DEAR READER: Be a big man on campus when it comes to sex

Saturday, May 10, 2014 | 6:00 a.m. CDT; updated 1:17 p.m. CDT, Friday, September 12, 2014

Dear Men on Campus,

I wanted to start by claiming that I’m not here to preach at you or scold you. But that’s not really true.

Here’s what I really want to tell you: WAKE UP.

You don’t need a scientific study to know drinking lowers your inhibitions and impairs your judgment. You’ve been there, done that. If not, you’ve pulled your friends up from a gutter or out of a toilet bowl. I dropped into a few when I was in college.

What you need to know what you really, really need to drill into your brain and the brains of every other man on campus is that it’s not OK to get drunk and stupid and then have sex with a woman who is drunk and stupid.

Sex without consent is rape. A woman who is too drunk to know better can’t give consent. Your blood alcohol level is not an excuse or a defense.

Here’s how Missourian reporters Cassa Niedringhaus and Frances Webber described the change in Missouri law in their report this week on alcohol and sexual assault on campuses:

“Since August 2013, the law has defined first-degree rape as occurring when a person has sex with another person who is incapacitated, incapable of consent or lacks the capacity to consent. The use of force to compel another person to have sex is also first-degree rape.

“Second-degree rape is defined as having sex with another person while knowing that the other person does not consent.”

In other words, sex without consent is a felony. You go to jail. You get your name on the sex offender registry list.

I’m not stupid. I know alcohol has oiled dating rituals since the first rotten grapes fermented.

But consider the way your perceptions might change.

Niedringhaus and Webber cite studies in which men drink and then read a scenario describing a sexual assault by an acquaintance. The men were more likely than sober men to disbelieve that a rape had occurred and were more likely to believe the woman owed the man sex. They were less likely to believe she was upset and, in fact, more likely to believe she enjoyed the encounter.

You may have seen evidence among friends who turn from mild-mannered gentlemen to Mr. Hyde monsters while on a bender. Question is: What are you going to do about it?

MU has its Green Dot Mizzou program. Maybe you're a fan. If you think wearing a green sticker is silly, then figure out something else to do to stop sexual violence.

Maybe by now your eyeballs are rolling heavenward. Well, focus them right here. One in five women is sexually assaulted during college years. Do you have a sister?

I bet you have a mother. Imagine your mom and four of her friends on your campus and tell me you’re still OK with that statistic.

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