Remember when drunk driving was not as publicized as it is today.  I remember being little and having my father tell me that if the police pulled us over, to say we lived in Florida.  Of course, I was also told by my father that lying was the worst crime ever, and had my mouth washed out with soap, if ever I told a fib but when it came to his needing to have a license to drive, lies were okay.  And he needed to have a license to drive, because he was raising four children without their mother, and worked hard everyday.  He also drank hard everyday.

The reason for the lie, of course, was because he had a valid Florida driver’s license and things were not as technologically advanced as they are today, so he could keep his Florida license even though my guess is that he was forced to surrender his New Jersey license.  In fact, I think it was Christmas Eve, when someone had to go bail him out after he crashed ‘the white car.”

So what does all this have to do with sexual assault and education and awareness about why one should not drink to excess and have sex?  I bring it up because it’s very important to understand that when you drink you impair your judgment and obviously if it’s to the point that one should not operate a motor vehicle then one should understandably not have sex, consensual or not.  Especially when consensual sex while under the influence might even land you in a horrible position that involves being raped or accusations of having raped someone.  My question for the world is what are we doing to educate as opposed to punish.

In addition to punishing Ray Rice, the former NFL football player who made news after a video of him punching his then fiancé to obscurity for lying to the commissioner of the NFL and labeling him an abuser, should we not try to understand what role alcohol and possibly brain damage played in the matter.  Or maybe even steroids mixed with alcohol?

While many are busy worrying about whether they might be perceived as a feminist or not, for taking one side of the men vs. women in the sexual assault epidemic, I aim to be neutral and not blame but rather understand.  Someone said to me that if the elevator door had not shut would Ray Rice have punched his fiancé, and I do not know the answer to this question, but I would ask that person to question, if Ray Rice had not consumed hard liquor that night, would he have become violent in that way?  Alcohol, brain damage, or steroids are not necessarily an excuse but they might be variables that have caused primal behavior, especially in athletes who have high testoterone.  Do women even understand the vulnerable position they put themselves in when they enter into ….. do men understand what happens to their brains when they mix this and that?  Do we?

Alcohol is not an excuse, and I am not looking to excuse.  However, I do think we need to help educate about the way the brain is altered and how making choices to drink when you are around a party can lead to a life behind bars.  It’s truly scary to see college kids, and yes I think that’s what they are, throwing their lives away for one night of partying.  It’s equally scary to see the likes of Darren Sharper, or Bill Cosby one of whom was found guilty of sexual assault charges and the other who may be someday, out there possibly preying on victims.

Should we educate women about how not to engage if they’ve had too much to drink, or hold them accountable for contributing to their own victimization?  Heaven forbid we suggest that they drink responsibly  to avoid being raped because when we do this, we tend to be accused of blaming the victim.  Yet, if an auto accident that could have been avoided is considered to be contributory negligence on the part of the driver, when it happens, why is it not okay to hold women (or victims, in general) responsible, at least in part, when they have consumed too much alcohol and placed themselves in incredibly vulnerable situations?  At the very least we should educate about the dangers, no?

My opinion about this matter has taken flight because of my own personal experiences on the job, back when I was in my early twenties and then other experiences  that happened years later, when I was older and wiser.  Did I seek being a victim, did I feel I deserved to be, or did I get raped because ….  These were all questions I tossed in my head for years.  I want to share about my experiences not because anything is about me, but because from a utilitarian perspective, it matters that we work together to help arm one another and society overall to protect against this horrible crime, and help young men understand how to not end up serving a life in prison, for a crime that they might never have committed if they were not under the influence.

Follow me on Twitter @SexUndertheiNFL to learn how you can help me raise awareness about how to prevent rape.  Thank you.

P.S. As I read this article, I thought to myself, “Wait, does that mean I should never drink and have sex, or have a cocktail with my boyfriend, etc., Of course, that’s not what I’m trying to say but  I am trying to say it makes sense to behave just as responsibly as you would before getting behind the wheel of a car.  Maybe consider a ‘designated abstinent party’ who will not drink, and be sure you do not enter a room with those who have been drinking if you are too drunk to do so, and/or make sure you go to bed alone rather than risk waking up and finding out you’ve been accused of rape.