said to be used in the majority of sexual assaults.
Brown University advises its students:
  • 55% of female students and 75% of male students involved in acquaintance rape admit to having been drinking or using drugs when the incident occurred.
  • 90% of all campus rapes occur when alcohol has been used by either the assailant or the victim.

Ireland's Rape Crisis Network Blog had this:
The facts suggest that alcohol is the most common drug used to facilitate sexual assaults and rape . Although drugs such as Rohypnol and GHB have received much attention internationally as ‘date-rape drugs’, in Ireland, there has been no evidence to suggest that they are used with regularity in incidents of sexual assault . The recent Rape and Justice in Ireland study did not identify conclusive evidence of the use of such substances in medical records of complainants of rape between 2000 and 2005. Alcohol, however, was found to be present in the majority of rape complaints in Ireland.
and this
The use of the term ‘date-rape’ is therefore largely a misnomer – the vast majority {>70%)} of those who use alcohol to facilitate rape are non-sexual acquaintances with whom the victim was socialising.
 So, alcohol is like guns, the vast majority of gun-owners do not kill people, as the NRA puts it, guns do not kill people, it is people who kill people.  And of course, as Sunny Singh rejoindered:
factor does not equal causation
Again, no real disagreement from me; so my remaining puzzle is why did this all even provoke a response from me?

The answer is, I think, that I simply do not accept the consumption of alcohol as a **cultural norm**.

a. I'm not talking about legality,  I mean it as the dominant culture's accepted practice.

b. I know I'm currently on the losing side of this.  But then, so was vegetarianism/veganism.  Even being in a rapidly diminishing minority is no reason for me to change my views.  Only a demonstration that this is a worthy cultural norm would be able to do so.

c. Alcohol in all its varied forms is very much an acquired taste, and of course, pushed along by powerful cultural and economic forces.   As long as that is so, the misery caused by its use is an unavoidable by-product.

d. The term "brahminical" is much derided these days, because supposedly brahmins and no one else, was responsible for the "caste system".   That 60 years after separation from Hindus, Islamic Pakistan still has "untouchables", or that the supposedly anti-caste break-aways from Hindus - those converted to Islam, Buddhists, Christians, Sikhs - all continue to have the "caste system" show the lie to that. Meanwhile, the term "brahminical" also embraces a huge host of **virtues** (including abstinence from alcohol), and I for one am not going to throw out the baby with the bath-water.

Well, thank you for reading my rant!