News outlets have been focusing more attention on the rampant sexual assault issues plaguing our armed forces. The worse accounts I’ve heard involve people who were supposedly in charge of preventing sexual assault engaging in such deplorable behavior themselves. One of the most talked about, and confusing, cases involves four men at Maryland’s Naval Academy who have been charged with sexually assaulting a “midshipman”, who even though is female is still referred to as such, as I assume “midshipperson” will more than likely never catch on there.
What’s confusing about this case is that the unnamed victim appears to be unsure whether or not she was assaulted in such a way. The testimony by her and peers paint a nebulous picture where a definitive crime is not immediately apparent. Even more confusing is information regarding what the victim did soon after the alleged assault. The prosecution says that she almost immediately went to military authorities and told them what happened and that they simply reprimanded her for underage drinking. Yet in the trial testimony, the victim has said that she initially refused to cooperate with the investigation but then decided to cooperate after being convinced by other close friends and another sexual assault victim that she should “stand up for herself”. However, early in the trial, it was revealed that she expressly told one of the accused, Joshua Tate, to tell the authorities that “nothing happened.”
Even stranger is the evidence that the victim engaged in oral sex with one of the accused, Eric Graham, the morning after the alleged incident. I can imagine a scenario of forced oral sex, but would this man really press his luck in such a manner? I can’t shake the idea that on the morning of that particular episode, neither of them knew that these charges would be brought against the accused. It is also highly doubtful, but I could be mistaken, that evidence will be presented that Mr. Graham violently forced the victim to perform oral sex, which is really the only way I can see that going down. It is very difficult to see a fellow midshipman, someone who is tough enough to join the Navy, to turn into such a ragdoll that after the evening they are raped, they then feel forced to perform oral sex on someone against their will (as it would not appear she was unconscious at the time). Could you imagine someone stealing something very valuable from your home and then simply hanging out with that person casually the next day? Inviting them to play with some of your things as though nothing happened? Would you not just be creating more problems for yourself that no one independent of you could possibly prevent?
Confounding things even more is the fact that the victim made various comments on social media where she seemed to be characterizing people who cooperated with the investigation as “snitches”. It’s difficult to determine how to interpret the victim’s CBS interview, where according to the accompanying article, she and her mother decided to go public because they did not think the academy was taking this issue seriously. But the testimony in the trial is clearly showing that the NCIS took these claims more seriously than she did, and they were apparently frustrated by her refusal to cooperate with the investigation.
I have to say, it is has always been difficult for me to understand how someone can be so affected by alcohol that they don’t remember what they did. This is a bias of mine. I have drank plenty in my day, and excessively at times—until I’ve puked or passed out. I completely understand dropping your inhibitions and acting less reserved when drunk. But to this day, I remain skeptical of claims of what sound like out-of-body experiences. I have personally known folks who have acted in embarrassing ways and later claimed not to remember what they did because of alcohol. In all of those instances, I’ve never been convinced that the person was no longer there, that they somehow exited their body and I was then dealing with someone else. People will describe extreme inebriation in such a way sometimes, but I can’t help but to understand them as speaking figuratively (i.e. “I was a different person”, “That wasn’t really me”, etc.). If you wish for others to respect you as a thinking, conscious human being, with the same responsibility for their actions as anyone else, no more no less, then you should see moments where you earnestly try to convince others to disregard your unconscious actions, when no other evidence supports you are unconscious, as violations of that pact, as it were. I can certainly imagine some extreme metal condition or even drug effecting how your mind and body works so that you operate in ways you did not anticipate. If alcohol is the sole cause of this kind of experience for you, especially if you willingly consumed it in a party setting, then it just sounds like someone is asking for trouble.
Here’s the reality: people have sex while drunk, or otherwise intoxicated. Having sex while drunk does not by itself constitute rape. If that were the case, then let’s just right here and now condemn ourselves as a nation of rapists. In truth, people have different preferences and different things will get them going. Alcohol should be plenty to get anyone going, as far as setting them in a less reserved, more free-spirited mood. Although there are bizarre claims to the contrary, most men and women in the world seem to understand that sex while very very drunk is not the definition of rape There is an alarming presence of people who contend that rape can occur even with both partners providing informed consent. These people are confusing the idea of “rape” with something like “sex I personally don’t approve of”.
Is the accused in this case really so helpless and dependent on external forces that she cannot look back at a night she regretted and resolve not to repeat such an experience? Nothing so far suggests that she was violently coerced or blackmailed or anything of that nature. On a night she herself was feeling very free-spirited, she shared a regrettable event with several other free-spirited feeling people. Upon retrospection, she came to the conclusion that she was violated. In that kind of wild party atmosphere, if you act in a flirtatious and less-inhibited manner, which many testify she did, would it not logically follow that people there would not only want to have sex with you, but be so brazen as to attempt to do so? At what point exactly would a drunk person waive responsibility for their actions?
I’m giving this young woman the benefit of the doubt that she is an intelligent human being, and definitely far more tough than I am to join the prestigious Navy Academy. Awareness ain’t just for Buddhists, my friends.
For the love of Jehovah, please comment. I know you don’t all agree with me.