Absolutely spot on. I hope he is really remorseful - in fact I hope he is initiating this meeting because he wants to apologize! Unlikely, but a girl can dream.
Outstanding advice.
Excellent Dan. Every point is on point!
What's the standard these days (whether legal or custom) for "consent"?
Just fyi, I am not doubting this situation.
Just curious what is proper form to prevent issues such as this one.
Some sort of explicit verbal statement?
Right on, Dan. The only way to know is to talk it out. 17-year olds, (usually) being very inexperienced in social-sexual interactions often make poor decisions that they later regret. Add alcohol to the mix (probably also inexperienced drinkers) and I would be amazed if mistakes weren't made. Guy being (by your description) very, very drunk and this now being four years later, probably doesn't remember a thing. So, the question is: Is this young man, who you were very close to, who helped you come out, now a stand-up guy who you can trust? Has he done some growing up in the last four years (I learned a lot between 17 and 21, but I was still a long way from being the mensch I'd like to think I am now.)

@4 What's the standard these days (whether legal or custom) for "consent"? ...Last time I checked it was, "No means no, and yes means double-check that yes."

@5 what is proper form to prevent issues such as this one ...Um, how about don't share zipped together sleeping bags with totally wasted 17 year-old boys?
@5, is your Just Asking sparked by this letter in any way, or is this quote unrelated but you saw this text box here?

I'm not seeing the relevance given "I told him to stop and he continued to ..."
@5 - And why the quotes around consent? Consent is consent - it's a 'yes, please', not a 'knock that shit off'.
@4 the standard these days is to not put the word CONSENT in quote marks because of how potentially rapey that makes you sound. It's a really word, a real concept. A real important concept. Your use of quote marks to diminish its relevance isn't the standard these days.
I am adding "consent" to emphasize its importance. So check your paranoia,

As to "no, means no" -- that's obvious.

But how do you know if she wants to fuck?
It should be verbalized, right?
It can't simply be "Well, I thought she was squeezing me tighter." That's far too unclear.

If you don't know the answer, that's fine. But don't dismiss a genuine question just because you think you know everything.
@10: What about this question brought up the issue of consent for you?

Pardon us if we misunderstood your "question."
@10 It's usually pretty obvious, but if you really don't know that she wants to fuck, keep your dick in your pants. And, yes, you can always ask. That's what that hole under your nose is for.
...among other things...
For an excellent explanation of consent check out youtube and search "consent is like a cup of tea".
@5 For starters, don't try to initiate sexual contact with people you know aren't interested in you (he helped her come out.) Don't try to initiate sexual contact 'for someone else's good' (to 'cheer her up') rather than because they evidently want it. Don't try to turn a platonic situation (giant friendly cuddlepile of just-friends) into sex. Don't try to initiate sex when you're shit-faced. Don't try to initiate sex when she has nowhere to go (freezing night in the great outdoors with drunkasses.) Don't keep trying when you hear 'stop'. Don't keep trying when she tries to physically stop you. There's so many don'ts here.

@10 Oh, affirmatively? Well, 13 said it. He could have asked. And since even trying to formulate the question might bring some of the 'don'ts' above into sharp focus even for a drunk teenager, that's a 'do' in several different ways.
Do people's ears stop working when they are drunk? If someone is totally outta their face, they konk out.
Good answer Dan. I'm sorry LW that your good friend behaved so badly towards you, and can understand your feelings of mistrust towards him.
I agree with Dan, tell him straight how you feel about what he did, how he betrayed the trust at the base of your friendship together, and has hurt your heart badly.
Again as Dan says, how he responds to your words will inform how you go forward. If he takes your feelings seriously and is contrite, without qualification.. then that could be a start to you beginning to trust him again.
Just follow your gut responses to him, his words and his energy.
If he revealed as a teenager while drunk that he assumes you're a lesbian because you're turned on by fingers, he may still believe this. Time to clear that up.
When I confronted my father at age 35 about a sexual abuse incident that happened when I was 10, his first reaction was to say I dreamed it. (I didn't, and the glare I gave him made him back off that nonsense immediately.) His second reaction was to tell me he did the same thing to his much younger sister when she was about the same age. As if it was perfectly okay what he did.

I am quite proud to say that I told him that it wasn't okay. It was sexual abuse. And he has granddaughters now and he was not to do the same thing to them, because now he can't pretend to not know that it is sexual abuse.

Much longer story than that, but it was the first thing that came to my mind as I read this young woman's struggle to excuse her friend's behavior. It flat out doesn't matter what he thought was right or not, what his rationale is. It only matters that what he did was wrong, and you need to tell him that now in NO UNCERTAIN TERMS.

Good luck. Dan's advice here is spot on. Having this conversation using clarity and intention will have some deeply healing benefits. It isn't a long term cure, more work probably needs to be done to heal the relationship.

Sticking up for yourself is the first step.
Donny @6: "Um, how about don't share zipped together sleeping bags with totally wasted 17 year-old boys?" -- Victim blamey much? How about DON'T STICK YOUR FINGERS DOWN A FRIEND'S PANTS unless you have a very clear message that she wants you to do that? (Hint: Being a lesbian is a very clear hint that she DOESN'T.)
I dont think he was all that drunk. It wasn't an accident your sleeping bags ended up next to each other. It wasn't an accident they were on the edge of the tent, either. This wasn't just something that happened - this was premeditated. Your friend is a predator. He didn't bring it up because he knew if he didnt, hed get away with it. So either ignore him, or call him out. Your choice.
^ Sorry for the slap, your subsequent comments make clear that you get it.

@10: It really isn't that difficult. If unsure, proceed with extreme caution or by ASKING.
This is one reason I don't get drunk. I'll have a drink or two, but almost never get really shitfaced. Why? Because I know that when I'm shitfaced I'm a much more awful self than I am sober. When I'm shitfaced, it brings out a worse version of me, capable of doing mean things I would never dream of sober. I've never done anything rapey like that, but I've said some ugly things and gotten in stupid fights while shitfaced.

