Thursday, June 10, 2010

An opportunity does not equal a right

I was having a quasi-argumentative discussion with Dale last night about the whole Ben Roethlisberger/rape thing after seeing a bit about it on ESPN. I wasn't doing very well making my point, due to a long-assed day at work and a hot car ride home. But I finally figured out what I was trying to say when I couldn't sleep last night. Here is the basic truth about any rape case where anyone claims a "gray area" of consent due to alcohol or fame:


Sure, it's not smart to leave your keys in the ignition of your car when you park it somewhere. But that does not give someone the *right* to steal your car. It's not smart to get liquored up and follow Ben Roethlisberger around like a rock groupie. But that does not give him the *right* to have non-consensual sex with you.

Sad thing about that metaphor is that the person who stole your car would have a much better chance of going to jail for taking advantage of that opportunity than Ben Roethlisberger ever will for assuming he has rightful sexual access to any female he comes across.

I guess there's just so much that bothers me about this situation. I've said before that I will reluctantly agree that women will lie about rape to get money or notoriety. It happens, some women are crazy. But the more I learn about this situation, it's an all-too-familiar combination of conditions that will always end in victim-blame in our culture. She was drunk. She was following a famous person around. She was asking for it.

But the point I'm trying to make is that while people will argue whether or not Ben Roethlisberger was a rapist for taking advantage of this series of events, we can't argue that he had a choice of whether or not to act in an honorable way. He had the opportunity to do something morally sketchy, and he decided to do so. But that doesn't mean he had the right to.


  1. Sounds pretty good to me. I mean, I had a therapist tell me to quit drinking to avoid being sexually assaulted (again) in college. This advice from a licensed professional after my 80 year old grandfather said something along the lines of, "Lizzie should have been able to be naked at that party and not have had that happen to her."
    The truth is, when a woman doesn't want to have sex with you and tells you even in a very slurred "no" that really means she doesn't want to have sex. It doesn't mean it's up for discussion. It doesn't matter how famous you are.

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