Kansas Teacher: To Avoid Sexual Assault, Don't Drink

By May Wilkerson 07/13/16

In a now-deleted op-ed, Laura Herrick addressed sexual assault and drinking, suggesting that women stay "sober enough" to "stop unwanted advances."

Kansas Teacher: To Avoid Sexual Assault, Don't Drink

A Kansas public school teacher had a highly controversial, and very confusing, message for women about drinking and sexual assault that has since been removed, but not before catching feminist blog Jezebel’s attention. Laura Herrick, a contributor to the Kansas City Star’s Midwest Voices section, published an editorial last week in which she reminded women it’s not their fault if they get raped. “No means no,” she wrote. But then, she basically made the opposite point throughout the piece by telling women that if they want to avoid being raped, they should not drink so much.

Though it was quickly taken down, a screenshot of the inflammatory editorial has been published on Jezebel. “I saw a quote on Facebook that said, ‘When a woman drinks too much she expects to wake up the next day hung over, not raped.’ I agree,” wrote Herrick. “But as women, shouldn't we take responsibility for our bodies by not becoming so intoxicated that we don't know what is happening? ... No, she's not asking to be raped by being drunk. But isn't it her responsibility to reduce the risk by not getting to that point?”

But what about the expectation that men take responsibility by not sexually assaulting women who are too drunk to consent? Herrick had a slightly different outlook about men’s responsibility: “When men drink, their decision-making abilities are also limited,” she wrote. “If a woman was too drunk to know what she was doing and should be excused for what happened, then why are men not allowed to be too drunk to make good decisions?”

She then continued: “And if a woman is so intoxicated that she can't remember giving consent for sex, then how can she know that she didn't give consent?”

According to Mic, Herrick also said women need to stop using the word “rape” to describe an action that could be better labeled “their own indiscretion.” Yikes. It sounds a lot like she’s saying women don’t have the right to consume alcohol, because men can’t be trusted with the responsibility to not rape them, which, as Jezebel points out, is problematic, to say the least.

Herrick also reportedly cited the “extreme” case of former Stanford student Brock Turner, who was found guilty of sexually assaulting a drunk woman behind a dumpster. In a powerful statement from the survivor of Turner’s assault, the victim wrote what might be the most eloquent counterpoint to Herrick’s false claim that drunk women are complicit in their own rape. "We were both drunk,” she wrote. “The difference is I did not take off your pants and underwear, touch you inappropriately, and run away. That's the difference."

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May Wilkerson is a writer, comic and Managing Editor @someecards. Co-host of the podcast Crazy; In Bed w/alyssalimp. She is also the top Google result for "insufferable lunatic." Follow this insufferable lunatic on Twitter.