I'm not trying to excuse your friend's actions. But I am saying that he might be capable of doing bad things when he's shitfaced, but also capable of being a reliable friend when sober.

This makes Dan's suggestion of talking to him over coffee rather than drinks doubly important. Alcohol clearly does not bring out your friend's best self.

Also know that we are not the same at 17 as we are at 21. At 17, we may look like an adult, more or less, but our frontal cortex is not fully developed yet. It isn't just life experience that makes us more mentally mature at 21, it takes that extra few years for the brain, and more specifically the frontal cortex, to finish developing, that generally gives is more mental maturity. That is one specific reason for a drinking age of 21.

So your friend owes you an apology. But you should not assume that because he did a very dickish thing when he was 17 and shitfaced that he would still act the same way today. Most likely, he would not (unless he's Donald Trump, or a sociopath).
I had a reasonably similar experience at about that age or perhaps a bit older, only she was stoned rather than drunk. Fortunately my sense of personal space was greater, so that there was not the awkward, confined closeness of sleeping bags, and the earlier hints were much more subtle. As this was well over thirty years ago, at least I never had to worry that I'd be facing any trouble afterwards. We were frequently in company afterwards, but the incident was never discussed, and I was careful not to allow opportunity for a repetition.

The thought of charting out such a situation depending on whether the advancer or recipient is female or male, intoxicated or sober, reminds me of those genetics charts that yield proportions of 9:3:3:1 when combining two traits each with a dominant and a recessive gene, only with the extra dimension of which party initiates. It struck me that one could compose a similar table to map out consent issues. And that more or less led me into wondering whether, now that there seems to be much less sparring between sex-negative and sex-positive attitudes within various ideologies, we'll see drunk-negative vs drunk-positive becoming a focus.
Of course one wouldn't forget something like that, but one should forgive and move on. Everyone does dumb, thoughtless things, particularly when drinking. I had a woman friend corner me in a bar once, shove her tongue down my throat, grab my "junk" and tell me that she could change me. It wasn't at all traumatic (it was a totally different situation, we were adults) but it was embarrassing and very annoying, particularly since she got violently ill soon after, and I had to take her home, clean her up and put her to bed. She's now a settled married lady with children and we laugh about it.
Have this conversation! I had a similar traumatic experience at 17. Twenty years later he was my uncle's next door neighbor (different last names, no stalking, he was as surprised as I was). We talked it out and it was so healing.
I would add something to Dan's advice to LW. Before decided whether or not to meet this man, LW should consider what she would like to get out of this meeting. Specifically, what does she need to say to feel that she has achieved some measure of resolution and closure, irrespective of what he says.

As I think about LW's meeting with this man, I think it is unlikely that he will be willing to apologize in a way that LW feels validates her experience and acknowledges his wrong-doing. He may only be willing to say something like, "If I did this..." or "If I made you feel this way..." Those "if" in front of his statements, allow him to deny the very actions for which he being asked to apologize and take responsibility. Indeed, he may deny her version of events.

If only a genuine acknowledgment of his actions, will leave her feeling better about his situation than she does now, I could not recommend her agreeing to a meeting. But if in the face of a less than fulsome apology (or denials) she believes that by saying what she needs to say, she will feel better, than she should agree to meet.

@25: It wasn't a totally different situation because you were adults. It was a totally different situation because it was a straight woman pushing herself on a gay man. Still wrong, but when you flip the man-woman roles, then differences in body strength, societal expectations, privilege, risk of pregnancy, and risk of violence all get flipped. Since your friend was at the disadvantage in all those power dynamics, her offense wasn't as great and your experience of it not traumatic like the letter writer's experience understandably was.
28 dear, that's the basic situation. I didn't fell like I needed to spell it out. After all, we're mostly all grown-ups here. We know how the world works.

But still. Forgive and move on. A grudge will rot the pocket you carry it in.
@20 I knew someone would have to accuse me of blaming the victim, so let's be clear. The guy was definitely the bad actor in this situation. BUT as I would tell my own teenage girls, don't walk down dark alleys by yourself, don't take drugs from strangers and don't go snuggling up to drunk-ass teenage boys (even ones you might think are your friends.) You have the power to choose not to put yourself in iffy situations. Use it.
@20 and also, that was in response to the question, "(how do I) prevent issues such as this one?"
I'm a survivor of sexual violence and I agree with Dan, with one BIG exception - I think "just talk to him" is bad advice. Talking about traumatic events can be re-traumatizing under the best of circumstances. Talking with him about what he did while she's still minimizing what happened and without some resources in place could be really damaging.

I think the LW should tell this guy she can't get see him and then, if she wants, she should talk with a therapist specializing in trauma. She doesn't need to talk with him to heal - she may or may not decide to confront him in the future but it's not required. Taking care of herself is most important.
I agree with SublimeAfterglow @27 and CleoGirl @32, that she might benefit from seeking closure elsewhere, probably with a therapist or a friend she trusts.

If she does still want to meet the guy I wouldn't spring this on him in person. I would pre-announce it via phone or email/text. Something like "I'd be interested in meeting, but we have unfinished business to discuss -- that night you wouldn't stop touching me sexually even after I asked you to stop. Are you prepared to talk about that and take responsibility? If not, we have nothing to talk about."
Ms Erica - Not a bad idea, but I'd tweak "take responsibility" into something more specific.
Agreed with @23.

I know people who, when blacked-out drunk, honestly don't have any memories at all of what they do.
@32: This convo does need to happen, not just for the LW's emotional closure, but also so the friend is made aware of his inappropriate behavior, in case he was really blacked out and had no idea. If he's ethical, he'll cut back on the drinking and/or get a friend to babysit him and cut him off as necessary.
@36 - No, CleoGirl is right. LW's priority should be her *own* well-being, mentally and physically. If she feels that this might clear the air and perhaps get some shit off her chest, fine. But this yahoo assaulted her. Why should she take on the responsibility for turning him into a decent human being?
@37 I think the "turning him into a decent human being" thing might be a bit overwrought. Four years ago this 17 year-old boy made a serious mistake under the influence of an indeterminate amount of alcohol. Prior to that he seems to have been a good and close friend to the LW. I think they both need to talk about it. There's no evidence he's not a decent human being now, or even wasn't one then except for that one major fuck-up. God, I hope no one still holds grudges against me for some of the stupid shit I did when I was 17.
@38 - I'm just saying that she doesn't have to engage with this guy if she truly does not want to. I don't like the idea of putting the responsibility on her to say, 'Dude, you did some shitty thing when you got drunk, don't do it again'. She has a right to protect herself by just walking away, if that's what she wants to do.

