In comments sections, and opinion pieces, I often see a lacerating certainty on the issue of consent (as well as an insistence that alcohol has nothing to do with the assault conversation). But when I talk to college students, and 20- and 30-somethings, I don’t hear certainty. I hear a hot mess of confusion (and a hunger to talk about the role of alcohol). Our culture has heroized drunken sex, but we have also criminalized it, and so where does “fun” become “danger”? Blackouts, in particular, are a troubling gray zone, because when someone is in a blackout, the other person can’t necessarily tell. I’ve written at length about the legal tangle of blackouts, so I don’t want to dwell too long on it here, but the point is that I’m glad we’re talking about this. I don’t think it’s a foolish idea to reflect on the disturbing way that a reckless GOOD time can pivot into a reckless BAD time. I interviewed a blackout expert for my book, and he told me something I have repeated a lot lately: “When men are in a blackout, they do things to the world. When women are in a blackout, things are done to them.”

Ask a Former Drunk: It’s Time to Talk About Alcohol and Sex


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