This person hurt her, and in all honesty, it doesn't matter if he knows that or not. She has the right to blow him off and stuff him down the memory-hole if she decides to do so.

She could also write him a letter, or pass a message via a mutual friend, telling him what he did and to watch the drinking and that if he wants to apologise, fine, but 'I can't be around you'.

It's a pretty shitty situation. There are no winners.
@38 I don't think she has to do anything, either, but it's obviously weighing on her mind and talking about it seems like a reasonable way to address the situation. Without knowing either of them or even the entire story, it seems like it's worth a shot. He was a big and supportive part of her life for a long time, she says they "were close throughout the rest of high school" and it seems like someone with that kind of background would hopefully own up and try to make it right. She doesn't give any indication that he even knows it happened (maybe he does and he's embarrassed and hoping it's blown over, maybe he does and he doesn't give a shit, maybe he doesn't and he'll be mortified.) In any case, it doesn't seem like she's in any danger. He's not stalking her. He hasn't repeated the behavior. Why not talk to her old friend and try to resolve her anxiety? If he sincerely apologizes, she might be able to start to put it to rest. If he doesn't own up to it, she can say, "Well, I guess he really is a rapey asshole and write him off forever.
@40 Wrong number, should've been "@39"

Good to know that you won't let your daughters be sexually abused by your pedophile father. You are a good parent.

I don't get from your comment whether you still have some sort of relationship with him. I'd advise against any, for your mind's sake and your daughters' safety sake. When a branch of the family tree is rotten, cut it clean, don't hang on trying to save it, you'll end up much healthier in the long run.

Besides, the fact that his first reaction was to tell you you dreamed it, is a huge red flag : that's someone who knows how to assault, and who knows how to walk out of being confronted, by manipulating the victim into believing she is the offender. He's already been confronted about that in the past, or he's worked out in his mind a tailored answer for when one of his victims comes confronting him. In other words : he knew all along what he did was wrong, but he did it anyway. He probably persuaded your aunt that she was the sibling with a polluted mind dirty enough to invent an assault from him, and that's what prevented your aunt from doing anything to prevent you from being assaulted. And : you're right in believing he's likely, or even eager, to reoffend on your own daughters.

This man should be publicly known as a sex offender, inside your family and outside of it. Sadly it will not be a path of roses for you to tell your family about it, you may find that some will turn their back to you, including your victimized aunt, and it will hurt. Cut off any kind of relationship with him or those who won't believe you. That will give you peace eventually. It did, for me.

@ 29 "forgive and move on"

Er, what ? Suppose someone you know torched your house at night, and you end up alive but defaced, with tons of surgery needed to make you look like a human being again, while your agressor walks out scott free because you're intimidated into 'nobody will ever believe me, it's too far into dirty', either by your agressor or by your own self -- that's the kind of advice you'd give ?

You do know that childhood or teenage sexual attacks committed by a trusted person are the worse things that can happen to someone's mind short of being murdered, do you ? Why should sex offenders/criminals get a pass when non-sex offenders/criminals don't ?

sc @42 If I understand @29 correctly they are not talking about childhood/teenage sexual attacks by a trusted person but about inappropriate passes between adults.
Donny @30: But you've missed the point. No one can prevent SOMEONE ELSE'S ACTIONS.
If your teenage girls don't walk down dark alleys, don't take drugs from strangers and don't snuggle up to people they thought were their friends THEY MIGHT STILL GET RAPED. And it STILL wouldn't be their fault. And it wouldn't be their fault if they did walk down a dark alley or leave their drink unattended or whatever. And saying "you could have prevented this" is the same thing as saying "this is your fault."

Now, I do get that it's not useless trying to educate girls and women about situations that are riskier than others and that they would be wise to avoid. But no one can prevent rape except rapists.
@45 Once again, my comment was not aimed specifically at LW and her situation, but in response to @5's question, "what is proper form to prevent issues such as this one (in the future.)"

Not saying you can prevent (@5's word, not mine) everything, not saying it was LW's fault, but I am saying, in general, you can and should take reasonable steps to lessen the chances of it happening. She obviously trusted the guy (and given his prior relationship with her, that trust was probably reasonable.) My point is/was all you girls out there take notice: Sharing sleeping bags with / accepting rides from / going home with any obviously wasted person is not the smartest thing to do. I get it, I get it, even if you do all the right things, shit happens. But saying, "no one can prevent rape except rapists" sounds like it's fait accompli and there's nothing anyone can do about it. There are a lot of things you can do...
1) Stick with your friends.
2) Make a plan before you go out. Set up checkpoints or code words to make it easy for you and your friends to stay connected.
3) Hold on to your drink—even when you go to the bathroom.
4) If your drink is out of your sight, even for a few seconds, get a new one. Spiking a drink with a date rape drug can happen quickly.
5) Don’t accept a drink from anyone—unless you can watch the bartender pour it.
6) Don’t share drinks.
7) Don’t drink from punch bowls or open containers.
8) Don’t drink anything that tastes strange.
9) Avoid clubs or parties that charge men but let women enter and drink for free.
10) Always keep your cell phone charged and on you. You never know when you’ll need it.
11) Make sure you always have a ride home or a plan to walk home with a friend or roommate.
12) Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t feel right to you, leave and get to a safe place immediately.
I got that list from this website...there's a lot more there...difinitely worth checking out.…
That's a great list, DonnyK @46. That would have saved me a whole lot of difficulty many years ago. I sure am glad the whole consent discussion has gotten a lot of public attention. I didn't know I had the right to say NO way back then.
@19 Congratulations for confronting your father!!! That's a really hard thing to do. You might be able to help heal your aunt. Good for you!
Thanks DonnyKlicious for the great list and the link. As the mother of a 12 year-old girl I really appreciate it.
Of course managing potential risks doesn't guarantee you won't be sexually assaulted, I know we can't do that. However, these are useful practical steps and strategies. None of us can control the actions of potential rapists but we can try and keep ourselves safe.
BiDanFan, there is a strong history of blaming women for their own sexual assaults, and I understand the automatic response to challenge anything that sounds like that. But there is a difference between offering advice to help reduce your chances of being the victim of a crime, and suggesting that as the victim of a crime, you yourself are responsible for it. Not everyone conflates these two concepts, and I submit that DonnyKlicious is one such.
Addendum: "You could have prevented this" (@45) is not a helpful or productive thing to say to anyone at any time, agreed. But I don't think he was saying that.
Agree, Late. I don't read Donny as in anyway blaming the victim.
Those of us who have daughters have told them to be careful about their public behaviour. Just like we tell our sons to avoid late night spots where drunken men might kill them with a punch.
This LW continued being friends with this boy at school, after this incident. She didn't feel safe around him.
He probably has no memory of what he did, and here she is four years later with the incident still of concern. I feel she needs to talk with him straight about it, clear it for herself.
How the world has changed. I remember as a five year old,
being( seemingly) in no danger as I wondered around my neighbourhood visiting friends, and exploring with them.
Or is that wandered. I get confused still!
Don't know, Lava@54. I've wondered around my neighborhood quite a bit lately. "Where the heck am I? Why are there seven Starbucks and five gas stations in two blocks? Why is that panhandler wearing better clothes than I am?"
@55, You and me both, DonnyKliious!
Sometimes the discussions on these comment boards challenge my previously-held opinions or view; sometimes they force me to clarify my opinions so I can better articulate them; sometimes reading the conversations and mulling over the topic leads me to an insight about myself that I'd never thought through before. This discussion, paired with the one on the column this week about straight men and women ever able to be just friends and how whether or not to deal preemptively with the issue has really opened my eyes to some of the deepest aspects of my own sexuality.
Thanks, guys!
me2 says "Your friend is a predator." .... & maybe that's true, but I don't think we know enough from the letter to say that for certain. Another possible scenario is that your friend had feelings for you, wanted to be more than a friend, and thought that perhaps if he could create a sexual connection with you those feelings might be reciprocated. I agree that it wasn't entirely an accident how things wound up, but I don't NECESSARILY put sinister evil heartless motivation on it. People do dumb things when they are teenagers that older people understand are just not going to work. I suspect was AT LEAST a bit drunk - he probably had to be to get up the nerve to try anything. Unfortunately that drunkenness may have made him too dense to respond to your "no" quickly & appropriately.
I think Dan is spot-on that this is not your fault. I think it is worth talking to your old friend about this to try to find out what he was thinking ... but I also think you should not do this until you are ready.
46-- All good advice as far as it goes, but your comment gives the idea that the main thing to be afraid of is a man slipping a roofie into a woman's drink. No, the real date rape drug is the alcohol itself. My advice would be to learn ahead of time what your reaction to alcohol is. In the safety of your home or dorm and with friends who won't rape you, ahead of going to a frat party or a bar, have a drink, see how you feel, then have another. I'm not suggesting that you get pass-out drunk for the hell of it, but do have some idea for yourself what your limits are; know when you get too talkative, when you start to get sloppy. It's not a matter of learning how to hold your liquor; it's a matter of knowing how much liquor you can hold. For some that's only one or 2 drinks (me!); for others it's much more.

Then, when in a bar or out with friends, order your drinks neat. Become someone who has a shot of good scotch or brandy. In addition to its being so much easier to keep track of how much you're drinking when you've got a shot in front of you with no mixer, it will be more expensive for a guy to keep plying you with more drinks this way. He may decide he'd rather go for someone cheaper. Same idea behind drinking bottled beer, not from a keg. Also, with a single shot of scotch, you can drink slowly by barely sipping at the shot. There's no ice to melt thus encouraging you to "freshen that up" or drink faster than you want.

The trick is to avoid getting so drunk that you pass out on someone's couch. It's not that much fun anyway, and that's what makes you truly vulnerable
Whoa! Alcohol IS a 'date rape drug.' Especially when administered to very young women who might not recognize the effect, or women who have special sensitivity to alcohol. Lisak's paper on predatory date rape makes the point that perpetrators tend to groom and seek out vulnerable women, AND use alcohol to incapacitate victims.

Blackouts are a real thing. DEFINED by the absence of subsequent memory. People drive home in blackouts, complete duty shifts as police officers, fly intercontinental jets, get married to strangers in Vegas, and...commit felonies.

There's been some recent claims that non-alcoholics CAN have blackouts. But that's been spun from a single email survey of college students. The creation of blackouts seems to require rapid increases in blood alcohol level that approach the levels where people start dying of alcohol poisoning. It's difficult to imagine non-alcoholics managing that kind of intake without either puking or losing consciousness.

So, IF, the asshole actually doesn't remember his actions. (Big If) the writer should certainly not every take a drink with him.
I 100% agree with Donkeylicisous. It's ridiculous. In college i cant tell you how many times I saw people end up in terrible situation. I don't walk down dark alleys at night. I didn't get shit faced at frat parties. And I will goddamn tell my daughters the same. (Someone who squeezed out of being assaulted at seventeen when a fifty year old got her deliberately drunk).

Stop being stupid about drugs. Alcohol destroys your defenses and breaks down impulse control. In you and the people around you. None of this "excuses" the friend or blames LW. But we live in reality and people are often bad.
I am not an alcoholic. I have had three black outs. My boyfriend found me in the middle of a blackout getting ready to suck some man's dick. I don't remember. I know lw wasn't drunk. I AM NOT analogizing our situation. I am merely reaffirming that alcohol IS a drug that does some crazy ass sh*t. My boyfriend said I didn't seem that drunk....
@53 (Lava Girl), I'm in my 50s, and it was extremely dangerous for girls to wander around alone in my neighborhood. The attitude of "I went out alone all the time as a kid and nothing bad ever happened to me/what is the matter with parents today" stuff pains me. I had so many instances of childhood sexual abuse in my neighborhood in the 1960s -- with no one believing me -- that it feels like a miracle that I was able to end up in a happy adult relationship. Please don't paint a safe mythic time in past as the way it was for everyone. If you were safe, then you were lucky. I wasn't. None of my friends were.
I can only give my experience Sarah, growing up in Sydney, Australia, in the 50s. I did move easily around all the suburbs I lived in and only ever encountered one instance of a man trying to convince me to go with him somewhere. I had stupidly accepted a lift with him at a bus stop, when I was 13 yrs old. I declined and he dropped me off where I wanted to go.
Maybe I was lucky. Maybe our countries were just very different. Maybe the 50s was the last safe decade. I just don't remember any fear being instilled in me as a child, re strangers. Hence, I had none.
Does anyone recall the exact advice Mr Savage gave two or three podcasts ago to the woman who, having had her dream-of-a-lifetime-threesome with two bi men and having found it fulfilled or exceeded all her expectations, wanted. like the Fisherman's Wife, to request more and escalate to a threesome with two gay men? (Talk about Vanity, Vanity, All Is Vanity.) I was multi-tasking and don't recall precisely what he replied, but think it was something along the line of Mr Savage's saying he "couldn't officially" tell her to get them drunk, but that that was her most plausible chance of bringing it off and to send pictures.
Sarah@63. I would never say what is the matter with parents today. There is no way a female child can be alone in the streets, these days. The male child is not safe either.
@65: I don't remember the exact advice either, but it's of a piece with post 28, on the general thesis of "Rape is fine, as long as it's committed by women. Here are some elaborate theories we've made up to convince ourselves we're not rape apologists. Cognitive dissonance? What's that?"
Mr Monic - It might have been Mr Savage's saying that he wasn't telling her to get them drunk, but I did retain an impression of his occasional doublespeak there. I think we can agree with Mr Kenai that there is a difference without allowing a difference's equating to calling F>M rape fine. It's a little like wage/pay/earning gap discussions, with one camp firmly entrenched around No Such Thing and the other around 77(ish) Percent. As I mentioned earlier, I'd like to move the discussion to the field of drunk-negative vs drunk-positive, which I think will prove tricky for Mr Savage, as he personally has seemed strongly drunk-positive while the feminist narrative appears to have become more drunk-negative.

He most certainly did NOT tell her to get them drunk. SHE wanted to do that. He said don't be a douche and recommended posting on fet life or ok cupid.
I dislike dan's advice about drinking and drugs to "loosen up." I think is dangerous especially for the inexperienced.

I also point put that lw was dead sober. Therefore if she says her friend was really drunk, I tend to believe her. He ought to know how he behaves when drunk. I know people who are "angry" drunks and violent drunks. They shouldn't indulge.
@46 (DonnyKlicious), I know your post was well-intentioned, but you gotta love the irony of the #1 item on your list of rape-preventive measures:

1) Stick with your friends.

Coz you know, that worked out wonderfully for the LW.

Thing is, it's easy to dish out "helpful" advice with the benefit of hindsight. Rape and sexual assault victims deal with this bullshit all the time. If they get assaulted by a stranger in a dark alley, they get told it wouldn't've happened if only they had stuck with their friends. If they get assaulted by a trusted friend, they get told they shouldn't have shared a sleeping bag with a drunk 17 yo boy.

If only they had asked a big strong male friend to escort them home!
If only they had said no when a big strong male friend offered to take them home!
If only they had stayed away from bars, where strangers can so easily spike your drink!
If only they they hadn't been alone at a friend's house, where no one can hear you scream!

You see where I'm going with this? Hindsight bias. It's a thing.…
Lost Margarita, are you suggestion that people shouldn't take reasonable precautions against being raped because there's this thing called hindsight bias? That makes no sense.
@68: I'm a little skeptical of the "difference" people, since they come in the same two varieties as racist Republicans.

But you're right about the confusion about drunkness. I notice a lot of the people on the anti-drunk side seem to have never been drunk, though; there's a lot of loud examples of not knowing the very basics like that "blacked out" and "passed out" aren't the same thing. I mean, I'm pretty sure that people can consent while blacked out--and that I have, plenty of times (I always blacked out easy, and I make a cheerful drunk); passed out is something completely different.
Nothing keeps you perfectly safe Lost Margarita - no matter whether you are a man or a woman - from the violence of others.

That doesn't mean you don't take steps to ensure your safety.

Not meaning to be offensive, because I have a feeling you've might have been victimized. Hearing anyone say "well you should have..." can, no doubt hurt. And to "you should have" is pointless to someone assaulted, because its useless - looking back on it, there was always a way the situation could have been averted.

That is far different than giving someone who hasn't been assaulted certain guidelines to reduce those chances.

And to say that we shouldn't provide such guidelines because it won't prevent every assault is like saying we shouldn't have gun control because it won't prevent every mass shooting in the last three years.

Do not let perfection become the enemy of the good. Even if the rules Bloomer laid out wouldn't have helped LW (for whom I have nothing but sympathy and wouldn't have given a d@mn had she broken his fingers), that doesn't mean those rules won't help someone else. They are just good sense.

Never forget, boys and girls, there are a lot evil people out there who aren't looking out for your best interest.

DHR points out something meaningful: "You should have..." is very different from "you should..."

Different tone, different context, and usually a different motivation.
@72, what exactly is a "reasonable precaution", in your opinion? Accepting a lift from a friend so you don't have to walk alone at night? Not accepting it, because your friend might turn out to be a rapist? Spending money you don't have on a taxi? What if the taxi driver is a rapist?

It's not an either/or situation. Nobody is saying that people should remain willfully ignorant and do nothing to protect themselves. Yes, people should be vigilant. Yes, people should be aware that sexual assault is a real and common danger, and that it can happen to them. Yes, people should trust their gut instinct. But making huge lists of "reasonable precautions" like the one @46 is not helpful. Why? Because you can always add to it, with the benefit of hindsight, when you hear about the specific circumstances of someone's sexual assault.

In fact, that's exactly what DonnyKlicious has done here. Note that the LW did in fact follow much of the advice listed @46. She wasn't being reckless. She was among friends. She didn't get wasted or leave her drink unattended. She wasn't alone: she made plans to sleep in a tent with several other friends (safety in numbers and all that). But hey, she should've known better than to huddle for warmth with a friend, yes? I mean, a drunk 17yo boy, whaddaya expect, amirite? She should've seen that coming, instead of being all caught up in her emotional turmoil and shit.

Except she still could've been assaulted if her friend was sober. Or older. Or a woman. In hindsight, there are always things that the victim could've done to avoid being a victim, but in reality, there are always unforeseen circumstances and unpredictable actions. You can't prepare for every eventuality, unless you're actually advocating teaching women and young girls to never leave the house, never trust anyone, never enjoy themselves, and generally act like paranoid militant psychos at all times.
@71 Lost Margarita, I hear ya, but hindsight is what we're dealing with here in CommentLand, and dishing out "helpful" advice is one of the reasons for the comments section. Since I can't go back in time and say, "Hey, LW don't stick your tongue on that frozen flagpole!" I'm hoping my list might be helpful to someone in the future. A lot of times the comments get diverted into a sub-discussion that is only tangentially related to the original letter-writer's issue. I had other posts that were more directly connected to her letter.
@77: I am not trying to advise LW on what she should have done differently. Euda encapsulated what I was trying to say @76 in a clearer manner. There is a difference between trying to engage in 20/20 hindsight to "blame the victim" - by telling that victim what twenty different things she could have done to advert it, and using some foresight as advice to the "unnamed college girl" going out to party her first time away from home.

Poor LW1 does it herself, "I shouldn't have gone out that night.... " Really? What b.s! Of COURSE she should have gone out that night and had a good time with her friends. She is putting the onous on herself to say, "if only I hadn't..." No, LW, your friend's crappy behavior is on his own head. Same for any other crime. Seriously, if he'd sucker punched you as a dude, would you have said, "I shouldn't have gone out that night."

But there is also advising the nameless girl out on the campus alone about good rules of thumb. Which is what I took DonnyKlicious (which I keep reading as Donkey, sorry dude) as saying. No, one can't rule lawyer your way to safety. It doesn't work that way. Something unexpected happens - sometimes . That doesn't mean we throw the rule book out either.

The rules Donny cited seem directed towards girls in a new and dangerous environment, college drinking parties. I do consider them dangerous. I like to drink but alcohol is a drug that incapacitates people's judgment. It wasn't just the teetotalers that called it demon rum.

"Should" perhaps is loaded. Just because a girl doesn't monitor her drink or didn't go out with friends doesn't mean she's a fault for being assaulted. Putting the "should" on rules would seem to create the inference she was at fault for not following those rules. And I don't want to do that. But there is nothing wrong with giving people guidelines, based on the wealth of knowledge (imperfect as it is) for their safety. If you replace any other crime in place of sexual assault, you'd see it's not about victim blaming.

I develop and rotate my passwords for safety on line. It's one of the guidelines. Bad things may happen to me anyway. I taught my girls to look both ways before crossing the street. Usually, there isn't a car there, but often there is. A high enough risk that it makes sense to give them that advice. On the other hand, I don't tell em to look both ways in our back yard. A car might conceivably end up there, but the risk is infinitesimally small.
I agree with Crin @59 that a good start is knowing how much you can drink. I don't believe in victim-blaming: if you got robbed and shot and killed walking down a dark alley at night, the person who did it is absolutely a thief and murderer; that said, it's reasonable not to walk down dark alleys, if you can avoid them. Alcohol is involved in something like 80% of sexual assaults. I drink, and I enjoy drinking, so I'm not drink-negative. But it's one thing to have a bottle or two of wine with a small group of friends you know well and another to take shots at a frat party you went to with a guy who you've been on one date with. (And yes, people can and do get raped by people they know well, of course; again, we're talking about what you can reasonably avoid, not about locking yourself in a room alone for your whole life.) At a college where I worked I learned it was considered unladylike to drink beer. Therefore the girls all drank mixed drinks. The guys drank beer. This is just a bad bad recipe. If I had a daughter I'd tell her to learn to like beer in bottles and never have more than two at any party (or something similar).

Separately, and back to the LW: I think forgiveness is underrated these days. You have a lot of good data points on this guy, and one very bad one. If he indicates real regret, I say forgive and forget. People are complicated, wonderful, horrible creatures, and sometimes they do make bad mistakes even when they aren't bad people. Carrying around things like this for a long time, continuing to fear or despise someone for their actions, continuing to feel hurt, can cause a strange sort of moral righteousness to develop that is bad for the soul. That doesn't help anyone. Let it go.
In Australia, two women a week are killed by their partners or ex partners. One man, while he had his children, threw his daughter off a bridge. Another drove his three children into a dam and got himself out. Just last week, another man shot his two children and himself , then drove them into the water off a pier.
Really. Where is a woman safe?
Something is going very wrong in the development of many males. That is where the problem is. That is what needs to be addressed.
Men who deal with a marriage break up by killing their women or their children, out of their pain. Deal with conflict in a marriage by killing or using physical violence towards their women.
Why is this happening? What happens to some males as they grow up, that they can't deal with their feelings except thru violence.

"And to say that we shouldn't provide such guidelines because it won't prevent every assault is like saying we shouldn't have gun control because it won't prevent every mass shooting in the last three years."

I'm sorry, but I don't get that analogy at all. Gun control isn't about lecturing people on how to *not* be a victim of a random mass shooting. If gun control involved advising all citizens to wear a bullet-proof vest at all times, home-school their kids, and never go to crowded places like malls, cinemas, public transport, etc., then I'd see your point. But it isn't. At least in theory, gun laws are introduced to to make it more difficult for potential murderers to commit murder, not to make it more difficult for innocent law-abiding citizens to go about their daily lives.

On the issue at hand, I don't think we actually disagree that much. But I guess for me, there is a difference between being aware (or making someone aware) of the risks, and telling them what they should and shouldn't do. Nobody should be oblivious to their own safety, but we all take calculated risks every day.

So I can see how it would be useful for a teenage girl to be aware of the sexual assault and date rape statistics, to understand how coercion works, how consent works. To know what she *can* (not what she *should*) do to protect herself. To know that walking home alone at night carries risks, but crashing on a friend's couch or accepting a lift from a date ALSO carries risks, and that she'd need to decide, under the circumstances, what level of risk is acceptable to her. Being self-aware, exercising judgement and learning to trust your intuition are all important life skills.

But I don't find endless lists of do's and don't's particularly useful here. Mostly because these lists can literally extend into absurdity, and women (and young girls) have lives. And although both men and women can get raped, nobody ever advises men or teenage boys to carry their drinks into toilet stalls, drink neat spirits and bottled beer because "it will be more expensive for a guy to keep plying you with more drinks this way", or set up "check points and code words" before a night out.

I am a woman, and although I'd like to think I take reasonable precautions for my personal safety, "not getting raped today" isn't my sole focus in life. When I go out, I don't take drinks into toilet cubicles, because toilets are smelly and toilet floors are disgusting. If I'm enjoying myself at a party but my friends want to go home, I'd happily stay on without them and make my own way home. I choose drinks based on their taste, not on how easy or difficult it would be for someone to spike them. I don't clutch a can of pepper spray every time I happen to be alone with a male friend. And no, I've never set up "check points and code words" before going out with my friends.

Risk management is a personal thing, and everyone needs to find their own balance between mitigating potential risks and simply enjoying their life. For me personally, "reasonable precautions" boil down to knowing where I'm spending the night and how I'm intending to get there, not drinking to excess, and steering clear of people who seem in any way "off" to me. Your mileage may vary. And so may your daughter's.
I should probably also add that cultural differences may be playing a part in this debate. I grew up in Russia and have lived in the UK since the the age of 17, so I don't know what American frat parties and college culture is like.
Oof. This was a tough read. You nailed it Dan. For every person who doubts the pervasiveness of rape is its very essence-nothing was done to me, I shouldn't have been there, etc. This letter captures it and Dan'd response is so dead on. Thank you Dan.
I was once drunkenly pawed and actually licked at a party by a man who I didn't know well but was a part of my community. I shoved him away and told him off, and any time I saw him after that I glared at him. He eventually approached me to find out why - he had no recollection of that night. I filled him in and he was appalled and apologized, told me I didn't deserve to have that happen to me and he was sorry. I told him he should not get so drunk that he would ever do something like that again. And you know what? He stopped drinking! I saw him years later and he was doing so well and had been sober ever since. He thanked me for giving him the wake up call. So yes, tell the guy what happened, for your sake and for his. Unlikely you'll have the same outcome but you never know.
Lost Margarita-- My comment on taking drinks neat was only to support the idea of not drinking to excess and making it harder to be convinced to drink to excess. Surely we can agree that not drinking to the black-out point or even to the severely impaired judgment point is a bad idea. That's all I meant, and note that this advice does apply equally to men and women. The advice is not meant as a panacea for rape prevention. If it were, it wouldn't work and it wouldn't apply equally to men and women since, as you point out, the risk of rape is greater for women.

If I may be so bold as to sum up everyone's comments on the subject: There is always a fine line between agency and blame. You (meaning the society at large) want to advise young people to be responsible for making good decisions. You don't, if something bad happens to them, want to blame them as though something they did several steps removed was the cause. (You see this all the time in advice for keeping ourselves healthy. In general, life style choices have a lot to do with it, but they don't have everything to do with it. Good people who try to stay healthy still get sick. When someone does come down with a bad cold, I'm sympathetic. I don't go wagging my finger saying "you should have washed your hands after touching that doorknob"). Nowhere is that fine line finer than in subjects of rape and consent. That difference between agency and blame is just minuscule.

Back to the LW for a minute. She did excellently well. She wasn't drunk. She was able to break those fingers (figuratively speaking) and keep the guy out of her pants. While what happened was pretty bad, it wasn't beyond the pale horrible either. I do recommend that she forgive him, not because he deserves it but because she does. Walking around angry is exhausting and burdensome. Note that forgiving him does not mean that she's thought about it and decided he did nothing wrong. Nor does it mean he's welcome to try it again. It just means that she's decided to walk around a little lighter. The next step for her is to think about the pros and cons to hanging out with him. They were friends before the drunken sexual assault. Would it benefit her to include him back in her circle of friends? I believe all these choices should be made from a starting point of pure selfish what-benefits-me, not that weird starting point that seems to go I'm sacrificing my own happiness in order to prove a point.

If you are in the uk you probably don't know much about the gun debate here. Every time additional gun restrictions are raised, some politician will assert how those restrictions wouldn't have prevented this or that mass shooting, therefore the restrictions are just pointless. So nothing is done because what is recommended isn't the perfect answer. I felt like you were making the same argument - that as the rules wouldn't work for lw, there was no point to the rules. ..

And one of the ways that people develop judgement is by first following the rules and then diverging from them. I am 40, so my experiences are 20 years out of date, but there were frats you avoided at all costs and bad things happened to friends. The rules donny outlined are specifically for girls away from their homes for the first time at a university.

Cheers to the UK
@84 "I grew up in Russia and have lived in the UK since the the age of 17, so I don't know what American frat parties and college culture is like.

Sometimes I get the feeling that the (generally very appropriate) backlash to rape culture is pushing some loud people to profess that it is wrong to ever forgive a transgression of consent. Which, to me, is crazy right wing stuff. Without the possibility of forgiveness there is no reason to ever make amends or improve, it's the one thing Christianity got very right. Humans are flawed, teenage humans doubly so. Rounding someone who did a shitty thing once when they were a drunk 17 year old to irredeemably terrible garbage person/abuser/serial rapist and shunning them forever is not going to improve anyone's life or un-molest the LW. This is not a binary choice between LW blaming herself and the offender being shot at dawn by a firing squad. She can not blame herself and still accept a reasonable apology.
She leaves out what communication happened or didn't happen since that night. If there was none then I would bet he knows what he did.
dan, i agree with 99.9% of the things you do and say, particularly advice and theory. truly. you are one of the smartest people i know...

Agreed. This was so well articulated and could not have been written any better. And yes, a good reminder even to myself to NOT dismiss people for their actions due to thier "very very" drunk state.
When I first read the letter it immediately triggered my memory of something similar that happened to me. After reading the comments I realize that our experiences are different in some fundamental ways, but in the off chance you'll find this helpful, here's an abridged version...

I have a male friend that I've known my whole adult life. We weren't friends in high school, but after a chance meeting when I was 20, we became good friends. We spent a lot of time together over the next decade and became good friends and although he knew I played for the other team, he would occasionally (jokingly/half seriously) try to get in my pants. I always quickly and firmly shut him down, and it became kind of a perverse inside joke between us.

Fast forward 15 years - I moved back to the area after moving around the country a bit. We reconnected and it was just like the old days. We have a lot in common, always have interesting conversations, and generally just have fun with one another. Then he invited me to go with him on a trip to a place I had always wanted to go and because of his connections wouldn't cost me a dime. So I went.

The second (and final) night there we went bar hopping and we both had too much to drink. When we got back to our hotel, he took advantage of my inebriated state. It wasn't rape - there was no penetration of any kind - but it was humiliating. The next day I felt an overwhelming sense of despair. I knew that I shared part of the blame and I was angry at myself, but I still felt utterly exploited and degraded. The 8 hour drive home was awkward, and after he dropped me off I didn't see him or talk to him for the next 2 years. I also immediately gained 30 pounds. The weight gain was almost a conscious decision on my part. I didn't want to be attractive to anyone, lest something like that would happen to me again.

After a couple of years I realized how much I missed his friendship and I reached out to him. We had a long and heartfelt conversation about what happened and I told him how I had trusted him - my friend of 25 years - and how he had utterly betrayed that trust. He felt awful and sincerely apologized again and again.

After that conversation, I was able to let go of the anger and hurt that was festering inside me. Unfortunately the 30 pounds are a harder thing to let go of, and I know that on some level the extra weight is a defense mechanism for me. I did the same thing after I was molested as a child. In my reptilian brain, that extra weight makes me less attractive and less of a target. I guess I have some issues to work on after all.

Anyways, LW if you're reading this, I was able to salvage a relationship with one of my favorite people by letting it go. It took me a while, and I'm not saying you have to do the same, but for me it was worth it. My friend treats me like just another friend now. There are no more hidden agendas - we can just be golf buddies who share power tools - just like stereotypical men and lesbians are supposed to do!

(Not that all lesbians (or guys) love golf and power tools of course)
@90: "Which, to me, is crazy right wing stuff."

One of the first things you notice, once you take liberal and progressive principles to heart, is that most self-identified progressives are actually reactionary nutjobs who live in a place where being openly reactionary nutjobs isn't acceptable. So instead, they learn to speak the language, and then use it to go right on being the arch-conservative whackaloons that they always were. There's a whole lot of false-progressive dogma that's really just thinly-disguised reactionary bullshit.

It's a complicated problem, for people opposed to reactionary nutjobbery, since reactionary nutjobs are so adept at taking over movements, including the one that's supposed to oppose them.
I'm with Lost Margarita in that I'm uneasy with the rather predictable responses regarding what females should do to prevent sexual assault as a response to this very specific scenario. I'm all for common sense, but it does feel victim-blamey to me. She did absolutely nothing wrong.

Whether she decides to see him, or talk to him about it, or forgive him, or write him off - that's completely up to the LW. I don't think it's particularly helpful to tell her that if she just got over it and accepted a reasonable apology from him that she'll be better off. No one can make that decision but her. I did forgive my friend, but as I said, our circumstances are markedly different. I can't say that that would be the right choice for her.

Applauding you, all around. Often gaining weight is a deliberate attempt to isolate one's self from the rest of the world.

I am going to say something, and I am ready to take the abuse I might get. Alcohol is used as a date rape drug - that was also my experience with the old dude - he didn't get drunk, he set out to get me drunk. But a man also getting drunk can make a terrible decision he never would have made sober. The man I almost fellatioed, I never accused of assault and don't consider it assault. He was drunk, I was black out drunk, he had no way to know I was black out drunk. (I base that on the reports of my bf, but he was an asshole, so I might have actually blown the guy and to this day, not know). Alcohol screws both people up, destroying clean and clear communication for both parties. People can't read, people can't understand the boundaries. Not the women and not the men. I wish.. .

Gawd, I wish we reintroduced sex ed into our high school curriculum (barred where I am, not where I grew up) and a big part of that curriculum would be discussions of consent for both boys and girls. Everyone needs to be educated. First, so girls can protect themselves (as much as is reasonably possible, nods to Margarita) and, second, so boys can protect themselves as well. Before I knew the sex of my first child, I remember thinking these thoughts as I drove from work. How important it would be to educate my son....
@96 JibeHo: I think the responses about trying to avoid sexual assault were meant as a more general conversation, brought up because of this letter, but not meant to be directed at the LW. At least, that's what I thought was going on.

Your story @94 is both sad and hopeful. Thank you for sharing it.
@97: Agreed all 'round. And for all you know, the guy in question was blackout drunk as well. People can do a lot while blackout drunk; in total, I've probably had more partners I don't remember than that I do, and I've definitely written more sophomore-year math papers that way than not.
ciods @98 - I might agree with you IF the "general conversation" had focused on what men should do to ensure they don't commit sexual assault, instead of on what women should do to keep themselves safe. That's why it feels victim-blamey to me.

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